Gas cooktops should be easy to buy.
You are only comparing the burner configuration, output, simmering capability, and reliability for the top half of a stove.
But you started reading on the internet, where it's impossible not to be confused.
In this article, you will learn the similarities and the differences between three marquee brands, Viking, Thermador, and Wolf.
We'll cover their sizes and BTU outputs.
You will also learn the difference between cooktops and rangetops. The terms are usually used interchangeably, yet they shouldn't be due to feature differences.
Also, finding early delivery dates and installation could be a big potential problem.
Wolf / Sub-Zero offers three designs of this cooktop, and seven units total in 15, 24, 30, and 36-inch sizes.
The pro-style and transitional are aesthetically different in the design of the grates and control panel only.
They also produce a third fully flush contemporary unit (shown below) with separate knob cutouts for the front of the cabinets and a different layout for the burners.
With the burners on the front, you have more space on the cooktop for larger pans. Most people opt for the traditional cooktop with burners on the top.
For new construction, look at the 36-inch flush unit, the CG365C/S (shown below). It also has the highest output at 20,000 BTU.
This 36-inch gas cooktop is Wolf's most popular with five burners.
Best 36-Inch Gas Cooktop: Wolf CG365 C/S - $2,670
The highest output burner is 18,000, and the overall BTUs are 57k. Wolf uses round burners with a variety of circumferences and also has single-point ignition and auto reignite.
- Total BTU Output:
- One burner at 18,000 BTU
- One burner at 12,000 BTU
- Three burners at 9,200 BTU
Wolf offers dual stacking burners. There is a second valve on every burner, offering a greater range of flexibility while cooking.
The upper valve has the higher range of BTUs covered in a high to low range.
The lower valve will activate as you continue to turn the control knob, offering a very low continuous melting simmer.
If you think of a dial having a 1-10 setting, a dual-stacked burner will have nearly twice as many stops between 1-10 compared to a traditional unit for greater accuracy.
The Wolf unit is ordered from the factory as Natural Gas or Propane. The LP version does not reduce BTU output, unlike the 10% of most brands.
Once again, you only have one high output burner.Short on time? Get our free Gas Cooking Buying Guide
Thermador was the original high-end American manufacturer. They had the first built-ins, slide-ins, and downdrafts.
In the 1990s, the German Bosch company bought Thermador. Bosch instilled more systems, processes for better reliability.
Most of the Thermadors' products are still manufactured in the US.
Thermador is known for its 1, 2, Free rebate program. If you buy a cooktop and wall oven, you will receive a free dishwasher.
Best Features of Thermador Gas Cooktops
Thermador currently has eight gas cooktops between 30 and 36 inches. Let's look at their two key features.
1. Star Burners
The star shape burner has 56% more surface area than the round burner, ostensibly for more even heat.
However, the heat hits the pan, and the pan cooks the food. You don't have significantly better, more even, or faster cooking according to our tests.
Their "P" models have the pedestal Star for much easier cleaning.
2. Low Simmer Burners
Their "X" models have two XLO burners. They turn on and off for a mean simmer of 100 degrees.
Differences Between Thermador Gas Cooktops
You need a guide to understand this. They all look the same yet have different features.
Let me explain in the 36 inches. It repeats in 30 inches.
- SGS365TS ($1,749): its their basic 36 inch cooktop, with 2 1 16,000, 2 12,000 and 2 9100 BTU burners
- SGSP365TS ($2,099): The center burner is now 18,000. The "P" stands for the pedestal. The burners are on a pedestal, so they are easier to clean underneath. In the non "P" models, you can't clean underneath.
- SGSX365TS ($2,099): the burner is 16,000 and not on a pedestal, so it's harder to clean underneath. However, the "X" means XLO for two intermittent simmers.
- SGSXP365TS ($2,499): Their best cooktop with both "X" and "P" for the XLO burners, 18,000 BTU center burner on a raised pedestal for easy cleaning.
The XP has stainless under the controls for easier cleaning on the surface (as opposed to underneath) plus light-up knobs.
