The E-470 and S-470 are upgraded models in Weber's top of the line gas grill series, aptly named Summit. We had high expectations when Weber sent us a 2012 S-470 to test. With a few minor exceptions, we were not disappointed. It cooks beautifully and has great features that are clever, effective and easy to use.
E models have black porcelain double cart doors and hood. S models have 430 grade stainless steel doors and hood. Otherwise the E-470 and S-470 are identical in features and price.
The 470 has four main burners at 12,200 BTU each, a 10,600 BTU sear burner in the center and a 12,000 BTU side burner. The primary cooking area is 468 square inches, and the removable warming rack is 112 square inches. Use of the sear burner in conjunction with the four main burners increases the 470 Heat Flux rating, (BTUs/square inches of primary cooking surface), from 102.56 to 126.92. The 470 has a built-in rotisserie with a motor that drops down into the side shelf to be hidden away when not in use. There is a 10,600 BTU rear-mounted, infrared burner for the rotisserie. A smoker box with dedicated 6,800 BTU burner occupies the right side of the cook area. Main burner knobs are illuminated and there is an LED gauge on the control panel that displays how much fuel is in your propane tank.It appears size and placement of the gas burners and flavorizer bars were painstakingly scrutinized because there is very little clearance between the grates and the bars: only about 1.25". That puts the heat right under the meat. The heavy stainless steel flavor bars, which blanket the upper firebox, effectively mitigate hot spots and provide good heat distribution at grate level. We got good results roasting on the grates.
Two heavy grates made of 9mm stainless steel rods cover most of the firebox with a large, 3.5" wide x 18" deep perforated smoker box that runs along the right side from front to back. The smoker box is flush with the grate surface. There are eight flavorizer bars directly beneath the grate and one perforated bar that constitutes the bottom of the smoker box.
Summit provides excellent searing capability reaching 750°F at the cook surface center with all main burners on high. There is a sear burner in the center between two main burners. Crank it and temp shoots up over 900°F. Before harnessing this firepower, we recommend you read our article on How to Grill Steakhouse Steaks.
As with many gas grills, there is a slight temperature drop in the front and on the sides: Approximately 5% with all main burners at medium. For indirect cooking on gas we generally turn one side on and one side off. Weber recommends setting the 470 left and right mains at high while leaving the two middle burners off. This generated a good roasting temp of about 320°F at the center. We sizzled tasty salmon fillets at 500°F by dialing all four mains to Low. You can get a lot of different cooking set ups with the 470. Even the smoke box burner can be used to make small temperature boosts. But to take advantage of this versatility you need an accurate digital thermometer. As always, the in-hood bi-metal dial heat indicator is way off and as usual we recommend you ignore it and get a good digital. Click here to peruse our Searchable Thermometer Reviews.
One of Summit's most appealing features is the "Tuck Away Rotisserie System" that needs an electric outlet. A rotisserie motor folds down into the left side shelf, flush with the surface. Pull a small latch and it pops up and snaps in place ready to roll. The spit is stored in the cart and accessed via an opening under the right side shelf. Rotisserie forks hang on hooks inside the cart. It's easy to get up and running in no time flat. We cooked crispy, juicy chickens flawlessly with only the IR backburner in about one hour and fifteen minutes. Afterward, remove the spit, wrap up the cord under the motor and snap it back into the side shelf. Done!
On the downside, the smoker box is ineffectual window dressing which does little more than create an illusion that food is being smoked. Gas grills are not great smokers to begin with for a variety of reasons. Unlike a dedicated smoker, they are designed to let lots of air in and out so smoke doesn't get a chance to interact with the meat surface and infuse its distinctive flavor. We loaded piles of wood chips into this box trying to get something close to smoked ribs, only to watch our efforts...well...go up in billowing clouds of smoke that poured out of the large holes just inches away from the smoke box. Wood chip foil packets placed in the middle, under the grate work better. We tried to reposition the box at the center between the two grates, but couldn't do so effectively. This box is especially frustrating because it takes up 70 square inches that could otherwise be used for cooking. Click here to get a Summit Smoker Replacement Kit and reclaim this territory. At best you can get a very light smoke flavor on thin meats like fish. Although we have disproved the merit of soaking wood chips to produce more smoke, we found wet chips are good for refilling Weber's box because they stick together, making them easier to load with tongs over a hot grill.
If you really want to smoke, stop fiddling around and get a smoker. A good place to start is our How to Buy a Smoker Page.
The side burner is pretty basic with peizo electric ignition. One of our readers asked if he could use it for deep frying and Weber's answer is an emphatic NO! They believe a large pot of boiling oil perched on a side shelf next to a bank of flaming gas burners is unwise. Furthermore, as with any burner affixed to a side shelf, weight can be an issue. A wok or sauce pan is OK, but no giant pots of chili, water, or oil.
Each control knob has "Snap-Jet Individual Burner Ignition". Knobs feel solid, but dial movement could be a bit smoother. Main burner control knobs may be illuminated with a switch on the upper left control panel. The infrared rotisserie backburner knob needs to be held in the ignition position for a moment until the burner glows red. There is no heat adjustment for the sear burner. The smoker box knob has a high to low range which can be used to goose up heat in small increments in addition to igniting wood chips.
Another cool Summit item is the "Integrated LED Tank Scale": A push button fuel gauge on the upper right control panel that monitors the weight of your LP tank, and extrapolates it to display remaining fuel levels in five approximate increments. You don't get a two minute warning when gas is about to run out, but you can easily see if you're getting low with the touch of a button. All igniters are piezo-electric. The illuminated knobs and tank LED are battery powered.
