Is a quality gas grill really worth paying more for?

By glblguy

grill-grates

We purchased a new gas grill over the weekend. I’ve been shopping and reading about them for a few months as we slowly saved our money for one. After all of my research, I decided to buy a Weber E-310, which consistently received excellent reviews from every source I found. The Weber is very expensive though and right at $700.00. The question of “is quality really worth paying more for” kept looming in the back of my mind.

Since moving into our new home in October of 2008, we’ve been grilling on a cheap Weber “go-anywhere” portable grill. While it does an decent job, we needed something larger and nicer as we grill out very frequently. In the past we had owned other grills, but never a Weber. Within 1 year, we always had to replace the burners and other miscellaneous parts of those grills. I wanted something nicer, something that that would last.

This week, due to some flexible spending account reimbursements, we finally had enough money in the “grill savings account” to go buy a new grill. We headed to Wal-Mart to get the Weber, as Wal-Mart had the lowest price by $50.00  Fortunately, they were out (yes, I said fortunately…keep reading). They had other grills there that I looked at, but nothing that even came close to the Weber. Next we went to Lowe’s. The Weber at Lowe’s was a little more, but I intended to have them match the Wal-Mart price.

Before picking up the grill and heading to the check-out line, I decided to shop around one more time. In addition to Weber, Lowe’s carries Char-broil as well as other various brands. Char-broil makes a good grill, and we’ve owned them in the past. Our only issue with them was surface rusting and the short lifespan of their burners. But I looked anyway, always wanting to be a smart shopper.

Lowe’s had a Char-broil “commercial series”  model 403 grill that they sell exclusively at Lowe’s. The 403 is a stainless steel, 4 burner grill with plenty of room for even the largest of outdoor family events. The 403 looks very similar to this one. The cost? 299.00. That’s $400 less expensive than the Weber. The question reared it’s head again: Is quality really worth paying more for? More specifically is the Weber really $400 better than the Char-broil?

Long story short, I bought the Char-broil. Why? Well, to be perfectly honest the main reason was that had I bought the Weber for $400.00 more, I would have been kicking myself. I wanted a great grill, but just wasn’t willing to dish out the extra $400.00, at least not in the current stage of my financial journey. I can think of a large number of things we could use that $400.00 on. Is the Weber worth the extra money? Maybe. But honestly Lowe’s has tons of replacement parts for the Char-broil grills and they’re cheap. I could continue to replace the burners and other parts on the Char-broil for a few years before even getting close to the cost of the initial cost of the Weber.

In the end, we purchased the Char-broil for $300, bought a nice grill cover, a new gas tank, a rotisserie attachment and some cleaning brushes. All for less than $400.00, still $300.00 less than the Weber. With all of these “extras”, the Weber would have run us close to $800.00. The additional $300.00 went into my “laptop savings account” for the Apple Macbook Pro I am saving to buy, but that’s the topic for another article.

How about you? Is quality really worth paying more for? Should I have bought the Weber? How do you go about making similar decisions? Add a comment, I’d appreciate it.

Photo by: dougww


23 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Is a quality gas grill really worth paying more for?”

  1. Miranda Says:

    We paid $350 for the grill we have. It’s a gas grill — but I’m not sure of the brand. It’s a good size for us, has good temperature control, and has lasted us four years so far. I’m not sure that buying a grill that cost twice as much would have been any better. During the summer, we grill about twice a week, anything from steak to chicken to veggies to fish.

  2. Katie Says:

    We’ve been talking about getting a better grill next summer. I just can’t believe how much of a “disposable” item grills tend to be. I have yet to see a grill’s ignitor switch last for more than a year and a half. Maybe that’s because we keep buying cheap grills. I’m curious what kind of grill you have, Miranda.

  3. Kristen Says:

    My husband and I have been grill shopping and having the same debate about brands and cost. My parents helped us make up our minds. They have always bought very expensive grills. They paid over $1,000 for their current grill. Even with the very expensive grill they’ve had to replace the burners, which wasn’t cheap. They decided they’ll never spend that much for a grill again. We’re getting a Char-Broil from Lowe’s.

  4. MyJourney Says:

    As for the bigger picture – “How about you? Is quality really worth paying more for?”

    I always ask myself whether I can purchase 2 of the other kind if something goes wrong. Using your situation:

    If the Char can be used for half the time, you could be able to pruchase 2 of them and still be under the purchase price of the one. So I would have done the same.

  5. Greg Says:

    My experience with gas grills is that I’m replacing them every 3-4 years due to bottoms rusting out or burners having to be replace..regardless of who makes them. I’ve not had a Weber, but have had Char-grill, Sunbeam, and others. Then it takes forever to figure out how to put one together with all of the many small parts and horrible directions.

