Whether you're looking at a new boat, "new-to-us" or planning a galley refit, know the pros and cons of both.

2-Burner Stove or 3?

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.

Whether you're looking at a new boat, "new-to-us" or planning a galley refit, know the pros and cons of both.

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.

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  • John Ahern
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    I never use 3 burners….How about a two burner and maintain size of oven? hmmmmm

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

      Yeah, why not? I don’t believe that I’ve seen any brands that do that but maybe there are some.

  • Tracey McHattie-Hogan
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    I have 3 burners and can’t seem to navigate using more than one at a time. I think I may need tea party sized pots! lol

  • Jan Irons
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    We love our 3 burner Hillerange, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember ever using all three burners at once… maybe Thanksgiving?

  • Bob Bechler
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Hands down 3 burmer

  • Lynn Kaak
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Love our three burner.. And I have used all of them at once (repeatedly)! The secret is knowing which pot and pan combos work!

  • Susan Parker
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    We had a three burner Princess which I hated. The burners were so close together that you couldn’t even use two good sized pans much less three. We installed a two burner and love it.

  • LaDonna Bubak
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    I use three burners all the time. Well, not ALL the time, but frequently enough. But you’re right that the oven is the big factor here, and I won’t live without a good oven!

  • Georgina Moon
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    we have a four burner stove, but no microwave!

  • Nic Carter-Jones
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    two burners allow a bigger pot!

  • Teresa Henson
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    check out remoska cookers in lakeland plastics. bought one on saturday and first off is to make bread!!!!!widely used by motorhomers….

  • Ann Snider
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Honestly, we have three burners and I don’t think I’ve ever used all three. Two is usually plenty – even at home!

  • Georgina Moon
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Can only use Remoska if you have shore power! We don’t plug anything in!

  • Georgina Moon
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    I agree with Nic Carter-Jones, it’s difficult to use a big pan on our four burner, wish it were three!

  • grace may
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    We have a two burner which we haven’t started using yet as we still building our boat, the small oven has always worried me until I read about the Omnia Stove Top Oven on TBG, holding thumbs I win it:-)

  • Susanna Sharp
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    We have a three burner. And used them all on occasion before we installed our heater. Not so much now that we cook on our Dickinson, but that will change when we move to lower lats. We could adapt to two though–but an oven is a MUST!

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Hmm, I’m sensing a second article here on size of stovetop and space between burners. I had a 3-burner Force 10 and could use large pots on 2 plus the teakettle on the third, all at the same time.

    • Lynn Kaak
      Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

      I can use a large frying pan (or my pressure cooker), a small fryer or medium pot, and a kettle or smaller pot at the same time. More than enough capacity for my needs!

    • LaDonna Bubak
      Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

      Don’t forget to note the BTUs of different models. There’s one brand out there that has three burners with different BTUs. ALSO…stainless interiors don’t hold the heat as well as enameled, which is why I love my Seaward Princess. Big interior AND enameled.

    • cyndy carter
      Posted at 20 October 2016 Reply

      Also, having baked while passage making, the Force 10’s oven door that keeps the oven from tipping when opening the oven door is important for safety. Especially when there are extremely hot pans on the stove top. It’s not enameled but a baking stone in the very bottom helps spread the heat somewhat more evenly. There was a lady that opened her oven, spilled the contents from the pan on top on herself from the chest down and almost died before they could get to a hospital (passage making at the time). Never do we have enough first aid to treat a burn like that aboard and certainly never enough pain meds!
      I bought my Force 10 3-burner solely for that reason.

  • judi Pringle
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    love the 2 burner Force 10 on my 2012 Hunter 33, any tips for keeping the surfaces shiny and scratch free?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

      Hi Judi!

      Wish I did . . . I’ve used a variety of products over the years and my favorite so far is Krud Kutter — not sold in most stores, but there’s a link to it on Amazon in that article. If you need to use a scrubby, use the mild types (white or blue) and not the green ones as they can scratch.

      My problem is that something eventually makes a big mess and I really have to scrub to get it off and that leaves some little scratches. Over time, the little scratches do sort of all blend together into a patina.