Best 30-Inch Gas Cooktop: Thermador SGSXP305TS - $2,199
This new unit offers over 50,000 BTUs combined between the five burners. The five-burner layout on the Thermador offers the most usable burner layout on the market.
- Total BTU: - 56,200 BTU
- Front Left - 9,100
- Rear Left - 10,000
- Center - 18,000
- Right Rear - 9,100
- Front Right - 10,000
The 18k BTU center burner offers enough space for a very large pan to be used while not interfering with the other burners.
Thermador offers single-point ignition, so the ignitors don't want all fire up every time you light a burner.
Thermador also has a patent on their Extra Low burners. This setting will turn the flame off and on for a predetermined time over a minute. It is substantially lower than the best consistent simmer.
The knobs also illuminate so you can easily see if that burner is in use, and this unit offers raised burner beds, so cleaning is simple.
Thermador Gas Cooktop Problems
You only have one power burner on this cooktop. Eighteen thousand BTU is good output, but it drops significantly from there.
Viking was started in the 1990s in Mississippi.
They were the first company to market a professional range.
Over the years, the company went from wildly popular to somewhat unreliable, with 100,000 products recalled, including self-igniting ranges and doors falling off refrigerators.
They were sold to Middleby in 2012. The problems continued through 2017.
However, as I write this, Viking is on the mend.
Their new CEO, Scott Grugel, is pretty impressive and is credited for the Lynx grill turnaround.
Yale does not carry Viking appliances. I would have no problem recommending this gas cooktop from them, but you may want to check the reliability.
Viking 5 Series 36-Inch Gas Cooktop VGSU5361-6B - $2,649
Viking has two cooktops, one professional (shown above) and one that is more cost-effective at $1,909 with a completely different layout, the Viking 36-Inch Gas Cooktop RGVS33615BSS (shown below).
They are available in 30 and 36 inches with dedicated units for LP as well.
On the VGSU series, the unit offers six more durable brass burners. You have the ability to cook six items at a time or one burner more than most gas cooktops.
However, with the knobs on the side, it will not be easy to cook on all six burners simultaneously with regular or large pans.
The Viking VGSU5361-6B cooktop has an 18,000 BTU burner as its highest powered burner and has 66,000 BTU's of overall power.
- Total BTU for VGSU5361-6B: 66,000 BTU
- Left front – 18,000 BTU
- Left rear – 10,000 BTU
- Center/Center front – 12,000 BTU
- Center rear – 12,000 BTU
- Right front – 6,000 BTU
- Right rear – 8,000 BTU
While the RVGS33615BSS has a slightly less overall burner output at 52,200 BTU with one high output burner at 17,000 BTU.
- Total BTU: 52,200 BTU
- Left Front 9100
- Left Rear 9100
- Center 17,000
- Right Front 12,000
- Right Rear 5,000
The brass burners offered by Viking are the most durable offered residentially.
This unit has a re-ignition system like the Thermador. In the event a flame goes out, it will light up again on its own.
This is a great feature. If you are simmering something, it is difficult to see the flame under a pan. Viking can be purchased in propane or gas from the factory or converted later on site.
First, you have to read user reviews about Vikings' reliability. Like Thermador, Viking has only one power burner. Unlike Thermador, you don't have a published simmer.
Wolf vs. Thermador vs. Viking Gas Cooktops: Which Should You Buy?
First, all have merits, but it depends on what you value.
They are similar in terms of output at 57,000-66,000 BTU total. The max output is the same at 18,000 BTU, with 12,000 BTU being the next most powerful.
You are comparing the Thermador Star Burner to the Wolf two-stage burner and the Viking brass burner.
The best cooktop might be the Thermador with five burners, the pedestal, and extra-low burners for simmering.
The Wolf five-burner gas cooktop that sits flush has the highest output and a better configuration.
Viking has six burners, but the controls are on the right. It is hard to know whether all six can be used.
Thermador has the controls on the front ideal for that one larger pot.
Thermador's XLO burner maintains a low BTU output by turning the flame on and off, whereas Wolf has a higher BTU but with a more consistent flame.