All Summits come with battery operated "Grill Out Handle Lights" that tighten onto the lid handle and are activated by a tilt-sensor switch when the grill is opened. They may also be turned on and off manually. Grill Out Lights use three LEDs to focus illumination directly on the cook surface. If your grill area is pitch black, you'll need more light than the Grill Out can provide. But even with subdued, ambient light it throws just enough additional brightness straight on the grill surface to be an asset after dark. This water proof, heat resistant device is a great accessory, but certainly not as effective as hood lights. One could reasonably expect something better on Weber's top of the line.
A fold up warming rack, or at least warming rack storage hooks, would also be appropriate for this premium priced BBQ cooker. Current options for getting the warming rack out of the way are awkward and unsightly. We ended up leaving ours on a side shelf when access to the entire cook surface was needed.
It is common for gas grills to have many exhaust vents and equally common for rain water to enter the grill through these vents. Weber is no exception and Summit actually has an additional bank of water friendly vents above the control panel. The hood and cook surface are water proof, but the interior of the cart can get soaked pretty quickly in a downpour. The grease tray readily collects water and should the grease pan fill up and overflow, it can make a nasty mess in your grill and on your deck. If you don't use a cover, and/or you cook in the rain, as I do, expect the cart interior to get wet. If you must grill in the rain, keep an eye on the grease pan.
The heavy duty locking casters work great on a flat, finished surface. But they have a pointed extension that sticks out and almost grazes the floor. This obtrusive piece, which is not common with other manufacturer's casters, got in the way when rolling the grill up an incline like a ramp, and acted like a plow on grass; ripping through sod before quickly becoming embedded. Weber explains this is an "anti-tipping" feature that is required in many areas of the world. As their export business grew, this became standard on all models.
Summit models come almost fully assembled and you need only to attach four small brackets, four hex bolts, three screws, and three plastic plugs. The unit is heavy and requires two people to lift the pre-built head and cart out of a large, molded plastic skid.
Summit is attractive, solid, powerful, versatile and comes with Weber's outstanding warranty and 24/7 customer service.
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
Weber-Stephen is one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of BBQ equipment and related accessories in the world. Weber grills and smokers cook beautifully and have great features that are clever, effective and easy to use. As popularity and demand for BBQ gear grows worldwide, Weber continues to earn their long standing reputation for quality, durability and outstanding customer service and support, (7 days a week from 7am to 9pm CST), in an increasingly competitive environment. Even in this crowded marketplace, many consumers are still willing to pay more for the Weber name and they are rarely disappointed. They make a variety of cookers and smokers. Their iconic black charcoal kettles are known throughout the world. Indeed Weber is expanding globally.
Weber-Stephen was family owned since it was founded in 1952 by George Stephen. At the end of 2010 the Stephen family sold a majority stake to Chicago investment group BDT Capital Partners. In 2012, Weber settled a class action suit out of court regarding their use of the phrase, "Made in USA". Weber previously qualified the "Made in USA" statement by specifying their products are assembled in the USA with some components that are sourced globally. Here is an excerpt from Weber's statement "Weber believes that because all Weber grills and the disputed accessories are designed and engineered in the USA, and all grills save for one line [Spirit]* are manufactured and assembled in the USA using component parts primarily made in the USA, it did nothing wrong and therefore has valid defenses to plaintiff's claims. The court has not held a trial or ruled in favor of either party on any disputed issues. Weber and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the matter to avoid the costs of continued litigation." As a result of this suit, Weber can no longer claim to be made in America.
Things change, but we believe Weber's commitment to quality and innovation has not.
The biggest barrier for many folks is price. Webers are not cheap, but when you consider that they last decades, the price is easy to justify. Many some cheap grills fall apart after three years or so.
Our main complaint: All Webers have the obligatory bi-metal dial thermometer in the hood that gives you a ballpark reading of what the temperature is high above the meat. Since we cook on the grates, though, it's always better to bring your own digital thermometer and place a probe there. It would be nice if they would go digital in the digital age and it appears with their acquisition of iGrill digital thermometers, this is begining to change.
Weber gas grills are simply the gold standard. Designed intelligently with attention to details and built to last, they look good, work beautifully, and almost never break down. If they do, Weber is known for great customer service and for carrying an inventory of parts on models from years gone by. Meathead owned a Genesis for 15-years and can testify from experience.
All their burners are quality stainless steel, have a long life expectancy, and they come with electronic ignitions. The body is heavy. The casters are sturdy and lock solid. Nothing wobbles on Webers. The grease drip pans are easy to access from the front, not the back as with many other grills. Except for the portable/compact Q line, all models hold the propane tank inside the enclosed cart, and can be adapted for natural gas. They have smaller vents in the hood than most gassers which means they retain more heat than grills with more BTUs.
All have inverted V shaped "flavorizer" bars that cover and protect the burners while vaporizing drips and turning them into flavor that gets back up onto the meat. Except for the Q line, all either come with a rotisserie or you can order one as a factory accessory.
Weber gas grills come in four basic flavors, Q, Spirit, Genesis II, and Summit, each with several configurations. Models starting with an "E" are built with Weber's sturdy porcelainized enamel coated steel, and those starting with an "S" are mostly stainless steel.
Much has been made of 430 and 304 stainless steel: the two most popular grades used by grill manufacturers. Many other inexpensive brands use very thin, low cost 430 stainless to get that shiny showroom floor look. Premium grill makers tout their use of higher quality, higher priced 304 stainless. At some point, Weber decided to switch from 304 to 430. Although 304 is superior, 430 can work just fine if it is a thick gauge like Weber uses, but it is not as durable and one has to expect the life of the grill will be shortened. Will this decision could come back to haunt the castle in Palatine? Only time will tell. Alas, it does not appear Weber's prices were reduced to reflect the cost savings realized with this change.