An expensive grill will have high-quality materials and a decent warranty. Meanwhile, a cheap grill typically has little to no warranty and breaks down quickly due to lower manufacturing and materials standards. A cheap grill makes an okay temporary solution, but they rarely last. Are cheap grills worth it?
I will walk you through the differences and explain everything you need to know to make an informed decision about buying an inexpensive grill.
Cheap grills are not worth it because gas models provide little control over temperature and tend not to disburse heat evenly and can have flare-ups while the cheap coal grills tend to rust easier and burn through and break. Investing in a higher quality grill will last longer and prevent wasted money over.
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Cheap vs Expensive Grill
Looking at cheap grills versus expensive grills is relatively straightforward.
Higher quality materials with better designs and manufacturing produce a better all-around product, whether it’s a grill or any other outdoor product.
I’ve looked at various aspects of how grills work and what is essential and compared how they work to show you why you should (almost) always invest in a more expensive grill.
1 – Burners & Heat Output
Burners and heat output on gas grills are one of the most prominent areas where a cheap grill is inferior to a better model.
Many cheap grills have only one or two settings for gas output. The high-quality models have a dialable flame level that you can adjust as you cook to get more precise cuisine, as you would on a good-quality home stovetop.
Heat is heat, and equal amounts of gas burning will be at the same temperature, but the ability to control how much you are using makes a significant difference.
Not only will you waste less gas when dialing it in, but cheap grills tend to have inferior parts. Leaks and flare-ups are common. Moreover, you won’t get even heating across the surface.
2 – Features
A basic cheap grill has a surface for heating, a place to hang some tools, and a side tray for a plate if it has features at all.
Meanwhile, an upgraded, better-quality grill comes with a plethora of fun and useful features.
Below are just some of the options you might be missing out on if you go with that cut-rate cheap grill.
- Controls – There are always knobs for turning on the gas, but on a more expensive model, you’ll get a light or other indicator to tell you when the gas is on.
- Convection – Fans that move the heat around when the lid of your grill is closed help you cook your food evenly and more quickly, like a convection oven. You won’t find these on a cheap grill.
- Fuel Gauge – Knowing how much fuel you have left can mean the difference between a half-cooked disaster and a fantastic backyard barbecue.
- Interior Lights – Like a good oven, a quality grill often has interior lights to see what’s going on in cabinets or cooking areas.
- Prep Areas – While many cheap grills also come with a folding side tray, all prep areas are not equal. More space, tool hangars, and even places for barbecue sauce or marinade containers are convenient and helpful.
- Refrigerated Area – Only the truly top-of-the-line grills have refrigeration included.
- Rotisserie – A rotisserie is a great way to cook whole chickens or other large meats evenly and ensure they get the perfect golden brown outside all the way around, but you won’t get this from a cheap grill.
- Side and Sear Burners – Burners with more options for separate or different cooking styles are not a base model or cheap grill feature. It’s nice to heat up a pot of beans or another side dish or sear a few portions without trying to manage everything on one basic grill surface.
- Wi-Fi – Modern grills come in a wide variety of options, and one of them is remote-controlled by Wi-Fi, so you can heat a high-quality grill at the press of a button before you head outside in the heat to cook.
- Wood Chip Smoker – Smoked meats and other foods have a unique and delicious flavor. A better quality, more expensive grill may have a smoker section, so you can make these without buying special equipment.
3 – Quality
Quality is a generic term that makes all the difference. Inferior metals that rust and corrode, knobs that fall off, and a lack of features, in general, are the hallmark of a cheap grill.
An expensive grill will have everything you need to make any grillable meal with ease and comfort.
When shopping for a cheap grill, chances are the burner will be made of low-grade stainless steel.
This means it will rust faster and will not last that long. One way to test this is by bringing a magnet with you.
If the magnet is attracted to the stainless steel on the burner, it’s a lesser grade, meaning it has less chromium and nickel. Many cheaper gas grills pack a burner made of 430 stainless.
4 – Warranty
A cheap grill probably won’t come with a warranty. If it does, you can expect a basic one-year limited manufacturer warranty that only covers misproduced parts.
Meanwhile, a better high-end grill should be covered for 5 to 10 years of regular use.
