I have a Napoleon up at the cottage; I've had it for about three years. If any of you want to check out the whole lineup, the Napoleon showroom is just off Hwy 400 in Barrie (you can see it from the highway). When I was shopping for mine, I checked out all the models there (and they sell demos at a discount, too), decided on one, and purchased it at my local fireplace/stove dealer. I'd imagine that if you see a model that you like that isn't in stock at your neighbourhood dealer, you could order it through them.
(The Napoleon showroom does sell the BBQs, but you have to shlep it home yourself.)
I'm quite happy with my Napoleon (can't remember the model, but it's a high-end s/s model), but I've had trouble adjusting to it from the 12-year-old Weber Platinum that I have in the city. The Weber sears better (I didn't go for the infrared on the Napoleon because I find that it takes up too much grill space). Bear in mind that that the newer Webers out there are supposedly not made as well as the older ones of my vintage.
My family has been using Napoleon for the past 7 or 8 years and love them. I just picked up a PT450RB on the weekend. Some great advice has been given by BusterRhino and embee so there's not much need to go on in much more detail.
I have had great luck with the Classic Fireplace on Rylander Dr in Scarborough. I was in checking out their stock one day and offhandedly mentioned that my 5 or 6 year old Napoleon had a knob that was practically seized from the elements leaking through the cover. The gentleman behind the counter asked me if it was propane or natural gas, I said it was gas. He reached under the counter and tossed me a new valve, gratis. A half an hour later it was replaced and it's been perfect ever since. Just thought I'd give a shout out to some excellent customer service. I hadn't even bought the BBQ from them in the first place....
Hope the OP doesn't mind, but slightly off topic, if someone's in the market for a smoker, the Home Depot at Gerrard Square carries the 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain for $290. It's the new version. And it's $100 less than what I paid at Ontario Gas BBQ. I think it's a pricing error, because the sign I saw was handmade. I kick myself for having paid more, but someone out there should benefit.
I currently have a Webber and when I do go to replace it, I don't plan on buying another.
I really don't like that front, centre, back configuration of the burners. I'd much rather have left, centre, right. That way you can leave one side off and just heat the other side. More control IMHO.
For a side burner I've found that I hardly used it when I lived at home but when I got mine without, I missed it those few times it could be used.
Ah - BBQ Season, love it.
First - Broil King and Napoleon are both made right here in Canada (which is a big thing for me) Broil King is made in Kitchener / Waterloo, they also own the distribution rights to Weber (although Weber is made somewhere else, great units though). Napoleon is made in Barrie.
I own both a Napoleon and a Broil King and have to say that the differences in the end are very small and not worth nitpicking on. Couple big suggestions though,
1) Buy what you can afford, the more you can spend the better the unit will be. If you can go with all stainless you will have a BBQ that will last you for the rest of your life with just a little bit of maintenance.
2) Really consider your choice of grill (cast iron, stainless, porcelain) My personal choice is always stainless, hard to destroy stainless. Cast iron rocks for heat retention but has very specific care instructions you must follow. These instructions are not to be taken lightly - if you don't follow them then your grill will rust ALWAYS. Porcelain I am not a huge fan of, if you nick it (which you will) you have started the slow decline of the grill itself and with the abuse I personally do on my bbq's I won't even entertain them.
3) Side burners are, in general, the biggest waste of money you can spend on a BBQ. Rarely get used by anyone, if you have the choice of having one and not, I would go with not. If you really think you will use something like that purchase a turkey fryer and use it like a side burner. You can always get more heat out of a Turkey cooker than you can a side burner.
4) Don't purchase one of those little 20lb tank, get yourself one of those large 40lb propane tanks (or hook it directly to your natural gas line). The 40lb tank can last almost a whole summer (you can always tell how full a tank is by the frost line on the side when you are using it).
5) IR (infrared), hmmm, some people say yes, some people say no. I love mine and would never buy a home bbq without it again. Not that I should have to buy another one with the two I have - IF I take care of them (which I really don't).
As for buying one, Ontario Gas BBQ has your absolute best selection of BBQ's on the market. You can buy every single brand in store and will easily be able to do product comparisons on them while in the store. It's 15,000 square feet of nothing but BBQ's and BBQ related products! Customer service is fantastic and knowledgeable (each sales rep has to go through training).
Home hardware carries Broil King for sure, each home hardware is also independently owned and operated so you would be helping to keep your local economy afloat a bit. Depending on the store Customer service can be fantastic.
Home Depot carries a selection of Broil King, Weber, and Napoleon BBQ's. My local home depot is really good for customer service, although I have been to some that needed training courses in it.
Both Napoleon and Broil King have great customer service and really just want their customers to be happy with their purchase for years. I have heard stories from people for both companies where years after they purchased they had no problem getting replacement parts, and in many cases the package arrived at their doors to find out there wasn't any cost.
Good luck with your purchase - I hope the above wasn't too lengthy and presumptuous of me.
I currently have Napoleon and like it very much. One cool thing with the Napoleon is that you can get a charcoal insert. This is great for adding charcoal flavor to chickens, steaks, burgers ect. My mom had a Broil King so I have quite a bit of experience with that grill and I like them as well. I love my Weber kettle but I found my brothers gas grill doesn’t provide even heat. It can take a few sessions to figure out where all the hot and cold spots are.
Thank you for your generous reply. I appreciate your insight. Where is Ontario Gas BBQ? I am located at York Mills and Leslie. I would feel quite comfortable with another Broil King. I agree wholeheartedly with the side burner, no need. I am a big promoter of buying local, and customer service is a must. I had the kettle on my last BK warp, and was replaced no problem
You've got an all year pit, you lucky $%^#^.
I, too, prefer to buy Canadian, but it's hardly a straightforward situation with either brand names or quality. I have owned both Onward and Napoleon products.
