We didn't want to chance cracking granite countertops to go from a 30" four-burner cooktop to a 36" five-burner, so this unit seemed ideal for the job and we have not been disappointed. You DO have to measure underneath when you buy, because not all 30" cooktops require the same size hole in your countertop.
Recommend this product?
KitchenAid has found a good combination of burner sizes where there always seems to be one right for the job. Output on the center burner is intense, heating a 5 qt stock pot of water quickly (sorry, haven't timed it). We have LP gas, so I'm not sure if the BTU output is the same with Natural Gas or not., but not you know it works with both. BTW, have a pro install the LP conversion kit. I did, and when I saw all that he had to disassemble, I was glad I wasn't doing it.
Details about this unit:
1. Three-piece interlocking cast iron surface allows you to slide pans from one burner to another without gaps between burners. These castings have high-temp rubber feet, so they don't clang, scratch, rock, or slip around on the stainless. The stainless stamping has indentations to keep the feet in place, and the interlocking gives them added stability. I can slide heavy stock pots with confidence.
Like most cooktop castings, there are areas where fingers of metal don't bridge across the burner, leaving openings that tiny 1 qt sauce pans might rock into. You do sometimes have to take care to make sure small pans are fully supported.
2. Below the cast iron surface, the stainless is a one-piece stamping with linear ridges running front to back to compartmentalize boilovers and spills into three areas. The stamping is also gently raised near the burner bases, keeping liquids away, and making it easy to clean. No tight corners or seams for burned on food to get into. The burner assemblies feel precision machined and look top quality. Overall, a well thought out design for keeping it clean.
3. Five burners in 30". There aren't many of these on the market. Obviously, you're not going to get as much room as a 36" cooktop, so if you're using a 12-14" skillet on one burner, don't expect to put a 4 qt saucepan next to it - at least not centered on the flame. I can center a 5 qt stock pot next to a 4 qt saucepan, however. This is just one of the trade-offs to get 5 burners in a 4-burner space, so I can't fault KitchenAid.
4. Controls are stainless with a tactile rubberized plastic ring, feel heavy and precise, not thin or wobbly, and are unadorned, so they're also easy to clean. This is important because being adjacent to the cook surface, they're going to get splatter on them. I was first wondering if, without a vertical fin, they might be slippery to turn, but they're not for me. If you have a disability or arthritic hands, you might want to try these controls in the store before you buy.
I wasn't all that excited about the KitchenAid brand at first, but this product has given me reason to give them a closer look next time I buy.
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