Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: 4th Oven -also the Final?

Continuing from yesterday's post...
I was completely frustrated and worn out after the challenges and stresses of dealing with the Monogram oven and getting a resolution to my problem.  I was thankful, though, that I wasn't stuck with that oven and was free to try again.  That's a chance most appliance owners do not get.

I was torn, trying to decide between 3 approaches:  

I really didn't want to spend any more money, so my initial, and favorite, idea was to find a good, basic oven for an affordable price.  I could be happy with no more than a "Bake" mode, as long as I also had good quality and accurate temperatures.  Apparently this doesn't exist.  From what I learned in research and conversations with appliance repair techs, the less expensive ovens only seem to be cheaper...not just in price, but definitely in construction quality and performance.  I checked, and other used avenues.  I was too uncertain about dealing with people who might be less than honest about their right to sell the appliance and/or its working condition. This option quickly faded away.                                                                                             
The 2nd option was to try to stay 'middle of the road,' spending no more, and hopefully, less, than the price of the Monogram.  But that $3000 - $4000 is still a LOT of money, and I wasn't interested in any more problems like I'd been through, especially in performance...So I'd have to be really sure the chances of difficulties were low.                                                                                                                              
The 3rd option was to move up a notch and consider the best of the best.  I thought this was my least likely option, as I'm terminally practical and frugal.  I also wasn't sure more money would ensure me better performance, so it was going to take a lot to convince me to spend more.

I went in to various appliance stores, and told them of my prior problems, my needs, and described my baking habits.  One of the salesmen to whom I spoke used to work in R&D at Wolf and called someone he knew there in engineering, to tell him my story and see if there was any oven that would keep up with the ins and outs of pizza baking.  (I already knew the Fisher & Paykel oven had done fine with that, so I knew it wasn't impossible.)  
Wolf - E Series
The Wolf engineer said that the Wolf oven would keep up, as long as the oven door was open for less than a minute (otherwise it would need recovery time of 5 minutes to regain the heat), and, based on the testing he'd witnessed in their labs, the Electrolux would the more affordable 2nd choice. 

Since Wolf and Electrolux (in that order) seemed to be the top recommendations most places I visited, I carefully considered each.  (Bosch was in the same price range as the Elux, but had just come out with a new model for which there was no real performance or repair data yet.)  The Wolf seemed to be the one that would seem surest to meet my needs, but its retail price at about twice that of the Electrolux was definitely stopping me from jumping at it.

The big problem for me with the Electrolux was the fact that in the previous year's model, there were widespread problems with the electronic boards.  Electrolux said they'd been fixed, but it was too soon to tell, and I was leery of accepting their claims after they'd just sold a year's worth of problematic ovens.

When I discussed all the pluses of the Wolf with Hubby, and then was offered a floor model Wolf E Series double oven for approximately $1500 off retail, he said "Go for the best."

Oven #4:
Wolf E Series Double Oven

Findings that impressed me, pre-purchase:
  • Wolf has strict quality control and tests and retests each unit throughout the build process.  The  appliances are made in the USA, which is a plus for me.  
  • Wolf ovens' special and well-regarded Dual Convection is a technology they've used successfully for years. 
  • Lots of positive reviews from users. 
  • It has touch pad controls, but white and matte, not the smeary black glass. 
  • Because of the nicely thorough user's manual, I found that the preheat mode does NOT come on for temperature recovery or temperature increases, unless the oven is turned off and back on... YAY. (Advice: Be SURE to read the manual for any oven, or appliance, you're considering.  Some are more helpful than others.)
  • The temperature adjustments can be made in 1 degree increments. 
  • The full-extension glide racks, although a little difficult to move around, and only 2 per double oven, do not take up so much room that they decrease oven rack positions. 
  • I had very positive interactions with Wolf customer service regarding needs for my rangetop.

More positives after installing and using it:
  • It looks wonderful!  :-)  The touch pad is easy to use and stays nice looking.  The windows and lighting are good. 
Oodles of evenly brown cookies
  • The convection system is different than any I've used before, and better.  I use convection modes much more in this oven than any previously.  Multi-rack baking and roasting works great. 
  • The glide racks pull out so easily and I love the full-extension to reach to the back of the rack without fear of burning. 
  • I was able to find what percentages of what heating elements are used for each cooking mode so that I can fine tune my baking method, as desired, by choosing certain modes.  (This was especially helpful in determining how to bake pizzas with nicely browned crusts and tops, both.  For example, if I put the pizza stone on the bottom rack in the lowest position, I use "Roast," which uses 70% bottom heat and 30% from the top.  If I go up one rack position in order to use the glide rack, I switch to "Bake," which heats 90% from the bottom and 10% from the top.)


  • We had to adjust the size of the oven cabinet again.  Not this oven's fault, but it amazes me how much ovens can vary.  It makes replacing an oven for the non-DIYer much more difficult, and may limit options.
  • In regard to performance...NONE.  We really are happy with this oven.
  • In regard to porcelain interior, though....  :-(   I noticed some pits, apparently under spill areas, a few weeks ago.  Last week I found that near the front corners inside the oven, the porcelain is splintering.  I discovered this when I made a swipe at what I thought was crumbs inside the oven, and I got a blue piece of the glass shards in my finger.  Ouch.


  • ??   I will let you know.  I have contacted Wolf and they asked me to go ahead and send the photos I offered.  I haven't heard back from them yet...

We do not abuse our ovens.  We only use them... a lot.  I use high temperatures at least once weekly for the 3 hour pizza-making process.  I have been open about that with Wolf, and have asked that since this isn't the first time I've encountered a similar problem, is there something I can do differently, or are residential ovens not made for this kind of use?

Overall Impression:
I love this oven.  Definitely a step up from prior ovens.  The only other choice I'd rather make is to get 2 single E-Series ovens, so I could orient them both at the higher, more reachable and viewable height, and so I could have convection and the great probe in each.  (The L-Series has convection and probe in both ovens, but I like how this one looks!)   I am looking forward to a resolution on the porcelain, but the problem isn't enough to turn me off the oven.

See updates here:  (Almost) Wordless Wednesday.  The question mark on the photo above was not necessary.  I give Wolf and their ovens ++ !
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