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Apr 29, 2008 11:29 AM

In the market for a Gas Grill

I'm doing some research on gas grills.

Can anyone tell me the pros/cons of buying one with a porcelain heat distribution plates vs stainless steal? I'm looking to save a buck where I can, but do not want to sacrifice quality.


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  1. We have a Weber Genesis gas grill with stainless steel grates, and we use it very frequently. The stainless steel grates are significantly better, when compared to other, cheaper grates. According to Consumer Reports, stainless steel grates are more durable and sear your food better (who doesn't want nice grill marks?!) The place to "save" is 1) Don't get all stainless (mostly cosmetic) exterior and 2) Don't get the extra side burners. My parents have had their gas Weber for over 15 years now and it looks almost brand new (ours is only 2 years old). If you're going to leave the grill covered in the garage or are only planning on keeping it for a couple of years, buy a cheap grill...otherwise, upgrade to the stainless steel grates. Also, dont' get a grill w/ cheap wheels.

    6 Replies
    1. re: QSheba

      This is exactlly what I thought. Big Help! Thanks

      1. re: QSheba

        While I agree with most of that there are a few points I absolutly do not agree with. I would absolutly get all SS. I just tore out a 12 year old BroilMaster yesterday. I'm sick of repainting that thing twice a year. SS means low maintenance. I also prefer SS grids because there really is nothing to go bad. Porcelain coated grates eventually fail if the coating gets scratched from brushing the grill etc. However I have never noticed any sear difference between SS and porcelain. That has a lot more to do with BTU's and grill grate to flame height. With Weber you do not get to choose if you want a side burner or not. Most units come with one.
        If the OP was asking about the plates over the burners SS would be vastly superior.
        I looked at a Weber Summit S-450 yesterday. $1500....YIKES

        1. re: Docsknotinn

          My parents Weber is green, and it has never had to be repainted in over 15 years.

          Also, as I said, it was Consumer Reports that stated the difference in searing potential. Also, you CAN choose to get a Weber w/o the side burner, I don't know where you got the info that you can't.... The models have diff options.
          In addition, according to CR:

          "Don’t be wowed by Btu. Brands tout the British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr.) rating. But that figure indicates how much gas is used, not grill temperature, so a higher number doesn’t guarantee faster heating or improved searing. Indeed, the Brinkmann Pro and other high-Btu models are not top performers."

          Crippler P, CR rated the WeberGenesis the #1 Midsized Grill, so rest easy;)... The BroilMaster was lower on the ratings list, or perhaps you just had bad luck Docsknotinn.

          Davwud, I think the burner setup is personal preference, though I can see why you prefer yours. My parents old Weber is LCR and it took me awhile to adjust to the Front, Middle Back.

          1. re: QSheba

            I don't prefer my current config. I have a F,C,B and prefer the L,C,R.
            In 5 years I've never gotten used to it.

            Also, FWIW, I rescued my Weber from the garbage. I was out walking the neighbours dog and someone had tossed it. I took it home, replaced the "Flavourizer bars" and the regulator and had a $700 grill for about $100. It still looks pretty good. I've never painted it.

            One other note on BBQ covers. If they get wet on the inside all they do is keep water next to the metal and you can run into problems.


            1. re: QSheba

              I'm sorry but yopu lost me on a few points.
              Irrespective of what consumers reports may have said there is virtually no difference cooking on SS Vs porcelain coated grates and zero difference in sear. BTU's and burner configuration are critical to sear IMO and choosing to over look that would be silly. While BTU may well be an indication of how much gas is used and not the amount of heat produced I think it's more than fair to say that on average a burner with a higher BTU will indeed burn hotter.
              I would also be curious as to where you can find a Weber that you can custom configure. My point was that nearly all of them come with a side burner. It's not an option to get a particular model with or with out the burner. I would like a Summit S-450 with out the side burner. I'm definatly not seeing that as an option.

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                You can't "custom configure" a Weber grill, at least as to side burners. Each model either comes with one or not. The Spirits don't and all of the Summits do. But the only difference between a Genesis 310 and a 320 is that the latter has a side burner. So in that particular line, you get to decide whether you want it.

                I agree with you about BTUs. While it's true that the BTU rating of a burner measures gas input, not heat output, the distinction is pretty silly--unless some of the gas escapes without burning, it's all going to get turned into heat. There is a real question as to how efficiently the grill transfers the heat from the burner to the food, but all other things being equal, more BTUs for a given surface area will make for a hotter grill.

        2. I have a Weber and would trade it in a heart beat.
          My big problem with it is the burner configuration. I hate the front, middle and back burner set up. I much prefer the L,R or L,C,R set up.
          I do miss my side burner too. Mine doesn't have one and sometimes it's nice not to have to go back and forth between the kitchen and the grill.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            My bigest concern with the Weber Gensis is the burner placement. But I do a lot of indirect cooking, and think I can do with the Front, Middle, Back.

            Seriouslly debating between the EP-320 and the EP-310. The only diffrence is the side burner. They are about 1/2 the summit price. $700-$750 range.

            1. re: crippler_p

              See, I find the L,C,R configuration a lot better for indirect cooking. It gives you a lot greater space in my mind because it's a squarish area. It's not a long narrowish area.


          2. Since you're looking at Weber (a good call), the stainless exterior is purely an aesthetic issue; the colored grills are not painted, but enameled (think Le Creuset).

            Speaking of enamel, as far as the grates go, I prefer my current stainless to my old enameled ones. Any detectable difference in searing power is probably due to the burners' heat output, but cleanup seems easier. And the enamel will chip if you abuse it. In either case, heavier is better than lighter.

