For many Americans, if you’re hunting for a new grill, the first place you’re going to go is your local hardware store. It makes sense — unless you happen to live near a specialty grilling store, big box hardware stores are typically the only places where you can actually check out grills in person.
If the weather’s nice, there’s a good chance that big box stores will also have their shiniest, largest and most expensive grills lining their aisles — not to mention a few units even sitting outside.
If you aren’t knowledgeable when it comes to grilling brands, you’ll likely see these monstrous steel behemoths alongside other, smaller (and cheaper) grills and assume that they’re better. Then you see the name on these grills. In many cases, not only are they respected grilling brands, but in the cases of some, like JennAir, they’re luxury appliance brands.
This is the stuff you’d see in professional and high-end kitchens across America, right?
So it has to be good enough for your backyard.
Not so fast.
Before you drop your hard-earned cash on one of these grills, you need to know what you’re getting for your money. Or, more importantly, what you aren’t.
JennAir (previously written as Jenn-Air, or Jenn Air) is an American-based subsidiary of the Whirlpool Corporation. For decades, they’ve been known as a major brand in the luxury kitchens space.
Their products are known for being well-built, and they’re generally known for their integration of technology into their products. Seriously — they have an oven that syncs with Nest thermostats, so that your air conditioning can adjust for the added heat your oven produces. They were also the creators of the first self-ventilated downdraft range.
Their appliances — from ranges, to refrigerators, and even microwaves — adorn some of the most luxurious kitchens in America.
It stands to reason, then, that when you purchase a grill with the JennAir name, you’re benefiting from all of that, right?
We’d love to tell you that JennAir’s reputation extends to their grills — but things have changed. JennAir initially had Jade Appliances (manufacturer of the Dynasty Grill) private label a grill for them. The Dynasty Grill was considered a luxury outdoor appliance in line with Jennair's brand positioning. Somewhere down the line they allowed their name to be licensed to imported grills, predominantly found at Lowe's.
Search for their products online, and you’ll see many negative reviews. Here are some excerpts from some of their reviews on Amazon:
“No matter [what] they tell you or a random positive review — don't buy one.”
“First brass burners went out. They sent [a] steel burner. Side burner went out. NO PARTS. BACK ORDER FOR HALF YEAR!”
“Looks great, worst grill ever! I have had $99 char broils that work better and for much longer, than this absolute piece of junk.”
“Bought a Jenn Air Grill hoping for quality- now cannot find anyone to service it or get parts from Jenn Air- they are out of stock for 4-6 weeks — Grilling season will be half over by then!”
Maybe it’s just their Amazon reviews?
Not so fast. On a BBQ recipe website, you can see the same message:
“Nightmare to perform maintenance on. Burner cotter-pins for burner removal almost impossible to get to. Lid too heavy. Rarely achieves a temp. of 250 in the winter cold months (I live in California).”
“This grill has been the absolute WORST grill that I have ever purchased, including cheaper models.”
So, what gives?
(First, while we’ll mention it again later, it’s worth pointing out that we carry only JennAir grill parts offered in the aftermarket, and if you’re struggling with finding replacement parts for your grill, we can help.) The parts offered in the aftermarket are generally burners, heat plates, cooking grates and some ignition components. If you are in need of valves, gas conversion kits, manifolds or any other body part, you have to hope that the manufacturer of the grill still has these.
First off, JennAir does make some fantastic products — that much is true! But that’s the thing: they make those products. In the case of their grills, though, they actually aren’t built by the same company.
Wait — what?
Yup — it’s purely marketing. JennAir currently licenses their brand to another company, Nexgrill. You might’ve seen Nexgrill’s offerings before in Home Depot — though you might not remember the name.
Before Nexgrill made many of the JennAir Grills, they actually had a luxury US manufacturer, Jade Appliances, make one of their first private labeled grills. They were super high quality grills that represented the Jenn Air brand perfectly. We think they should not have switched to a mass produced imported manufacturer.
Nexgrill is a mass-producer of cheap grills. They typically have relatively short warranties, and are all built in China. While many reviewers will typically say that they are aesthetically pleasing grills, the build quality just isn’t there.
But don’t trust us — take a look for yourself. On Amazon, there are frequent complaints about gas leaks, rusting, failed burners, and hard-to-locate parts — not to mention unhelpful customer support.
So, essentially, customers are going into home improvement stores, seeing a luxury brand, and then assuming that the quality will be there — not knowing that now, pretty much every JennAir grill is just a rebranded Nexgrill offering.
Essentially, it’s like selling a Kia rebadged as a Ferrari.
Unfortunately, a ton of people are caught in this trap. We know all about it — after all, when customers can’t get parts or support for their grill, we’re usually who they come to next. While we do provide Nexgrill and JennAir grill parts, it’s often frustrating for customers to hear that they’re difficult to get a hold of. After Nexgrill’s contract is up, it’s unlikely that they’ll keep producing the same grills — which means customers are often left high and dry until someone else steps in to produce replacement parts.
Jenn-Air is not alone when it comes to putting their name on a grill. Brands want to expand in the outdoor space and rather than reinvent the wheel, they look for manufacturers who already have their approvals for outdoor appliances. We believe the biggest mistake these brands make are not choosing manufacturers that align with their brand reputation and quality requirements.
