Now that the holiday decorations are out of stores you’ll start to see gas grills in their place—just in time for the Super Bowl. Consumer Reports has tested dozens of gas grills, and we’re getting ready to test new models for prime grilling season. Our secret shoppers buy them in stores and online, and then return to our labs with shopping advice.

The shoppers are secret because nothing they do or say gives any hint that they work for Consumer Reports—we want to make sure they receive the same products as you do. Our shoppers pay close attention to details, not missing a thing. Here’s what our man of mystery has to say about his recent experience shopping for gas grills.

How’s your back? You may have to carry the boxed grill out of the store and load it into your car, so bring a friend.

Check all the parts. Do this before you start to assemble the grill, or you might wind up assembling it twice once you discover an important part is missing. 

Or pay to have it assembled. It will save you time and frustration, and you avoid the surprise of missing or broken parts. And keep in mind that some cheaper grills have even more parts that you'll need to put together. Whatever you choose, the assembled grill has to fit in your car unless you can have it delivered.

Scout end-of-season sales. You can save by buying a gas grill after Labor Day; our shopper saw deals of 25 percent off at big box stores on Columbus Day weekend. But when you buy a grill late in the season, you may have to buy it unassembled—same with early in the season. The assembly staff may be seasonal subcontractors who do not work the fringe seasons.

Buyer beware. When ordering a gas grill that will be shipped to you, know that you may get a damaged grill that can be difficult to return—you might have to repack it too. In our most recent tests, a manufacturer sent our shopper replacement parts for those that arrived damaged.  

Shopping for a grill? Then see our gas grill Ratings and filter grills by brand, size, and price. Click the Features & Specs tab to compare, and use the buying guide to help you decide. Any questions? Email me at kjaneway@consumer.org.

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