If you don’t have the time or patience to wait for a charcoal grill to heat up, I’d recommend getting a Weber Spirit E-210 gas grill. Priced at $400 and sized for a backyard and family, it’s a well-built grill from a company with a well-earned reputation for quality that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.
(If you’re looking for a charcoal grill, we like this one.)
When most people think about barbecue the first thing that comes to mind is the smoky, charbroiled taste of food cooked to perfection over charcoal. But charcoal—and I say this as a charcoal grill owner—is a pain in the ass. You need a place to keep the charcoal dry. You have to deal with the filth of cleaning out and filling your grill every time you cook. Waiting ages for the charcoal to catch fire and turn into white hot cooking perfection is a chore. For many people, prepping and waiting on a charcoal grill to cook their dinner is too much of a time drain. Even Craig ‘Meathead’ Goldwyn, grilling guru and owner of the Amazing Ribs website says gas grills are the way to go for most folks.
Who’s this for
This pick is best suited for a household with 3-5 people that grills with any sort of regularity, someone looking for a grill that’ll fit nicely on a balcony or in the corner of a deck, or anyone that wants to invest in a gas grill that’ll last for years to come.
Convenience Comes at a Price
You can get cooking with a gas grill in a shorter amount of time and with less hassle than you can with charcoal grill, but there’s one overarching caveat: gas grills generally won’t get as hot. They only reach an average top temperature of between 400 and 600 degrees fahrenheit. That means that the meat you throw on a gas grill won’t get that crisp texture and seared patina that comes from a Maillard reaction that’s typically associated with cooking on a charcoal grill which can reach temperatures upwards of 700 degrees fahrenheit.
To understand why this was, I spoke with Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks.
“The thing to look at is how heat is transmitted,” Potter explains. “You have convection: hot air. You’ve got infrared: radiant heat. If you look at a gas grill, a lot more of it is really about heating up the air. The hot air flows over the food and that convection heats the food. With charcoal, the fuel gets really hot—so hot it’s glowing red and that radiant heat is heating the food.”
Convection heating isn’t as good at barbecuing food as radiant heat is. But gas grill manufacturers have figured out a few ways of getting around this issue. For example, you’ll find a lot of mid-to-high-end gas grills come equipped with cooking grates made from cast iron or porcelain covered steel. These retain and radiate a significant amount the heat required to get a good Maillard reaction going.
Over the past two or three years, special high energy infrared burners called ‘sear burners’ have been come on the scene. Gas grills equipped with these can cook in a way that’ll crank out similar results to food cooked on a charcoal grill. Which is nice! But after talking to my three experts and doing some research on sear burners, I wouldn’t recommend investing in a grill that has one just yet: they’re high maintenance and from all reports, are fussy and prone to failure if you don’t thoroughly clean them on a regular basis. Of course you’ve got to clean gas grills, but if you buy one with a feature like a sear burner that makes you mess about with a thorough cleaning and maintenance routine after every time you use it, I’d argue you may as well go with charcoal.
To be clear, in most cases, a decent gas grill will still cook your food to the same doneness as a charcoal grill, but it won’t have the same smoky taste. That’s because charcoal creates a lot of smoke as it burns whereas gas grills use mostly flavorless, clean-burning liquid propane. Additionally, as your food cooks over charcoal, the juices and fat from it drip down onto the bed of coals below it. This wood smoke and the smoke created by the burning fats on the coal bed saturates your food as it cooks, and provides it with additional flavor, beyond what a Maillard Reaction and whatever sauces or spices you use can afford. Does fat drip off of a chunk of meat on a gas grill? Sure. But unless it falls on one of your grill’s burners, you won’t get the same vaporized flavor drifting up to kiss your meal.
If you can live with this, you should consider a gas grill. Let’s talk about what you should be looking for when you’re on the hunt for one of these things.
What if you still want Charcoal?
