F&W’s Christine Quinlan researched dozens of grills to figure out how to get the most for your money.
Ducane Affinity S5200 (right)
What makes this model special:
- Stainless steel body, most of it high-grade
- Five independent burners
- Stainless steel heat-distribution plates help prevent flare-ups
A $1,000 grill should be constructed entirely of stainless steel—including the bolts and screws that hold the cart together. Most such grills combine low- and high-grade stainless steel. Use a magnet to test the grade: It will stick to lower-quality 430-grade stainless, but not to the more durable 304-grade. Also look for rubber wheels with a full axle—they are more durable than those bolted directly to the frame.
The more independently controlled burners a grill has, the greater the versatility and fuel efficiency. Grills in this price range usually have three or four tube-shaped burners, often covered by metal plates that help distribute heat evenly and minimize flare-ups. They usually include a side burner as well as a smoker box (which burns wood chips to give food a smoky flavor) or a rotisserie with an infrared burner.
Grates are almost always made of stainless steel or cast iron. Just as some people prefer stainless steel pans and others cast iron, each material has its proponents.
tip Cast-iron grates, like cast-iron pans, must be seasoned periodically to prevent them from rusting.
Look for electronic ignitions, which emit a continuous spark and are powered by batteries.
Most have primary cooking areas of approximately 600 square inches, which is large enough to cook food for eight to 10 people.
Two to five years on most parts; lifetime on some components.
Brands to look for
Barbeques Galore, Broilmaster, Coleman, Ducane, Frigidaire, Holland, Kenmore, Modern Home Products, Napoleon, Vermont Castings.