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Natural Gas vs Propane and general Weber Genesis questions

  • Dax Feb 21, 2011 12:49 PM
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I am looking to take the plunge into adding a gas grill to my tool kit (I have a weber kettle and a smoker/grill) and have a few questions/considerations. I am leaning towards the Weber Genesis based on comments/searches here. However, I am not sure about:

1) NG vs propane. The NG line already goes to the old rusted gas grill bolted to my deck. I could replace it fairly easily with a NG model. While I realize the apertures for NG are larger to allow for a heavier flow of NG to make up for the variance in BTUs, is NG as good as propane for max temps and temp regulation?

2) Side burner or not? I would like to cook everything outside but not sure if it's worth the extra money and space.

3) Stainless vs non. Living in Alabama, I am worrried about high humidity and rust. However, the cost of the SS version is signficantly higher.

4) Anyone use a rotisserie attachment? Is it worth the extra cash?

This is a decently sizable investment for a gas grill so I welcome all input in advance.

Dax

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  1. I have a Weber Summit (built in) in my outdoor kitchen. I live in a wet climate.
    1) I have propane piped in.
    2) I have a side burner. I don't it as much as I thought I would. That surprised me, but I also have other options for cooking outside. If I didn't, then I might use it more. If I did it again, I would skip it. I tend to cook things in my cast iron skillet on the grill - before I use the side burner.
    3) Stainless all the way. Mine is under a roof outside AND I cover it with a BBQ cover. It is not just about getting wet- it is also about getting slimy leaves and needles all over it.
    4) Yes,I love the rotisserie but mostly for entertaining. It is worth it....chicken, turkey, prime rib. It tends to be too much of a hassle for just the two of us though. We use it for a big BBQ spread instead.

    1. I have a Weber Summit. It replaced the Weber Genesis we had for 10 years or more.

      We use natural gas since we have it. I understand propane is hotter but I don't want to have to keep schlepping tanks to get filled so I'm happy with my NG.

      Yes, yes, YES to the side burner. Besides using it for meal prep outside, I use it for canning outside. All the fresh produce comes when you LEAST want to add the heat and humidity of a giant boiling vat of water to your kitchen. But outside, I can fill my canning kettle from the garden hose and boil water all day long.

      I also use a cheap lift-top roaster oven for things like baked beans and mac & cheese.

      I have the rotisserie --- even had to add an electric line to accommodate it. It's a wonderful tool but I don't use it all that much.

      Oh, and my free standing unit is stainless. Don't know if the Summit line comes in enamel. My climate is dry and I keep my grill under cover when not in use.

      1. If it's a windy day, the side burner isn't very effective, IMO.

        Also, Weber has redesigned the Genesis line for this year so that the burners now run vertically instead of horizontally. This redesign has also moved the knobs from the side table to the front of the grill. If you skip the side burner, you will now have two full side tables available.

        I made the same move as you last year. I have a Weber Gold charcoal grill, but bought a Genesis for those nights when we just want to grill something really quickly. Got a great deal at Lowe's at the end of the season when they discounted it down to $499 (propane, no side burner).

        1. I've had the old style Genesis for at least 15 years and will probably replace it this year. The only rust issues I've had have been with the frame and some asesories. Keep in mind even the SS version is not 100% SS, the base is mostly powder coated steel. I would really like a completely SS grill to avoid the rust issues. I was convinced I wanted a Summit, I prefered the way those burners are situated better than the Genesis, however since Weber redesigned the Genesis that may not be as much of an issue and the Summit is considerably more expensive. Still haven't made a decision. With regards to LP or NG, I'm going to make that switch if at all possible, I've made too many emergency trips to get propane, I'd rather have a natural gass line.

          One of the guys I work with has the side burner, I don't, he says he doesn't use it much, but that will depend on how and what you cook.

          Most things I might put on a rotisserie, I cook on the smoker, so I don't have experience there.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mikie

            Well, I can tell you what I use my side burner for besides outdoor canning. It's primarily the caramelized onions and sometimes peppers that I want to go with grilled meat, sautéed mushrooms, and other veggies that may not be the best use of limited real estate when the grill is full of meat.

            It's a powerful burner. It can keep a 10 gallon canning kettle at a full boil and it can easily service a full-sized (14" or more) sauté pan.