My first Broil King served me well from 1982 until approximately 2001.
Converting to natural gas with its replacement, I got a Napoleon Prestige. While it looked good and cooked well, it was really a dud. Napoleon certainly stood behind it, sending me a continuing supply of free replacement parts and patiently talking me through some repairs on their toll free line. I variously replaced burners, valves and assorted other parts every summer. The stainless steel grids didn't sear well and eventually corroded. I tried to replace the igniter, which they provided free, but it had been redesigned and no longer fit. (No after market igniter fit either.) The thermometer rusted and they sent me a new one, but it, too, had been redesigned. I had to drill three holes through the casting to install it. Other less critical parts variously rusted, froze, or fell off.
I couldn't take it any more and went shopping. Starting off at "anything but Napoleon", I found myself cornered into buying another Napoleon (now entering its third season). While I loved my original Broil King and had heard good things overall about Weber, infrared wasn't an option with either. Napoleon was the only brand that offered infrared and fit the available space.
I got the top of the Canadian made Ultra Chef (low end) line. So far it's been fine, though durability remains an unknown.
While I agree with many of BusterRhino's comments, I think some elaboration is in order. So here's my take:
- "Broil King and Napoleon are both made right here in Canada"
SOME Broil King and Napoleon products are made in Canada, but an increasing number aren't. I can't even bitch about it, since corporate survival is at stake in both cases.
The Onward Manufacturing products that have a "Broil King" nameplate are apparently still made here. Their other nameplates are not. Some of Onward's Broil King and Broil Mate products are very similar to each other, but the Broil Mates are dramatically cheaper for comparable models. When a similar design costs a few hundred less from China, "buy Canadian" becomes more difficult when one ain't rich.
Napoleon's Prestige line is still made in Barrie, as is the much cheaper Ultra Chef. The Mirage line is made in China, as is the Napoleon branded "Ted Reader" line.
- "the more you can spend the better the unit will be"
Sadly, I disagree
Onward recalled several Broil King and Broil Mate models because the casting would melt in a grease fire. Their low end models didn't have this unbelievable problem. Even the $100 (good for one season) Chinese models at Wal Mart have never failed like this.
Napoleon seems to have learned from their mistakes, and the current Prestige models appear very well made. However, an Ultra Chef with similar features costs several hundred dollars less, and it's obvious where they cut corners to meet the price point. The fit and finish are flawed, the cart is less solid, and the sear plates are wobbly. It's certainly no looker. That said, I have cooked on my Ultra Chef and on a comparable Prestige. The Ultra Chef cooks more evenly. It can heat to 900 F with the cover closed, and well over 1000 F over the infrared, with no sign of any heat damage. It turned out to be much less cheesy than it first appeared.
Where things get interesting is with Napoleon's made in China models. As Napoleon explained it, they have their own factory and management in China. They ship parts from Canada to China, build the BBQs, and ship them back to Canada - where they sell for much less than the made in Canada models.
What disturbs me most as a Canadian is that the Ted Reader models seem comparable to the Prestige units in quality, I'm told reliably (though I have no personal experience) that they cook better than any of the made in Canada lines. They cost much less than the Ultra Chef. I would have bought one, but it was too big to fit in my backyard.
I agree with BusterRhino about infrared. I, too, wouldn't buy another grill without it. I wish the grid was bigger, but that doesn't seem to be an option at a moderate price. However, I would strongly recommend against any "infrared only" grill. Infrared is incredible for searing, but makes doing everything else more complicated.
Some "infrared" grills are a crock. If it doesn't have that fiercely glowing red grid (it has thousands of tiny gas ports), it doesn't provide the benefits of infrared cooking.
I disagree with BusterRhino about the grilling surface. I'm happy to care for cast iron, as I feel it simply cooks better. Besides, what's the point of grilling on filthy stainless steel? Porcelain is not worth having.
If a hookup is practical, go for natural gas. It's great to never run out, and filling stations for propane tanks are vanishing from central Toronto. The 20 lb exchange is usually the only convenient option.
I definitely agree about side burners. Don't pay extra to get one.
As to shopping, OGB is the best place. However, they sell only fairly high end models in many brands. If you don't want to venture that far from downtown, you need to do your homework before you shop.
I had a great buying experience at Classic Fireplace on Queen E, but they sell only Napoleon.
At the three Home Depots near me, product knowledge depends on who happens to be working when you come in. Mainly, it is pathetic. They don't sell Napoleon.
Crappy Tire is even worse, though it's the only outlet for the Napoleon Ted Reader line.
Home Hardware can be great or awful, depending on the store.
Ducane grills, now made by Weber in China, look great but are not worth what they cost.
Do not buy the Canadian Tire brand (Centro). I've heard stories about unavailable parts for current models.
All excellent points and truly gives you the understanding of "do your homework".
The only major thing I would disagree with embee on though, stainless steel is my preferred choice (although I do have a charcoal bbq with a cast iron grid for jerk chicken only...yummy).
One clarification on my post and embee did point it out "the more you spend the better it will be" - he is right, do your homework. I spent a boat load on my Napoleon - I bought one of their high end units, full stainless. Which I love. I have seen what I (and others) felt were good models and worth the price and they rotted early on.
As for the Broil King recall - OUCH! is about all I can say. I remember it well and the grief they received regarding it. Simple mistake but could be painful to the person cooking.
although that side burner can be pretty handy in a power outage for those of us who don't have indoor gas and are pining for a coffee or tea or even soup, etc, without having to drive down to the nearest coffeeshop or McD's, that is if they have power. Um, just speaking from experience. ;->
We've had good experience with our Broil King from Sunnybrook home hardware at Bayview and Eglinton. Friendly knowledgeable staff.