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January 24, 2010

Range Rage

It's Bolognese Sunday... the best kind of Sunday™. Which is always great. Especially when it's the inaugural Bolognese Sunday of a new home. But as I start encircling the new range with bowls, bottles and cans of mise, I'm forced to ask a question:

Who the hell designed this?

I'd like to know so I can "thank" him.

Really, what kind of designer, when given a 30x22" space in which to work, says to himself, "I know, self... rather than running the knobs up the length of the cooktop, let's stack them side-by-side to take up as much real estate as possible, and then cram all four burners into an 18" square so that using a plain old pot or 12" fry pan on the big burner knocks all of the others out of commission."

I mean, at the VERY least, wouldn't you shift the big burner an inch or two the right and, you know, actually utilize some of that vast region of unexplored space in the upper right corner so maybe you only lose that little simmer burner, leaving just enough room for another medium-sized pan on the bottom left and maybe a little one on the top left? And what's with all of the dead space, anyway? Is it being reserved for future burner expansion? Because I'm pretty sure this thing isn't modular. Or is that where they put the bud vase in the promotional photos?

Ahhh... I see Whirlpool was founded in 1911. I guess these are the kinds of little kinks it takes a company a century to iron out.


LMAO! I've been lurking for for the last two cycles of Top Chef, and I must say I just love your blog. But this post just takes the cake.

First of all, I think I'm in shock that you purchased a house without a gas range. I just can't picture that for some reason. I'm in the midst of house hunting myself (in Baltimore), and the first thing I ask in every house is if there is a gas cooktop, and if not, is there at LEAST GAS, because that will be numero uno on my to do list.

But I must agree with you, this design is beyond ridiculous. I'm guessing they put the knobs in a little square so that each corner matches up to a burner. For those people whose IQ can't match up knobs to burners. Law suit prevention!!

However, I don't even have the beginnings of a stab of a guess as to why they don't make the burner in the upper right hand corner a bit bigger and moved over so at least the space is being utilized.

I think you should send a link to your blog to Whirlpool in hopes of advancing their rate of innovation from one century to something closer to let's say, one decade.

Thanks so much for this amazing blog with it's fabulous pictures, insightful commentary, and wit.

Anita... I assure you, had we bought the place, the post would have included a countdown to the installation of our gas line :-)

Clearly, whoever designed that does not cook.

I am so sad to not have gas. Ok, rephrased, I'm sorry to not have a gas stove. We have a ceramic top stove too, and I dislike it immensely. And I picked it out myself. We don't have the spacing problem, but it takes FOREVER to heat up. Good luck with your cooking now... it takes a while to adjust back to electric!

The range was designed by someone who eats at Pete's "Fish" & Chips and uses the cooktop to make Kraft macaroni and cheese to go with their Pete's feast.

@Dom, I grew up out west and always had electric. It's the vogue out there, or at least it was. My folks just did a very extensive renovation of the kitchen (their second since they bought the place 25 years ago) and FINALLY installed a gas cooktop.

I'm sure you haven't been watching Food Network's latest nonsense "Worst Cooks in America", but someone two weeks ago managed to catch an electric cooktop on fire. Now that's talent.

Trained industrial engineer checking in:

The simple answer is probably cost considerations. The burners themselves probably constitute 70%-80% of the costs here. Adding a 5th would push a low end model like this out of a contractor grade budget.

The knobs are closer together as that will require less wiring to shield for moisture and heat (lower cost)

Plus, for left handed people putting knobs up the full length of the side could pose a small safety hazard. Always think about lawsuits.

The reason you think about gas ranges being wider spaced apart is for the exact opposite reason. It's cheaper to do it that way and safer.

I bet the inverter is directly underneath the dead space. (Gas ranges obviously don't have an inverter) It's cheaper to implement it there for warehousing because (guessing here) this allows for a smaller box profile rather than placing it near the instrumentation where there is less room.

The age old adage about bicycles holds here. "Low Cost, Low weight, High Durability. Pick two"

Thanks for jumping in, nom x 3...

I was joking about adding a fifth burner. The rest is still maddening, though. I can imagine, based on your description, how there might be cost savings involved, but I have a hard time believing they're significant enough to warrant crippling the range.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I went to a couple of appliance websites and did a little searching. I looked at all of the comparably-priced and (I believe) comparably-featured cooktops, and Whirlpool is the only one that does it this way. Kenmore, Frigidaire and GE all run the knobs straight up the right side. Maytag has a similar grouping of four, but uses them in what strikes me as a much better way. The square box of knobs is front and center, with two smaller burners to either side, and the larger burners in back, making better use of the space. The Maytag configuration still strikes me as a little awkward, but waaaaaay better than the Whirlpool configuration.

If everybody else is offering more reasonable configurations for similar cost, that suggests to me it's more a matter of poor design, don't you think?

Yeah, of course. Keep in mind those flat top ranges were at one time fairly "state of the art" in a manner. And designs over time always will do more with less by way of new technology. It's possible this one is a decade old. The form factor and decorative elements (as they were) seem a little dated.

Eventually things are going to evolve to the inductively coupled tops. And really if the technology gets there it should be as good or in many ways better than gas. And with those there are no limits to where you can place your pots ;-).

I had some fish & chips this pm. Bad news! The fish
(promised as fresh)didn't adhere to the batter. now
that was a minus one on a scale(fish scale)of one
to ten. Owner insisted that I didn't know my fish.
Betcha I know the difference between a good plate
and junk. What do you think happened in the kitchen
to bring about that mess?
Mike McD

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