Likewise, the warranty on a well-made grill is tied to the date of purchase, not when it was manufactured.
How Long Do Cheap Grills Last
You can expect a cheap grill to last 3 to 12 months, depending on how you use, treat, and store it.
One season of regular use is about all you can expect before your cheap grill starts to break down and fall apart.
If you are willing to replace parts, clean it carefully, cover it or bring it inside when not in use and otherwise baby it along.
You may get a little more shelf-life out of that inexpensive grill, but it requires a lot of maintenance.
Are Cheap Charcoal Grills Worth It
I wish I could say that cheap grills are worth it, but they’re not. When you look at the price and think a $100 is enough for a grill, keep in mind that you’re getting no features and 1 season’s use before you probably need to spend another $100.
On the other hand, if you spend $800 to $1000 on a better grill, you can use it more often and for many years to come.
Plus, the better grill won’t need parts or maintenance as often.
Weber vs Cheap Grill
Weber vs Cheap grills are almost unfair because you get so much out of a Weber. The warranty on a Weber is stellar, offering up to 10-year warranties.
Additionally, they are known for outstanding customer service. Meanwhile, a cheap grill has no guarantees, lasts a few months, and you would need to call China in order to get any support.
Weber offers outstanding control and reduced chances of a flare-up. A cheap grill offers unreliable lids, flare-ups, rust, and headaches.
Plus, Weber offers a complete line of outstanding grills with different numbers of burners and collections of features to suit any grilling style.
Sadly, cheap grills provide one or two basic amenities like a place to hang a spatula.
If you want an extensive demonstration of why a Weber grill is better than the cheap alternative, I recommend checking out this video from Slick Deals on Youtube.
In addition to the informative video, the comment section is filled with testimonials and information from viewers who have used the Weber and other grills in real-world scenarios.
- Large capacity, large barbecue area and higher utilization rate.
- Cold rolled iron plate, furnace body surface gloss, easy to clean, durable, not easy to deform
- Foldable furnace legs, easy storage, easy to carry
- Drawer-type ash accumulation box, ignition, Ash accumulation, catching oil, easy to take, easy to clean
- High quality barbecue grill, restore natural life, suitable for the whole family.
Last update on 2023-10-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The cheapest grill on Amazon is the NC Outdoor Folding BBQ Grill. The grill itself is made of iron (not even steel) and measures 13.78 x 8.66 x 7.48 inches.
That’s enough space to make a few burger patties or hotdogs.
The overall weight is roughly 5.3 lbs. It features a place for charcoal, folding legs for easy storage, and a drawer to catch the ash.
The cooktop is a basic grid-pattern grill, and the heavy material makes it somewhat durable.
There’s no warranty listed and no reviews from past buyers.
Helpful Tips To Know About If Cheap Grills Worth It
A cheap grill will cook your food, and it might have a small side area where you can set a plate, but that’s about all you get from it.
Alternatively, a higher-quality grill offers dozens of features and typically has a better working lifespan and warranty.
Here are some helpful tips to know about if cheap grills are worth it
- A cheap grill is worth it when you don’t plan to keep it anyway. If you are not ‘a grill person’ but you’re throwing a barbecue anyhow, then investing in a less expensive grill for a single event is just fine. Donating a cheap grill to a friend, neighbor, or even a charity later is perfectly fine. Otherwise, get a better grill.
- Even when the BTU rating on a cheap grill is accurate, it’s typically offset by a poorly fitting lid that leaks heat. You want 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface, but it only matters if the heat stays where you need it.
- Look for multiple burners with individual heat controls for a better grilling experience. Most cheap grills can’t offer this feature.
Getting a cheap grill is never a good idea because they simply don’t last. The charcoal will burn through the metal, or the burners will rust in a single season.
You aren’t getting a good deal when sacrificing features and reliability for a lower price tag. You’re buying a hassle that you’ll need to replace.
There are plenty of high-quality grills that offer great features at a cost-effective, high-value-to-expense ratio, but they still cost more when you buy them for their quality and durability.
You aren’t saving money if you have to re-purchase and repair your grill 20 times in 10 years because you’ll ultimately spend the same amount to get far less than you would if you’d opted for a high-end grill in the first place.