I want to get gas.
July 25, 2011 9:14 AM   Subscribe

It's finally summer, and I need a gas grill. Any recommendations?

After four years of having a Weber charcoal grill, which is awesome, I have decided it's time to move to a gas grill - I love grilling, and I want to grill year-round, and in the Pacific Northwest it's just too much of a pain in the butt to fire up a charcoal grill in February. So I want something where I can flip a switch and grill.

I don't really know that much about gas grills, about reliable brands and desirable features, so I need some advice. To the particulars!

1. Budget: Between $2-300, closer to 2 if possible but can stretch to 3 for something stellar.
2. Features: As I mentioned above, I don't really know. What should I be looking for in a good gas grill? What are some of your favorite things about yours?
3. Gas costs: Are some models/brands more efficient than others? How long does a typical gas tank last if I were to grill, say, twice a week?
posted by pdb to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: my only advice is wait until september/october to purchase one, and get one at a target or walmart... normally, they put them on HEAVY discount around this time. I purchased a $500 grill for 70% off at the end of season when they are trying to clear out inventory. I've had a weber for 5 years, and it still works like a charm. If you wait until then, you'll get more bang for your buck...
posted by fozzie33 at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Respectfully, you're not going to get a good grill for $200-300. This is a budget price point, and a tough one, because two grills that look the exact same might be made with totally different construction quality.

I would start here to get a sense of what is available to you.
posted by Jairus at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2011

After having several VERY expensive grills thinking spending more meant better quality, I have come to the conclusion that nothing beats my old inexpensive Weber gas grill - consistent heat, lights every time, etc. My vote is stick with Weber!
posted by cecic at 9:26 AM on July 25, 2011

Best answer: We bough this grill earlier this summer, and really like the way it cooks for us. We ended up going for a somewhat smaller grill that had higher ratings for that price range. You can find large gas grills in that price range, but they are uniformly pretty poorly rated. The linked grill is an infrared grill, which (supposedly) means you use less gas than your typical propane grill. Also, the design allows you to use smoke chips, which is super nice. We have done this several times this summer and have been pleased with the results.
posted by nasayre at 9:29 AM on July 25, 2011

We recently got a portable gas grill which we LOVE: Weber Q-120. It's ridiculously tiny for most people, but it works for us. I'd recommend anything Weber, and if you're only looking to cook for you and a mate (not large party cooking) it's a breeze to whip out and stow away. I think this is a bigger version of the same design: Weber Q-320.

I did some research on grills before we bought, so here's some things I looked for in a grill:

- Ceramic-coated cast iron grill surface - A must! Makes cleaning a breeze and less likely to rust than the cheap stuff.
- Easy to access and clean/replace drip pan.
- Hefty lid/body with hefty hinges to hold up and hold heat in.
posted by ninjakins at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, I should mention that our propane tank usually lasts 8-9 months for us, and we grill more than twice a week.
posted by nasayre at 9:39 AM on July 25, 2011

Best answer: After years of using those converted 55-gallon drum grills, I recently got one of these dual grills. I like it. I got it on sale at Lowe's, at the low end of your price range. It may not be on sale now, which would put it at the high end.

This is my first experience with a gas grill, or even a non-primitive charcoal grill. One of the nice things about it is that it's got a side burner where you can set up a charcoal chimney and blast the charcoal to life much faster than you could otherwise, so to some extent, having the gas side burner obviates the advantage of a gas grill. Then again, I just made devils on horseback on the gas side yesterday, which I would not have tried on the charcoal side.

You have to assemble it yourself, which is not hard but does take a couple hours.
posted by adamrice at 9:41 AM on July 25, 2011

Go with the weber-q- fantastic grill, and it packs up and you can tailgate with it.
posted by TheBones at 9:47 AM on July 25, 2011

I was eyeballing that dual CharGriller that adamrice mentions just the other day. The charcoal side will even accommodate the smoker box (which is important to me, but maybe isn't to you). I'll only add that Lowes will, I believe, assemble it for free. They also make conversion kits should you want to use natural gas (which might be already coming into your home) rather than propane. If you've got a spot where you're pretty sure the grill will be for a good long time, a plumber could run a line there for you and you'd not have to worry about running out of propane.

And for anyone else wondering (as was I) what a devil on horseback was, here ya go.
posted by jquinby at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2011

I bought a Weber Silver B (not sure what the current equivalent is) just after I got married. It has been sitting outside in the backyard for 12 years, and still works perfectly and looks great. I use it a couple times a week, and right through the Canadian winter.

