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Fire in the Hole! Miele Gas Cooktop Inspires Awe
Jun 27, 2010 (Updated Jul 7, 2010)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
When our 10+ year old builder's grade GE gas cooktop shorted out after a boil-over, my husband and I jumped at the opportunity to upgrade the cooktop (especially since we were already having some ignition problems). While we initially planned to stick to a mainstream brand easily found at our local large home improvement chain store, our on-line research led us to more powerful (and more expensive!) European brand cooktops. Thus, we ended up at a specialty kitchen appliance store where the clear winner was Miele's KM3475G cooktop with the linear grates.
Recommend this product?
First, let me outline what we were looking for, as cooking style influences how you evaluate cooktops and our selection criteria may differ from yours. I should say at the outset that my husband does the vast majority of the cooking. I handle the occasional weekend breakfast and clean-up, so this section is largely a summary of his priorities.
Heat output/BTU rating
The biggest factor for upgrading was to gain more heating output and consistent heat. Our old GE cooktop was 10+ years old and we knew it wasn't a top performer. My husband likes wok cooking, searing meats on his grill pan, and simmering stews. Thus, any cooktops that wasted space by having 2 or more burners with under 9,000 BTU immediately fell off our list.
Note that it's not just about heating output, but also control. Some cooks will want the precision of a simmer mode for delicate sauces or melting chocolate. However, neither my husband nor I make fancy sauces nor melt chocolate, so it was just a nice bonus to find our final choice has two burners with a low-powered simmer mode as well as the high-power mode.
My husband cooked with all 4 burners of the old GE cooktop going at once on many days. Thus, we knew a top priority would be the burner layout. I strongly advise potential buyers to walk through an appliance store with the pots and pans you use most often and actually place them on the burners. My husband brought his cookware, which tend to be large and bulky (e.g., Staub grill pan, large Le Creuset Dutch Oven, carbon steel wok), and tried them out on all the brands we were considering (Miele, DCS, Dacor, Wolf, BlueStar, and Thermador).
The most powerful burner is often set in the middle of the cooktop, with smaller ones in the front closest to the chef. For our purposes, we wanted the most powerful burners to be the two front burners so his very large pots and pans wouldn't prevent the use of the other burners (as they would if they were placed on the center burner). He immediately loved the layout of the Miele burners, combined with their BTU rating.
Control panel location
Knob placement wasn't really on our radar. You will see that some have the control panel closest to the chef, while others have knobs to one side. We figured it wouldn't matter and put a higher priority on other factors.
Grating System and Number of Burners
Our old GE cooktop had 4 burners with individual round cast iron grates. My husband definitely wanted continuous grates, so you could more easily slide pots and pans from the front burners to the back burners. Moreover, almost all the 36" wide gas cooktops have 5 burners now, so that seemed like another definite upgrade we would get.
Sealed vs. Open Burners
In addition, the old GE cooktop had open burners with individual drip pans (which is why the boil-over led to some electrical issue as it leaked through below). Sealed burners limit boil-overs to the top surface, because there is no hole to expose the electrical innards. However, according to some folks, you may sacrifice some performance with sealed burners due to the lower supply of air to feed the flames. Regardless, the high-end cooktops have much higher BTU ratings to generate what should be more than adequate heat for most home cooks. On a side note: higher BTU cooktops require very powerful venting systems. Fortunately, we already have a large Vent-A-Hood system over the island where the cooktop is, so we knew we could upgrade to a more powerful cooktop.
Finally, I'll admit that I just was sick of looking at our old GE cooktop, with its individual cast iron grates (including a broken one that I wasn't willing to spend $50 to replace), its peeling rubber seal on the control panel, and the glossy mirror-like surface that always seemed dirty. I would have been fine sticking with another black cooktop, but the Miele only came in the matte stainless steel (which isn't streaky at all!).
I thought some of the professional-style cooktops looked too industrial, including the Miele at first. I really liked the DCS cooktop, but my husband nixed that after finding that putting his large pot on the center burner blocked access to the other burners.
About the Cooktop
This Miele cooktop's specifications are:
- 5 completely sealed burners
(2) 15,300 BTU Double inset super burners (the 2 closest to the chef in the front)
(1) 12,000 BTU Super burner (middle back)
(2) 9,000 BTU High-speed burners (back side burners)
- Natural Gas connection
- Center control panel
- Stainless steel knob controls (note that there are no numbers or dashes on them and they turn counter-clockwise, which is a little counterintuitive!)