What You Need
To get adequate heat control, you’ll want a grill with a minimum of two burners. Here’s the thing: Meathead and a number of other people I spoke with including Wired’s New York Editor and former chef Joe Brown told me that the more burners you have, the better off you are. Because having burners allows you to create different heating zones and perhaps more importantly, control the amount of heat your grill puts out for indirect heat cooking. Meathead told me that if you want to do the best grill cooking possible, you need at least three burners. So that’s what I started looking for. That said, one of the things that makes the Wirecutter the site that it is is our peer editing process. My editors kicked my ass on the notion that you need three burners to cook a decent meal. He contended that he uses less than that with his grill on a regular basis, and the food turns out just fine. I wanted to reach out across the ocean and strangle him by the end of the process, but he was right: Even when I’m cooking on my Weber kettle grill, I only typically have two zones of heat–one where the charcoal’s piled high, and the other where it’s shallow–and the food turns out great. So I dug in and went back to researching grills, starting fresh. I called nine different stores that deal in gas grills, not big big stores, mind you, but specialty shops. I was told by four of them that yeah, you’ll want as many burners as you can afford because it allows for more heat control and more options. But when I asked them what they sold the most of, the answer was the same in all but two of the nine stores: they typically ended up selling most people two burner gas grills.
So, for most people, because of cost, and the fact that unless you’re a BBQ cooking aficionado, who’d notice the subtle difference that more burners can make in your cooking, two burners is the way to go. This will allow you two have two different cooking zones and a modicum of temperature control. Need to cook ten hamburgers all at the same time for the guests of your daughter’s birthday party? Turn both of the burners up, bomb the grill with meat patties and you’ll be done in no time. Want to cook a few steaks and some red peppers for dinner? Keep one burner on a lower heat setting to slowly cook your steaks and veggies. When the meat’s nearly done, switch it over to the other side of the grill to sear the outside of the meat (as best you can—you’re cooking with gas).
Having a two-burner gas grill also affords you a larger cooking surface than a single burner grill will—on average about 400 square inches. As most of the guides I read and the experts I spoke to recommended between 72 to 100 square inches of grill space per person you’re cooking for, a two-burner grill will work great for a family of four. And if you’re cooking for more people than that? Tell them to wait. Honestly, when was the last time you went to a party with barbecued food where you didn’t have to line up with your plate and wait your turn?
You want your burners to be made of a resilient material. Skip the aluminum and go for steel. Despite burning cooler than charcoal, gas burners put out a stunning amount of heat, and that’s hard on a chunk of metal. This heat—along with the corrosion than can occur over time from the burners being subjected to the drippings from your food and the elements—will corrode them over time, and force you to replace them if you want to keep using your grill safely. The smart money’s on steel. 300-series steel is preferable, but in the 20 hours of research I poured into putting this piece together, I found that when you’re lucky enough to find a grill with steel burners, more often than not they’re made from 400-series steel, which isn’t as tough. 400 series steel has a higher carbon content than 300 series steel does. That provides it with more corrosion and wear resistance, but it’s doesn’t hold a weld as well as 300 series steel will. Such is life.
The grill’s fire box, which is the bottom half of the grill’s body and dome or lid of the grill should be tough and well designed. They’re responsible for holding in the heat put out by the grill’s burners. If they’re poorly designed and don’t allow decent airflow around the grilling surface and your food, or aren’t constructed of a thick metal, your cook times will be longer—that means you’re wasting propane. A good firebox and dome will optimize the amount of heat created by the burners, making for better and more environmentally friendly direct and indirect cooking. Some of the best grills out there are made from 300-series stainless steel, but you’ll also find some great gear that’s constructed from cast aluminum and porcelain covered steel. All three materials, when paired with great grill design, should serve you well.
When I asked Meathead about what people should look for in a grill, he strongly advised getting one with a lid or dome, no matter how tempting it might be to go without one.
“There’s gas grills that come without a lid, and they call them braziers. You really want a lid. I know that some of these look like Argentine asados, and people are enamoured of them, but without a lid you really can’t roast or cook properly, especially thick cuts of meat.”
Your grill’s cooking grate should be well made. Cheap grates that are made of steel are easy to clean. Cast iron grates that you typically get with more expensive grills, hold a lot of heat, but are difficult to clean and maintain. I think the smart money’s on a porcelain covered iron grate. They’re easy to clean and maintain, but they hold heat just like an iron grate does. That makes them perfect for cooking on a gas grill.
Finally, no matter what style of grill you have your eye on, you’ll want it to have a good warranty. This is easier said than done. Grill warranties are insane. There are all kinds of clauses, and they vary widely from company to company. Burners will typically get two years’ worth of coverage; the same goes for other internals. Fireboxes and domes often get between five years to a lifetime’s worth of coverage.
