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Buying New Grill

The old Sunbeam grill I inherited from my dad was finally toast. Igniter was dead, wheels broken, and main burner completely rusted thru which resulted in a nice tall flame perfect for roasting marshmallows. Pretty solid career considering the thing was originally purchased in 1991 for $225 bucks, that's about $380 today. I am not a hard core griller and didn't want to waste much time or money on this purchase. I usually just cook all my meats till there charred and dried out beyond belief so I have no chance of dying of salmonella or E coli poisoning. I think most chump grillers are like this also, and have no idea what they are doing. Flipping repeatedly, poking holes to look inside and smushing down on burgers till there dried out pancakes, all of which is unacceptable to real grillers. Of late I have made efforts to improve on this game plan tho, learning tactics such as searing and indirect/direct heating. Maybe the new grill would help with this?

Headed down to the depot hoping to bring home a grill. We wanted something slightly smaller since this grill was on the deck and space was a factor. It's weird that the grills no longer require the rocks in them and have built in heat distribution plates. They also have grills that use infrared heat, but I heard this is fake and tastes like you baked in the oven. Anyways, after a few minutes looking around this NexGrill looked nice for $200, I was ready to roll! When I finally got someone to help me, the man stunned me by actually saying the grill is a piece of sh$t tin can and will be rusted out in a year. He also told me that matter of fact all the grills there sucked, and he said to either get the cheapest grill or get a Weber. I actually respected that advice, but I also thought that this dude is probably just some freak that grills steaks to perfection every night. Once he left I even told my wife who cares we are fake grillers lets just get this and get the hell out of here. But he struck fear into us as we were both unsure of this grill now. I didn't want a trash can on the deck after a year, and was definitely not getting the absolute cheapest grill. I looked at the Webers and the only one within our size range was the Weber Spirit E-310, and it was not even in stock. Not to mention I didn't even like it and it cost $500. The Weber Genesis were pretty nice, but were way too big. So after all that we decided to just leave empty handed.

Weber Spirit E-310

So after a little researching it turns out that he may have saved me from having a wobbling rusted out grill in a few years. You will never find someone post a few years later how much they love there Home Depot special, its always the same..."sick of owning cheap sub par grills for a few years till they die, just want to get a Weber this time". I just couldn't believe that after my old grill lasted for 21* years some of these grills would not even make it thru a few seasons comfortably? But I guess the grill industry sums up the evolution of the American marketplace in the last 20 years+. That old Sunbeam was made in 1991 in USA and after 21 years the igniter finally failed and the main burner eventually rusted thru. That is ABSOLUTELY unheard of today unless you get a Weber, AND you are still not even guaranteed that longevity. Unreal. Everything is just mass produced low cost cheap flimsy sheet metal garbage goods made in China.

The difference in quality between the Webers and the "made in China" grills are very easy to tell. The Webers are built like tanks in comparison to the cheap flimsy sheet metal Charbroils, Nexgrills etc...Without a question you get what you pay for applies here. If someone really wanted to they could rip apart the grill lid from the box and completely destroy these cheap grills in just minutes. This would be impossible with the Weber, even with a sledgehammer! (I think that's my new baseline when shopping from now on) However, the main thing I did not like with the Weber Spirit was that the gas knobs were up on the side storage tray for some ridiculous reason and not directly in the front of the grill. I always used both of these trays on my old grill, what a waste of valuable space.

As soon as I saw this in the store, way before reading countless other reviews how people hated having the knobs inconveniently up on the side tray, I knew this was a Potential Situation 

The fact that I have to now be careful of how I place things each time on that shelf is bull$h@t, especially when I am dropping $500. I am much to important and sophisticated to have to deal with that type of inconvenience on my day off. In addition I was now convinced this was some weird marketing tactic by Weber to force you to upgrade to the next model up, the much bigger sized Weber Genesis. This model magically has the knobs on the front of the grill like any other grill would.

Ducane Affinity 3100

After some more looking around I actually noticed online what seemed to be the same exact grill as the Weber Spirit, but with the knobs on the front. It went by the name of Ducane Affinity 3100.