- Fast ignition system (but it continues to spark after the flame is lit, more on this below)
- Ignition safety control
- Stainless steel finish (matte, which I initially didn't like but it's much more low maintenance than the polished SS)
- Cast iron grates: linear design
Wok ring (which we don't need since my husband bought flat-bottom carbon steel woks)
Depth: 21 5/16"
Height: 3 3/8"
Note that the cooktop is one piece of stainless steel, so there isn't a separate panel sitting on top of the cooktop for the knobs, nor are there other crevices for food/liquid to get into like with our old GE cooktop.
After installation, the first surprise was that the igniter continues to click for a few seconds after the flame catches and there's no way to turn it off. On our old GE, we'd turn the knob all the way to ignite the flame and then could immediately turn the knob the other way to stop the clicking. On the Miele, you can't control the ignition feature, which is a new safety feature. On the old GE, which didn't have this, it would continue to leak gas if the knob was turned away from the igniter point too early.
When I first heard that extended ignition sparking/clicking noise, I wondered if the installer was having trouble getting it to work. This will certainly be an annoyance for some people, but we've learned to ignore it. Just note that you won't be able to quietly cook something on the cooktop without possibly waking up a sleeping child/spouse!
The appliance store didn't have the floor unit hooked up, so it was fun to finally play with the dual burners after the cooktop was installed. The dual burners have a powerful base burner and a smaller burner stacked on top that can be used alone to simmer. Imagine two concentric rings of flame which together offer a lot of heat, but the larger one can be turned off to get finer heat control with just the small ring.
The knobs (which don't have numbers/dashes on them) rely instead on the base for indicators to show where to turn the knob to light the burner. For the dual burners, there are extra flame icons to show you where to turn the dial if you want the power mode and where to turn for the simmer mode.
The first meal my husband cooked on this new cooktop was accompanied by almost nonstop chatter. We were immediately delighted to find we didn't have to fan the air to get the burner to light (that old GE cooktop was pretty old!). Then the two of us marveled at the speed at which the oil heated up, the improved performance of the wok, the sear he was able to get on the ribeye steaks, the convenience of having the continuous grates, and even the sheer beauty of this cooktop. At the end of cooking that first meal, my husband remarked that he would have to adjust his timing on everything, as the pots and pans heated up so much quicker than he's accustomed to seeing.
My responsibility is to clean up after my husband cooks, which includes wiping up all the splatters. So far, I've managed to catch the splatters before they've burned onto the surface. After a quick wipe around the knobs, I lift the three grate sections one at a time to wipe underneath, and voila! All clean. The matte stainless steel surface is so easy to take care of compared to the old glossy black GE cooktop or our current polished stainless steel microwave, both of which show(ed) streaks and fingerprints.
Note that some complain that sealed burners are more difficult to clean as you can't just lift out the drip pans and put them in the dishwasher or sink. I find cleaning a sealed burner much faster, as I just lift the grates and wipe, as opposed to taking apart each burner, lifting out the drip pan, and then cleaning them. Frankly, I rarely did that on the old cooktop, opting instead to cover the drip pan with aluminum foil (which is ugly but effective). Now, I have a more attractive cooktop and no crevices for grease or food bits to hide.
I have also read about complaints about the difficulty in finding authorized Miele repair technicians, ignition problems, etc. Fingers crossed we won't have to learn about those issues firsthand. In fact, I'm really hoping we can get at least 15 years out of this cooktop, especially since it costs three times as much as the standard GE gas cooktop that lasted us 10 years.
Can you find a cheaper gas cooktop that can deliver food that tastes just as good? Without a doubt. But what Miele delivers is a powerful and more consistent product that makes cooking fun. We're happy with our purchase thus far and keeping our fingers crossed we won't need any expensive repairs.
July 2010 update: I wanted to add that when my husband went to BBQ some ribs on his outdoor Weber propane grill over the July 4th weekend, he was so disappointed by its performance that he came back in to finish on the Miele! Looks like we will need to upgrade our outdoor BBQ grill now that he's accustomed to the power of the Miele.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1599
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