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looking for gas grill recs?

We're shopping for a new gas grill to replace our trusty old one which is falling apart. I've read through the threads on this subject, checked online reviews, Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated and I'm still confused. I want a reliable grill that will give good high heat for searing as well as cook evenly. We seldom cook for more than 2 so we don't need anything big. I don't care about flashy looks or high-tech gadgets, but I do want it to work and work well when it's in use. A rotisserie burner would be nice but isn't essential. If possible I'd like to keep cost under $500 but could be persuaded to get something more pricey provided there's real value in doing so.

DH wants to get the cheapest unit out there as long as it has heavy-duty burners. I like what I've read about Vermont Castings and Weber grills. Any opinions?

We have a Weber charcoal grill and an electric smoker so I'm not looking to duplicate these in a gas grill.

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  1. Yes. The way to evaluate different grills is to ask what the BTU output is for the burners. The smallest weber, called the Q puts out 12,000 BTUs which is similar in output to a single medium size burner on a gas stove. For cooking on a surface that is almost 2 square feet, this is not a lot of power. To be really useful, the grill should put out 35-50,000 BTUs. For comparison, a Weber kettle grill filled with charcoal will give off about 100,000 BTUs - that's way too hot, but it gives you the upper limit.

    Hope that helps.

    1. I have found that Sears is a good source (especially when on sale). The performance, features, and style are as good or better than the big names at a much better price. For around $500, you can purchase a great Kenmore model.

      1. As a side note, I like models with thick grates as they seem best suited for searing. many Kenmore grills have such grates.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TonyO

          I got mine precisely because it had thick uncoated cast-iron grates. They require more prep & maintenance but I wouldn't grill with anything else.

          1. re: Harp00n

            I totally agree...I have cast iron grates on my Weber Silver Genesis grill and they make all the difference.

        2. I'm also shopping and have narrowed it down to the Vermont Castings. Looks like it gets a better rap then the Weber.

          1. When I was first married I could only afford Char-broil and replaced every 2-3 years. Then I decided to go Weber and the first one lasted 13 years and was still in great shape but my in-laws did not like the way it looked on the deck and the hardware store delivered a new Weber Siver Genesis 9 years ago. To date I have replaced the grates, both cooking and heating, twice and the electric starter switch. No biggie on any of this. I use the grill 150-200 nights a year, rain, shine, snow, heat. In CT.

            So do I recommend it, ABSOLUTELY. I have the rotisserie attachment and it works very well. I think the Silver Genesis is around $500. We're planning on getting a second one for out by the pool.

            1. Thanks all for your responses. We have a list which we'll keep handy when we go looking for grills, probably starting this weekend. DH just told me Weber has completely revised their line of grills for 2007 which adds a new wrinkle to this.

              I know it's early to be thinking about grilling but I've had enough of winter, time to think about summer cooking.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheryl_h

                weber rules! like jfood, i had disposable charbroils - they worked. but then when i got my genesis it was like night and day. webers are quality products and they make you a better cook.

                here is a link to the new lines: http://www.weber.com/bbq/pub/grill/20...

              2. I concur w/ the Weber. I bought a Weber Summit Platinum 2 years ago through Homeclick. It was about $300 cheaper than anywhere I could find it locally and no cost for shipping. It ws deliverd in 4 days after ordering. I also grill 3 to 4 times a week and it has held up beautifully. It has a nice smoker box that has it's own burner. The rear infrared rotisserie is great for those chickens and pork loins. I'm a big fan of the infrared for quick searing and this grill has that as well as the 6 burners that will reach 700 degrees within about 8 minutes. Lots of creative things you can do with this baby.

                1. I just bought one of those aluminum-y looking ones at National Warehouse Liquidators for $299. It's 50K BTW, 4 burners, storage compartment, and side burner. I just love it. It cooks so much better than my old cheap-o gas grill. It's amazing. It does get mighty dirty after each use, and that inevitable grease that gets on the aluminum shows up really bad. Some day, when I get the energy, I'll clean it.

