The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven Nightmare: KA, Thermador, Wolf, Viking, Electrolux....blah!

Ria's picture

Oven Nightmare: KA, Thermador, Wolf, Viking, Electrolux....blah!

We have Thermador double electric wall ovens. They were purchased new about 11 years ago. They died after the 3rd self-clean cycle, while under warranty. Dealing with Thermador was a nightmare - they refused to believe anything was wrong with the ovens. We had multiple service calls while under warranty, much was replaced. Since the warranty expired we've replaced all electronics twice (cirucit boards, touch screens, you name it, not to mention gaskets, door springs, etc). The worst experience I had was when I called Thermador when, after a year, my oven stopped working, flashed a fault code on the display, and beeped continually. After 20 minutes on hold with customer service, I finally got a live person. After I explained the issue, gave him the fault number, and told him I'd had to leave the room because of the constant beeping, he told me that I must be mistaken, such a fault did not exist, and the oven could not be beeping. Let's just say  I did not respond well. :(

I think Thermador makes great products (we have a gas cooktop we love!), but our ovens were the first of a new model, and they were/are wretched. It was the self-clean cycle that ruined them. So, after Friday's pizza dinner, during which the ovens ceased working five times (they literally go "beep, beep, beep, then display a fault number, and shut off completely), we realized we can't deal with this anymore (they shut off 8 times during Thanksgiving).

We've been researching for a few months. I always thought Wolf would be fantastic. I looked at them, and was prepared to buy them...and, well, they don't look any better than the Electrolux or KitchenAid. I wasn't blown away.  Are they worth $3000 more? Not according to Consumer Reports. And Viking? Looked nice, but has a horrific rep for customer service. Ugh. Electrolux looks good, but compared to the KA they seem about the same. And KA offers steam-assist.

So. Here I am. I would gladly pay the $6000 for the "perfect oven." In fact, I planned and bugeted for it.  But, it doesn't exist, ast least for what we want in an oven. And after our Thermador experience, I am wary of throwing lots of money into an oven.

I've looked at Consumer Reports. I've read GardenWeb and TheFreshLoaf. And what it boils down to is this: some ovens, even the cheap ones, work well and are fantastic and will perform well for years. Some ovens, even the major expensive brands, are awful. It seems to depend on the model, the year, and use of high temps. So, what is a person to do? 

We've decided to go for a mid-range that has what we'd like....that being the KA steam-assist double convection oven. If we don't run the self-clean cycle (which I will NEVER do again, having watched the quick demise of the expensive Thermadors) we might just luck out and get a good set of ovens. And if we don't, we are not out $6000. But still, the KA steam-assist seems to be a niche product, so God only knows how that will be. I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed. 

What a horrible situation. It's a darn shame that there's not an oven brand out there with a stellar reputation.


Gailzr's picture


We also had a Thermador double convection oven with the exact same fault.  Self cleaning ruined it, beeping and fault code.  We finally just bought a Miele double convection.  I like it, but afraid to use the self cleaning.  the dealer where we bought it said that the self cleaning feature is hard on all ovens.  


MichaelH's picture

It is my opinion that the demise of quality in products we seek is a direct result of the American consumer's never ending quest for the cheapest price on everything we buy. Manufacturers who used to pride themselves on quality products have been forced to compromise on quality and service to stay in business. Many consumers just throw away a defective product and buy another cheap replacement. We reap what we sow.

Having said that, I had a Viking range years ago that was so bad that it resulted in me being on a first name basis with the repairman. A miserable product that looked great and performed poorly. Ten years ago I bought a Wolf double electric oven with a gas burner top. After hundreds of loaves and gallons of steam it continues to perform beautifully. During canning season we have all six burners going all day. I can bake 4 trays of cookies at once and they turn out perfectly. The top oven temp is 550*F. Each oven has a proof setting that is precisely 80*F; I use it often. The oven temps were calibrated from the factory and are within about 2% of what I have measured. I run the clean cycle at least 3 times a year. No repairs, no problems. It cost $11,000 with the hood in early 2003 and I would buy another without hesitation.



Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

The same thing happened to me with another popular brand wall oven---started acting up after the first clean cycle. I had to flip the circuit breaker to stop the bleepity beeping. I don't recall what error message it gave, but I remember it didn't make any sense. The repairman told me that he'd seen problems like this more than once with electronic wall ovens (not brand specific). Even though the cabinetry and installation were to specs, he thought there just wasn't enough air circulation in there for the fan that draws air to cool the electronics. In addition to replacing the control panel, he drilled a series of quarter-size holes through the floor of the cabinetry along the front, to allow air flow in/up from the kick space area. They're not visible at all. I can't say for sure that was the fix (as opposed to just replacing the panel), but I've not had any trouble with it since.

Doc.Dough's picture

Remember that there are two different companies that sell stoves and ovens with a "Wolf" label. They are not the same. This one is the commercial equipment company:

Elagins's picture

We just re-did our kitchen and bought a Bosch double wall oven -- the 8750 series, which we absolutely love (and the price was right). At one point, an appliance service person who came in about our dishwasher told us that self-clean fries circuit boards and will ultimately destroy ovens, and advised us to use a mild oven cleaner instead. I believe him, since our previous oven, a GE Profile, did indeed end up the a toasted circuit board, thanks to self-clean.

Bosch tech support was no help, since the talking heads there work from the corporate manual: their mantra is "follow the instructions in the user manual." I think the service guy knows what he's talking about.

Stan Ginsberg

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I read on this blog the rumor that KA did not refurbish returned products.  I wrote to the company and got a reply that returned products are ALL examined and the ones that were in a photo shoot and all others returned are reexamined for performance and not resold until they are just like new.

Ria's picture

We did get the KitchenAid Steam-Assist ovens and I could not be happier! They are fantastic. We've used the steam for bread (obviously!), but it's also amazing with slow-cooked meats and fish. The instruction manual is very helpful, and you can adjust the amount of steam. I've had the ovens for well over a year now, and we've had no problems at all. They are quiet (at first I wondered if they were even working because I can't hear anything!), they preheat very quickly, and they are a joy to use. I will say that I have not ever used the self-cleaning feature; after our previous ovens died because of the self-clean cycle I determined I would never use it on future ovens. I highly recommend these ovens.