|

Gas grills

Gas grill buying guide

Last updated: May 2015

Getting started

How much do you want to spend on a gas grill and how long do you expect it to last? Most gas grills sold cost less than $300 and are used for 3 years on average, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, a trade group. If you're hoping your grill will last longer then check the construction of the grill when shopping--nudge from several points to test sturdiness. The more stable, the better. Note the burner warranty (we point this out in the Features & Specs Ratings information for each grill we test). Burners are the most replaced part and a short warranty is a hint that this grill may not last many years. If you keep it maintained, that is. Keeping your grill clean and in tip-top shape not only improves the flavor of grilled food, but also helps extend the life of the grill. Here's what you'll want to consider.

The grill's main cooking area

We measure each grill's main cooking space so you can match it to the number of people typically gathered around your table. Grills in our small category fit 18 burgers or less. Midsized can hold 18 to 28 burgers, and larger, 28 or more. Note that manufacturers might include racks and searing burners when tallying cooking area. Next factor in how much space the grill will eat up on your patio or deck. Some grills we tested are six feet wide. We note each grill's exterior dimensions in the Features & Specs section.

Your menu

A basic grill is fine for cooking burgers and hot dogs, but if a whole chicken, turkey, or roast is on the menu look for a grill with a rotisserie burner and check how a grill did in our indirect cooking tests, a delicious way to slow cook these meats and tough cuts by placing the meat next to the fire, not over it, with the lid closed to retain heat. If the grill has two burners then light one side on high and cook the meat on the other. With three or four burner grills, light the outside burners and cook the meat or poultry in the center. And to prep a side dish or keep it warm, a side burner is just the thing.

Beyond Btu

Btu/hr.(British thermal units per hour) tell you how much gas a grill uses and the heat it can create, but our tests have found that more Btu doesn't guarantee faster preheating or better cooking.

Infrared claims

Infrared burners typically emit intense heat to sear and cook food, though designs differ by manufacturer. We haven't found one infrared burner design that's better than other infrared designs or better than standard burners.

Safety concerns

The more stable the grill, the better. When shopping gently push the grill from several angles to see if it tips. Check the cart, firebox, lid, and shelves for sharp corners and edges. Grip the handle. Your knuckles or fingers shouldn't be too close to the lid or your hand could get burned. And while some flaring is normal, typically the greater the distance between the grates and burners or flavorizer bars, the fewer the sustained flare-ups.

Types

You can spend $700 or less for a grill that can handle most of your cooking needs. Spending more will get you more stainless steel styling and convenience features, and perhaps better construction, but not necessarily better performance. Some midsized grills that cost $300 or less performed as well in our tests as ones that cost $1,700. Here are the types of grills we test.

Budget grills


These cost $350 or less and should do if you need a small or medium grill. Typical features include a painted steel cart, cast aluminum firebox and hood, and thin grates.

Mid-priced grills


At $400 to $900, grills in this category include large, no frills models that can fit 28 or more burgers, as well as medium grills that fit 18 to 28 burgers and boast extra features. Mid-priced grills typically come with an electronic igniter, side burner, lights for cooking after dusk and backlit knobs, double storage doors, and more stainless trim. Many have premium grates or burners with warranties of 10 years or longer.

High-end grills


Price around $1,000 and up, these medium and large grills have lots of style. They have the features found on mid-priced grills, but high-end grills typically are all stainless--and a higher quality stainless--and have more seamless construction, better quality burners and more burners, longer burner warranty, thicker grates, gliding drawers, and extra storage space.

Features


Some are handy, such as gliding drawers for storing utensils and condiments, while others make grilling and cleanup easier, such as a pullout grease tray. Here are other features to consider.

Premium quality burners


They're made of high quality stainless steel, cast iron, or cast brass, and typically carry a warranty of 10 years or longer. Keep in mind that burners are the grill's most replaced part. Burners with a warranty of 10 years or longer should last longer than plain steel burners.

Heavy-duty grates

Stainless-steel and coated cast-iron grates tend to be better for searing and maintaining even grilling temps--and note that stainless is more durable.

Quality construction

Check the cart, wheels, lid, and firebox. Stainless-steel carts with seamless construction and welded joints are sturdier than painted-steel carts assembled with nuts and bolts. Wheels or casters at all four corners make a grill easier to maneuver. And wheels with a full axle are better than those bolted to the frame, which might bend over time.