                  The one problem I have is keeping the grates clean and non-stick. In fact, I could swear that whatever coating is on them is bubbling off. I'm not sure. I use a synthetic scouring pad, and that scrapes some of the burned-on food off. I rubbed with onion like everyone suggested and it *did not* work for me. I let it run for 1/2 hr on melt-down, and that worked just so-so and was really smokey. Then I lined the grates with foil, closed the top, and let it go on "meltdown" for a while. That made a self-cleaning oven effect on the grates, and removed the burned on food pretty well. Now I just have to figure out how to improve the non-stickness. I spray on Pam for Grills (that's pretty good up to a point), and wipe with an oil-soaked paper towel (also, to a point), but nothing makes the grates completely non-stick.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: xnyorkr

                    IMHO there is no such thing as non-stick BBQ grates. Pam for grills does work up to a point, but not the answer, and i have not found it yet either.

                    My best bet has been to turn on high and wait ten minutes before starting to cook and use my brush. Then i spray the pam on the grill (sometimes i spray on the food as well). Then cook. 50-50 on whether there is residue after i'm done.

                    what's the brand of the grill you bought.

                    1. re: jfood

                      Doesn't it flare up when you spray the Pam on the hot grill?

                      1. re: xnyorkr

                        Yes it does and you have t be VERY careful. I use the quick spray high approach. I aim about 8 inches above the grates, spray the air and let it "rain" on the grates. A few spurts like this and i'm good to go.

                        FYI - NEVER do this in front of the in-laws.

                  2. I have a Jenn-Air and love it. Cooks great every time. The SS grates are easy to clean, just bring them in the house and wash. My husband bought it for me at Lowe's last year

                    1. We found a Weber Silver Genesis B that a dealer wanted to sell quickly to make place for the new line of Webers this season. We picked it up last Saturday, got it set up on the deck and are happy as can be with its performance so far. We've grilled veal chops and eggplant on it, two very different foods, and it worked perfectly. DH is happy with the power output and controls, I'm happy with the results. We're both thrilled with the great price which was over $200 below recommended retail.

                      Thanks again to everyone for their input.

                      1. Did you know that Weber has a rotisserie kit for their kettle and the motor/spit rod fits your new Weber gas grill.

                        Use a little of that money you saved to buy the kit. It'll expand your horizons!

                        1. If your grill didn't come with cast iron grates then you should fix that problem.

                          Otherwise there is nothing I have ever found wanting in a Weber (or Ducane) gas grill, and I have also burned plenty of charcoal and wood in my day. Just make sure to bring it up to temperature and replace the burners (and/or V-grates) as needed. It will last a long, long time.

                          The rotisserie is fun and the results are great but honestly we don't use it as much as we thought we would. It's a pain to keep it clean and a bit of a hassle to assemble. Plus a properly (which is to say VERY HIGH TEMPERATURE) roasted chicken in the oven can be as good.

                          Have fun. I am one of those fools who used to brush a foot of snow off the top of the BBQ grill so that we could make steaks for dinner in February in DC. Life is better with a reliable grill.

                          1. I got the Weber Q given I have a small back patio. For simple, fast grilling for 4 or less it works well. The secret is letting it warm up properly. For stuff you want to grill fast and don't want to mess with charcoal, it's great. It also takes up a small footprint and can be put on a tabletop. In this application it compliments a charcoal kettle nicely. If I had room for a kettle, I'd still keep the Q for fast stuff.

                            1. I had a Broil King that lasted about 18 years or so and always cooked beautifully. When it came time for a new one, I got seduced by a Napoleon, which seemed to be of much higher construction quality and had a more sophisticated design. It is now 7 years old, but I can't recommend it. It flares more than it should and I have had to replace an excessive number of parts (though the manufacturer supports their lifetime warranty without any hassles).

                              You want to get the heaviest possible grates, preferably cast iron. The difference in cooking performance justifies any higher price as well as the possible need to deal with rust. But you should be OK with a stainless burner. Don't get too carried away by very high BTU ratings. More BTUs guarantees that you'll burn more gas; not that you'll get a better sear. Some units with very high BTUs are almost impossible to control. The Webers, in particular, don't have very high BTU ratings, but seem to cook well anyway. Do NOT get a lava rock BBQ.

