Open or Sealed: The Quest for the Perfect Burner by Conal

Hey Appliance Fans,

“They may take our lives, but they will never take….our open burners!”

Just so you know, this will be a completely bias post.  Why?  Because I am infatuated with open burners, not sealed burners.  However, I am a professional so let’s explore our options.  So sit back, relax, mix up a glass of Tang and let’s talk burners, baby!

What’s the difference, Kieffer’s Guy?

Open Burners:

Open burner designs are used in pretty much all professional kitchens.  I would estimate that

Open Burner design from BlueStar. 22,000 BTUs. Now THAT’S power!

sealed burners are used 95-98 percent of the time in residences.  Open burners look exactly how they are described, there is open space around the flame output area.  What this means is that more air can circulate around the flame giving an open burner much more power.  Additionally, open burners can drop down to a very low simmer.  The combination of power and delicateness is why professionals only use open burners.

The drip tray on this BlueStar 36″ range slides out for cleaning.

With great power comes great responsibility.  Well, not really, but there is a catch.  Cleaning.  Because of the space around open burners, if there is a spill, liquid can seep below the burner.  That’s why all open burner models have removable drip trays that catch liquids.  Incidentally, these drip trays are dishwasher safe.  For some customers, the notion of cleaning open burners is a deal breaker and they opt for sealed burner designs.  But ask yourself this:  how many times per year do you have boil overs?  If you’re like me, not too many.  My vote is for the more powerful open burner.

Manufacturers to consider  with open burner designs:

  • BlueStar
  • Viking
  • Wolf
  • Capital

Sealed Burners:

The benefit of a sealed burner means liquids that spill are trapped on top of the cooking surface.

Sealed burners were specifically designed for the home owner because they are easier to clean than open burners.  As mentioned before, this is the most common design in residential kitchens and I guarantee that you have sealed burners in your home.  In terms of what manufacturers to consider when looking at sealed burners, every company makes sealed burners (with the exception of BlueStar).

While cleaning sealed burners is relatively easy (assuming you don’t spill concrete or super glue on your cooktop), there are two drawbacks to this design.  One, you don’t get as much BTU output.  The most powerful sealed burners will put out about 18,500 BTUs (open burners can pump out 22,000 or more).  Two, some BTUs can be lost if the flame shoots out around the side of the pot.  The ideal condition for cooking food is when the entire flame is focused on the bottom of the pot or pan.  If the flame encompasses the side of the cooking vessel, that heat is not focused on what you need to cook.  Compare the sealed burner picture with the open burner picture.  Notice how the sealed burner sits above the cooktop whereas the open burner rests below the cooktop?  The open burner wins every single time for focusing the heat energy onto your pan.  Compare both pictures again.  Notice how the BlueStar has orifices peppered around the entire burner?  The sealed burner doesn’t.  It’s orifices circle the burner.  This is what also causes flames to encompass the pan rather than direct it onto the bottom of the pot.

Thermador’s Star Burners

Thermador’s Star Burners distribute heat more evenly than circle burner designs.

Remember the saying ” I before E except after C”?  The reason I mention this is that there is always an exception to the rule.  I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t set  aside a special section about Thermador’s Star Burners.  Technically, they are sealed burners making cleanup a snap, but their unique design focuses more flames on your pan.  Although other manufacturers will have the same BTU output in their sealed burners compared with the Star Burner, the star shape helps to eliminate flames spilling out of the sides of the pot.  If you compare the Thermador burner to the BlueStar burner, you will notice that the orifices in both burners look like, well, a star.

When deciding what type of burner you want in your home, just remember the two main

I want all of the BTU power in the World! Give me open burners, muh ha ha ha!

differences between open versus sealed burners:  open burners provide much more power than sealed burners, but take a little more work to clean should you have a boil over.  Since I’m a closet Iron Chef, I want all the power I can get.

For more information about open vs. sealed, stop in our showroom.  We have both on display!

As always, don’t forget to visit the Kieffer’s website for all of your appliance needs in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington DC!

-The Kieffer’s Guy