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Jul 3, 2011 10:04 AM

Budget gas grill?

I'm looking for a gas grill for about $200 or under. First of all, I'd like to get two things out of the way:

1. I know charcoal is better, tastier, greener (although just a little greener according to a recent NY Times article), etc. I need the extra convenience or I won't use it much.

2. I know if I go above $300 I could get pretty much everything I want in a grill. I won't do it unless I'm convinced I'll have to replace a grill completely every few years otherwise.

I will probably be an occasional user, maybe once a week mainly for my family of four. We don't eat a lot of red meat, so it would be mostly for chicken, spiedies (if you have been to Upstate New York you know what they are), turkey brats, fish, etc. Not a lot of huge cookouts. I kind of like the idea of putting lava rocks in for flavor. That's what my father used to do.

So I have narrowed it down to about 3 choices.
- The Char Griller Grillin' Pro 3001 (they also make also something like it called the Kingriller 3008). Pros: solid outside, heats up well (according to reviews). Cons: cheap three-piece grate, not that stable, no room for lava.
- Grill Master 4-Burner Stainless Steel Gas Grill. A Lowe's store brand made in China. The guy at Lowe's tried to steer me to this one away from the Grillin' Pro, even though it was less expensive. Pros: The internal works seem to be better, especially the grate. Room for lava rocks. Cons: The outside seems to be the thin metal typical of these budget grills. I am wondering how long it will last with moderate use in a Midwestern climate. I don't need a grill this big, although as long as the extra size doesn't waste gas or take longer to heat up I don't mind.
- Weber Q200. Pros: It's a Weber. Portable (not a big plus). Cons: Is it too small for a couple of chickens or a small party? Are the little cylinders going to be a waste and a hassle to replace all the time?
I'm also thinking about a Huntington 3-burner, which goes a bit over the $200 mark.

So there's the deal. Any advice?

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  1. I don't usually put too much stock in Consumers Report, but I was in the market for a $200 gas grill so looked and they like the Brinkman from Home Depot (model 410 or 418 or something like that--they're all pretty similar anyway). The thing gets a lot of negative comments, but FWIW I bought one. This was recent and I've probably only used it 5-6 times so far, but so far so good. Starts right up, gives good heat, you can use all or just a part of it (four burners), and nothing broke yet. The grills themselves aren't too hard to keep clean.

    I'm going to give it it's biggest test yet in about an hour so we'll see if anything untoward happens.

    Personally I'm doubtful about those little gas cylinder things--I'd stay with standard tanks.

    1. Spend the $$$ and buy a Weber Genesis Silver. Yes, ouch. Cry once! The things lasts and you can buy parts as necessary. Mine is about 10 YO, if I would get outside and take a scrub brush to it to get rid of pollen, dugs and grime it would look new and cook like new too. I've bought lower priced gas grills and they do not go the distance. I am planning to get 12-20 more years out of this thing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        AMEN, sis-tah!

        I had a Genesis for at least 10 years. I replaced it eventually -- more because I wanted to than I *needed* to. After the great results and reliability I had with the Genesis I felt fine about stepping up to a Summit with it's double insulated hood around my toddler grandson.

        I bet, one day, he'll be grilling up something on it. GREAT American-made product the OP will *never* regret.

        1. re: Candy

          I don't think Weber offers that silver/gold style anymore, Candy. Discontinued a few years ago.

        2. Over the years we've had several grills made by Char Broil and have been super pleased. Definitely in your price range. Lowe's carries them also. We just bought a four burner one on sale for $230. I recommend the brand highly. BTW, we grill year round, multiple times a week and it's a real workhorse.

          1. If it is the made in the USA Huntington, that is the best deal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chris B.

              Could you explain what that means please? Also is it under the OP's $300 budget? Thanks.

            2. For under $200, I would recommend one of three things:

              1. Wait until the end of summer until Lowes and Home Depot do their annual grill clearances. You will be able to get a $300+ grill for $200.

              2. Buy the $99 stainless portable grill from Costco -- I don't remember the brand off the top of my head, but it had a decent grill surface / size, can be taken to a tailgate, and can take mini or full size cylinders.