    I decided to by a simple Weber charcoal grill about 5 years ago. It’s still in great shape and costs me about $130. One can argue to the cost of propane v. charcoal, but we get a bundle at Costco that lasts us pretty much the whole year…and I think the food tastes getter from a Costco grill.

    It’s a little more of a hassle dealing with charcoal, but in the long run… buying the charcoal grill has save me aggravation.. and when I finally get rid of the thing, I won’t feel so bad because I didn’t spend big $$ to get it in the first place. But right now, it’s not showing any signs of needing to be replaced.

    As for paying more for quality..the answer is…usually. It all depends on how much more. Will paying 2x for a Weber get you 2x more life? As an example, I’ll always pay more for quality furniture because I’m tired of throwing cheap couches out every two years…but I lived with furniture I was constantly fixing until I was able to pay cash for something better.

  6. Shawna Says:

    My parents had a great philosophy that relates very well to this question. They firmly believed that one should never by “top of the line”, but they ALWAYS bought “Second Best”. My dad would research things for weeks trying to get the most bang for his buck. He would then purchase whatever vacuum, appliance, grill, etc. got the second best reviews. His theory was that the product is still darn close to “top of the line”, but he’s not paying the extra money for the “first place”.

    And you know what? My mom still has a vacuum cleaner that must be 15 years old….and it runs like new.

  7. Sue Says:

    I’ve owned both Webers and Char-Broils. I find that the Webers have lasted more than twice as long as the Char-Broils. In fact, I’ve found that the Char-Broils only last one summer, while the Webers have lasted 4 or 5 years. So on that basis, I think you would have saved a lot more money in the long run by buying the higher quality grill.

    I hope you have better luck with your Char-Broil than I’ve had with mine!

  8. tsugumi Says:

    thanks for your sharing your ways in saving money. one of the first things i own is a weber grill, it’s portable so i can bring it wherever i go. i may not be a grill master but it’s a good thing that i bought the weber, that time i am not into reviews and i don’t research enough, but i think it’s worth it. i admire how you save money for the mac pro and the $300 you saved from the grill. i hope you will reach your goal. thanks so much.

  9. CB Says:

    Guess what? With the Char-Broil grill you also get me and a host of guest chefs at Sizzle on the Grill to provide tips, tricks and recipes for your Char-Broil. Got a question? – we’ll try to help on the Users Forums where folks with similar grills share questions and tips. And just so you know – I’m a real guy who experiments with his grills – who is more than happy to help you with questions. Be sure to sign up for the warranty on the grill – and register for the weekly email newsletter I send out with more tips and trick.

    One tip on your purchase is to treat the metal grates like you would a cast iron skillet. Season them before use and clean as you would that skillet – after each use. Then give them a light spray of canola oil. I’ve found this always helps keep things ready for grilling and lessons the chance of corrosion that can happen when let out doors. The same – “clean as you cook” plan for your grill cabinet and surface, as well as keeping it covered – will help prolong the life.

    Happy Grilling! – CB

  10. CB Says:

    Oh – and that Commercial Series you purchased has been consistently rated as a good choice by a “famous Consumer magazine.”

  11. Matt Sage Says:

    I’ve noticed most of the comments revolve around the cost of fixing the grill and/or how often the Charbroil will break compared to the Weber. The actual cooking ability of the grills should also be used when evaluating quality vs price.

    I’ve found in my experience that the Weber grills keep their burners much lower in the grill housing which allows you to cook the food without it drying out or burning. My parents purchased a charbroil, and it’s a real pain to grill on compared to my smaller Weber (I got a $350 one). I think the Weber’s have a better grilling design.

    Just my two cents.

  12. Tami Says:

    I think you made the right decision. We have had the same Charbroil grill for approx 7 years. We have had to replace a couple items (fairly inexpensive), but it still is running fine. It was a cheaper model, and if yours lasts for as long as mine has (pretty sure it will), you could buy another one in 7 years for another $300 and you still would have saved money!

  13. Jim Says:

    I’ve had a Weber kettle charcoal grill for 8 years. It did sit in my parent’s shed for a while when we were living in apartments, but for the past three years, it’s sat outside all year round in the elements without a cover. No rust, no issues, no parts to wear out like the burners, igniters, etc. And with a chimney starter, no need for lighter fluid and the coals are ready in half the time. Plus, it just tastes that much better. But then again, I’m one to sit outside in the snow in January grilling. Or in the rain in April. I just wish it was bigger. But I don’t think I’ll ever own a gas grill.

  14. Jim Says:

    Oh and I would love to get one of the charcoal Chargrillers from Lowe’s with a side fire box, but after re-evaluating, we don’t need to spend the money since mine works just great.

  15. CB Says:

    Lower priced grills can be problematic…regardless of the manufacturer. There are some good ones and some, ahem – not so good. The lower the price on a grill is often an indicator of a need to take better care of it – but too often with outdoor cooking grills folks have a tendency to cook and leave them. Dirty grates and food build-up is not seasoning, it’s dirt and grime and will eventually be the reason for grill fires when it catches fire from heat and vaporization of the fats/grease.