It was $800, but I'm pretty sure I would have had to buy 2-3 $300 BBQs by this point. I have replaced one set of "flavor bars" (angled metal bits that deflect drippings away from the burners) at a cost of around $70 after they gradually corroded.
posted by CaseyB at 10:21 AM on July 25, 2011

One thing: if you're lucky enough to have natural gas access, get a grill that supports a direct connection. If you've been lugging propane, it's the best thing in the world. Just don't forget to turn it off when you're done (I've run mine for a couple days at a time by accident...)
posted by CaseyB at 10:26 AM on July 25, 2011

Best answer: I have a $250 gas grill I got on sale at Lowes and it's not bad, but here are some potential pitfalls:
- a good grill cover is hard to find (and expensive). The cheap ones rip easily and once the wind gets hold of a good tear, it can turn to shreds. On a cheaper grill, the igniter can get wet and you can have trouble getting the gas to light.
- cheap drip pans, burner covers, etc. These are often flimsy and have to be replaced after a year or two of heavy grilling.
- I go through a propane tank about every 5 months, but I own two tanks so I never run out in the middle of a meal and have to get another tank. One thing that can use up more propane is if you are grilling in really cold weather and have to pre-heat the grill 15 minutes or so---or if you have a side burner or two going (one of the only features I can think of, honestly).
posted by mattbucher at 10:29 AM on July 25, 2011

Response by poster: Jairus - I'm an amateur. "Good" to me means "will last a reasonable amount of time and is reliable" - I'm not a good enough cook to care about the features that a $900 or up grill will cost me, which is why I settled on that lowish price point.

Ninjakins - we do have parties every now and again, so the bigger version of that would probably be more in our wheelhouse, but that's an intriguing design.

adamrice/jquinby - I'm not really into the smoking so much, so that's not as important to me as a good solid gas grill. I also like that design, though.

We don't have natural gas at our house, so we'll be propane tanking it. Thanks for the tips on what to look for and on specific models, I'd love to hear more as well...
posted by pdb at 10:55 AM on July 25, 2011

I live in the eugene area and want to also say the weber q series is the way to go. It is an aluminum body with a cast iron grate that works great, heats up fast, pretty good on using the propane and very portable. I have the q200 model with a folding stand also made by weber and use it several times a week winter or summer. I did have to replace the burner tube and regulator this year after 4 years of steady use and it was easy and cheap and the grill works like new again. No rust in the rainy climate of western oregon, and the grill cleans up with a wire bruch and garden hose out in the yard. You will need to season the cast iron grate but the easy way to do this is to cook some bacon on the grill. Really, i now cook all my bacon on the grill, the grease drains away, no splatters on my kitchen and the grate is really, really non stick with all the seasoning from the baked on bacon grease.
posted by bartonlong at 10:56 AM on July 25, 2011

I got a Char Broil Infrared grill for about $270 at Target and have been extremely pleased.
posted by gnutron at 11:20 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can at all arrange to splurge on a Weber Genesis series grill, you should do so. (Equivalent modern version to the Silver B.) I believe it is a favorite of the America's Test Kitchen people, and I love mine. If you buy at Home Depot, it will come with the cast iron grill, which is otherwise a $80 upgrade.

Gas use will vary from grill to grill. I change the tank on my Weber once every 6-8 weeks, but that's with almost daily use.
posted by Hylas at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2011

Have you considered getting a good condition used grill?

I was dissatisfied with the majority of grills I saw at the big box stores in my price range, which was pretty similar to yours. They looked and felt pretty cheap to my eyes and I knew I needed to make some compromises, but it felt like I had to make too many to get something brand new.

I started perusing BBQ forums (they exist, of course) and educated myself a bit on older Weber grills. I ended up getting a Weber Genesis off of craigslist for 50 bucks. It's not new, no. But it was in great condition, the heatbox itself is solid, and I can still buy parts for it from Weber when I need to. The "flavor bars" will need to be replaced soon, and those will cost more than the grill itself, but the thing is built like a tank.

(Noting that the new Genesis models are just a bit north of your price range; if you're cool with that, then consider this a testimonial to the quality of Weber's stuff in general.)
posted by hijinx at 12:32 PM on July 25, 2011

Seconding the Genesis series. Built like a tank and totally reliable, though above your price range. I do leave it outside over winter and generally wake up in the summer to some surface rust on the unpainted steel, possibly where I failed to clean it thoroughly. A little naval jelly makes it look new again. I don't think a $200-300 grill would have held up.
posted by rocketpup at 12:58 PM on July 25, 2011

Genesis. I have the E320 I think. Make sure you get the cast iron grill. Side burner is pretty useless unless you want to fry eggs out there.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:24 PM on July 25, 2011

I disagree about the side burners; I like them for frying fish and not making the house smell like fried fish. Goes for other fried things as well.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2011

I never considered that; I like it when my house smells like fried things. Mmm... fried things.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2011

I got a Char Broil Infrared grill for about $270 at Target and have been extremely pleased.

I have what I assume is the same one but purchased at Costco for $300. It came with a cover and upgraded shelves and grates. We're very pleased.
posted by getawaysticks at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2011

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