If you’ve been to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot lately and checked out the grill section, you’ve likely seen a large selection of cheap grills being sold for a couple hundred bucks. Even Costco or other grocery stores these days carry grills and barbecues that are being sold for cheap.
Many of these cheap grills even look pretty nice when they’re shiny and new. If there are so many low-cost options available, why shouldn’t you buy a cheap grill? Well, to put it simply: you get what you pay for.
Cheap grills may seem like a no-brainer, but as soon as you start considering the many factors that go into what makes a grill or BBQ worth the investment, you’ll see that cheap grills are really not an investment at all. We always say... Spend it now or spend it later. If you consistently by cheap (or throwaway) grills, you will eventually spend the money for a quality product!
How long will a cheap grill last, will you even be able to get the parts to fix it, is it really safe, what’s the warranty like, and how soon are you just going to have to give up and buy a replacement?
We’ll break down the reasons below, but here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t buy a cheap grill:
- Quality of the Build
- Serviceability & Replacement Parts
- Burners: Cooking Power & Control
- Features, Options, & Customization
Safety: Cheap Grills Can Be Made with Lower Safety Standards
Safety might not have been the first thing that came to your mind when thinking about buying a new grill, but it’s the first item on our list for a reason. The absolute last thing we want to happen when you fire up your grill this season is for a faulty grill or part to cause a fire, explosion, or even poisoning — which is a real concern with cheap grills made overseas. Imagine you can import a grill that has been manufactured with lower gas standards than what is required from a US manufactured product.
Many inexpensive grills that you can get at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco are manufactured overseas in factories with lower safety standards than in the US. 26,500 gas grills and 3,400 parts from Saber Grills were recalled in 2017 because of faulty LP regulators that had the potential to cause leaks and burns.
41,300 Masterbuilt 7-in-1 smokers were recalled in 2016 because a gas hose could become easily disconnected, leading to fires, explosions, or even gas poisoning.
This is just the beginning of the list — and recalls only happen when a large enough number of grills from one line are causing serious enough issues to force a company to do a recall. Recalls don’t necessarily account for the many incidents customers encounter with grills that were cheaply made in China to cut costs.
The cost of a grill isn’t just about how it’s going to cook your food or how long it will last. Investing a bit more money into a higher quality grill is also about keeping you and your family safe. Purchase from brands manufactured in the US that are well known for quality and you’ll be able to grill with confidence.
Quality of the Build: Durability & Reliability
Buying a cheap grill from Lowe’s or Costco and expecting to get a quality grilling experience for any length of time is like going to McDonald’s and expecting to get a filet mignon. You will get a fast, cheap, and convenient meal, but you’ll also get a whole lot of unhealthy grease and end up hungry again in about an hour.
The cheap food metaphor stands when we’re talking about cheap grills. A cheap grill may not cook as well and is most likely going to fall apart quickly.
Durability and reliability are what are going to keep your grilling experience enjoyable each time you head out with a platter of food ready to cook. Cheap grills might look like they’re made out of quality materials, but it’s all aesthetics — shiny metal and paint doesn’t mean quality parts underneath.
With a high quality grill, keeping up on basic maintenance and doing some occasional servicing to replace a part will be enough to ensure that your grill works, and works well, every time you fire it up. High quality grills are built to last, meaning you can buy one that’ll last you a decade or more. You’ll likely have to purchase a cheap grill several times within that same amount of time.
The reliability of high quality grills is also essential if you’re really going to become a grill master. A reliable grill will cook the same every time you use it. You’ll have excellent temperature control, even heat distribution, and plenty of power so you’ll be able to hone your grilling technique to a fine art knowing that a 1-inch T-bone steak cooked medium-rare will take 10 minutes every single time.
Another factor in the quality of a grill’s build is the thickness of the material it’s built with. Many cheap grills are built with very thin metal which the heat from cooking will either warp or wear holes in over time. Thin grill material also can’t retain heat as well as thicker, quality steel or ceramic grills — another factor in a nice even cook every time.
The bottom line is that cheap grills aren’t built to last. In fact, it’s in the best interest of these incredibly cheaply made grills for them not to last — that way you have to come back next year and make another purchase. The industry dubs these grills the "throwaways." There’s simply not the same level of corporate accountability for massive overseas companies with headquarters thousands of miles away.
Investing in a grill that’s made in the USA — by a company whose entire brand is built on durability, quality and reliability — means you can rest assured that the grill company cares about their product and their customer. It’s in their best interest to maintain their name built on quality which means you’ll get the best value for your dollar.
Serviceability: Will You Be Able to Replace That Part When it Fails?
With any grill you purchase, there’s always the chance that some part is going to need to be fixed or replaced after use. The quality of the grill and it’s parts will dictate how often something needs to be fixed or replaced. However, it can be extremely difficult, even impossible, to get replacement parts for cheap grills made overseas and sold by aftermarket companies like Home Depot.
We’ve seen it happen too many times. A customer buys an inexpensive grill and by the time the next grilling season rolls around, a part already has to be replaced. They go on the hunt for the part so they can get back to grilling only to find out that the manufacturer doesn’t carry those parts anymore. Oftentimes with cheap, imported grills, vendors don’t even know where your grill was made and therefore have no way to contact the factory for replacement parts. The number one part we calls on every single day is for a grease tray, drip tray, etc. Very few grease trays are available from the aftermarket companies. They are pretty much non existent (unless the manufacturer for the brand has them available).
In this scenario, just one part on your grill is broken, but the entire product is rendered unusable and you’ve got to go through the entire grill buying process again.
