We’ve had our Unique propane off grid stove for a few months now, so I thought it was time for a review. (This is not a sponsored post.)
First I’d like to share a little back story on how we came to getting a new stove. When we first moved here ten years ago, the previous owner had left an old, electric range. Judging by the style of the stove I would say it was from the late 70’s, or thereabout. Even though this old range was probably an energy suck on the light bill, it still worked just fine. So I couldn’t really justify getting rid of a perfectly working stove. Now, we had a propane stove growing up, and I learned to cook on it. There really is a difference cooking on gas versus electric. I must say, I would never volunteer to be in the electric stove camp. Ever. But for the last ten years I’ve “grinned and beared it” for practicality’s sake. I duct taped the oven door handle on a few years ago when it came loose, as the stove still functioned well. Fast forward to early September, 2021. My mother-in-law was moving, and no longer needed her glass top electric stove. My husband Joe said “Hey, I should bring Mother’s glass-top over for you”. Completely overlooking my husband’s seemingly generous offer, I quickly spat out a “Don’t you dare!” and an “I’ve been waiting TEN years for this sucker to die so I can get the stove I want.” Thinking back, I probably could have been a little sweeter in my response, haha. But the thought of being caught in this endless cycle of old electric stoves sent a current up my…well, you know.
Anyway, so he didn’t bring the stove home. About two weeks later I was cooking breakfast. I set two cast iron skillets on the burners, one in each hand. As I did, I felt a strong current arch off my ring, go through my arm, across my chest and out the other hand. Boy was that a jolt. Right after that, sparks started shooting and snapping out of the back burner on the stove. Joe unplugged it and lifted the top up. Come to find out, the fasteners that hold the burners to the stove top and into the plugs had corroded and essentially electrified the whole stove. And I had just told my six year old son he could help me cook eggs. That situation could have been a lot worse, and we are thankful it wasn’t!
Now, I’m sure we could have replaced the fasteners and the burners. BUT. This was the cue we took to finally retire the old workhorse. As I sipped my coffee and had my breakfast (cooked on a two burner camp stove) that morning I’m not gonna lie-I was just about giddy. You see, I’ve had my propane stove picked out for 10 years and now I could finally get it. The worst part of this whole ordeal was that it was right in the middle of canning season. Ugh! But getting my new stove was well worth the inconvenience. I’ll get to that in a minute. So I packed up all my tomatoes and jars and headed to my mother’s with a spring in my step to finish canning my sauce.
Back along, I originally was scoping out the Unique off grid Basic range model. It is a step down from the classic. Not as pretty, but just as functional with a smaller price tag. The differences between the basic and the classic is that the basic does not have a backsplash. Also, the knobs on the basic are black, even on the white stoves. And the basic has the rectangular “Unique” logo on the front. The classic is more, well, classy. The color of the knobs matches the stove, there is a nice backsplash and no logo on the front. And the handles are zinc cast and nicely polished. Both make a very nice Off grid stove.
Why I love the Unique Classic Retro Off grid stove
First off, it is simple. No flashy buttons, gizmos, beepers and what-nots. I’m a fairly simple person (maybe in more ways than one, lol) and I like simple things. Our old stove’s timer had given up the ghost years ago, and I gave up using pliers to adjust the clock on it. I’m used to baking without a timer, so long as I don’t forget I’m baking something, haha. But as far as being able to tell the “doneness” of food I’m used to looking, smelling and hearing various dishes to tell when they are done. I was blessed to have my mother and grandmother teach me how to cook and bake.
Second, it is 100% off grid. No clocks, electric button panels, etc. There is a battery igniter behind the kickplate that takes a “D” battery. Whenever you turn the burner knobs or the oven on to ignite the propane, all of the igniters come on to light whichever section you are calling it to. You can also light the stove/oven with a match. So far after more than three months of regular daily use, the one “D” battery is still going strong.
Thirdly, the continuous cast iron grate. I absolutely love that I can place a pot or pan, no matter how large, anywhere I want on the stove top. And with the backsplash being vertically straight, I can use the back burners for stock pots too. With the old stove, the control knobs where above the cooktop, on a panel that stuck out over the stove just enough that I couldn’t use the large back burner for canning and simmering soups in my stockpot. Not to mention the placement of those knobs meant that I was constantly scrubbing grease and who knows what off of them.
Fourthly, the sealed burners. Gone are the days of scrubbing drip pans and lining under the stovetop with foil for inevitable spills. Now I simply remove the grates, spray a little vinegar mix on the spills and wipe them off.
Fifthly, NO STANDING PILOT. With no standing pilot light, this stove does not waste propane when you are not using it. Especially with inflation these days, who wouldn’t love that?!
I also like using the broiler underneath for browning various dishes, yum!
I really like the various burner sizes. Two regular sized burners, a simmer burner in the back, and the 10,000 BTU double burner in the front right.
The sixth and final thing I love about this stove? It’s beautiful. Designed with the beloved 1950’s style in mind, this off grid stove is quite charming.
One word of caution to mention: The backsplash/vent gets very, very hot. Not so much the sides of the stove its self, but definitely the backsplash. I do not recommend putting spices up there. And definitely no plastic either. It will most likely melt when the oven is going.
As someone who really enjoys cooking and baking I can say I have tried all manner of things in/on this stove and I am thoroughly impressed! It makes stovetop popcorn much better than electric too. Way more kernels pop and the popcorn is fluffier. And the only thing that has changed in making popcorn is the stove. But the difference in undeniable. I have not tested the oven temperatures with a separate regulator but it must be spot on because I have not had to change any of my recipes at all.
If you are in the market for a propane stove/range, you will not be disappointed with the Unique Classic Retro. This off grid stove is very impressive and well worth it. I hope this was helpful if you were on the fence as to what to buy. Unique also has fridges and freezers. Hmm, our refrigerator is getting old come to think of it….Ha, ha!