Electronic igniter


An electronic igniter is usually easier and more reliable than a rotary or push button starter.

Fuel gauge

It indicates how much propane is in the tank and keeps tempers from flaring. If the grill doesn't come with one you can buy a gauge separately.

Extra work space and storage

Food prep is made easier when the grill has a folding table or side shelf. Cabinets and drawers are great places to keep utensils, platters, and condiments.

Side burner

Cook a kettle of corn or keep the baked beans warm while grilling meat or fish. Some side burners are also searing burners.

Pullout tray for propane tank

It makes turning the tank on or off a snap and simplifies changing it when you run out of gas.

LED-lit controls and lit cooking area

For grilling after dusk, LEDs light up the grill surface and light the control panel or knobs.

Dual fuel valves or natural gas conversion kit

Most grills use propane but some have dual fuel valves for conversion to natural gas or you can buy a conversion kit for about $50 to $100. With natural gas you'll never run out of fuel and there's no need to refill propane tanks, but the grill is less mobile and you'll want to call a pro to tun the gas line from your home to the grill.

Brands


Char-Broil, Kenmore (Sears), and Weber account for more than 50 percent of gas-grill sales overall. At Consumer Reports, we test those and other less familiar brands. This information will help you compare gas grills by brand.

Char-Broil

In 2008, Char-Broil brand placed a lot of emphasis on infrared technology, with the new Quantum and Red lines boasting different versions of the technology. Char-Broil positions itself as an affordable brand that offers innovative features across its wide product lines. The grills, which cost $100 to $750, are sold at retailers nationwide. Note that some lines are sold only at specific big-box retailers. For example, the Quantum and Commercial series are sold at Lowe's, the Red line at Home Depot, and Thermos at Target stores.

Ducane

Ducane was acquired by Weber-Stephen (owner of Weber grills) in 2004. Its models are sold primarily through specific big box stores, independent dealers, and home hardware centers. Grills range in price from $300 to $600.

 

Fiesta

This brand sells a few models at Home Depot and regional retailers, and markets the Blue Ember brand at Home Depot stores nationwide. The company introduced a new Blue Ember electronic grill recently at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Sears. Fiesta grills are known for featuring such add-ons as a condiment tray and a smoker box. The grills range in price from $200 to $900.

Jenn-Air

This brand is licensed to Nexgrill Industries. Jenn-Air grills cost $600 to $1,500.  A natural-gas version is also available for all models.

Kenmore

Kenmore offers a wide range of gas grills, from the low-end to the premium category. The brand aims to be recognized as the maker of dependable, full-featured grills. It also offers coated cast-iron grates on models as low as $250. Kenmore sells models with an infrared searing area and offers a natural-gas version of most mid- to high-priced grills. The grills, sold at Sears stores nationwide, range in price from $140 to $1,800.

Napoleon

Like Vermont Castings grills, Napoleon outdoor cookers are made in Canada. The "heart" of Napoleon grills is the 304 stainless-steel, reversible cooking rods, called WAVE cooking grids. The grills also have a charcoal tray and range in price from $380 to $2,500. Almost all have a natural-gas version. Napoleon also markets the Ultra Chef line of grills.

Vermont Castings

This Canadian-made brand has been producing models that have rated well in our Ratings over the years. The company's grills are known for their cast-iron grates, cast-iron end caps on the grill hood, and a large number of features, including towel hooks, LED lights, marinating trays, a tank pull-out tray, and utensil hooks. Vermont Castings added porcelain-enamel colors to their grills in 2008. The company sells grills priced from $450 to $1,600, and natural-gas versions are available in almost all models.

Weber

This brand, known for its durability and dependability, went through an entire line and design change in 2007. Weber is known for its quality products in the midpriced to high-priced categories, and grills that feature coated cast-iron and stainless-steel-rod cooking grates and long-warranty stainless-steel burners. (The company offers a natural-gas version for most of its grills.) Weber recently introduced an infrared-searing station on some of its grills, updated its Q line of portable grills, and added colors to its entire lineup. Weber grills are available at many retailers nationwide. Grills range in price from $130 to $3,000. Note that Weber acquired Ducane about four years ago.

   

Find Ratings blob logo

Gas grills Ratings

Subscribers can view and compare all Gas grills Ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Home & Garden News

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more
left arrow right arrow
See also:
41 rated down arrow
See buying guide down arrow
27 rated down arrow
25 rated down arrow