On the other side of the spectrum, with our high-quality, USA-made grills and BBQs, getting a replacement part is simple and often entirely covered by an amazing lifetime warranty. We’ve been able to get replacement grill parts for our Weber grills almost as old as the company itself which was founded in 1952!
Warranties: Non-Existent vs Lifetime Guarantee
Read the fine print when you’re checking out any grill you’re thinking about buying. Many discount Home Depot or Lowe’s grills will show a 10-year warranty in a big, bold font on the display.
However, when you do a bit more research, you’ll find that the manufacturer doesn’t exist or the warranty only covers some inexpensive parts. Meanwhile the parts that will likely need to be replaced the most frequently, like the burners or igniters, are only covered for a year — or perhaps not at all.
If you buy a higher quality grill, you’ll see that their warranties cover those parts which are most likely to need replacing. Most of our grills have lifetime warranties for several parts and great warranties for other parts. For instance, every Lynx grill or Twin Eagles come with a lifetime warranty on important parts including burners and cooking grates.
Burners: Cooking Power & Control
You shouldn’t buy a cheap grill if you’re looking to impress with delicious grilled meals or if you’re looking to truly enjoy your grilling experience. Cheap grills have burners that frequently flare up, provide little control over temperature, distribute heat unevenly, and quickly rust or blow out.
High-quality grills come with top of the line burners that last for years with basic maintenance, along with great warranties. Cheap grill burners are typically made with thin sheet metal that’s going to rust or completely blow out after a few years or less.
A higher-end grill is also going to come with more power and more heat. Getting that perfect sear on a steak to seal in all the flavor and juice or doing some high-heat wok cooking is going to require more power and more control than a discount grill can offer.
When looking into the power you can get from a grill, you can’t just rely on the BTU rating either. A $100 grill with a high BTU rating still isn’t going to cook with that same power and control if the rest of the grill isn’t up to par. A poorly-fitted lid, cheap cooking grates, or a thin metal build will hold and distribute the heat less efficiently regardless of that high BTU rating.
With a high-end grill you can also choose a variety of burner types to suit your exact cooking needs. Read on to learn more about some of these customization options that you won’t find with a cheap big box store grill.
You do not even have to spend the money on a "high-end" grill. Many Mid-Range Brands that are Made in the USA, are offering lifetime warranties on their burners. These include AOG (by FireMagic), Sedona by Lynx and Delta Heat (manufactured by Twin Eagles). Artisan offers a 15 year warranty on their burners.
Features, Options, & Customization
If you are, or want to become, a real grilling fanatic like we are at The BBQ Depot, you’ll be interested in learning more about the many features and options for customization available with higher-end grills.
High-End Grill Burner Options:
- Classic stainless steel or cast-stainless burners
- Cordierite ceramic burners found on the Lynx Professional Grills are industrial duty and won’t be damaged due to thermal expansion like metal burners and are virtually invulnerable to the grease and residue that degrades metal over time
- Infrared burners are extremely high temperature burners allowing for a perfect sear every time
- Side burners for extra cooking real estate
More Features to Choose From:
Ceramic briquettes versus low-end metal heat shields are more durable and they’re easy to clean, create more even heating, and will last a long, long time
- Rotisserie — add a built-in rotisserie system to your grill for cooking a whole chicken or roast
- Indirect cooking is an option that’s great for slow cooking your meals
- Built-in smokers
- Better controls and lighting
- Size! If you’re regularly cooking for large groups or want to prepare a lot of food all at once, you’re simply not going to find a grill with tons of cooking space for cheap
Grill Recommendations That Are Worth The Investment
High-quality grills are absolutely worth the investment. If you’re ready to buy a grill that’s safe, reliable, and serviceable that will cook evenly for years to come you’re going to need to spend more. However, that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to get quality.
For an excellent, budget-friendly grill that does not skimp on quality, we recommend the MHP JNR Grill on Portable Open Cart. This grill is a stellar example of exactly why this company has been successful for more than 60 years. We especially love how easy to maintain and repair this grill is. It may not be the prettiest, with all the bells and whistles but what good are all these fancy features when they stop working and we promise you they will! In addition, all those fancy features do not make for a better grilled steak. What we can tell you is that MHP makes a grilling machine. A true workhorse in the grilling industry.
With a history like JNR’s along with their lifetime warranty on all grill housing, burners, and cooking grids/warming racks, you can be sure that this grill is worth the investment and will last you for many years to come.
Looking for a mid-range grill? Check out this best selling, extremely high quality, built-in gas grill for outdoor kitchens: The Delta Heat 32" Built-in Grill with Rotisserie - DHBQ32R.
Mid-range grills are excellent choices because of their exceptional quality and value and this Delta Heat 32” is top of its class. This gas grill gives you 3 U burners each with 15,000 BTUs of power paired with ceramic briquette trays that absorb and hold on to heat. This 32” Delta Heat gas grill comes with a lifetime warranty on their burners and added hood assist. You can even swap on of the blue flame burners for an intense food caramelizing Infrared Sear Burner.
There are many types of grills to suit your grilling needs. No matter the type of grill you’re looking for, each grill we sell, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury, are built to last with excellent manufacturer warranties — and they’re all Made in the USA.
(Need help choosing the right grill for you? Check out this grill shopping guide for tips.)
We’ve been servicing and selling grills since 1956—so we know this industry inside and out. If you’re looking for a quality, reliable, and safe grilling experience year after year, then you shouldn’t buy a cheap grill. Stop letting the low upfront cost sway you and instead make an investment in a quality grill or BBQ that will last you for years, even decades.
The BBQ Depot is your home for high-end grills and grill replacement parts. Have a question about a grill, or need help picking one that’s right for you? Talk to our experts today by calling 1-877-983-0451.