                              I know many people with Webers and almost everyone is happy EXCEPT with the small "Q" model. The complaint is that it takes too long to heat up and doesn't get hot enough. I've also some comments that Weber has cut the construction quality in the past couple of years (which I have NOT verified). I've heard both raves and rants about Vermont Castings. Neither Weber nor Vermont Castings seems to offer a unit with an infra red burner. An infra red only model (e.g., TEC) isn't all that great, since the heat is very hard to control, but an infra red sear burner is really nice.

                              I've heard again and again that Ducanes are not worth their high price.

                              I have a personal liking for a small wood burning unit called a Woodflame. It can't completely replace the Napoleon since the cooking surface is small and I do sometimes use the rotisserie. The Woodflame cooks over hardwood chunks using a a fan-forced fire. It reaches about 1000 degrees in a couple of minutes and the results are amazing. I use it in the fireplace in winter. However, there is no rotisserie option. The website is www.woodflame.com

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: embee

                                Ducanes seem to have got cheaper. We got ours on sale at Home Depot for something like $499. I think it was off-season or some such. The price was not significantly different from comparable Webers, maybe $50 different if that. (But this is partly because it was on sale) I'm told that Weber bought Ducane and the prices came down. Ours is a 3-burner model with an infrared rotisserie burner and a side burner (hot eye). We do like the hot eye a lot.

                                When we went to the store I was set on the Vermont Castings because Cooks Illustrated or Consumer Reports (can't remember which) favored them. But my wife liked the rotisserie and the prices were comparable, so we ended up with the Ducane. I'm not sure if the Vermont Castings model had raw cast iron grates or not; in any event, it turns out that Lodge makes those in 15" x 11" sizes which fit most of the grills out there, so no biggy after all.

                                But -- If you have to choose between a rotisserie and cast iron grates, get the grates.

                                That woodflame thing looks awesome! Now you have me intrigued. 1000 degrees must be great for searing... hmmmm....

                                1. re: embee

                                  We've had a Weber for ten years now, with hardly any issues. It works great. When we purchased our country house last year, I decided to check out the Napoleons, I, too, was seduced by the apparent quality and the fact that I felt good supporting a Canadian company, and ended up buying one. I have been less than thrilled. I've had problems with the battery-operated starter, and I find that the layout of the burners, particularly the burner at the back (not the rotisserie burner) makes for hot and cold spots. I also find the heat controls to be awkward.

                                  I stayed away from Weber because I'd heard that their quality had deteriorated in the past couple of years.

                                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                                    It's a shame about Napoleon. I think it's made in Barrie ON and they are sold in the US. I just saw much of their line (grills, fireplaces, even water features) on display at the Design Show. Everything looks superb, but I don't trust the stuff any more.

                                    Napoleon has lovely customer service people who have provided an ongoing supply of parts and instruction sheets, promptly and at no cost. They even talked me through one fairly complicated repair. The casting still looks good despite being out in the weather, uncovered, for seven years. But how many parts?

                                    I can't recall everything offhand, but there have been something like three igniters (the piezo mechanisms, the wires, and the metal spark tips), a couple of gas valves, a venturi tube, the hardware to secure the condiment shelf, the thermometer, grates, and a burner. Some of the installed parts are inaccessible without major disassembly. When the igniters don't work, lighting the main burners is awkward. Virtually everything is non-standard, so it is impossible to buy parts at retail for an immediate repair. (I'm not complaining about a free igniter, but I'd rather just buy one at Crappy Tire if it dies on a Friday night.)

                                    They have re-engineered many of the problem parts, so they might not fail in newer models, but the re-engineered parts don't replace the original ones directly, necessitating drilling holes and bending metal. OTOH, mine heats evenly and has a simple burner layout and logical, well-placed controls.

                                    1. re: ttriche

                                      ttriche, Canada Tire is the name of a company that deals only in tires. Canadian Tire is the company that you're referring to. But don't tell them I said so. :-)

                                2. I got the four burner Vermont Castings model from Home Depot a year and a half ago and I've been very happy with it. It has stainless steel burners which are more reliable than brass burners, it has thick porcelin coated cast iron grates which retains heat better than stainless steel grates (e.g., Weber) and doesn't rust like noncoated cast iron grates. The other reason I went with the Vermont Castings over the ubequitous Weber is that it has a much thicker, heavier dome lid. This is very important for holding the heat at an even temperature when you are doing low-and-slow barbequeing (as opposed to high heat grilling).