I’ve also seen one sketchy warranty that after five years will sell you parts at a 50% discount, but only if you bought the grill in a brick and mortar store—not online.
What You Don’t Need
What you don’t need in a grill is almost as important as what you should be looking for. After all, there are hundreds of different gas grills out there. Anything you can do to shrink the playing field is going to make your life a whole lot easier. Meathead has multiple grills of all shapes and sizes in his backyard being tested and used on a regular basis. Because he’s exposed to so many different designs and grill features, I thought he’d be the man to ask about which features are over-hyped and useless.
His biggest pet peeve: Built-in thermometers. According to Meathead, they’re a joke. You really need a digital thermometer with a probe that you can put a couple of inches from the meat and know what the meat is experiencing, not a built-in one.
“The thermometer that grill manufacturers build into their hardware is typically garbage, the lowest-quality, cheapest thing they can get,” says Meathead. “Grills typically come with a bimetal thermometer built into them. That’s technology that was invented in the 1800s and it hasn’t changed significantly since then. They’re horrible. Readers often send me pictures of their digital thermometers next to the dial thermometer built into their grill and the dial is often off by 50 to 100 degrees. Worse, the thermometers are often up in the dome. The temperature in the dome is different than the temperature down where the meat is on the cooking surface. My advice is to just get some black spray paint and cover it over, because it is really misleading and it can ruin you. You really need a digital thermometer with a probe that you can put a couple of inches from the meat and know what the meat is experiencing.”
If you don’t already own a digital thermometer with a probe, this one’s great. I’ve owned it for a little over a year and it’s served me well.
Meathead also told me that while stainless steel looks nice, it’s not the best material to cover the exterior of a grill in. He explained to me that stainless steel tends to be thinner than other dome and firebox materials employed by grill manufacturers. And in the case of 430 stainless steel, it also has a tendency to quickly discolour in the presence of high heat…you know, like you get from a barbecue.
Stainless steel is also a pain in the ass to maintain. Meathead again: “You start obsessing over keeping it spotless and shiny. A grill is not meant to be shiny. It’s going to get dirty. It’s going to get drips and sauce stains on it and you don’t want to stand there and polish it.”
How Did I Pick?
I use a charcoal grill, so I didn’t know a whole lot about what you should look for when it comes to a decent gas grill. So, I reached out to Meathead and Jeff and asked them what they felt a good grill should have. I also spoke with merchants that specialize in selling barbecues and grilling accessories. (I didn’t bother asking them for a hardware pick. It’s in their best interest to try and push whatever brand they’ve got in the store, so their opinion on that sort of thing can’t be trusted.) Next, I turned to Consumer Reports to get a feel for the field. Their grill reviews are a great entry point, because they’re all numerically scored, and largely dispassionate. With grills, and grilling, two topics that typically evoke strong opinions and fanboyism, that’s a good thing. I also looked to About.com’s grilling guide as well as Good Housekeeping and checked in with America’s Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, while ATK had just finished writing about charcoal grills, they hadn’t looked at gas grills in a few years. Finally I turned to Amazon to see what was popular and had received positive feedback. Looking at the most popular two burner grills, I built a list of possible candidates to look into, weeding out anything that had a questionable warranty, poor user reviews or was made from substandard materials.
After talking with our experts and debating with my editors, we decided that two burners is sufficient for most people, but three is better if you’ve got the room and money. (We explain more in the What You Need section.)
Weber’s Spirit E-210 gas grill is a two-burner grill that’ll serve you well. It costs $400 on Amazon and can be found online and in store for similar prices online and at stores like Home Depot, Walmart and Target.
I know what you’re saying: $400 is a lot of money for a gas grill. Why get the E-210 instead something cheaper? There are a few reasons.
For starters, you’ll never have to worry about finding parts, nor have an issue finding this thing in a real-world store or online. It’s everywhere. You won’t have to fuss trying to find one, and you’ll have a much easier time buying accessories for it if you choose to do so, or spare parts for it once its warranty lapses.
It’s well built. Most mid-range grills are made from 430-series steel these days, and the Spirit E-210 is no exception. 430 steel isn’t as resilient as 304-series steel (commonly used in the burners of high-end gas grills,) but it’s more resilient than cast aluminum and has similar heat retention properties to cast iron. With the Spirit E-210, Weber’s gone through the trouble of coating the exposed metal of the dome, firebox and frame in a black porcelain enamel, making the grill less likely to corrode when exposed to the elements, and much easier to keep clean—two facts that most owners will be thankful for over time.