            I highly recommend a side burner. Grilling out 100+ times per year, until recently with the E310, I got really tired of running back and forth between the cooktop in the kitchen and the BBQ on the patio. [Tangent alert...] On the other hand, it gave me an excuse to get a "side burner" with some really serious firepower. That 60,000 btu burner can get a few gallons of pasta water boiling in no time. And for stir-frying, getting heat from a regular burner is like getting water through a cocktail straw--it's hard to get anywhere near enough--while 60k BTU is like getting water from a fire hose--the main problem is that it's so easy to get way too much. [End tangent.]

            My only complaint about the Genesis models is that the FCB burner configuration makes it difficult to maintain different temperatures on different areas of the grill. It's not a problem for indirect cooking; just put food on the back of the grill and light the front burner; I cooked many a Thanksgiving turkey that way. But it's near-impossible to gently cook a salmon filet on one spot while searing a steak on another. I now have a grill with 5 burners that run front to back, and it's much easier to maintain different temperature zones, or to cook on just a portion of the grill (last night, with just a cut-up chicken to cook, I fired up two of the burners and did everything on that side).

            If this is a big deal for you, I'd suggest stepping up to the Summit series (but that's a big price jump) or looking at a Ducane. Ducane is now wholly owned and controlled by Weber, so the quality is very good and the customer support is unmatched. They aren't quite as nice as a Summit, but they cost a whole lot less, and, IMHO, give a better bang for the buck.

            9 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              Since you're looking at Weber (a good call), the stainless exterior is purely an aesthetic issue; the colored grills are not painted, but enameled (think Le Creuset

              I'm not sure if you are only making reference to the Genesis line but that's not the case with all of the Weber grills.
              In the Summit line the SS Vs SS and enamel are the same price here.

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                I wasn't making any reference to price, only durability. You suggested stainless steel because you've had to repaint your old BroilMaster a couple of times a year. You don't have to do that with a Weber. The color goes all the way through the baked-on enamel, and it lasts basically forever. My Genesis E-310 sat uncovered on the patio for the better part of ten years, getting near-daily use, and the enamel is still in good shape.

                So if the OP likes the look of a green or black or red Weber, there's no reason not to get it. If s/he prefers the way stainless looks, that's fine too. If one costs more than the other (and I'm not saying it's true), and the OP prefers the looks of the more expensive model, then there's the question of whether the (purely subjective) aesthetic value is worth the added cost.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Color doesn't matter to me.

                  The price on the Genisis is $100 more for SS. All the other modles have no diffrence.

                  1. re: crippler_p

                    Sounds like the enameled Weber will work great for you, then. Let us know what you finally decide on.

                  2. re: alanbarnes

                    Thanks for the info. The enameled models are very attractive. All I know is I'm done with Aluminum. :)
                    My biggest problem is mine left with the trash man today and now I'm with out a grill. I'm very torn between the Summit and a BGE. I'm thinking seriously about getting the Summit and a medium egg. I already have a dedicated gas line so I just need to install a quick release. I'm still trying to get over the sticker shock but I do a lot of grilling.

                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                      Seriously, look at the Ducane. Made in China, yes, but to Weber's specifications. All other things being equal, I'd prefer a Summit. But all other things aren't equal. Given that price is a factor, the Ducane was the answer for me. Your mileage may vary.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I looked hard at the Ducane line - But the Affinity series has porcline distribution plates, which is my only issue with it. But it does have stainless steal racks.

                        If you step to the next series, you may as well get a weber genesis for slightly less.

                        1. re: crippler_p

                          I wondered from your original post whether you were talking about the cooking grates or what Weber calls the "flavorizer bars." Since everybody else was talking about grates, I just went along.

                          On the subject of flavorizer bars, the ones on my Genesis are porcelain enamel. They lasted 10 years, and did a good job. No complaints whatsoever.

                          The only problem was that after a decade outdoors, it wasn't just the flavorizer bars that needed replacement. It would have cost $250-300 for the parts to refurbish the old grill. Probably worth it, but when Home Depot put the Ducane that's essentially identical to the Meridian 32" on closeout for $699, I went for the upgrade.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            After much debate (and some unexpected cost outside the grill) I went with the Ducane 4100. Its a 4 burner job with 500sq inches of primary space. That should be more than enough space. (Considering I also have a Weber one touch for my charcole needs)

                            I found it on Amazon for $430 - with $0 shipping cost. The cover was about $40. So all in all it was much less than the Weber.

              2. I became tired of buying a series of not so cheap gas grills, replacing parts, repainting, etc. The Napoleon BBQ I now have has 304 stainless steal cooking system (what Weber calls flavourizer bars) ceramic coated cooking grids that are made of metal approaching 1/4" and burners that are made of 16 gauge steel. The hood and body are stainless steel. I also bought an optional charcoal burning insert so I can have that charcoal taste on special occasions. Yep it cost a bit more than twice as much but it is like brand new several years later and I use it a lot summer and winter. Quality pays in the long run.

                1. I have the Summit Platinum which has 6 burners left to right and a separate smoker box burner and IR rotisserie burner. I use it at least 4 to 5 times aweek and this is my 3rd year with it. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It can get very hot very quickly. It easily reaches 800 w/in 5 minutes or less. It cleans up very easy and the heat is easily moderated. Last year, a friend accidentally left it on high for about 2 hrs and it caught my lower grease tray on fire causing significant damage. This was only due to me not cleaning it the way I was supposed to every 6 months. Weber in typical great service style shipped me the nearly $600 in repair parts for free the next day and by weeks end I was back in business. Excellent service and prompt too.