      Another problem is that over time, the markings on the knobs wear off and eventually you either just have to make your own marks, or buy replacement knobs.

      • Beth
        Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

        I found a great product at a restaurant store called Sheila Shine. It’s an aerosol cleaner/polish/protectant. Once you spray it on the stove top, you can use something soft like a paper towel to wipe it off. It’s gotten off some pretty horrible stuff like spattered olive oil and boiled-over rice (oops). I just did a quick internet search, and it looks like it’s available all over.

  • Susan Wyatt
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Definitely a three burner for me! I use all three burners frequently. I have the perfect size pans to use all three burners at the same time. I bought a Cephalon panini grill pan that I use to grill meats and two size saucepans with lids (1 qt and 2 qt AllClad stainless steel with lids) that are used to cook vegetables, rice, pasta. These are my go-to pans for everyday cooking. I have a 3 burner stove with oven that is made by Taunton Stove Company that I love!

  • Frances
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    i’ve had two stoves……Seaward Princess (CNG) and Force 10 (propane). Both two burner. Both, lucky enough to hold a 13X9 baking pan (I had to get one with not very large handles on the ends)….by the way….the need for that I got from the Boat Galley (thank you!)…..I use it for everything……..

    So I like to think I’d like three burner….not for the burners but for the larger oven……but I’ve done fine with two.

  • Tim Sell
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    Two are fine, but three are good once in a while for variety.

  • elizabeth708
    Posted at 28 October 2013 Reply

    Great to know for when I get my sailboat!
    Thank you,
    Sail Away Girl

  • Bruce Smith
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    we quit baking when we became health nuts , back to a 2 burner ….primus!

  • MaryMarie Quigley
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    My absolute, postive, favorite go-to pan (can you tell I like it?) to make 3 burner use easier: Rachel Ray OVAL pan! It fits across the single/larger back burner and doesn’t overlap onto the two front burners making room for everything. It is also the largest pan I have and is great for making sauces or for being able to throw your linguine in flat!! Love it!

  • Louise
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    Fascinating to read these comments and see how differently everyone uses their galley. We removed the three burner stove/oven combo that came with our trawler and replaced it with a two-burner induction cooktop and a dishwasher. Power consumption is less of an issue for us, but space is still at a premium, so using that space in the way that is right for US is vital.

    Rock on, all you bakers! Not my thing, but good for y’all 🙂

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

      Very true about everyone has to know what’s important to them!

  • John A. Smith
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    I still have my 35 year old salvaged 3 burner ‘Shipmate’ and oven..never use the third back burner but it makes a handy keep safe when ring is removed…..no gimbels..lotsa fiddles

  • Rich Jones
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    3…one big for the pressure cooker and two smaller ones side by side for the griddle.

  • Jan Alexander
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    Bacon, eggs, toast…yup, gotta have three burners! We have an ancient Kenyon. We have bought several repair / replacement parts from Taunton. When this one dies for good, we’ll be buying their replacement model.

  • Bruce Allen
    Posted at 29 October 2013 Reply

    I use 3 burners. I could get along with 2, but prefer the 3. I also use the oven regularly….

  • Brenda Harbottle
    Posted at 22 November 2013 Reply

    We originally had a 2 burner cooktop and I wanted an oven. After 2 months of research I went with the Force 10 stainless steel. With 4 burners. Haha Yes, 4. I couldn’t see the point of 3 as it seemed like wasted space in the back. So now I can make our coffee and corned beef hash or hash browns on the front burners and I put a griddle on the back two and make our eggs and bacon. I’ve never had an issue with pots as I use the smaller taller Magma ones. Also the oven is huge. I’ve gotten 6 cornish game hens in there in foil pans. Split them in half and I fed 12 for my husband’s B day last year. Love the Force 10; totally worth the price if you like too cook.