When our Resident Chef, Saba Wahid, tested both the Wolf and Thermador gas cooktops, Thermador was 20 seconds faster to boil 8 cups of water in a stainless steel pan.
Thermador is raised while the others are based lower to the cooktop. It will be easier to clean under the Thermador.
Thermador has their 1, 2 Free rebate program. If you buy the cooktop with a wall oven, then you will receive a free dishwasher.
Viking has similar promotions during the year. Wolf will promote at different times as well.
Pro Tips for Buying a Cooktop
If you have propane at your home instead of natural gas, find a brand that comes to LP-ready from the factory already converted.
If you buy a brand that has to be converted on-site, there are extra items and costs involved and many avoidable issues.
Instead of getting lost in the weeds researching who has the highest BTUs, pay attention to flame sizes and patterns, burner circumference, burner material quality, and overall layout of the burners and knobs.
On the right cooktop, a 15,000 BTU burner can boil water faster than a 20k BTU burner if you are using higher-quality pans that are appropriately sized for that burner.
Cooktops vs. Rangetops
A cooktop is the top of a stove available in 30 and 36 inches with 4 or 5 burners with various BTU counts and burner sizes. It is cut into your counter.
A rangetop, like a name suggests, is the top of a professional range. They are around 8 inches tall, so they rest on the cabinet. They are 24", 30", 36", 48" and 60 inches wide and 24" deep.
Wolf 48-Inch Gas Rangetop
The controls are on the front, so you get significantly more usable space around the burners.
You also have a grill, griddle, French top, and wok burners available in a rangetop versus just burners in a cooktop.
Rangetops have more overall BTUs with all high output burners than just one in a cooktop, so that the ventilation requirements will differ.
Wolf 36"Rangetop vs. Cooktop Output
- Wolf 36" Cooktop SRT366: (1) 20,000 BTU, (2) 18,000 BTU, (2) 15,000 BTU, (1) 9200 BTU
- Wolf 36" Rangetop SRT366: (1) 20,000 BTU, (2) 12,000 BTU, (2) 9,000 BTU
Thermador 36" Rangetop vs. Cooktop Output
- Thermador PCG366W Cooktop: (3) 18,000 BTU, (3) 15,000 BTU
- Thermador SGSXP365 Rangetop: (1) 18,000 BTU, (2) 10,000 BTU, (2) 9100 BTU
Viking 36" Rangetop vs. Cooktop Output
- Viking Cooktop VRT7366BSS: (3) 23,000 BTU, (2) 18,000 BTU, (1) 8000 BTU
- Viking Rangetop VGSU5361: (1) 18,000 BTU, (2) 12,000 BTU, (1) 10,000 BTU, (1) 8,000 BTU, (1) 6,000 BTU
It's usually 600-1500 CFM for a rangetop versus 400-600 for a cooktop. Of course, that depends on how you cook.
For venting questions, download our free Yale Ventilation Buying Guide. It will show you every aspect of venting.
They also require a cabinet to be made especially for them, so this must be planned for in advance if you are remodeling.
Building a New Kitchen vs. Remodeling Your Kitchen
This is a key piece of information.
If you are replacing an existing cooktop and you are not changing your countertop, you may need to have an installer cut your countertop to fit the new cooktop.
Most cooktops have been standard 30 and 36 inches for 30 years or so, but cutouts differ. Replacing an existing unit usually does require some routine cabinet work.
New construction should be easy, provided your contractor has the product specs.
Cooktops will last as long as the ignition system. It's the number two repair after refrigerators.
Plan on your ignitors being replaced 2-3 times during the lifetime of your cooktop.
Do not spray the cleaning solution on the igniters if you want your gas cooktop to last a long time. The number one service call on cooktops is related to igniters not firing.
Spraying caustic cleaning materials on these small pins will cause issues sooner rather than later.
Same for spills. If you have a major spillover onto the cooktop's surface, take the cap off the burner and clean and dry it out.
Don't let the oils dry, or they might cause issues by clogging up ports or the igniter.
Get the Yale Gas Cooking Buying Guide with features, specs, and inside buying tips for all the brands. Well over 900,000 people have read a Yale Guide.
Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.
Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.
A Note About Pricing