Expensive grills, good grills, cheap grills, bad grills. Theories on why to buy what.


T Waite

TVWBB Super Fan
I'm old. About half of you would describe me as such. More of you would think me a contemporary, and still others would think I'm young. Nonetheless, I'm old enough to have been grilling for a good many years. Old enough to form an opinion about stuff. Old enough to have had it with crap products.

Like everything, expensive doesn't mean good and cheap doesn't mean bad, nor does crap imply cheap or expensive. Crap is, simply put, crap.

As an old guy I have had my share of gas grills. I have had expensive gas grills. I have had, and still do, cheap gas grills. Until very recently I have never owned a good gas grill.

I recall one in particular, although the manufacturer escapes me. I think it was a Lowe's brand. It was a stainless steel beauty with an enclosed cart. It had four burners that ran front to back. This was in the days before specialized burners like searing, IR, etc. It had a nice warming drawer where you could keep things like corn warm after cooking while you did the meat. It cooked like crap. The burners could've been 6" shorter, nothing got hot back there anyway. After about four or five years 3 of the burners with a ten year warranty went bad. It took weeks of arguing and photos being emailed to convince them they owed me burners. They finally sent the wrong ones, but I was able to modify them and keep cooking. A year later the fourth one went, and two years later the others went again. I was done. The grill cost in the $500 range and I had gotten about six years out of it. When I bought it and all of it's shiny glory I figured I was buying a good grill. I wasn't. I was buying an expensive grill. Moreover, I was buying crap. (see above).

After that I embarked on a series of cheap grills. The cheaper the better. I bought one for $99 that lasted four years without replacing any parts. Another cost me $119 and went another four years. The one I'm using now cost me $129 because it has a side burner. I hate side burners, but when buying cheap you don't get many options. This grill is in its second season with at least one more left in it, probably two. That's not all of the cheapies, just the memorable ones. Ok, so, do the math. That's $347 for ten, maybe twelve years of grilling. Using the ten years because it makes math easy, that's $34.47 per year. Comparing it to my $500 beauty that lasted six years or $83.33 per year, the cheapies are a no brainer. And this is an easy comparison because they are all crap. It's simple to compare crap to crap. Honestly, the $99 one cooked the best of all, the cook space was just too small.

It'd been my plan to continue with the cheap grills until the day I can no longer hold a set of tongs. But after a while even a bargain becomes not worth it. Flare-ups resulting in wasted wings or burgers because my granddaughter wants Puppa to push her on the swings are always disappointing. (I'd rather lose the wings than tell her no!) I was keeping my costs low but sacrificing an enjoyable cooking experience. And lets face it, if we didn't enjoy cooking we wouldn't be here. I decided I want a good grill. But being a project oriented person and someone who loves to putter as much as cook, I decided to see if I couldn't accomplish economy, performance, and longevity by restoring an old Genesis. End result is a $110 investment into one of the best cooking grills ever made that should last a decade or more. An enjoyable cooking experience and quality for about $11 a year.

Not bad.


TVWBB Olympian
All we ever used was cheap gassers too, for the most part. The last one I had, I bought for my dad for fathers day ~1996 & I kept it when he moved. That thing - I remember burning 3 NY steaks while sitting right next to it with friends.... it'd burn anything. Before I switched to charcoal I started putting a cookie sheet on the main grate & cooking on the upper, going for low/slow.... which along with wood chips was a great improvement.

After switching to charcoal I remembered being amazed at how forgiving it was. I had chicken on a OTG, was distracted by a neighbor wanting to show me something, & I remembered I had food on the grill & I'd been gone for 5-15 minutes. It was direct but not burned - blew me away. I was anti gas because of the differences, but I like my old (~2001) gen silver b. I don't remember burning anything on it.......

Len Dennis

TVWBB Diamond Member
On my propane burner, I'd probably burn something every 4th to 5th meal. When it rusted out (as they all do), I went to a gasser (my son is a gas fitter so no issues gettting the pipe in place). It's three years now and I haven't burnt ANYTHING! Nat gas burns at a lower temp than propane is the only reason.

I'm not more attentive or anything, it's just gas burns at a lower temp and so it doesn't "get away" on me, ever.

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I've been down that same road myself, like many others. When I went grill shopping every three years or so It amazed me why any one would spend the money for a Weber when you could get the same grill from Char- Broil for a third of the price, amazing. Then a close friend finally convinced me to buy a end of season marked down floor model Weber 1000LX for half price, but still more than a Char Broil. That was in 1999 after 1 set of flavorizer bars and an upgrade to cast iron grates I still have it and it looks like new and cooks like new.
Not ever going to get rid of it even though I have a NG E320 which is just the big brother to the LX1000.

Bob H.

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Gas grills in comparison to the 22" Weber kettle that I bought in 1979 are way more expensive! :). But my Genesis Gold C from 2002 is nowhere
even close to done. I would rather grill on quality than not.

Bill Klinke

when I am a guest at a cheap-gas grill household, they invariably hand me some shorty tongs since 'you know how to grill, can you do this?'

I always say sure, on a gas grill I can scorch anything you got.

And then I do.

Craig Alumbaugh

My charcoal grills and smoker are Weber's and my gasser is a fairly cheap-o model that hardly gets used. If I do buy another gas grill it will be a Weber. I would rather spend more at first and have it for years than spend less every couple of years.

Tommy B

I have a few weber kettles, 18 WSM, mini WSM and I have a brinkman propane grill. The brinkman was pretty cheap (compared to a weber gasser) but when I use it (once a month or so) I get really good results. This is the 4th summer I have had it. Every year I say I'll upgrade to a weber gasser when this one dies but this thing won't kick the bucket! I think I may of picked the only cheap grill that has lasted!