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Gas barbecue for small family

We have a small patio, and wish to purchase a smallish, high quality gas barbecue on a moveable cart which can hold the gas tank. We generally cook for two and may occasionally cook for four, but never more. We have looked at Weber, Char Broil, Ducane, etc. and are wondering if anyone has any strong preference. Getting a good sear on steaks, and easy cleanup are both important.

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  1. Weber I think still makes a 2 burner which is smallish Ducane I don't know. I see too many Char Broils at the curb to consider one. My 3 burner Weber has lasted for 12 years now and all I've ever replaced are the flavor bars (once) and the cook top (twice). Oh and the gas line too after a squirell ate through it. Now I have one of those spring covers over the line.

    1. Weber. And please, it's a "grill", not a "barbecue".

      2 Replies
        1. re: josephnl

          Yeah, I know. But ignorance and abuse of the language are, of course, widespread.

      1. In the 80's jfood would throw out his Charbroil after 2 years; first weber lasted ~15 years.

        jfood moved and bought another weber genesis 3-burner in 1997. As he types he is still looking at it on the terrace. Now for full disclosure he has replaced the starter once, the grates twice and the flavorizing bars once. He also uses it 200+ nights a year even in rain and snow.

        1. Consumer Reports rated gas grills earlier this year. Top rated medium size grill was the Weber 320 (310 if you don't need a side burner). They also highly rated other less expensive grills. However when I read all of the user reviews on the CU website -- probably over 200 reviews total of all of the high ranked grills, I found that only the Webers seemed a) to last for a long time, b) continued to have parts available virtually forever (unlike the Uniflame I had bought at Walmart and had the grates rust out), c) have good customer service, and according to their owners, provide consistent heat both in the high and low range.

          Just after my posting above I did go ahead and actually buy the Weber Genesis EP-320, the one with the stainless steel cooking grates and flavorizor bars, plus the side burner. I bought it from the local ACE dealer becasue a) they sell a lot of them, b) the assemble them and deliver for no charge, and c) it's a family business and they're there to help if there are any problems. Point of information, get a color as opposed to black; they all start out black and then the colors are sprayed over the black making for a heavier porcelain coating.

          3 Replies
          1. re: junescook

            You're suggesting that the color impacts cooking significantly?

            1. re: tommy

              Perhaps at the .05 level. Durability of finish -- .01 level.

              1. re: junescook

                I'd suspect it should probably be an aesthetic decision, then.

          2. Weber Genesis in stainless with or without a side burner is definitely the way to go.

            1. We've had a Weber Genesis for several years and have been very happy with it. If space was an issue, and the Genesis was too big, I'd probably get the Weber Q320. A friend with a small patio has an earlier model in the Q series and is very happy with it.

              1. Boy, do I feel like the odd man out! My last gas grill was a Weber- I used it a lot, replaced the flavor bars a couple of times, and a few other parts, but after 5 years it had so many parts that needed replacing that I hauled it away. 5 years did not seem like a long time for me, so I was determined to get something *besides* a Weber the next time.

                Went to Lowe's and ended up with a Char Broil. Don't recall the model, but I got the one that has a glass panel covering one of the burners, the object being that it would get *really* hot and sear meat better than anything else out there.

                And it did too, maybe twice.

                Now I have to remove the grill and the glass panel just to light the burner, and it doesn't want to stay lit. Also, with every burner going full out, I can barely get the temperature above 380 degrees, but with only one burner going at the lowest setting, I can't get it below 325.

                I hate it- and it wasn't cheap either! Next time, think I'm going to go back to charcoal and buy a Big Green Egg. Or else a Weber Smoky Joe- always loved them...

                6 Replies
                1. re: Clarkafella

                  If you had to replace the flavor bars a couple of times in 5 years, there's something wrong with your "care and feeding" regimen.

                  1. re: grampart

                    The flavorizor bars come two ways. Porcelain-enameled and stainless steel. I've replaced mine a couple of times over the last 13 yrs. They do tend to rust out and that can be dependent on where you live and where your grill is stored.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      I didn't know that they had a stainless version. Do they last longer?

                      1. re: Clarkafella

                        I'm working on a set now. Put them in a couple of years ago. Can't say they look good but they are not showing signs of rust.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Sometimes regulators "stick" and become too restrictive. Try this first:
                          -turn off the gas at the tank valve
                          -open the lid of the grill and open the burner valves all the way
                          -now turn off the burner valves, and slowly crack open the tank valve.
                          -now give it a go -- light a fireplace match and turn the burners on.
                          This has worked the two or three times that the heat was anemic.