At this point I already wasted a little more time than I originally wanted to on this, but the following was the type of stuff I absolutely did NOT want to know about and knew would happen after that 1st failed Home Depot run...Turns out Weber IS the maker of this grill. At one point in time Ducane was Webers biggest competitor, but in the mid 2000's some of Ducanes biggest retailers went bankrupt and left Ducane with a whole sum of unpaid $ and merchandise. Weber at this point stepped in and bought out and eliminated one of their biggest competitors. Turns out that Webers always had there stupid fuel knobs up on the side trays since they felt that the tubes delivered the heat better running horizontally across the grill as opposed to the traditional and more routine vertical line setup (knobs on front of grill). Weber must really kick ass for people to overlook this crap for years, but once they bought out Ducane they began to slowly change the Webers to the traditional front knob set up. For some reason the Spirits have not changed yet, but there is belief in the grill forums that this will soon happen. So basically Weber bought out Ducane and eliminated Ducanes higher end models and morphed some of it into there own higher end Webers. You will rarely ever see a Ducane in a store, I don't really know what Webers gameplan with this is. The Ducane does give them an entry point into the basic grill market. It is still a solid grill and is much better than any of the cheap "Chinese" crap and is also warranted by Weber.

Ducane Affinity 3100 Vs Weber Spirit E-310

Ok I strongly urge you to NOT read any further, this is where I lost control of this purchase... The funny twist is the Ducanes and Weber Spirits are actually both manufactured in China inside the same exact plant. The only Webers made in USA are the bigger Genesis and their crazy pro line Summit. But basically the Affinity and the Spirit come out of the same Chinese factory made by the same people. People say because of this they are identical and that the Spirits are just a few extra hundred dollars more because of the Weber name. However, that is just incorrect. If you actually get the rare chance of seeing a Ducane in person, alongside the Weber Spirit, you can clearly tell the Weber is a slightly better build. They both share the similar solid cast-iron like lid top (shroud), unlike the cheaper sheet metal tin tops like the Charbroils etc... The main difference however is that the Spirit has a much more solid grill box than the 3100. Also the Weber warrantys their burners for 10 years and the box for like 25. The Ducane only has a 2 year warranty on the burner and 5 year on the box (I still think its funny how I never thought about this crap before, again our old grills burner lasted 21 years). I did read a review where a Ducane grill box rusted out just before the 5 year mark and after sending in some pics Weber gladly replaced the box. I guess that can be viewed as a good and a bad thing? One minor thing I liked with the 3100 was that it came with basic normal steel grates, instead of the porcelain coated cast iron that the Spirits usually come with. The heavy cast iron grates may cook better, but seems like a pain in the ass to keep clean and I don't need that. The Weber also has something called cross over ignition which I think just means that with 1 click you get to ignite all 3 burners. The Ducane requires you to click on each burner separately. I don't think this bothers me much at all, but it does sound pretty stupid. Finally, and the most obvious difference that I have already beaten into the ground severely is the knob locations. As I think about this now I don't see why this hung me up so much but it was something I was not willing to budge on.

Bottom line the Ducane may not be the same exact as a Weber, but you really can't get much closer...literally. For $300 the price made the decision a total laugher for me. Honestly, even if both were $500 I probably would have actually rather spent it on the slightly lower build Ducane with the knobs on the front instead of getting the Weber with the knobs on the side. That's how strongly I felt about that BS. But if it weren't for the stupid design I feel the Webers may be worth the extra money (not sure about $200 more) as the box is clearly crazier. Keep in mind Weber also makes a cheaper 2 burner Spirit E-210 ($400), but I didn't want to go that small. Again for some reason Weber likes to hide these Ducanes and they are never in stock. You can easily order them from pretty much any store tho. I am sure the Ducane will be fine for the few times in the summer I decide to char up some burgers pretty bad and maybe rest an occasional beer on. If the grill box does rust out after 5 years I wonder if the Webers will be made with the knobs on the front by then? Anyways I went with the Ducane, but if you plan on smashing your grill box with a baseball bat or ghost riding it down the stairs on occasion you should maybe go with the Weber.

Propane Tank

I thought it was funny that the old grill was so old that the propane tank was actually outdated (my dad did warn me of this tho). When I went to hook it up I noticed my tank had inside threads, and my regulator connection from the grill required a tank with outer threads. I was able to switch out free of charge this old outdated tank with a new one at the gas station. I am sure they are required by law to take it. I than got the tank re-filled at a local hardware store. This man is fired up about a potential propane tank re-fill conspiracy going on.

* Before I hauled the old Sunbeam grill in the trash I put an ad on Craigslist to see if someone might save me the strain. I did remember noticing replacement burners when I was at the store, but I quickly managed to get the hell away from them before I got any ideas. The next day a kid came over all excited and had big plans, said he was going to replace the burner, sand and re-paint the grill, and clean the glass with a special cleaner. Even tho I thought that was crazy I will be honest a small part of this also bothered me. I could just do all that myself, but like I said only a SMALL part of me felt this way as I knew it was time to move on. It was funny the first time I put the cover on the new grill I realized that I can actually now use the wheels to move my grill to get the cover on easier. That alone was money well spent. Anyways the old Sunbeam may actually live past 21 and thus the asterisk.



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