The E-210’s twin burners are made of the same steel and they pack a decent punch. They’ll put out a total of 26,500 BTUs of heat. Most two burner gas grills that I looked at provided between 26,000 BTUs and 35,000 BTUs. So it’s not the most powerful grill on the market, but it’ll do the job. The burners are top ported, so the flame comes out at the top of the burners, ensuring that you get the maximum amount of flame directly heating the grilling surface possible. This transfer of heat is furthered by the grill’s Flavorizer Bars—a fancy name for tented sheets of steel designed to evenly distribute the burner’s heat evenly across the grilling surface. The Flavorizer Bars also shield the burners from grease and other food dripping, which helps to prolong the life of the hardware. Between this and the excellent insulation afforded by the E-210’s rugged build quality, you won’t have any trouble cooking anything you can throw at it, provided it will fit on the grill. All of that heat is controlled by two gas-flow control knobs mounted on the front of the grill. You’ll also find an electronic ignition button on the panel too. Just turn on the gas, push the button and the burners spark to life. Within seconds, you’ll be ready to cook. Leave both burners on to cook a metric boatload of hotdogs or hamburgers, or turn one burner down—or even turn it off—to allow indirect cooking on one side of the grill while you use the other one to char the outside of your meal.
The Spirit E-210’s cooking grate is large and made of porcelain-enamelled cast iron—an excellent grill material that has the superior heat retention of iron and the easy cleanability and maintenance of steel. The amount of space you get to cook on is about average for a two burner grill: it has a primary cooking area of 360 square inches. That’s enough space to cook 22 burgers at once. You won’t have to worry about running out of cooking surface. It also has a raised warming rack with 90 square inches of space that’s perfect for warming your buns or doing a little indirect cooking on with the lid closed.
It’s compact and easy to move around. The Spirit E-210 is only 32″ x 50″ x 63″ in size (including its shelving). That’s about the size of a small dresser. So it won’t take up a lot of space in your backyard or on your deck. Better still, if you live in an apartment or a condo that allows gas grills, it’s just about the right size to fit on a balcony and still leave a comfortable amount of space to move around. When the time comes to shift it to a new place, its heavy duty casters make it a cinch to do so. And to ensure that it stays where you put it, the barbecue’s rear casters can be locked in place.
It’s easy to clean and maintain. Thanks to the Spirit E-210’s porcelain coated housing and grills, the body and grates on the barbecue are easy to keep clean and looking great—provided you want to put the work in. If you’re feeling lazy, the fact that the grill’s porcelain coating is black is a win. It’s a colour perfect for hiding barbecue sauce (and your slovenly shame). Additionally, the E-210 boasts a front access, porcelain-enamelled grease tray with catch pan that’ll keep the bottom of your fire-box from becoming an oil slick and help to prevent flare ups. After you’re done cooking your meal, just pull it out and empty it.
It has two fold out stainless steel worktables. As anyone will tell you how grills in their backyard on a regular basis will tell you, you can never have enough work space when you’re making a meal. Weber’s taking this into consideration, and provided the Spirit E-210 with enough work space to hold a pair of large platters, as well as six hooks for hanging your grilling tools from when they’re not in use. If space on your deck or balcony is an issue, the tables can be folded down, to lower the barbecue’s profile.
Perhaps most importantly, like all Weber products, it’s reputed to be well built, has a brand with over six decades of grill making experience behind it and awesome customer support and a great warranty that provides 25 years of coverage for the grill’s dome and the firebox. Many of the grill warranties I reviewed were only for two, five or ten years. Like I mentioned earlier, most barbecue warranties are byzantine to say the least, due to how heat damages a grill’s components at different rates. Weber’s warranty is a little complicated, but man, it’s a whole lot less complicated than some of the other ones out there. Weber offers a 25-year warranty on the Spirit E210’s Aluminum castings, Porcelain-Enamelled shroud and stainless steel burner tubes, five year’s protection against rust through and burn through on the grill’s porcelain-enamelled cast-iron cooking grates and a two-year warranty on the rest of the grill’s remaining parts. And if anything should fail outside of warranty, finding replacement parts for Weber grills is easy to do, both online and in stores across North America.
There are not a ton of reviews for this grill out there, but everyone that’s written about the Spirit E-210 loves it.
