A big trend that I noticed at the Annapolis Sailboat Show a couple of years ago was the use of 2-burner stoves on almost all of the boats under roughly 45 feet. I also saw this on some of the smaller power boats during the powerboat show. (While I noticed it at the show, going from boat to boat, the basic issue is one to think about whether you’re looking at new boats, used boats or contemplating a new stove in your existing boat.)
When I commented on the number of 2-burner stoves I was seeing, my husband Dave asked why it was a big deal. He asked how often I cooked with more than two pans. And there are some advantages to a 2-burner stove:
- Takes up less space — counter doesn’t have to be as deep
- Lower cost
- Easier to get balanced on gimbal (on a 3-burner, you’ll have to balance your cooking with a pot of water on the other half)
But the number of burners isn’t the only difference between a 2- and 3-burner stove. The 3-burner also has a larger oven.
The larger oven is good for several reasons:
- Even with a 3-burner stove, the oven is smaller than a home oven. But you can get a 9″ x 13″ pan in most, and can’t with the typical oven on a 2-burner stove.
- You need at least a couple of inches between any pan (or baking stone) and the oven walls for air flow. Small ovens really limit pan size!
- The smaller the oven, the more problems you’re going to have with hot spots and all the hot air escaping when you open the door. Hot spots and uneven baking are basically caused by small ovens where the heat source is close to the pan in places and where there is a smaller volume of hot air.
The specs are slightly different for every stove manufacturer, but here’s a comparison of three models of Force 10 — the American Standard 3-burner, American Standard 2-burner and the European Compact 2-burner (which I saw in many boats). Force 10 has other models as well — I choose these as being some of the most popular sizes.
Dimensions are outside measurements. Space inside the oven is considerably smaller.
If you are looking at a used boat and thinking that changing the stove might be part of your “new-to-us” refit, changing the stove size to a larger one isn’t just a matter of having the correct width and height (such as going from the AS 2-burner to 3-burner). The stove depth is not simply a matter of being able to physically fit the stove into the space, it’s also a matter of having sufficient room for it to swing on its gimbal. Check specs carefully if you are planning a refit.
If you plan to bake in your stove’s oven — and admittedly, not everyone does — it’s important to realize that the stove size will play a big part in how satisfied you’ll be with your baking. If you only envision baking rarely, you might actually be happier with just a stovetop instead of a stove with oven, saving what would otherwise be the oven space for storage, and get an Omnia Stove Top Oven for the times when you do want to bake.
Everything in a boat is a compromise and the space allocated to the stove/oven is no exception. There are plenty of reasons to decide to go with a 2-burner stove instead of a 3-burner. But when you make the choice, realize it’s not just a burner that you are giving up.