            I have to say I've never had an issue with wind interfering with the operation either. Truth is, my grill is in a protected spot on the side of the house between two chimneys and we don't have a particularly windy climate. Still, there's not much space for the wind to blow in between the actual burner and a pan on the grid. And the heat that would potentially blow away above the food would blow away heat that has already passed above the food.

            So, I'd say everyone should make their own call but I find my burner most useful and would want it even if I could predict a few occasions when I would have something cooking on the grill and right next to it rather than having to attend to food cooking in 2 different spots.

            And, finally, another important difference between the Genesis and Summit for me was that the Summit has the infrared burner for the rotisserie. Perhaps, since it appears the Genesis has been redesigned, it can now be equipped with the infrared unit as well but when I got my grill last year it was only available for the Summit.

            1. re: rainey

              I purchased the Genesis (S/S) last spring. Good grill came in a million pieces.I wanted to get the Summit but dont use it enough to warrant the $$$ for it. Even though I would of rather got it because the Summit is a BETTER quality S/S than the Genesis series and the grates are a Heavier guage S/S too. But overall not a bad grill.The S/S does spot a little but nothing a little barkeepers friend cant fix.
              And as far as propane or natural, if you leave it on by accident propane will run out... :)

              1. re: MOSFET

                "And as far as propane or natural, if you leave it on by accident propane will run out... :)"

                That's probably an up side to propane, God knows how long you could let natural gas run before you noticed the planet warming up and your gas bill sky rocketing ;) Actually, the more I think about this and the more senior moments I have, I might look into a timer if I put in a natural gas line for the BBQ.

                The extra heavy grates on the Summit would be a big plus.

                1. re: mikie

                  So is the double insulation which, with a new grandson running about, was the clincher!

                  BUT, we were never unhappy with the Genesis we replaced.

                  1. re: rainey

                    See, I knew there was a reason to hang out here ;) I would have never thought of that, and we have a bunch of mobile, young, grandchildren, that I would love to keep a safe distance from the hot grill.

                    Thanks,

          2. I had a Weber Genesis B for 10 years. Four years ago we ran a natural gas line out where the grill is during some remodeling and I bought and installed the natural gas manifold for my grill and hooked it up to the line. It is true that it does not get *quite* as hot but it gets pretty damn close. For anything other than steaks that you want black and blue it is more than adequate. That said, I needed to replace the grill this year and I bought the current equivalent model, the Spirit E-310. I got it from Home Depot as they have a special model that comes with the porcelinized cast iron grates (fabulous). I ended up buying the propane version as we might move soon. I did love the convenience of natural gas and never having to worry about running out of propane but yes, I did in fact have a few instances of leaving the thing roaring away on high for a few days. I made a point of not looking at the the gas bills for those months. If you really value a very hot grill for the type of cooking you do, then go with propane. If most of your cooking is chicken and fish, BBQ, etc. then the natural gas should be fine.

            Stainless steel is a an advantage when it comes to cleaning and little else. The panels that are enameled in the enamel version will never rust unless you somehow gouge them, but the enamel is harder to keep clean than stainless. If you don't really care about having a spotless grill then get the enamel one and a Weber cover and you'll never have a problem with the elements ravaging your grill. Mine did not have a cover for most of it's life and while the plastic faded and chalked the enamel was bulletproof.

            And for optimum lifepspan make sure you clean out the ash tray regularly and in particular wash down the rails that it slides on at least twice a year. If you don't they will corrode off and when they do you are sunk as the screws that hold them into the cast firebox will be seized and you'll have to pitch the whole grill. That's what happened to me and i hear it is what usually spells the end for a Weber. It's pity as it can easily be avoided.

            As for side burner, that is a function of how and where you cook. My grill is right outside my kitchen/family room area and so just an extension of my kitchen. If I had a long walk, and was serving by the grill and not by the kitchen then yeah a sideburner would likely come in handy now and then. I frankly don't know a lot of people who use the side burner even when they have it.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LovinSpoonful

              Thanks to everyone for the responses so far.

              I thought I had heard that the Spirit was made in China and possibly of lower quality materials when compared to the Genesis?

              Also, don't the non-stainless Genesis models have porcelinized cast iron grates vs stainless steel ones (and perhaps the flavorizor bars as well)? Would there be a noticeable difference?

