August 10, 2010

A READER REQUEST: Reader Eric Rassbach emails:

Could you please ask your readers what the best moderately priced gas grills out there are, and why?

Your readers seem to know what they are talking about when it comes to grilling.

They do, don’t they? Any recommendations?

UPDATE: I have a going-on-7-year-old Kenmore Premium 6-burner grill. It’s been great. The only thing to fail is the electronic ignition, which finally gave out last summer. Nothing else has broken or needed adjustment. Reader Chris Wysocki writes:

Weber. Hands down. Best bang for the buck. Get the biggest Weber you can afford. Even their low-end models run rings around anybody else. The quality of their construction makes the difference.

And if you can by all means get the natural gas model. No futzing around with LP canisters! Plus in the winter it still burns just as hot (at cold temperatures LP loses pressure and thus the grill does not get as hot as it should).

I’ve used many different grills. Being the block party cook that comes with the territory; you use the grills that get wheeled out to the street. Vermont Castings makes some nice grills, but they’re 2 to 3 times the price of a Weber. And you can forget all the Sunbeams, Char-Broils, and other low-end models you see advertised for $129. Pure unadulterated junk. You’ll be unhappy with the way they cook (hot spots in the center, uneven heat near the sides). Plus they’ll rot out within a year or two and then you’re back at the store again.

I recently retired a mid-line Weber (3 burners) after 15+ years of service and replaced it with the Weber Summit S-670. Best decision I ever made.

Reader John Bredesen writes:

We had a charcoal for years. This year we bought a Weber Q220. We have grilled more this year that the last several years combined. Got the cheap rack (it folds up) so we could lock it up by the back door and all take it camping. Easy to clean, decent temp control. We are very happy with it.

Reader Eric Beeby loves Weber, too:

Dr. R. – I have a 9 year old Weber “Silver” – they don’t make make it anymore but here’s the thing: Weber has absolutely the best customer service in the nation – second only to, perhaps, LL Bean. Gas Grill parts wear and burn up. Ignitors fail, pieces rot from heat and time. My Weber “wear items” are easily obtained with one quick phone call, courteously answered by a friendly and helpful agent. My first call to them was a surprise as the agent informed me the part was still under warranty and they expressed it to me for free. Several years later my next call – again courteously answered by a helpful and knowledgeable agent, resulted in a small charge for a few parts and fast shipping. Both times the agent seemed to be someone who had at one time assembled these grills as they knew *exactly* which parts I was having trouble with. Check out their Spirit and Genesis lines now – these are similar to my old Weber “Silver”. Beyond gas grills, Weber is a stellar example of an American Company with fine service.

G.L. Carlson emails:

My reco is the DuCane. Now a Weber brand. DuCane has three things to recommend it: it uses a (patented) burner that goes up, not sideways, and is much sturdier and longer lasting than the other side-hole style; it uses a stainless grate with narrow slots (no lost shrimp…), and it’s the grill that I see at every resort in the Southeast- which implies that these are well built which agrees with my experience so far. Available for propane or natural gas and easily converted to the alternate. The basic model isn’t cheap (400 bucks or so depending on sales and options, but it’s very good value. Mine is 5 years old, barely broken in, and likely to last another 15 years.

Reader Eric Stahlfeld writes:

I’ve been happy with my Char-Broil commercial series gas grill, with brass burners that have a lifetime warranty. The working parts are still in good shape after a few years of service — I’ve had to clean out the holes in the burners, but then they’re good as new. The cooking surface is still in great shape, as is the ignition. The only complaints are that sometimes the side burner lights rather than the main burner, the stainless steel is a pain to clean, and the rubber on the control knobs has started to come loose.

But for function, it’s been great.

Reader Robert Sinnema agrees:

Glenn — our grill is a Char-Broil Commercial Series Grill (model 463268007) from Lowe’s, which I bought based on a Consumer Reports “best buy” rating. If I remember correctly it was about $300. It’s stainless steel, has very sturdy grates and a side burner. We do a lot of grilling and it’s still going strong after 3 years, even the electronic ignition (on the original battery!).

And PJTV producer Owen Brennan writes:

I love my Weber Q 120. (could be the Q 100, I’m still at work)
http://bit.ly/anIUjp

I was reluctant to buy it, cause it was on the small side. But I have the perfect table for it and I’m not grilling for more than 4-6 people these days, so it’s the perfect size. It’s also very economical with the gas. We grill a lot and one tank goes for at least 4 months. I’ve never really used it anywhere but our porch, but it’s small enough that we could toss it in the trunk for tailgating. The model shown on the website doesn’t have a thermometer, but mine does and it’s very useful.

Two pieces of advice for your reader:

1. take off the silly plastic fold out trays. It’s much easier to use without.
2. don’t forget to clean out the inside every 4-6 months. scrapings and drippings can build up and will eventually catch fire if you don’t. it’s a manageable fire though, as I speak from experience.

The fires just add excitement.

MORE: Reader Jon Miles writes:

The only grill I will ever own again is a Holland. The flame is below a pan, so you never get flare-up. The pan can be used to steam veggies. The pattern of the grill is diamond-shapes with an opening about 3/8 of an inch, so your stuff doesn’t fall through. You don’t open and close, open and close, open and close this grill. You put your stuff on, turn it once, and take it off when it’s ready. You can use it like an oven. I watched the salesman demo the thing and he made canned biscuits on it. Holland Grill. You will never be sorry you bought one. (Added bonus: they’re in North Carolina, so you’re supporting a Tarheel.)

Er, is that a plus?

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