Product Review: Seaward Princess 2-burner stainless steel range
Now that I've lived in the tiny house for almost two months, I plan to begin posting reviews of the many appliances and products I chose to furnish our house with.
One of my favorite things about my tiny house is our great little propane stove and oven. Many, many people have asked for details about what model it is and where to get it. So let's get that done right off the bat!
The stove (well, range really -- it has an oven too!) is a Seaward Princess 2-burner model. It is a marine-style range, designed for use in sailboats. However, it also comes with the "built-in" option (geared toward RV use), instead of the gimbaled option used most commonly in boats. Gimbaled means it hangs on a single pivot point on each side of the range, so the range can move with the rocking of the boat to stay as level as possible while cooking even on the open sea. I however, got the built-in option which forgoes the gimbals and offers a stainless steel trim piece to finish the edge around the counter top. I chose the stainless steel option for both the top and door instead of the black option. I assume the black option is a black enamel finish, but I'm not sure.
The best price I found for the stove was a Sure Marine Service. The website lists it as out of stock, but if you call them they can order it for you directly from the manufacturer. Their price (including the freight cost) was the best I found at the time. Other good sources for marine stoves are Defender and West Marine. In addition to Seaward (probably the most economical of the bunch), the other major marine range manufacturers are Force 10 and Dickinson. The are all quite pricey, but I think the range we got is well worth it. Here's why:
So far I am very happy with the overall build-quality. I can't find a single piece that does not seem very sturdy and well built. The stainless finish (designed to withstand the salty ocean air, among other abuses) is very attractive and easy to clean. More on that later. The oven is enamel coated and the door is sturdy and operates smoothly. The whole thing is quite heavy, but for me that is a plus -- I know it is built to last.
I'm sure one of the plastic knobs will be the first thing to go (the only plastic parts, as far as I can tell), but at least those can be replaced quite cheaply and easily.
This range has a simple push-button starter. It has two 8,000 btu burners and a 10,000 btu oven and broiler. The oven includes a adjustable rack, a properly sized baking pan, and another meshed baking/grill pan. It has a thermocouple gas shutoff to prevent any gas leaking when the stove is not lit.
What's great about the stove is how the burners are sealed and constructed of separate pieces that can lift off to be cleaned easily. There are very few cracks or places where dirt and grime can build up. I imagine that with some regular cleaning, the stove will continue to look nearly new for quite some time.
The stove and oven have both performed well. For someone who eats almost every meal at home, it's great to have a range that is very functional, even at such a small size (more on that later). The burners are quite hot -- plenty of heat for anything I've cooked so far. I'm not much of a baker, so can't comment on the subtleties of the oven and/or how it performs in every situation, but the temperature seems fairly accurate and it heats up quickly.
The only negative I can think of is that the burners actually burn too hot. You have to turn the knob almost all the way down to get the heat down to a medium or low setting -- and the lowest setting is a bit too hot for a simmer. But I think this is actually a problem with my propane supply, and my guess is that the stove requires a different pressure than I am giving it. I'll have to read through the installation instructions again to be sure, but I think I just need to get a different inline regulator to reduce the amount of propane going to the stove. Then I think I will have a better heat range, with a proper middle and low end.
I'll report more on this later, once I have time to tinker with it a bit.
Those who are serious bakers or who want to cook an entire bird for Thanksgiving dinner will or course find fault with the size. But the small size is what makes this such a great option for tiny house dwellers who want the complete package without it taking up their entire kitchen. I would never have considered even the most compact traditional 4 burner ranges, as they would take up too much precious square footage. But Seaward (and the other major brands) also offer 3-burner stoves similar in size to my 2-burner, for those wanting that extra burner. I chose a bit more counter space instead.
The oven is small and fits what I think of as a half sized backing pan, or maybe even less than half size. But still, we make baked potatoes and things like that all the time, so it's great unless you want to make dozens of cookies or something like that. The stove top is perfect for 2 medium or smaller sized pots/pans at a time, but if you have a large 12 inch fry pan or wok on one side it leaves hardly any room to use the other burner. So it's not very practical for your really large size cookware. But perfect for 1 or 2 people cooking a simple dinner!
All-in-all I am very happy with the Seaward range so far. It is solid, simple, no-frills range that seems like it will last a long time. For those who do a lot of eating-in, I'd definitely recommend a stove with an oven as well. Living in a tiny house does mean making some sacrifices, but if you love cooking, you definitely do not need to give it up!
One thing to remember: because propane does not burn completely clean, you will need to have an exhaust fan near the stove to pull out some of the products of combustion -- or least always keep a window cracked. We have an exhaust fan in the bathroom that we leave running whenever we are cooking. It serves a double purpose; eliminating moisture from the air while showering and for venting the stove.