What Brand Stove?

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

A new stove for your boat is a big expense-- find out what other cruisers like (or don't) and why!

A bit ago, Judy asked me for recommendations on brands for a replacement stove — she wanted a three burner, with oven and broiler.  Since I’ve only had extended experience with an older Force 10, I asked the question on TBG’s Facebook page.  Here’s the info I got, along with comments/questions/complaints I’ve gotten at other times via email and in the comments on other “stove” posts.  Brands are listed in no particular order and this is FAR from a scientific study!

Hillerange/Princess Seaward: Three readers (including my cookbook co-author Jan) all report that they like the stove; I’ve heard other good comments on the Women Who Sail Facebook group.

One feature that I’ve heard about several times is that the Princess has an enamel-lined oven, instead of the stainless than most others have.  Several people have commented how much better it holds heat in.  Other specific comments:

“We love our 3 burner Princess by Seaward. Reliable, even heating in the oven so that if we set it to 350, it stays at 350. Works as well as our high end oven at home. Stovetop burners are fine, but all are the same size. Can’t get a fast boil nor a very slow simmer but these are very minor complaints.”

“So far the Seaward Princess is working pretty well for us. The clips to keep the stove eye grids from rattling are a bit of a PITA but I can live with that. Broils pretty well too”

Force 10: Mixed reviews. Three readers liked theirs, but I’ve also heard comments elsewhere that the installation instructions and customer service are both pretty bad in recent years.  Comments:

“Installed a 2 burner Force 10 with broiler last fall. So far so good. Ordered extra rack too.”

“Replaced our old 1970’s stove with a Force 10 3 burner. OK. BUT used to be able to cook a whole turkey. But new oven is soooo much smaller that is no longer an option”

We had a Force 10 on Que Tal and it wasn’t horrible, but it did have some problems with the oven just not coming up to heat.  The burners and the broiler both worked well, and I liked the way that the oven door tucked away when open.

Morgan’s Cloud has published three posts about the problems they encountered and how, once they dealt with them all, they like it best of any stove they’ve had:

Dickinson Mediterranean: I’ve never heard anything bad about one, and the Facebook comments that were left were very positive:

“We have a Dickinson Mediterranean. The oven size is GREAT but probably just need 2 burners. Rarely have more than 2 pots on the stove and 3 don’t really fit. We’ve had it for about 6 months and gets used multiple times a day. I’ve been having some issues with lighting the burners but other than that it’s perfect! Super easy to clean too!”

“Love the Dickinson Med…even has broiler and wooden cutting board cover, pot holders…looks nice too”

“We installed a Dickinson Mediterannean on our still-being-built Dix 43. It’s a quality looking piece of kit, well fitted and finished. Time will tell if it can boil water or not. Oven’s big enough to roast a small turkey in.”

Eno: Had one good comment on Facebook about their 2-burner stove, and I’ve heard that the oven on the 4-burner does not do a good job — it is a single strip along the back wall and has very uneven heat as a result.  Online reviews elsewhere talk of non-existent customer service.

“We have a eno 2 burner with oven. Has worked very well for us”

Broadwater (Australian): Gets some great comments but apparently parts are no longer available.

“We have a 4 burner Broadwater ( Australian ) it’s Fantastic !! Lots of broiling room & great temperature control. 5 stars”

However, Morgan’s Cloud was not very happy with theirs and did a post on it — read it here.

Spinflo (British): Got one great review, but it’s actually an RV stove not a marine one.

“We have a British Spinflo with 4 burners, a grill and large oven. Great temperature control. Not gimballed but that doesn’t matter on our boat. But is designed for campervans. You can get extra parts. I got a 2nd rack for inside the oven. It has electric ignition. Love it but need someone to make me some potholders.”

Attwood: Got one positive comment here too:

“Attwood 3 burner oven from 1997. Works great. Use a lot as liveaboards.”