Consumer Reports gave the Weber Spirit E-210 a score of 77 out of 100. (The best score for a grill on the site was an 81, awarded to a three-burner Weber. We’ll talk about that in a bit.) About.com barbecue expert Derrick Riches give the E-210 a four-out-of-five-star rating, citing its quality construction and fold-down tables as great reasons to buy it.
Meanwhile over at AmazingRibs.com, the E-210 earned the site’s Gold Medal Best Value Award; they said that the Weber Spirit line in general “was always a very basic, well made, serviceable grill line. The 2013 redesign offers significant upgrades and considerable value. Owners of previous Spirit grills may rub their eyes in disbelief as they behold these new cookers that barely resemble past models. Although Spirit is Weber’s entry-level unit, it is still more expensive than many other popular grill brands. However, most Spirit owners feel the quality, durability and performance are worth the price.” There is also a ton of love for the Weber Spirit E-210 from customers who have bought and commented and rated it on Amazon, Home Depot and Target’s web sites.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
For starters, it’ll set you back $400. Compared to a lot of the other two-burner barbecues you’ll find in stores and online, that’s pretty expensive because you can get poorly made ones for $150 and up. But here’s the thing: the cheaper ones simply can’t outlast the Spirit E-210. They’re built cheap, engineered to sell for the lowest price possible. They’ll break down within a few years time. (Weber’s so confident in the build quality of their hardware that they provide users with arguably the best warranty on any grill for under $500.)
Some reviewers mention that it takes a while to heat up—not as long as charcoal, but maybe a little bit longer than the average gas grill. This is due to the fact that it’s only capable of producing 26,500 BTUs. However, the number of BTUs a gas grill can produce becomes moot when it comes to cooking. These things cook mostly through convection, with the heat retention of the cooking grate and the flame from the burners providing some radiant heating. Because the Spirit E-210 is made of materials that offer a large amount of insulation, it’ll perform beautifully.
You could argue that it’s not constructed using 304-series steel. I’ll admit, at first this was a concern for me as well. 304 steel is more durable and withstands heat better than 430 steel does. But after doing a bit of research, I discovered that most gas grills that are built with steel as a primary material these days use 430. It keeps costs down, but still allows for a durable, resilient product. Unless you want to spend more money—and I’m saying you really don’t need to given their rep and warranty—you’re not going to find a better constructed gas grill out there. What’s more, Weber coats the Spirit E-210 in porcelain paint, providing it with more protection from wear and tear than plain stainless steel can afford.
Finally, while the majority of the E-210’s dome is made from porcelain painted steel, it does have end caps made from cast aluminum. I thought this was kind of a bummer, from a build quality standpoint, but once again, upon researching the matter, I found that more and more low to mid range grills are doing the same thing. In the end it’s not an issue, provided the inside of the dome is well designed and allows airflow to circulate around your meal and the cooking grate. (It is.)
A Step Up
Having more burners allows for more temperature control on your grill, and temperature control, no matter whether you’re cooking inside or outside, is key to great cooking. Two burners gives you the ability to set up two zones. That’s adequate, if you’re looking to make a meal. But three burners? Well, that’s three zones, which means you can have two burners blazing at maximum with one on medium heat, everything on low to slow cook a roast, or crank all three up to bang out a massive amount of burgers for a backyard party. In addition to this, a three-burner grill needs more space in its fire box to jam the burner hardware into. This translates into a larger grilling space. So if you need to feed a large family, or plan on entertaining on a regular basis, more burners is the way to go.
It’s from the same line as our main pick. It’s made from the same materials, has the same features and warranty as the Spirit E210 does, and has been just as well received by editorial reviewers and folks like you and me. Consumer Reports gave the E-310 a score of 76 out of 100 in their last gas grill round up. But it comes equipped with three burners capable of putting out 32,000 BTUs—more than the E-210’s 26,500 BTU maximum—which means it will cook hotter (if you need it) and heat up more quickly. It also has a considerably larger cooking area: 529 square inches split up across the grill’s 424 square inch primary cooking surface and its secondary warming rack.
There are other three-burner grills out there that can be had for cheaper, but you’re not just buying something you can grill a few burgers on. You’re springing for something you can cook a few burgers on over the next decade—or more.
