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Remodeling 101: The Viking vs. Wolf Range

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 01, 2016 01:03 AM
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by Janet Hall last modified Dec 31, 2015

The offerings in professional-style ranges for the home kitchen have multiplied over the years, but two of the standard bearers still reign: Viking and Wolf. Similar in price points, features, and cooking power, they seem more alike than different. How to choose? It might just come down to the looks.  As the first brand to bring commercial-type cooking equipment into the home, Viking has name recognition as well as a reputation for reliability and quality. Also known for high performance in the pro-style market, Wolf challenged Viking with a wider array of high-output burners and heavy-duty components. The race continues. Viking has upped its cooking power. And Wolf has introduced a few features where it once fell short, such as a self-cleaning oven. Are you already a Viking or Wolf devotee? Share your experience in the Comments section below.  Above: Viking was the range of choice in a kitchen by Commune. “We wanted it to feel like a chef’s kitchen, with a touch of the industrial,” the designers say. For a full view, see Steal This Look: An Exotic Tiled Kitchen by LA Design Firm Commune . Photography by Matthew Williams for Remodelista. How are Viking and Wolf ranges alike?  Both are American made, offer gas and dual-fuel pro-style ranges in sizes from 30 to 60 inches wide, have self-cleaning ovens, burners with high BTUs, and are available with different burner configurations. Even Consumer Reports offers similar reviews of the two brands, praising their burner auto-reignition features and low-heat cooktops (a detail where big-powered burners have failed in the past), while criticizing the placement of the oven in relation to the floor (too low for both makes). And because their price points are comparable, cost is not a deciding factor. Above: Remodelista's Francesca has a Viking in the galley kitchen of her Brooklyn townhouse (featured in the Remodelista book ). She has cooked on both Wolf and Viking ranges, but prefers the latter. "The Wolf definitely lives up to its name: It's fierce, and powerful; maybe a little too powerful for me," Francesca says. "I have the Viking, which must have a lower BTU, but it's plenty for me. I've owned three Vikings and two are great, one has some quirks. I would buy a Viking again for the classic design and functionality." Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista. What are some of the key differences between Viking and Wolf ranges? Finishes   Above: Sick of stainless? Viking wins in this category. It offers ranges in a choice of colors, including black, white, red (shown here), burgundy, gray, and cobalt. Wolf ranges are available only in a brushed stainless finish. Knobs Above: Don't underestimate the power of Wolf's signature red knobs. Remodelista editor in chief Julie has a six-burner Wolf range in her kitchen on Cape Cod. "This is kind of embarrassing, but I bought it for the cheery red knobs," she says. That said "it's more than 10 years old and I think we've only had to service it once."  Wolf ranges are available with red, black, or stainless knobs; Viking's latest knobs are stainless (black and white have been offered on some recent models).  Warranties Both companies offer strong warranties. The Wolf Residential Warranty provides two-year coverage for all parts and labor, along with five-year limited coverage on certain parts. Viking offers a Three-Year Signature Warranty  with full coverage for all indoor cooking appliances. Burners Above: Wolf ranges have dual-stacked sealed gas burners with two tiers of flames: One delivers high heat; the other comes on for low-heat settings. Julie likes "the super firepower and the fact that it's easy to adjust the flame to a low simmer" on her Wolf range.   Above: Introduced in 2014, the Viking 7 Series ranges feature 23,000-BTU "elevation" burners with brass flame ports adapted from the Viking Commercial product line. They also offer a "VariSimmer" setting for even simmering at low temperatures.  