As Seen on TV stirrers, Viking range problems

October 13, 2011

Despite how silly some of them seem, we spend serious money on them. Seen-on-TV products are a $300-billion industry! The latest infomercial gadgets to be tested at Consumer Reports—battery-operated stirrers for cooking!

The infomercial for the RoboStir says it stirs, so you don't have to. The RoboStir says it drops into any pot or pan, and with the touch of a button, it automatically starts to stir. The RoboStir infomercial goes on to say the gadget can be used on a variety of foods and that it "covers every inch of the bottom of the pan."

To test the RoboStir, Consumer Reports bought 10 for $10.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Testers used them to prepare various foods, including cheese sauce and tomato sauce, as well as sautéed onions and garlic. Testers also evaluated a second battery-operated stirrer called the StirCrazy, which is $5.

The concept is pretty simple. But for foods that really need to be stirred, they're not very effective. When the cheese sauce began to thicken, the RoboStir slowed down and then just stopped. The same thing happened with the StirCrazy.

The stirrers did keep moving in the tomato sauce, but only in a small area, and the result was scorched tomato pieces stuck to the pot. Sautéed onions and garlic was another challenge. Here the stirrers stayed in the middle of the pan, pushing the onions and garlic to the side! Once the onions and garlic were pushed to the side, the oil splashed from the pan onto the stove. And another problem with the RoboStir is that it claims to have three speeds, but there was only one speed on all 10 models that Consumer Reports tested. So, unfortunately, when it comes to those automatic stirrers, you're better off investing in a spoon!

Consumer Reports say one of the warnings with the RoboStir says it "should never be left unattended while in use." But doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?


Viking was the first to come out with pro-style ranges for home kitchens. They cost thousands of dollars. But in Consumer Reports' latest tests, there was a problem with the 30-inch Viking GSC5304BSS, which goes for $5,000. It shorted out and stopped working when the self-cleaning feature was used. One of the connectors actually melted.

Consumer Reports tested a second range. It didn't short out, but again there was a problem. A connector turned brown and partially melted. As a result, Consumer Reports has designated the Viking VGSC5304BSS a Don't Buy: Performance Problem. If you already own that range and have experienced a problem, Consumer Reports says to call Viking for a repair.

Consumer Reports has tested other 30-inch pro-style ranges. People like their big knobs and heavy construction. But they cost thousands of dollars, and of the 13 now rated, none has earned a high enough score to be recommended. And many of the 30- inch pro-style ranges don't have as much oven capacity as regular 30-inch stoves.

So rather than spending thousands of dollars on a pro-style range, you can get better performance for far less from a conventional stove. For example, Consumer Reports recommends the $800 LG, model LRG-3091. It has a bigger oven than most standard- sized pro-style ranges. It can simmer tomato sauce to perfection. And it does a great job baking cookies. If you want that recommended LG stove in a stainless-steel finish, it's available for $100 more.

Viking Range Corporation statement:

As the originator of ultra-premium commercial-style appliances for the home, Viking Range Corporation is dedicated to consistently delivering the highest quality and most innovative products to consumers. Recently, Viking Range Corporation's internal quality testing identified and fully resolved an issue with a small number of 30"W. Professional Series gas self-cleaning ranges, model VGSC530. The company is in the process of contacting owners of this specific gas self-cleaning range model to schedule an in-home quality inspection and, if needed, repair the very limited number of ranges affected. Viking has set up a dedicated customer service phone number, and owners of this specific model who have questions should call 855-239-5069. Viking is committed to producing the finest American-made products, and we back up this commitment with the industry's only three-year Signature Warranty.

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