And, finally, here’s a Practical Sailor review of four boat stoves from July 2007: Galley Ranges and Small Stoves Update (note: you must be a subscriber to read the article).

Please help others who are trying to decide on a new stove — add your experience with your stove in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Following. Dallas Shaw

    • i installed a seward princess in 2001. i am happy with it & is my second one. i find it very hard to use a pressure cooker on it. takes forever to come up to pressure if it makes it at all. reaching behind the stove fo any reason is dangerous. i have slit my hand wide open on bare sides of stove. i put tape over the extensions to keep from doing that. it’s a two burner.

  2. We bought a new Force 10 4-burner range a few years ago. Overall, I love it. I went with 4-burner not because I actually use all 4 at the same time, but because I feel like it gives me more usable cooking space (two pots/pans fit well diagonally). My only complaint is that it only has 1 big burner and the rest are tiny “simmer” burners that barely boil water. The big burner is awesome though. As is the ceramic broiler.

  3. My oven/stove was not mentioned above, so I thought I’d weigh in. I have a Tasco, and I am quite happy with it so far. 3 burners that I have used simultaneously. I can adjust them to 3 flame settings and have been pleased to maintain a very low flame even in a breeze. The oven is small but I have roasted a chicken. It only has a single burner strip across the bottom so I installed a pizza stone and have baked a full sheet of cookies very evenly. Piezo-electric starter for the oven and need a match/lighter for the burners. It is gimballed, but did not come with pot holders. I tried to contact Tasco, but they apparently do not yet understand web business. Left a phone message and they did get back to me eventually but I ended up finding and buying the pot holders in a surplus marine store for $10 each.

    • Nicola forgot to mention that the Tasco oven is insulated others are not. Also it does not have a glass door that you can not see through anyway. The interior of the oven is mirror finished Stainless Steel, so it will radiate the heat back to the inside of the oven. I did get one set of pot holders with my order. We love this oven it is much better then our old Seward.

  4. Jim and Barbara Shell says:

    The best range/stove is the one you have. There are reasons for replacing what you have, but we have constantly found that there are no perfect products and all will have issues. Safety and loss (or lack) of function drive our replacement agenda.

  5. I replaced a 2 burner Seaward CNG with a 2 burner Force 10 propane. Works very well. Pretty much the only stove you can buy anymore, except the Seaward. I agree with Jennifer, too much difference between burners.

  6. Yvonne Miller says:

    We have the 3-burner Princess with the oven/broiler. Oven is true to the thermometer I check it with. We have a woodblock cover that we keep over the burners when not in use and this provides more working space.

  7. Gloria Rooney says:

    Got a Force 10 three burner with oven after I just couldn’t put up with the stove that was on the boat when we bought her. Love the Force 10 and the swing away oven door! The oven does need to be watched as it gets hotter than you may realize after about an hour or so. I keep an eye on the hanging thermometer in the oven door and make any needed adjustment. Lighting and cleaning are wonderful.

  8. I have a Neptune 2000 and I love it because of the grill between the two stove tops and the oven. It’s perfect for keeping things warm, making toasts and… grilling off course! I would like to have more burners but we have a small boat so it doesn’t take too much space.

  9. We picked up a Campchef 2 burner propane, added gimbals and safety solinoids, and got an excellent oven for a whopping $500.00. Brass and stainless steel and cooks better than the stock propane the boat came with, plus the oven itself is larger and can take medium sized bakeware.

