By: Max Good
Echelon Diamond Series is Fire Magic’s top of the line. The E660 is their smallest model, although with 660 square inches of primary cook surface we consider this a large grill. The stainless steel cooking grates are thick and heavy. 16 gauge stainless steel flavor grids blanket the burners for even heat distribution and the three cast stainless steel E-burners, actually shaped more like an H, are super heavy duty and designed to spread flame throughout the firebox. One owner likened the intensity to “a sea of fire”. Access to burners is easy for cleaning, smoking, or setting up a rotisserie.
All models have hot surface electric ignition. Instead of generating a spark, it uses an igniter rod that gets red hot instantaneously. Fire Magic claims their hot surface ignition system is unaffected by moisture and designed to perform even in harsh environments. Echelons have built-in digital thermometers and meat probes, 12″ deep firebox (mighty nice for rotisserie) and double wall spring assisted hoods. Removable warming racks can be stored on brackets behind the hood. These brackets also hold the rotisserie spit. Backburners include a stainless steel cover for protection when not in use. Heavy is a word that came to mind when inspecting Echelons. Everything looks and feels solid.
Echelons have a drip collection systems consisting of a tapered firebox bottom draining into a small drawer accessed from the front control panel and equipped with a disposable aluminum tray. But you shouldn’t get much grease because most burns up on the flavor grids especially if you do a burn off after each use.
All Echelon models need to be hooked up to 110 volt power. They are decked out with blue LED backlit control knobs and a flame icon on the knob changes from blue to red when turned on. The flame’s intensity grows brighter on high and dimmer on low. Bright, angled halogen hood lights provide ample illumination after dark. Heat zone separators slide in and out between each E-burner to isolate cooking zones. A long, stainless steel wood chip drawer is incorporated in the control panel with its own dedicated 3,000 BTU burner. Craftsmanship is stunning. We were floored by seamless welds and attention to detail from top to bottom.
Stand-alone models are available with double or single side burners and there are many to choose from. All 304 stainless steel cart construction with insulated doors and drawers. Retractable tool and paper towel holders. Fold down side shelf with polished edges and handles. Heavy-duty locking swivel casters. Two 110V electrical outlets with heavy-duty extension cord.
All Fire Magic BBQ grills are made with high quality 304 cast stainless steel burners, cooking grates and housings that carry a lifetime warranty. Warranty for various components then drops to 15 years for brass valves and backburner and manifold assemblies all the way down to 1 year for electric systems. Lifetime ownership is a Fire Magic mantra. All grills are shipped with conversion kits that facilitate propane or natural gas should your preference change. Echelons also include your own personalized nameplate.
Fire Magic designs are elegant and engineered for customization. The grills or “heads” can be purchased for drop in installations or mounted on carts and pedestals. The model numbers tell a lot about the model. For example, E1060i indicates: E=Echelon, 1060=actual or approximate primary cooking surface, i=island or drop-in head for install. E790s: E=Echelon, 790=790 square inch primary cooking surface, s=stand-alone or mounted on a cart. For outdoor kitchen installations, anything in the vast Fire Magic catalog may be incorporated. Options for stand-alone models are more limited but you may, for instance, replace an E-Burner with an IR Sear Zone. Although additional searing power is unnecessary with these super-hot grills. Some other options are: “Magic View Window” to check food and a motorized hood lift. Add-ons can increase the price significantly. Our listed MSRP is for a basic E660s freestanding model.
Fire Magic grills have been manufactured in California since 1937. These luxury grills exude elegance and quality. Excellent in design and construction, beautiful to behold and priced accordingly. These are among the finest grills made.
In 1982 RH Peterson, pioneers in fabrication of realistic, artificial gas logs, acquired Fire Magic to complement their outdoor lifestyle line. They produce not only free standing gas, coal and electric grills on carts and pedestals, but anything else you need for an outdoor kitchen including smokers, a wide range of attachments and accessories, several different side burners, refrigerators, keg coolers and tappers, rotisserie baskets, ventilation hoods, griddles, pots and pans, tongs and spatulas, and even the kitchen sink.
Paul Loar, owner of Fireplace and Chimney Authority, is a Chicago area Fire Magic Dealer who was kind enough to invite us to one of his showrooms. Loar clearly took pride in demonstrating his wares, stating the burners have a range of 200°F for slow roasting and smoking all the way up to 1600°F on the large Echelon 1060 model to sear steaks in minutes, just like steakhouses. All monitored by the onboard digital thermometers. He warns new owners to reduce cooking times, “It’s like getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari when you’re used to driving a Taurus”.
Fire Magic designs are elegant and engineered for customization. The grills or “heads” can be purchased for drop in installations or mounted on carts and pedestals. The model numbers tell a lot about the model. For example, E1060i indicates: E=Echelon, 1060=actual or approximate primary cooking surface, i=island or drop-in head for install. A660s: A=Aurora, 660=660 square inch primary cooking surface, s=stand-alone or mounted on a cart. For outdoor kitchen installations, anything in the vast Fire Magic catalog may be incorporated. Options for stand-alone models are more limited but you may, for instance, replace an E-Burner with an IR Sear Zone.
If you’re in the market for the best, you should consider Fire Magic. If you’re building an outdoor kitchen or souped-up patio you should consider Fire Magic. Outdoor kitchens are significant home improvement projects. We don’t recommend drop-ins because once the cement is dry, it’s hard to change your mind and if you move, you can’t take it with you. But if you choose to go that path you undoubtedly would like your grill to last as long as the bricks. One Fire Magic dealer recounted a call to fix an installed drop-in grill. When asked about its age the homeowner replied, “I bought this place 30 years ago and it was already here”. To the astonishment of both men, parts were still available and the unit was put back in service. I believe this company will stand behind all their products. Indeed, when speaking with Fire Magic employees their genuine enthusiasm is palpable. Of course you’re not just buying reliability and great customer service; you’re buying the shining centerpiece of your outdoor realm and a lifetime of enjoyment the versatility and superior performance these elite cooking machines deliver.
They also make American Outdoor Grills, which are premium cookers at a lower price than Fire Magic. All high quality and made in America.
Available on-line and at independent hearth and patio stores.
Published On: 12/5/2012 Last Modified: 3/17/2021
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