The 2014 AmazingRibs.com Top 10 Best Value Gas Grills
By Max Good
We love Weber gas grills and they have always enjoyed several listings in our Top 10 Values list because they are built so well, come with great warranties, and Weber is renowned for its tech support and huge inventory of parts going back many years. This year they again secured three spots with their three lines. But competitors are turning up the heat. Check out our 2014 picks from lesser known Broil King, Napoleon, and Saber. All produce high quality grills with great warranties and customer service and all are worthy of your consideration.
A dizzying array of gassers is available with prices from under $200 to over $20,000. Many low and moderate cost models don't get hot enough to do a good job searing steaks, but those with special sear burners can. Of all the accessories, the one we think is most important is sear burners, special burners that get hot enough to brown a steak better than normal burners.
Many feature smoke boxes, and gas grills, with a little practice, can produce lovely smoked meals, but they require extensive ventilation so smoking is not their strength.
Watch out though because cheap manufacturers often include bells and whistles like cut-rate sear burners, side burners, and rotisseries to entice you to buy their flimsy, low quality junkers built with low grade stainless steel held together with crumby fasteners that will rust and break apart after a couple seasons.
When it comes to grills, bigger is better. We recommend you go for at least three burners so you can cook with a hot zone and a not so hot zone. This 2-zone system allows you better temperature control and it is a necessity if you hope to do more than burn hot dogs and burgers.
And regardless of the price you pay, the dial thermometers attached to the hoods are poor quality. It is not unusual for them to be off by 50°F. We strongly recommend that your budget include a good digital thermometer with a probe that can be placed on the cooking surface.
For other things to look for when you are shopping, read our article on understanding gas grills, with an explanation of how infrared burners work, ignition systems, and how different types of gas grills cook. It also explains that you should not pay attention to BTU ratings on the specs because they can be misleading, and how you can calculate "flux", a much more useful number which we provide in our reviews. Click here for tips on setting up and using gas grills.
At AmazingRibs.com we have created a huge Equipment Reviews section with a searchable database of hundreds of reviews and ratings of smokers and grills. From it we have drawn our list of Top 10 Value Gas Grills for 2014. To say whittling this list down to 10 models was tough is an understatement. Go to any big box store and you'll trip over all the different gassers being displayed, and that's just in the parking lot. In making our selections we tried to cover a wide range of designs and prices and pick the best of breed. Globalization had a significant impact on gas grill manufacturing. Many are now made in China and even All-American companies like Weber do some manufacturing and sourcing of components outside the USA. Canadian companies are also coming on strong with great cookers that deserve consideration.
How we select our Top 10 Best Values
We rate and review as objectively as possible, measuring temperatures, slamming lids, turning dials, studying warranties, and kicking casters, but inevitably intangibles such as look and feel have to be considered. All the selections have won an AmazingRibs.com Best Value Award, and we consider them among the best of breed in their price category. Although value is a primary concern, we have included one luxurious dream cooker in each category because value is relative to the size of your bank account. They are listed in order of manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), but actual prices are often lower depending on the store and time of year. Please click the red links to read our complete detailed review and find links to suppliers, many of whom sell well below MSRP.
A basic low priced gas cooker with a design that was typical of the first gas grills made in the early 1960s: Cast aluminum body and an H-shaped burner. Cast aluminum holds heat well and the H-burner is actually two U-shaped burners fused together with a separate control knob for each side. Thankfully Broil-Mate didn't waste their money or yours on a useless heat indicator. A good digital thermometer is required to achieve your goal of BBQ domination. You could easily walk past this plain little grill in favor of a big shiny model that was made cheap to sell cheap and carries a one year warranty, but if you're shopping in this price range you would do well to stop and take a look. Broil-Mate's aluminum housing will not rust and comes with a limited lifetime warranty on the cook box, 5 years on burners and stainless steel components, and 2 years on everything else. Broil-Mate is one of five grill brands owned by Canadian BBQ manufacturer and distributer, Onward Manufacturing. Click here to read our complete review of the Broil-Mate 155364 Gas Grill.
We went looking for everyman's gas grill: one with decent size, great performance, quality construction backed up with a great warranty, and a lower MSRP, than our benchmark Weber Spirit E-310, (see below). We found Broil King's Signet 20. Patented dual-tube burners deliver even temps with a wide range, quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty and it has drop down side shelves with built-in condiment trays. This grill is a steal for the money. Not as easy to find as the Spirit E-310, but worth the effort. Click here to read our complete review of the Broil King Signet 20.
Infrared heat is intense, high temperature radiant heat, but Char-Broil's Commercial grills allow you to dial it back for low and slow roasting as well. The stainless steel cooking grates on Char-Broil's Commercial line rest directly on top of stainless steel radiant plates that cover the entire grill area. There is almost no exposure to direct flame from the gas burners below and, consequently, very little exposure to hot air convection heat that dries up moisture in foods. The result is no flare-ups and juicy meats. Click here to learn more about infrared, convection heat, and the thermodynamics of grilling. Since the radiant plates are less than an inch from the cooking surface, you can do some serious searing. Cleaning the cook surface is a little different because juices and marinades don't drip down and burn up; they collect on the radiant plates in the channels between the grates. Char-Broil includes a fork like scraper to address this. An added benefit to this design is low fuel consumption. The radiant plates get mighty hot with relatively low BTU output burners. 500 square inches of primary cooking surface make this is a good-size grill with a wide temperature range. Click here to read our complete review of the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Commercial 3-Burner.