  • Belinda Wolfe
    Posted at 26 January 2014 Reply

    As Carolyn said, Force 10 has more models then she listed. I’m in the process of placing my old three burner Force 10 stove on our trawler which has no oven thermostat and the igniter no longer works. And it’s ugly because all the painted numbers have rubbed off the face plate. I ordered the 3 burner 63356 model thinking that was the one that would fit the opening. However when it arrived and we opened it up tears came to my eyes when I saw how much smaller it was than the three burner stove I was replacing. I called it my Easy Bake oven. I said send it back I’d rather have my big old ugly oven then a new smaller oven. My sweet husband got to work and figured out a way to make the next bigger stove fit. I’m now waiting on the bigger 3 burner 63351 model. Backordered.

    The issue are the gimbals. Force 10 has quit making built in stoves. They expect you to retrofit a gimbaled stove to make it built-in. So, when measuring for the stove if you’re not going to gimble it disregard the over all measurement (which includes the gimbles) and only look at the stove measurement. Because the gimbals will be removed before you install the stove!

    • Phyllis Pardee
      Posted at 14 June 2014 Reply

      I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing comments from everyone as we are in the process of replacing our 4 burner electric cooktop and small countertop convection oven/toaster that sits below it on a shelf. It looks like we will have to slightly modify the pull out drawer below to accommodate the height of the 63351. I love that drawer and keep all my pots in there so dont want to lose too much in height!

  • Alice
    Posted at 11 August 2014 Reply

    We have a new 3-burner cosco marine stove. We paid a lot and I expected to be able to use it like a house appliance. I have found nothing of the sort. The stove is fine but the oven is very difficult to use. I really have to guess at the temperature setting, then adjust it after consulting an oven thermometer I placed inside the oven. I find that cookies burn on the bottom while taking far too long to cook, for instance. I just cooked a great roast beef, but the oven thermostat said 410, the thermometer I placed in the oven said 450 (but it was hanging under the pan) and even so the roast took 50% longer to cook than it would have in a land oven set at 350. Is this normal for a high end $1400 marine stove?

  • Malcolm Blom
    Posted at 04 June 2015 Reply

    Where can I buy fiddles for a 3 burner princess stove for a catalina 44.5

  • Marcie Trantham
    Posted at 24 July 2015 Reply

    I have a 3 burner….which means 2 pans ?

  • Carol Zip
    Posted at 24 July 2015 Reply

    I had a 3 burner in my monohull and have 4 burners in our catamaran. All are usable and I frequently use all 4 when our vegan daughter is aboard.

  • Iain Fraser
    Posted at 24 July 2015 Reply

    4 please!!!

  • Anita Moeder
    Posted at 24 July 2015 Reply

    Two burners and my Cobb

  • Cruisingrunner
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    I never use all three burners at the same time, but I do use all three because they are different sizes (different propane flow rates.) I would gladly give up one of the burners for a broiler, though.

  • Jennifer Pitts
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    We had three burners on our last boat and only two on our current boat. While it would be great to have the larger oven, I really don’t miss the extra burner at all. The three burners was always challenging to fit pots on all at once, which has never been an issue on my two burner stove top. I have learned to adapt to using the smaller oven space. The key is getting the right size pans for the space you have.

  • Anders Friis
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    We have four on our cat but they are too tight so can’t be used at the same time.

  • Gerry Morton-Haworth
    Posted at 27 July 2015 Reply

    2 burners, one double sized hotplate, full size oven and a small grill- can’t beat the now defunct Taylors stove! I have managed Christmas lunch for 12 including a 14lb turkey and all the trimmings.

  • David Lake
    Posted at 22 June 2016 Reply


  • Florian Wolf
    Posted at 28 December 2016 Reply

    Well, we have a 4-burner GN Espace ‘gourmet’ LPG stove with large oven, and with the right cooking appliances it is a treat. Not that our meals are of gourmet quality, but the stove is – sufficiently sized, gimbaled, good-looking even on a classic 1923 boat (I couldn’t convince my better half so far to get a Shipmate wood stove or the like – clearly non-negotiable :-), and the cooking is a pleasure. Wasn’t cheap, but penny-wise pound-foolish isn’t the way to go when it comes to food at sea, it has to be quality.

  • Terry Bogart
    Posted at 16 November 2017 Reply

    We never use the third one.

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