As part of a recent update to this piece, I spoke with AmazingRibs’ Max Good, and asked him if he’d seen any new hardware that was comparable in quality, ability, and price to the Weber Spirit E-210. He told me that while AmazingRibs has yet to post a full review of the hardware, he was deeply impressed by the Broil King Signet 20: a three-burner gas grill available for the same price as our main two-burner pick (provided you buy it in the right place.) But there’s a few things you should know about it before you decide whether or not it’s the right grill for you.
The $400 Signet 20 provides 400 square inches of primary cooking space. That’s 24 square inches less than our step up pick, the three-burner $500 Weber Spirit E-310, provides for an extra Benjamin. Like the Weber Spirit series grills, the Signet 20 boasts a stainless steel frame and burners, and comes with built-in side tables to make cooking with it somewhat less of a balancing act.
However, where the Weber hardware uses porcelain enameled steel with cast aluminum ends in the construction of their firebox and dome, the Signet 20 relies entirely on aluminum. This means that the grill’s heat retention and durability may not be as good as what the more expensive Weber can provide.
What’s more, the Broil King hardware can’t match the warranty coverage of the Weber grills. The Signet 20 comes with a lifetime warranty on the grill’s cast aluminum parts (namely the firebox and dome,) with a five-year warranty on its burners and a two year warranty on the barbecue’s remaining parts and paint. Weber by comparison, only covers their Spirit line grill’s cast aluminum and steel and firebox/dome for 25 years. Sounds good, but those aren’t the parts that will fail first.
Given that the most wear and tear due to extreme temperatures, scouring and oxidation will occur with the cooking grates and burners, you want to pay attention to the warranty for those pieces. Weber provides 10 years worth of warranty coverage for its burners, and five years on their cooking grates, compared to the five-year and two-year coverage, respectively, that Broil King provides for the same components. If you’re in the market for a three-burner grill, the smart money’s on the pay $100 extra on a Weber Spirit E-310.
It’s also worth mentioning that as the Signet 20′s not been around for all that long, there’s not a lot of feedback available on the long-term performance of the hardware. And finally, while the Signet 20 is available nationwide from Lowe’s, a larger number of independent shops and Amazon (strangely, the grill will set you back an additional $214 if you buy it there,) the Broil King hardware can’t beat the wide online and in-store availability of our Weber picks.
Then there’s the Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living 30,000 BTU-2-Burner Propane Gas Grill. Available for between $260 and $300 from a wide variety of retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes, the Smart Space Living grill received a 4.5 star rating on Amazon (with 98 five star reviews out of 148,) as well as favorable user feedback on Home Depot. It was also spoken of fondly by the grill reviewers at About.com and Grill Advisor.
At 45.83” x 45.43” x 23.03”, the Dyna-Glo hardware is larger than the Spirit E-210, but it still has a small enough footprint that it won’t take up a lot of space in your backyard or on a balcony. And like the Weber E-210, the Dyna-Glo’s side tables can be folded down. It’s also worth noting that the Dyna-Glo’s two stainless steel burners pump out 15,000 BTUs for a total of 30,000 BTUs, versus the Spirit E-210’s 26,500 BTU output. But unfortunately, beyond this, you get what you pay for.
The Dyna-Glo’s dome and firebox are comprised of a thin stainless steel outer layer and an aluminized Inner with cast aluminum end caps. And while it has an enameled cast iron grilling surface that looks similar to the one that comes with the Weber E-210, many reviewers have said that the enamel is prone to chipping. Neither of these facts bode well for the grill’s heat retention or more importantly, its longevity.
You might say that I’m being picky about build quality here, but my belief that this thing’ll only last for perhaps a few seasons is reinforced by the fact that Dyna-Glo’s parent company, GHP Group, only provides a one year limited warranty. And it’s worth noting that while they were in the minority, a number of owners of this grill complained of poor temperature control, shoddy build quality and frequent flare ups, due to the design of the rolled steel heat tents that sit over the burners. So honestly, if you can afford it, spring for the Weber. The peace of mind and coverage you’ll get out of its warranty alone, is worth the additional $150.
The Spirit E-210 has a stainless steel sister model: the $450 Spirit S-210, but if you buy it, you’re crazy. It has exactly the same specs as the E-210 does, with the exception of the fact that its firebox and dome are made from stainless steel instead of porcelain-enamelled steel. All that your extra $50 will get you is a shiny exterior that you’ll have to fight to keep clean. I say you’re better off spending that cash on a cover for your E-210 and some new grilling tools.