So why does this smaller Weber Spirit, (424 square inches) cost so much more than Char-Broil above (500 square inches)? Because Weber is the gold standard for backyard grills. It's hard to beat their design, construction, warranty, and customer support. For most Weber owners, we're preaching to the choir. People are willing to spend more for the Weber name and they are rarely disappointed. Spirit is Weber's entry level gas grill. For 2013 it was redesigned with significant upgrades that bring it closer in features and performance to their more sophisticated Genesis line. A big change is reconfiguration of the old fashioned burner layout. Burners used to connect from left to right with control knobs on the right side shelf. New models are brought up to date with burners that connect from front to back and control knobs on the front panel. This setup is not only better for 2-zone cooking, but frees the right side shelf for beverages, bowls and cutting boards. A nice feature is Weber's in cart LP tank fuel gauge that gives an approximate indication of fuel level by weight. Made in China. Click here to read our complete review of the Weber Spirit E-310 3-Burner.
Saber is a newcomer debuting in 2011 and gaining popularity fast. They employ similar infrared designs developed by their parent company, Char-Broil, but Saber Grills are much better than anything bearing the Char-Broil name. This model is an entry level Saber that competes well against Weber Genesis. If you like the ease of use provided by Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared, but want a better grill with a warranty to back it up, Saber is for you. They get real hot real fast, but are easy to dial back for 2-zone cooking. They also make some beautiful premium models that go head to head with Weber's top of the line Summit series. Saber is living proof that everything made in China is not inferior. Construction and fit and finish are comparable with many higher priced grills. Click here to read our complete review of the Saber Cast 500 P-Burner.
Genesis is one of the most popular gas grills in America. Known for solid construction, performance and attractive appearance, it's the grill you buy when you grow up. The 330 features a sear burner and side burner. While side burners are nothing to get excited about, when it comes to searing steaks you can never have too much sizzle. The sear burner really bumps up the versatility and appeal of this cooker. EP models are only sold by independent hearth and patio dealers so you cannot pick one up at your local hardware store. They are worth seeking out though because, unlike other Genesis grills, EPs come with long lasting stainless steel rod grates and flavorizer bars: a significant upgrade. Put it all together and you have the premier model of Weber's Genesis line. Made in the USA. Click here to read our complete review of the Weber Genesis EP-330 3-Burner.
Modern Home Products pioneered the first gas grills in the early 1960s. This model harkens back to those days with a classic, super thick cast aluminum cookbox that is virtually indestructible and carries a limited lifetime warranty on just about everything. Instead of flavorizer bars over the burners to protect them and incinerate drips, it uses rust-proof, kiln fired, porcelain coated ceramic briquettes. Although the standard dual control H-shape burner has decent output, we recommend you upgrade to a hybrid model which replaces the H-burner with two cast stainless steel burners and one infrared burner for searing. The appearance may lack sizzle, but people who own these heavy aluminum grills often get hooked on the way they cook. If you could see it through their eyes, it wouldn't look like a big black box at all. Still made in the USA in Antioch, IL. Click here to read our complete review of the Modern Home Products WNK4.
Napoleon is another Canadian company that offers a great selection of beautiful gas and charcoal grills that are well made with useful features. The Prestige P500RSIB comes loaded with four 12,000 BTU main burners, an 18,000 BTU rotisserie back burner–spit and kit included, and a powerful ceramic sear burner capable of hitting 1000°F. Each burner has its own electronic ignition. Lots of high quality stainless steel all the way around including Napoleon's characteristic wavy grate rods. A cool optional cast iron charcoal tray fits inside the firebox to turn Prestige into a dual fuel grill. Click here to read our complete review of the Napoleon Prestige P500RSIB.
We told you we like Weber, and Summits are the best gas grills they make. The 470 is a good size grill that's got it all. Heavy stainless steel cooking grates, powerful burners that reach searing temps of 750°F then blast up to 900°F degrees when you crank the sear burner, a fun and functional rotisserie motor that pops up from the left side shelf then snaps back out of the way when not in use. They even have an LED fuel level indicator on the control panel that shows approximately how much propane is left in your tank. Summits are packaged almost fully assembled and you can get them anywhere from Amazon to Home Depot to fancy hearth and patio stores. Made in the USA. Click here to read our complete review of the Weber Summit E/S 470 4-Burner.
Yes we know you could buy a car for this kind of money, but we wanted to throw in one dream grill. Is it worth it? Kalamazoo makes some of the best grills money can buy and you need a lot of money to buy one. In addition to being handmade with impeccable fit and finish, and over-built from head to toe with high quality 304 stainless steel, Kalamazoo is known for superb features like their 25,000 BTU cast brass burners, waterproof cabinets and internal chain-driven rotisseries. But as award winning Chef Rick Bayless observes, the feature that really puts Kalamazoo over the top is their Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer: A bed of slotted heat tents that slides between the main burners and grates. Empty, the tents radiate and disperse gas heat evenly to the grates. Loaded with charcoal or wood, they provide the best of both worlds with an extended temperature range of 150⁰ to 1,200⁰F. Don't forget to buy your lottery tickets tonight. Made in the USA. Click here to read our complete review of the Kalamazoo K750 Hybrid Fire Grill.
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