    Since I have identified myself as being sponsored by Char-Broil – I hope this isn’t seen as unbiased. My experience with all of the new infrared grills from Char-Broil is they have excellent control for heat, cooking evenly on the entire grate surface and function very well with lower temperatures necessary for indirect cooking – as well as the super higher heat (upwards of 650F degrees) so useful for searing steaks, fish, chops, etc. And they are value-priced – with the Quantum 2 burner infrared starting at about $250. That’s darn good for the technology. Consumer Reports must agree because they included 2 Char-Broil grills (RED/Heatwave infrared & Quantum infrared) in their top four picks for 2009.

    The stainless steel cabinetry used on all value-priced grills is not the high grade stainless used on many commercial kitchen stoves. That is simply too expensive. So, like all tools the grills do need to be cared for.

  16. Gypsie Says:

    We have a Brinkman Patio-size grill that we have had for 4 years. We grill at least once a week year-round and haven’t had to replace anything!

  17. Abigail Says:

    I think the question of quality depends on the item you’re considering and how often you’ll use it.

    In shoes, for example, I’m willing to buy nicer ones (though not anywhere close to the top) because I use them a lot and good shoes can prevent a lot of other problems.

    Something like a grill? Well, the real question, I think, is how often are you going to use it. (And that’s based on past experience, not on how much you swear you’ll use it now that it’s bright, shiny and new, haha.)

    I’m also going to have to agree with Matt: When it comes to grill, I think it’s a tad strange that everyone is comparing prices rather than actual form/function. To me, the measure of a grill would be how well it cooks the burgers etc (according to reviewers). Based on that, I would then start to narrow down the models based on price and features.

  18. Dave Clark Says:

    My father in law always says, The cheapest you can buy is the best. You can get what you need done perhaps by buying at the dollar store but you’ll be repairing or replacing it and then how much did you save? Quality, long-lasting, saves you money in the end. Nothing wrong with shopping sales of course but make sure it’s for the item you researched and not what necessarily is just the cheapest.

  19. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad.com Says:

    Quality is worth paying for and Weber geills are quality. Weber Stephens is a private company or I would be buying stock.

    As for gas grills, I used to want one, but now I am a charcoal purist– I have the Weber Kettle and the Weber Smokey Joe.

    If I do go for gas, it will probably be the Weber Q portable. My next purchase is a smoker though . . .

  20. Greg G Says:

    Too many people buy crappy products these days. The grill you bought sounds to me like a bottom of the line piece of junk that will fail in 3 or 4 years. It is probably made in china by a couple of people making 3 or 4 dollars an hour. It is also very bad for the environment to be buying such a large and complicated disposable item.

    youll waste time and money getting parts, waste time fixing it, and presumably run into a few arguments from the wife where guests are coming over but you cant bbq because it broke down in the middle of the party. personally i think you made the wrong decision. Expert reviews suggest that the weber 310 can last as long as 10-15 years with proper care. I think you underestimated the level of quality in the weber.

    Weber’s 310 is mostly made in the USA, and it uses quality metals and design that has been well thought out. Ironically you are shopping for the best in computers. With the philosophy you espouse here you should probably be buying a Dell :)

  21. ADG Says:

    I think a major part of making ANY grill last is, like Greg G. says above (rather rudely), proper care. Keep it covered and clean and it will last. I see so many of my neighbors never cover their grills, even in the winter. I bet they never clean them out either. I keep mine clean and covered and it has lasted 4 years already, and it is, sorry Greg G., a cheap Char-Broil!

  22. Jerry Says:

    We bought a bottom of the line Charbroil last spring, the burners are already failing, had flashback, melted the control knobs, the warming rack fell apart and had to be disposed of, the unit is made of flimsy light metal that doesn’t hold heat and won’t cook evenly. When looking at grills, pay attention to three things: 1)Heavy thick construction of the firebox and lid; 2) Heavy thick large tube type burners; 3) Made in USA! I have a 5 year old Thermos grill my sister gave me 3 1/2 years ago when she couldn’t have it at her apt anymore. It’s got all of the above and works like new! Once a year I take a putty knife to the interior, remove the burners and wire brush them and put it back together all in about 10-15 minutes. That is a must on any grill if you want it to last. BUY QUALITY-IT LASTS LONGER AND WORKS RIGHT! Just because there are cheap parts available to replace the cheap parts that fail doesn’t mean it works right in the first place, save yourself the hassle, trust me!

  23. bobby Says:

    you cannot beat a weber..I have gone the route of all these other comments and they do not last…they rust…black crap falls off of them…I do not sell Weber and I do not get a kick back from Weber…they are the best and you get what you pay for…Weber all the way..the only way….

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