Unfortunately, the above story isn’t unique to just JennAir. Other grills and manufacturers do the same thing (Kitchen-Aid, Charmglow, Members Mark, Perfect Flame, etc). After all, manufacturing is expensive, as is supporting your products. To get around this, a lot of grill manufacturers outsource their production to China, mass produce one grill for a few years, and then stop supporting it.
These aren’t tried-and-true designs being produced (and then improved year after year), these are limited runs of whatever they want to sell at any particular point in time. That means that once they are done making them, they likely destroy the tooling required to produce them (or it’s reused in a different way for a different series of parts, effectively doing the same thing).
There’s no accountability. There’s no refined engineering. Barely any manufacturer support.
What you see is what you get, essentially.
For the average American that replaces their grill every few years, this really isn’t that big of a deal. Most Americans are under the impression that a grill is a thing that, unfortunately, needs to be replaced every few years. After all, don’t they all just eventually stop working?
Many Americans aren’t even aware of the fact that you can get parts for many different types of grills, and that a good, solid-built American grill should effectively last for at least a decade (if not longer).
These aren’t disposable machines — or at least they shouldn’t be.
Well-built grills are crafted by folks with passion, who have been doing this for decades. Yes, that does mean that they do tend to be expensive, but there’s a reason for it: they aren’t built to be disposable. They are built to last, year after year.
Most Americans, however, are only really exposed to the grills that are sold at their local Home Depot or Lowe’s. Outside of those stores, they really don’t see what’s out there. That means that, typically, their idea of a “good” brand is Weber.
Now, we’re not saying that Weber is bad! The Summit grills are still built in the USA — but many, sadly, are not. (That’s despite their labeling — something they’ve been sued over.)
We often hear the exact same complaints from customers about Weber grills. They thought they were buying the same sort of grill that their parents had — they think they’re getting something that will last for decades, and it barely makes it through a single season. Then, when they plan on repairing it (much like they’d seen done tons of times before), they can’t get their hands on any parts!
(As a PS: you can bet we also source weber grill parts, too.)
At this point, our answer should be obvious: probably not especially if you are building in your grill. If components should become obsolete, finding the exact cutouts will be super slim. You may be spending more money altering your island. Plus, don't you want to buy a product that the brand is the manufacturer?
To be frank, there are better grills for the money — and if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you can buy a grill that will last you decades (and have support for many, many years to come).
Unfortunately, most people that need to hear this won’t see it. That’s the point, after all.
Nexgrill is counting on consumers not to know who they are — or to know that they buy the licensing rights to other companies’ grills.
But what if you’re not buying a Nexgrill with a luxury nameplate attached to it — what if you’re just looking at a Nexgrill. It’s what it says on the tin, right?
In most cases, yes. Nexgrill’s offerings are affordable, and for some people, their products might be the best that they can afford. We think in those specific use cases, they’re fine.
But, at the same time, if you can save up a little more, something like an MHP JNR grill might serve folks better. These grills come with a lifetime warranty on all grill housing, mounting, burners, and cooking grids/warming racks. All other components are covered by a one-year warranty.
They’re made in the USA, the grill body is cast aluminum and will not rust out. They start at $1,000 — which might be outside your budget if a Nexgrill was what you were looking at — but considering that Nexgrills are nearly as expensive, we think that it’s worth it. After all, do you want a product that’s built in the USA and designed to last for a long time — or one that’ll hopefully make it through a few seasons?
We think the choice is obvious!
We’ve mentioned “built in the USA” quite a bit, and we feel like it’s necessary to speak a little bit as to why we’re such big supporters of grills made in America.
First off — we don’t necessarily think that grills made outside of the USA are bad. It’s just that, very often, when a grill is made outside of America, it’s a pretty big warning flag, for a couple of reasons:
● Grills made outside of the USA typically don’t have the best quality
In most cases, grills made outside of the United States are being built for an American company. Yet, because the focus is more on doing things cheap (and fast), there just isn’t the same level of quality control. When grills are built in America, there tends to be a higher focus on delivering a quality product consistently.
Often, Chinese-built grills are theoretically fine, but when you’re talking about burners and gas lines, even tiny mistakes can be catastrophic.
Remember: these companies are outsourcing their production for a reason, and it isn’t because they want the highest quality production lines.
● Grills made outside the USA were outsourced for a reason.
When you buy a grill built in the USA, you are typically going to spend more money. Here’s the thing though: when something is outsourced for cost reasons, the manufacturer is often doing so to save a lot of money — and that money isn’t saved simply by moving where the grill is made.
Often, moving production often means lowering standards and using cheaper materials.
● Often, they are outsourced without a concern for longevity.
Often, grills are outsourced for a production run of a certain number of units. Once those units are produced, they are stored in a warehouse. Once production is done, often the tooling that was used to produce the grill is depreciated. This means that no one — not even the original manufacturer — will have any spare parts on hand if something goes wrong.
We’ve heard stories of manufacturers telling customers that not even they know where to find certain parts. We’re not surprised… but it is disappointing to hear, again and again.
After reading through our article, are you unsure of what grill to buy — or maybe you’re stuck with a JennAir or Nexgrill? Get in touch with our grill experts and we’ll be happy to help you find all the parts you need to get your grill ready for summer — or even buy a top of the line new grill if the
time has come. Give us a call at 1-877-983-0451.