Does a commercial range belong in a home?
Competitors on "The Taste," "Top Chef," "Cupcake Wars" and other TV cooking competitions whip up meals and baked goods at lightning speed. Part of the credit goes to the commercial appliances used on these shows.
Employed in restaurants and professional kitchens, commercial ranges and ovens heat up more quickly. They're bigger and more powerful than professional-style ranges from companies such as Wolf or Viking, which in turn are bigger than standard ranges found in most middle-class kitchens.
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Before you salivate over the thought of saving time in the kitchen with a commercial range in your home, keep these issues in mind.
Frederick Cann, owner of Jr's Solutions, a construction management and residential building firm in South Huntington, N.Y., says installation costs for a commercial range in a residential home can be as much as 20 percent to 30 percent more than installing a pro-style range.
"There's a few things mechanically that would impact installation," Cann says. "You may have to upgrade your electrical system. Most commercial-grade appliances are 220 volts versus 110. And the gas on the cooktop or convection oven would generally require more gas output than your traditional home appliance. So you'd have to upgrade gas service to the house, possibly."
Gas output on most professional-style ranges are from 15,000 to 18,000 British thermal units. Commercial ranges may reach as high as 33,000 Btu.
Before you invest in a commercial appliance, make sure you work with a kitchen designer who understands how these products fit, says John Petrie, president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.
"These commercial ranges aren't sized for residential use," says Petrie, who recently installed a commercial range in a client's home in South Bend, Pa. That 48-inch range actually measured 45 5/8 inches. "A trained designer would know to pull those specifications to find out what they are in terms of size and depth."
Commercial convection ovens can be between 34 and 44 inches deep, says Petrie. Residential cabinets and countertops are typically 24 inches deep. In the South Bend home, Petrie bumped out the steel cabinetry to compensate.
With a typical front doorway 36 inches wide, you may not even be able to get a commercial range into your home, Petrie says. Most professional-style ranges can be taken apart to install, so you'll want to find out if the same is true for your commercial appliance.
Professional-style ranges have zero-clearance tolerances and can directly abut all types of cabinetry. Commercial ranges require 6 to 8 inches of clearance around them, says Petrie, a certified kitchen designer with Mother Hubbard's Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
"You can't build them in," he says. "You wouldn't be able to use a combustible surface for a countertop next to this range. You would want to use a stone or quartz product for your countertop and steel cabinetry to the right and left."
Commercial ranges are often on caster wheels, so they can be moved out of place for cleaning underneath. And they don't include toe kicks -- those hollows at the bottoms of cabinets.
Before choosing commercial appliances in your new or existing home, Realtor Paul Wyman suggests having a Realtor do a market analysis of similar homes in your area, taking into account special upgrades to determine the impact on the home's market price.
"Upgrading appliances to commercial grade can sometimes be a good thing, especially in a high-end, executive-style home with a large kitchen. Oftentimes the upgrade will help sell the home, but that does not necessarily mean it will always bring additional value," says Wyman, president of The Wyman Group, in Kokomo, Ind.
Commercial ranges, or other such appliances, could also negatively affect the future sale of your home. Depending on the size of your home and kitchen, commercial appliances may be viewed as overkill by potential homebuyers.
For most homeowners, say Cann and Petrie, commercial appliances are best kept out of the kitchen. "Homeowners should have a clear understanding of what a commercial appliance is versus a pro-style appliance," says Cann. "If they understand the differences, it's a no-brainer. They'd choose the pro-line and save themselves some money."