              1. re: Dax

                Weber has so many grate options it's silly; for the Genesis they have or had: enameled stamped steel, stainless stamped steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and stainless steel rod stock. I've had both the cast iron, that needed seasoning like a cast iron pan and the enameled cast iron, which seems to eventually chip off I assume from the high heat. I would definately go with the stainless steel rod stock cooking grates if I could get them. Although the cast iron does leave nice grill lines on steaks.

                The old model Genesis came with regular steel flavorizor bars, stainless steel was an option for replacements and they do hold up longer. There are some folks selling "aftermarket" versions on e-bay that are heavier duity and about the same price or less. They sell grates as well.

                1. re: Dax

                  any weber for about $50(i think) and it may have changed, but i doubt it has can be purchases with the ss insides.it is not carried everywheres however. i think it is listed as the same model with a "P" (unsure) suffix for premium, they used to anyway, and the price diff was usually about what the side burner would cost , i went w/o sideburner but ss inside- bars and grates, still very happy with it, 2nd weber in 15 yrs or so

                  1. re: Dax

                    As I mentioned I bought a Spirit 310 model about 6 months ago to replace my 10 year old Genesis Silver B. The current Genesis model is slightly deeper than the Genesis silver B was. I I can detect absolutely no difference in workmanship between my new and old grills, and I inspected everything very closely when I assembled it. While the design of some aspects, such as the enclosure underneath and the side tables has changed, the core firebox, burners, manifold, etc. are *exactly* the same. Don't forget, "Made in China" is no longer necessarily a bad thing. All of Apple's products are made in China and they are generally of superior workmanship to competitive products.

                    I beg to differ about the superiority of the stainless steel grates. I have used all types of grates that Weber offers and I'm a HUGE fan of the cast iron. The porcelinized stamped steel are the worst, and they will fall apart (literally come to pieces) in a few years. The stamped stainless are easy care but they are thin and don't hold heat at all. They give a lousy sear and don't release well. In particular they are a nightmare for fish. The cast iron grates are superior if you take care of them. They hold their heat, provide a superior sear, and release food much better than the stainless. The porcenalizing on the new ones is like a matte sandblasted effect. Have not noticed any chipping and mine get heavy use and get rotated out with my other grates that i have to accomodate my smoker side box so it's not like they don't get knocked about.

                    As to flavorizer bars, keep in mind that there is ABSOLUTELY NO FUNCTIONAL difference between the regular steel ones and the stainless steel ones. ALL these things do is spread out the heat. That's it. Yes, the stainless steel ones last longer, but my last regular steel set lasted 10 years with heavy use and only moderate maintenance (i.e. cleaning and scaling twice a year). Why pay 4x for something that does exactly the same thing? It's just a money maker for Weber. It's like red brake shoes on your Porsche, but you can't even see them, lol.

                    1. re: LovinSpoonful

                      Not only do they spread out the heat, they shield the burners from grease (and other) drippings so they won't get clogged.

                      I have also read that, supposedly, when the drippings hit them they burn up and release their flavor back up into what is being cooked,

                      1. re: Philly Ray

                        And they help reduce flare up.

                2. Generally speaking, you're on the right track looking at the Genesis. IMO it's the best bang for the buck out there. In fact, I have one that's probably 15 years old that needs a bunch of new parts, but I refuse to recycle it; it's sitting in the garage while I considering doing a rehab job and getting rid of my expensive 36" stainless monster. The Genesis was just a better grill. As to your questions:

                  1. Natural gas is the way to go if you've already got the plumbing in place (which I don't). I've cooked on both kinds of Genesis grills; there may be a difference in performance but it's minimal - like the difference between grilling when it's 60 degrees out versus when it's 80. Most people I've heard complain about the power of their NG grills have plumbed them into propane burners. Yes, you can accidentally leave it on overnight, which is big waste of money. But you probably still come out ahead when you consider the comparative cost of propane.

                  2. Absolutely get a side burner. Having a burner on the back porch is a big plus, and not just when you're grilling. Sure, it's handy to keep a pan of mop sauce simmering right next to the meat, but it's also nice to be able to make a pot of pasta when it's hot out and you don't want to turn on the a/c in the house.

                  3. There's no practical reason to go with stainless steel. The enameled components of a Weber grill won't rust. Any mild steel parts are likely to be mild steel on the stainless models, too. I find that enameled steel is just as easy or easier to keep looking good. Of course, stainless is more likely to impress the neighbors; if cosmetics are important, you can do your own math as to how much they're worth.