Do Wolf and Viking offer a variety of appliances? Wolf and Viking seem to have differing philosophies when it comes to their product lines. In 2013, Viking became part of the Middleby Corporation, the largest food-service equipment manufacturer in the world. Since then, the company has introduced more than 60 new products. Wolf, meanwhile, is part of Sub-Zero, a third-generation, family-owned company that prides itself on focus: "While other brands divide their attention among everything from trash compactors to vacuum cleaners, Sub-Zero and Wolf remain committed to refining and mastering their specialties: the world’s finest refrigeration and cooking appliances." This is important to consider if you're outfitting your entire kitchen and want to stick to the same brand for either aesthetic or cost reasons (some distributors offer favorable pricing when purchasing suites of appliances). But this can cut both ways. "The reason I got a Wolf the second time around was because we had other Viking appliances that were bad," says Michelle, editor in chief of Gardenista. "Those appliances soured us on the brand, even though we thought the Viking stove performed well." Above: A Wolf range surrounded by Shaker cabinets (painted in Benjamin Moore  Amherst Gray ) in an LA kitchen designed by Martha Mulholland—see  LA Story: Mix and Match Garden for a Spanish Colonial . Photography by  Laure Joliet . Which is easier to clean, a Viking or Wolf stovetop? That's a point of debate here at Remodelista, but, truth be told, they're likely comparable: Both Wolf and Viking ranges now come with sealed burner pans that make cleaning easier. Remodelista's Sarah lives in a house that came with a 30-inch Viking gas range: "Besides being great to cook with," she says, "I love the pullout tray beneath the burners for easy cleaning."  When it comes to cleaning, I, too, had a good experience with Viking. In my Seattle remodel several years back, I chose a Viking range top with sealed burners, which, combined with removable burner grates, made for easy cleaning (and no fear of spillage creeping into unknown depths).  Above: Michelle specced a Wolf range in her Mill Valley kitchen redo . (Read why she does  not recommend putting in a marble backsplash behind the stove .) Photograph by Liesa Johannssen for Remodelista. Michelle has had both a Viking and Wolf range. She put a Wolf in her recent remodel and admits to liking it better than the Viking in part because of the cleaning issues. "The stovetop on the Viking was harder to clean. I can't remember the exact configuration, but for some reason food and liquids were able to drip down the burner covers and get stuck around the wiring. Impossible to really clean," says Michelle. "This is not true of the Wolf. The Wolf burner design is really smart—the removable burner rings fit tightly and prevent drips down into the stove parts." Where do I buy Viking and Wolf ranges?  Sales of Viking and Wolf appliances are limited to dealers within defined geographical limits of the buyer. This means that they're not available for online purchase if you live more than a specified number of miles from a seller's location. Refer to the Viking dealer locater and the Wolf dealer locater to find the vendors nearest to you.  Both Wolf and Viking have tools to help with kitchen design and inspiration. Viking has a free  iPad App , while Wolf offers an  online kitchen gallery and curated kitchen collection .      Above: Last year Viking introduced the 7 Series, a new line of pro ranges for the home with features taken from the company's commercial line, such as elevated 23,000-BTU burners with brass flame ports, commercial griddles, and gentle-close oven doors, to name a few. The  Viking 7 Series 36-Inch Dual Fuel Range  is $10,839 through Viking dealers.   Above: The Wolf Dual Fuel 36-Inch Range (DF366) with six burners is $9,200 (or $10,180 with griddle or charbroiler option) through Wolf Dealers. Are there other brands to consider? There are so many professional-style ranges on the market that the burden of choice can be overwhelming. We've rounded up some favorites in different categories to help narrow the field.  Reduced-Size Ranges 7 High-Style Italian Kitchen Ranges 6 Chateau-Style Cooking Ranges 10 Easy Pieces: 36-Inch Gas Cooktops 10 Easy Pieces: Freestanding 36-Inch Ranges Interested in outfitting your kitchen with American-made products? See: 13 American-Made Appliances, from Countertop Mixers to Ranges to Refrigerators 15 Made-in-America Kitchen Classics 7 Sources for American-Made Hardware Henrybuilt's Custom Kitchen Systems And for another appliance comparison, see The Great Vacuum Debate: Miele vs. Dyson . N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 12, 2015, as part of our California Cool issue. More Stories from Remodelista 15 Ideas to Steal from Vintage Kitchens 16 Tricks for Maximizing Space in a Tiny Kitchen, Urban Edition Secrets from the Swanson Kitchen, SF Edition






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