                          If this doesn't work, you may have a bad regulator (manufacturing error, perhaps, or might be a bit of dirt in the orifice)-- remove the regulator (usually at the end of the hose that attaches to the tank), take it to a hardware store and get a replacement. (Make sure to pick up the right sort of Teflon tape or thread sealer.) The piezo igniters are also pretty easy to fix. These are not expensive repairs --$20 for the regulator, $10 for the igniter.

                          Good luck! My guess is it will work better than new (it occurs to me that the very high temps may have been a symptom of a failing regulator.)

                          1. re: MikeB3542

                            Not sure who your reply was directed at. Never had a regulator problem. My last post was on flavorizor bars

                2. Cook's Illustrated review of Gas Grills
                  Published July 1, 2003:

                  Highly Recommended

                  Weber Spirit, Model Number E-210 or E-310
                  Jenn-Air, Model JA460P Gas Grill

                  Recommended with Reservations

                  Fiesta Optima Gas Grill, Model ESD45055
                  Char-Broil Professional Series Gas Grill, Model 463-2335
                  Weber Summit Gold D6 Gas Grill (only marked down due to high $1,300 cost)

                  Not Recommended

                  Great Outdoors Model 7000W
                  Thermal Engineering Corporation (TEC) Patio II Infrared, Model PPP-402-L

                  1. We probably own or have known almost every brand. Gotta say that we really do like the Char Broil.

                    1. Considering that you are using for two people and have a small patio, I would steer away from the Webers -- they are good products but they are tanks. They are big and heavy, and way more capacity than you need. I haven't used a Weber Q, and not sure if those are on your radar -- they may very well be all the grill you need.

                      For grilling steaks, burgers, chicken, etc.a Char Broil will work. You will have to replace the guts every few years (burner, igniter, vaporizer, ceramic briquettes) but they are perfectly serviceable. ANY gas grill needs a periodic tear-down, if just to clean it.

                      For a great sear, get a cast iron grill grate, like this:


                      Give it a spray of PAM, then crank the heat on high until the thermometer pegs, and start grilling. Give the meat the obligatory quarter turn after a minute or so, give it another minute, then flip the meet onto a fresh part of the grate, then drop the cover and turn the gas down to low. Continue cooking until desired doneness (use a meat thermometer or the thumb-and-finger method.)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MikeB3542

                        The Weber Genesis is 60" wide. The Weber Spirit is 52" wide. Char Broil might be smaller, but there's no comparison in quality.

                        1. re: grampart

                          I agree that they are superior -- if you have the space, cool. It's not just that it's pushing 5 feet wide, it's also 24-30 inches deep (not including space to flip the top open).

                          Now Char Broil makes units that large -- they cost nearly as much as the Weber, and if you are looking at something that size, go with the Weber. What Weber doesn't really do is something that is compact -- there is the gap between the Weber Q's (which is more of a portable unit) and the Spirit models.

                          There is also the issue of cost. Even with the occasional tear-down and replacement of parts, no way have I spent over the last ten-twelve years the difference in cost between the Char Broil (the model I have was sold under the Sears Kenmore brand) and the Weber. Truth be told, that unit is on it's last legs -- but not because I can't get the grill functioning at its best but because the frame is just shabby after a decade of Wisconsin weather.

                          I make no claim that my Char Broil/Kenmore is some sort of uber-grill. If you stay within its limitations, it does a perfectly fine job with burgers, steaks, chops and sausages. With two burners, indirect cooking, smoking and barbecue are do-able with one of the burners shut down.

                          1. re: MikeB3542

                            We have a Char Broil three burner that pulls yeoman's duty and has for more than five years. Sometimes we grill five or six nights a week. We grill in blizzards (truly). We do direct and indirect. We do just about any kind and cut of meat. We do fruits and vegetables. I couldn't possibly ask more of it. So far we haven't even replaced any parts. Honestly never considered that so maybe we will one of these days.

                      2. Now thinking that perhaps we should get a Weber 300Q. Does anyone have one?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: josephnl

                          I think that is what my friend has, and as I mentioned before she has been happy with it. However, read the reviews between the 300 and 320. It sounds as though the difference in price is worth it for the additional features/improvements.

                        2. Agree about Weber. But can't jusify the price. Went with this Broil King. Best decision I made lately.


                          Check out the reviews (Google).

                          1. Weber Q. Then go here:


                            Join, then Message Phil Hartcher (he works for Weber Australia I think) who emails members his list of Weber Q recipes.

                            EDIT: Not sure what city you are in, but you can find good condition weber Qs for $100 even, on craigslist