The Broil-Mate 155154 only costs $270. It’s got two burners and a 400-square-inch primary cooking area. But its dome and fire bed are made entirely from cast aluminum. Its cooking grate is coated in porcelain, but it’s made of steel, not iron; it won’t provide nearly as much heat retention as the E-210. Additionally, Broil-Mate only offers a five-year warranty on its stainless steel components (burners and other internal parts,) and two years on the grills remaining components and paint. Ouch.
Char-Broil’s Commercial T-36D Model 463241313 comes with three burners and a side burner for the same price as the Weber. Sadly, it’s junk. Its entire exterior is covered with thin 430 stainless steel, which will discolour and rust over time. Additionally, it’s an infrared grilling system, which as we discussed earlier isn’t a technology that’s really ready for prime time. Keeping the 463241313 in working condition takes a lot of careful maintenance. In short, it’s just not built to last.
Wrapping it Up
Because of its excellent build quality, ease of use and maintenance, spartan but respectable feature set and incredible warranty, we’ve picked the Weber Spirit E-210 as Best Gas Grill. It’s a barbecue that’ll serve you and your family well for years.
Weber Spirit E-210 Gas Grill, Amazing Ribs, Date not available,"Spirit was always a very basic, well made, serviceable grill line. The 2013 redesign offers significant upgrades and considerable value. Owners of previous Spirit grills may rub their eyes in disbelief as they behold these new cookers that barely resemble past models. Although Spirit is Weber's entry level price point, it is still more expensive than many other popular grill brands. However, most Spirit owners feel the quality, durability and performance are worth the price."
Weber Spirit E-210, About.com, Date not available,"In the past few years grill manufacturers have notice that more and more people no longer have the luxury of a large yard. To address this growing need, most makers have introduced a small, 2-burner grill with fold down side tables so it will take up less space while still providing the owner with a full sized grill experience. Now, for 2013, Weber has redesigned the Spirit E-210 with a front control panel and those fold down tables. This is a no frills, 2-burner grill that gives a full grill experience for a small space."
Weber Spirit E-210 46110001, Consumer Reports, Date not available,The grill's primary cooking grates may be made of porcelain coated cast-iron, which generally sears meats better and keeps grilling temperatures more consistent than grates made of porcelain coated steel. The porcelain coating usually makes such grates easier to clean than other surfaces, and the grates should resist rust as long as their porcelain coating isn't chipped.
Great Grill Well Built & Cooks Great, Consumer Reports, April 20, 2013,"Grill went together in under an hour. Tossed on a Whole Tenderloin of Beef, and cooked to perfection. Heating was even and controlled well. Solid small grill, I was looking to balance quality with price, and decided to go with the smaller size grill and get the Weber Quality for the price. looks like it will provide many years of service.
CONVENIENT AND HIGH QUALITY, HomeDepot.com, April 8, 2013,After seeing grill after grill with side burners, a billion BTUs and smoker attachments, the Spirit was a breath of fresh air. We didn't want all the gadgets and doodads - just a well-constructed grill that would heat evenly and effectively that was easy to move. This Webber did that and more. We were impressed by the warranty, ease of assembly (though it did still take 2 hours) and appearance; however, we were bowled over by the amount of food we could cook (4 large chicken breasts, a huge foil packet of veggies and several skewers of mushrooms) and how perfectly this grill cooks. I didn't think we could touch a Weber for under $600 so this was a pleasant surprise.
Perfect BBQ, Amazon.com, February 11, 2013,"I was a little leery of getting what seemed like a feature lacking BBQ for basically a $500 price tag. But the more I thought about it the more I realized I really didn't want all of those extra little gadgets that I frankly never used. I wanted a well made, well thought out, but otherwise basic BBQ. Enter the E210, which fits the bill perfectly. It is a bit expensive compared to other BBQ's with the same basic features, but what you are paying for is a good design and good quality. I do not regret the purchase at all, it fits exactly what I needed it to."
Outstanding Grill, Amazon.com, May 2, 2013,"Everything about this grill is high quality. Excellent design and very easy to clean. I had a cheap Charbroil that lasted 7 years only because I replaced parts on it when they went bad. The Weber heats up fast and cooks food evenly . There is nothing negative I can think of about this grill."