              3. You can often get a really good deal on Craigslist for a gas grill. They are pretty simple in how they work, and you can often find a grill that is sold because the owner is moving or because it needs a simple part or two replaced. I helped a buddy with a Weber he found on Craigslist last weekend -- replacement parts, the grill, and giving it a good cleaning came out to less than $150 for a $700 new grill.

              5 Replies
              1. re: neel2004

                Thanks, neel2004, for the excellent post. I like your ideas, but:
                1. This is going to the the Summer of the Grill for me. We'll be at home most of the summer, which doesn't usually happen. I should have done this last fall, but here I am.
                2. I've looked at the Weber portable and I don't think it's large enough. One of my dreams is to make Pollo al Mattone (chicken under a brick), so the grill should hold 2 small chickens . I don't think we have Costco out here.
                3. Since this would be my first grill, I have decided on a new grill with a warranty, etc. I am not handy enough to deal with it if something is wrong. Call me a wimp.

                @bobcam90, Huntington is a company (originally Canadian IIRC) that makes grills in Indiana. Right now that's the frontrunner, because it seems to have tougher construction than most of your budget models. It's $250 at Lowe's.

                1. re: chefMolnar

                  In that case, the Huntington sounds like it may be the fit for you. I did see a half charcoal / half gas barrel grill at my local grocery store for $199, and the gas half would be easily big enough for two spatchcocked chickens.

                  Just remember -- 90% of grilling is about your talent on it, and not the grill. I threw some excellent dinner parties in college with my $18 Wal-Mart propane canister grill -- it just took 25 minutes to get to a good grilling temperature, and i had a drill some holes into it and tape on a dollar store fan to get the heat even.

                  1. re: neel2004

                    Yes, back in the day I used a hibachi on the fire escape in my apartment in Manhattan. Highly illegal but fun. So i guess this will be my second grill.

                    My guess is that the half-charcoal, half-gas grill is the Duo, also made by Char-Griller. It looked interesting, but if I want to branch out into charcoal I'll probably get myself a smaller Weber.

                    OK, so I marched into Lowe's and bought the Huntington. It arrives tomorrow, so once I get it fired up and learn to rassle with it, I'll give a report. Thanks to all who gave suggestions--and since I think this is a good discussion, feel free to continue this thread for the benefit of fellow chowhounds.

                    1. re: chefMolnar

                      First of all, thanks again to everyone for their advice. Here's my follow-up.

                      I got the Huntington, had it set up and I have been using it for a couple of months. I love it. It's solid, big enough but not too big, and not that hard to keep clean (so far). It does run a bit hot, which is good, but I'll have to learn a lot more about the right temperatures. I have been using this way more than I expected to.

                      Cons: I had to buy a separate gas gauge for the tank. The lid has a couple of openings in the side, so it doesn't make a completely closed space--I don't know if that's a problem for a gas grill. So far the porcelain grating hasn't given me any problem but I can't compare it with cast iron. But those are pretty minor complaints. The real test is how long it will last. Check back in a couple of years.

                      I've been doing spiedies (easy once I got the hang of it), Pollo alla Mattone (not so easy), did a ribeye reasonably well, if closer to medium than medium rare, and I really like putting vegetables on a perforated foil sheet while I'm grilling. I'm going ou now to get a grill basket and try a bronzino for tonight's dinner. Wish me luck.

                      My only problem now is flare-ups. I clean the grease pan and everything, but I'm still getting more flare-ups than I want, especially with chicken. I will probably have more questions about techniques and equipment, but I'll start separate threads for them. Happy Labor Day!

                      1. re: chefMolnar

                        Well chef, glad that you like your grill. I've never owned any high-end gas grills, and I can say that my biggest trouble with gassers has always been flare-ups. It seems that no matter what is in the bottom of the grill, like drip plates/diffusers/lava rocks whatever, flare-ups seem inevitable when cooking over flames rather than coals. That, combined with relatively high heat in many gassers (great when you want to sear, not so great when you want to cook slower but still over direct heat) often had me cooking on the upper (warming?) racks, to avoid such troubles. That led to a collection of charcoal grills, but that's another subject. Hope that you keep using and keep liking your grill. Keep us posted!