  10. bought a new 3 burner Princess/Seaward 3 years ago when we moved onto our CAL 30, and as we now move up to the Challenger 40 inherited an older Force 10. Thinks I like/don’t like with each – Burners/Topside: Princess burners started well, but never that super high heat and always needed the ‘flame tamer’ to cook rice or slow simmer. Also the three small burners meant that a big pot took a long time to get going. The Princess was always a bother for me to clean well as you had to remove the whole grate – Sunday mornings was usually my ‘stove cleaning time’ where everything was removed and wiped down well. Older Force 10’s get’s lighted with bbq lighter and I have to hold on much longer to get burners going, but once going works very nicely. Big burner works on big pans wonderfully and small burners simmer nice and low, have left the flame tamer on the little boat. The lifting grill makes it much easier to clean (so it gets thorough cleaning more often) however the Princess had a better lip to contain spills on both burners and stove top and they drain down pretty quick on the Force 10. Oven – Princess oven was easy to clean, had a dial to set temperature, my Force 10 model has an On knob and a thermometer built in, you have to guesstimate the position and then watch the temp to get where you want. I’ve pretty much figured out where to set the dial for the temp I want but the Force 10 swings more widely (maybe the Princess did too but I just didn’t know without the thermometer. Size of both ovens was fine for everything I’ve tried to cook – did cook a small turkey in the Force 10. Both ovens have been bad about turning off – especially at lower heats (the F10 has the advantage in that I can spot it quicker as the thermometer goes down), and both ovens have tended to heat the bottoms of pans too hot – have not yet tried the Pizza Stone, but have successfully used an old broiler pan with a rack under the baking pan to avoid scorched bottoms of cookies, etc. One thing about the Princess oven – if you spill any food onto the rubber gaskets that seal the doors, be sure to clean thoroughly – if you cook with food on the gaskets, the gasket will stick to the oven and tear when you open the door. You can’t believe the heat that leaks out without those gaskets, and they were rather expensive to replace. All in all, I prefer using the Force 10, and would love to be able to get a new Force 10.

  11. 2 burner F-10. In use 9 years. Oven temps spot on and we bake a lot. Only replacements so far the AA batteries. However, all indicators are the stove side of the company barely exists and replacements, when needed will require s new stove.

  12. I replaced a 35-year-old Hillerange 3-burner with a new gimbaled Mediterranean 3-burner. I was pleased with the looks of the unit, but there were some serious design issues. First, the rail for the potholders was sharp as a razor. Since it bolts onto the front of the stove, having a razor-sharp edge pointing upward at that location was unacceptable. Second, the new stove does not hang level on the gimbals. It is tilted down toward the back, with a front-edge to back-edge elevation difference of about 1 inch. That creates enough slope to be a problem, especially when placing the weight of a full pot on the back burner. Third, natural frequency of the stove as it swings on the gimbals is about 1 Hz, which coincides with the wave frequency of most boat wakes here in the river. Several times, when crossing wakes, the stove starts swinging and builds up amplitude until it is hitting the oven door on the stainless harness bar that the cook straps himself to. I am very worried about crossing the bar next year and going offshore with it. Fourth, the oven definitely has a hot spot in the center, resulting in cookies in the center of the baking sheet with burned bottoms. Fifth, when cleaning the stove top, the food debris is too easily swept into the oven vents. Sixth, one of the battery connectors was supplied with a wire that was too short. I had to add about 1/2-inch of additional wire to make the connector reach the 9VDC battery holder. One last comment about design (although it’s a personal style thing and not a deficiency)…I would prefer the have the order of the burner knobs match the layout of the burners, but these do not. The burner knob for the (centered) rear burner is at the far right, while the knobs for the front burners (located at far left and far right) are at the left and center positions. I guess I can adjust to that after a few cruises. Despite the design issues…when at anchor and with the gimbal lock engaged, the stove works well. It puts out much more heat than the old Hillerange. It is heavily constructed and should last many years.

  13. This made me look twice at a boat listing that has a 4 burner force 10 with oven and they have added a convection oven as well, then I went back and it was the Eno 4 burner that was commented on in your article …. 🙂

  14. We just replaced a Seaward Princess with a Force 10 3 Burner Euro Standard size. It fit in the same hole pretty well, just had to add a bit of wood because it is about half an inch narrower. Happy with it so far. The door sliding under takes a little getting used to but it seems to be a good idea.

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