Weber Grills -- Has Quality Declined?
So as I mentioned before, we recently moved into a house and we're ready to buy a gas grill. All excited, we went out this past Saturday with every intention of buying the Weber Genesis E310. We went to a smallish local store that was highly recommended on this board, as opposed to Home Depot.
Well, we were dissapointed to find out that the store has stopped carrying Webers. They feel that since Webers are now apparently manufactured in China rather than in the U.S. (Indiana, maybe?), the quality is no longer something that they (the store) can stand by. They will special order the Weber for us, but the guy was adamant that they are not the Webers of the past. They feel that they now use cheap parts and they're not really all stainless steel when they claim to be.
In lieu of the Weber, he recommended the Napoleon (which I've rarely, if ever, seen mentioned on CH). The store also carries brands like Viking and Jenn-Air. I can't say that he was just trying to upsell us. In fact, he suggested that we even call Home Depot to see if they still have the Weber Genesis this late in the season, and if we still want it, buy it there. I also mentioned Vermont Castings and according to this guy, that's worse than the China-produced Webers.
Of course, this is only one guys opinion, but now I'm not sure what to do. We were planning to spend $600-$700 on the Weber and we'll go up to $1,000 if necessary.
Obviously everyone here loves their Webers, and I certainly trust Chowhounds. But does anyone have any experience with a newly-manufactured one? Are they still good? Should we get something else?
I think something smells...
The Ducane's are definitely made overseas. The lower priced "Spirit" line made off-shore too.
I am pretty sure that the "charcoal line", Genesis, Summit are still made in the same places that they have been, partly in the USA and partly in Mexico.
The important thing is that Weber has not changed the fundamental design, nor have they changed the warranty -- their grills are known to work well and last a long time, but like anything made by mankind, it will eventually wear out. There is always the possibility that that the "new" Genesis won't last as long as the old, but there is no evidence for that...
The Genesis line includes the "partly SS" model S-310 & S-320. They are not hiding the fact it is NOT all SS. You don't get all SS for $700 unless you go with something with a lot different business model. You save about $100 going for the "painted" Genesis, which might be worth it depending on the conditions around your home. A neighbor has one and it is an upgrade in every way from the older Genesis.
The Summit Series starts around $1000, and it too is MOSTLY SS, nothing "hidden" there either. I think it is a nice upgrade, and a better overall grill than the $1000 JennAir , plus once you get to that price point there are a lot more brands to look at.
The Viking grills will cost A WHOLE LOT MORE than that, as the CARTS ALONE (with no actual cooking unit) start over $1000!
The JennAir grills I have seen do not strike me as being any better built that the Webers -- they just cost more. Several friends have the Vermont Castings units from Home Depot. They strike me as just wee bit less nice than the Weber's, but still much better than the low end Coleman, Kenmore, Perfect Flame, CharBroils that sell for under $500
I just replaced an 11 year old Weber Spirit with a brand new Genesis E-310 ( the painted as opposed to SS model ) . While I live in New England, my grill is in the garage when it's not in use, so I don't worry about the SS being more durable. Plus, the S Series were fitted with SS cooking grates, while I prefer the cast iron coated grates on the E Series.
As others have stated, I did a lot of research and for the price range, I think the Weber is an excellent value . The Ducanes are comparably priced for given size and number of burners , but multiple people I know have expressed that they feel the grills are a wee bit underpowered in the BTU category .
Weber has an excellent guarantee and parts are very easy to come by .
So what will you but?
I have seen no other grill in that price range of superior quality. The Weber may have some component made in China, but their quality control, at least in my experience, is still very very good.
The current units perform as Webers have been known too -- the temperature control is top notch, the flexibility is being able to use 3, 2 or 1 burner is superior. You can do high temp grilling. Roasting with direct or indirect heat and some limited smoke flavored cooking with good results.
I don't want to get in the "geo politics" of it, just get something that makes great tasting chow...
"I have seen no other grill in that price range of superior quality. "
That's the thing. When I asked the guy what he would recommend in that price range, he said "there really is nothing -- Weber owns the category".
And like you, it's not a political thing for me. I just don't want to spend $700-$1000 on a piece of crap, no matter where it's made!
Chances are that if a brand sells in Wal-Mart, the product is made in China. Wal-Mart sells Weber, Brinkmann, Uniflame, and Char-Broil gas grills in the $300 plus price range.
Brinkmann had to recall 130,000 gas grills in 2005 as the he regulators on the grills could leak gas when attached to certain liquid propane tanks. The regulators were made in China by Zhonghshan GDA Gas Valve Co. Ltd. Brinkmann and Charmglow were the brands on the lids.
I looked and looked for a Weber Genesis Silver B and finally a woman at Ace Hardware found one for me in the basement of one of their stores. One of the guys who delivered it is a long-time manager of an Ace and said the quality has indeed declined and that he was glad I got one of the older ones. Just fyi, you may find one online. I did a quick look and found some on ebay.
I just bought my parents the Genesis 320E in beautiful dark green to replace their 15 year old Weber gas grill. I can safely say that the quality has not declined and in fact the design of the Weber - at least at this pricepoint - is better than ever. It is true that the Spirit line of grills is made in China. That is because this is the entry-level for Weber ~$300. The Genesis and Summit are still made in Indiana. Of course, the non-important things like the plastic gas knobs are sourced from overseas, but the things that count - and which carry the warranties - up to lifetime for the castings - are made in America - the body, the burners, the grates (excellent porcelin covered cast iron - IMO the best for grilling). I fully expect this Weber to be in the Will!