                  4. I like the rotisserie attachment. On my Genesis, you have to remove the grates, which is a bit of a pain, and which takes away the best place to put a drip pan. And with the new front-to-back burners I'm not sure how it will work. But for ~$50, I think it's worth it.

                  Frankly, though, you've already made the most important decision - IMO you won't regret buying a Genesis no matter how it's configured.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    If you like roast chicken, definitely buy the rotisserie. It's the best way ever to cook a chicken. And you don't need the overhead infrared element. It's even better when you add grape vines or other wood for smoke.

                    1. re: Big Eater

                      Chickens find their way to my spit more than anything else, but I've rotisseried everything from ducks to pork loins to rib roasts to turkeys. Big things take some precise balancing to turn smoothly, but it works. For smoke, I like to put hardwood sawdust in a 5" cast iron skillet and set it right on the flavorizer bars.

                  2. I went with the E-330 in Expresso. The gas line is hooked up and I left all burners on for 10 minutes and only got up to 300 degrees. I need to try it for longer later tonight when I actually cook. What size copper piping do you guys have going to the 1/2 in black pipe outside?

                    Side burner ignitor is not working yet.

                    Do I need to season those coated (sandblasted?) cast iron grates?

                    Thanks for everyone's help; I am excited to own this weber.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Dax

                      If you continue to encounter difficulty getting the grill up to temp, contact Weber - they've got one of the best customer service departments anywhere.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Yes, Actually their website addresses this issue and tells you how to get the temp up. Apparently its just a minor correction in the way you fire the up the grill.

                      2. re: Dax

                        I just git my weber genesis e 310 and it heats up hot, 600 degrees , and fast, less than 10 minutes. Did you resolve tour issue? I hope so, have to say I am thrilled with this grill so far. Good luck

                        1. re: angelo04

                          good to read all the tips- finally got a 'grown up' grill (genesis 310) last fall on clearance, after only using the $99 grills all my life. It's great! we have the propane tank and it gets hot enough for us.
                          the manual (yes I read it because I fear fire) says to keep it about 2 feet away from anything that might catch fire, and also don't store anything inside when using it (ie the cover).

                          I just wanted to add that if you don't need the rotisserie right now, they will come on clearance in the fall again- I got the weber rotisserie last year for <$20 at home depot- normally they go for about $80. haven't used it yet, but I read that they make awesome chicken

                          1. re: angelo04

                            I get to about 500+ in about 10 or less with all burners, including the sear, on high. Next time I see my plumber I need to get him to check the water column flow.

                            1. re: Dax

                              Yeah, you should be getting more heat than that. If you can't change the gas flow, maybe the burners could be modified?

                              1. re: Dax

                                I doubt you can modify the grill. If the NG pipe isn't big enough, you won't have enough gas flow. A plumber will have to run a bigger line from somewhere upstream on your gas line (i.e. bigger feeder pipe).

                                We have an ~8 year old stainless Genesis with NG that gets up around 650F or so. The thermometer died and I found a replacement from McMaster Carr that goes up even higher than the original one (less likely to fry it).

                                My neighbor recently got a propane Weber. On the first tank, it would only get up to 300F or so. It was definitely a WTF moment, also we were trying to cook dinner for 20 at the time. Anyway, it turned out that the newer propane ones have a safety valve that if you don't follow a specific sequence (includes waiting) when you hook it up and fire it up, the valve limits the fuel flow. It's intended to keep you from blowing yourself up, I suppose.

                                FYI, there was a good article on the Weber hotline in the NY Times this weekend.

                          2. I too have Weber kettle, but a built-in gas grill.

                            1) If you have the line, go with NG I say. You'll never run out.

                            2) If you have the space get it. Comes in handy especially if the inside burners are being used or when cooking some stank food (fish, bacon, etc).

                            3) I prefer SS, but not a deal breaker.

                            4) I could live without my infrared rotisserie. You can just as well cook the same foods without one IMO.

                            One thing I definitely regret getting was the high-heat infrared burner. I can adjust the heat down to act as a third burner, but generally that part of the grill goes unused. So unless you really eat lots of steaks & need it that hot get that "restaurant-style" high heat char, skip it.