Top 3 Best Propane Grills for the Money
1. Napoleon LEX485 Propane Gas Grill – The Best from Canada
|Cooking surface||815 square inches|
|Stainless steel construction||[usr 4]|
|Complete outdoor kitchen||[usr 5]|
Napoleon is a Canadian company that has been on the market for decades and has produced some superb grills during that period. The same attribute can be used for their LEX485 model, which is assembled in China, but that doesn’t influence its quality. The model has the classic look of a grilling system that can double as an outdoor kitchen. It is everything you will need to host barbecue parties for large crowds in the years to come.
The dimensions of the product are 49 x 27 x 62 inches, while its weight is 177 pounds. You might argue that it is somewhat cumbersome, but that is because of the high-quality 18 gauge stainless steel used for most components. In fact, each part of the grill except for the hood sides is made of this thick material, which is why this unit should have an extended lifespan. The front panel, cooking grate, and the hood are all austenitic so that they can resist high temperatures without corroding or even discoloring.
You use the Jet-Fire Ignition System to start the item. The button feature of turning on a gas grill is a pretty standard feature nowadays, and it is nice to see that Napoleon LEX485 does the job right. As soon as you hit the button, the BBQ will light up and start producing heat. That being said, it’s also commending that it achieves high temperatures rather quickly and doesn’t waste any of your precious time.
Heat output is also impressive. There is no wonder in that considering that the unit has three primary tubes that can produce up to 74,000 BTUs per hour. Their task is to provide the necessary heat to 485 square inches of the central cooking area and don’t doubt for a second that they can do an incredible job. The cooking grate has a wavy form which is not unusual for this manufacturer. That helps the grease to vaporize and contributes to healthier cooking and tastier food.
The total cooking area of LEX485 expands to 815 square inches thanks to secondary grilling areas. There are the infrared ceramic bottom and rear burners, which can be used for rotisserie. Although the rotisserie kit is sold separately, it is nice to see that the manufacturer thought about making room for that option. In fact, there is no need to remove the grill grate even if you are roasting a bigger chicken, which proves that the designers thought about the users. Aside from that, you also have an option of the infrared side burner which Napoleon calls the Sizzle Zone. Although that does sound intriguing, it’s nothing else than a reliable secondary heater which can be useful for your grilling needs.
Remember when we said that this unit is an outdoor kitchen? There are two reasons to support that. The two side shelves on the sides are also made of stainless steel to be resistant to heat, which means that you can put hot platters there. You can use it as a working area or as a storage space. It also features tool hooks, as well as an enclosed container that you can use as an ice bucket. We love the idea of keeping our drinks cold!
Temperature adjustment is easy thanks to the control valves, and the thermometer that monitors the heat is mounted on the lid. So, pretty much your standard type of deal in that area, except that there is also backlighting that comes with control knobs. AA batteries run the lighting, and it is all you need to expand your options to nighttime grilling.
The stand offers additional enclosed storage space that can be used for putting away your cleaning kit or any tool you don’t need. The unit doesn’t come with wheels, and the product is bulky, which means that it is not appropriate for transport. The packaging also doesn’t include a cover, but we suggest purchasing one to extend the durability of the unit.
The sturdy construction secures that your grill won’t be affected by high wind or other weather conditions. The entire product is made of stainless steel (thicker or thinner variants), which secures extended durability of the unit. The existing users tend to compare Napoleon LEX485 with Weber’s products, considering that they are the synonym of quality. You can read multiple reviews over the web that claim that this is “just as well or even better than Weber.”
The heat output is incredible, and the unit is capable of achieving extremely high temperatures (over 500F) in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the infinite control valves, even beginners can find their way around this model. Another thing that puts it between the best propane grills for the money is that it secures even heat distribution throughout the grilling area and secures terrific temperature retention during the entire session.
The ample working area available on two side shelves, as well as the enclosed storage space in the bottom, turns this product into an outdoor kitchen. You don’t have to run into the house and use a pan to simmer the vegetables for a side dish. Instead, you can use additional burners that this unit puts at your disposal. Once the job is done, you should properly clean the grill, but that won’t take a lot of effort. There are disposable grease pans that collect all the drippings which make things a lot more manageable.
The instructions for assembling the product could have been made more explicit. The process will require you to ask for help online or from a professional or turn on your brain and be prepared to invest a couple of hours. It is a massive unit, which means a set of extra hands could be useful. Also, keep in mind that the model isn’t suitable for transport as it doesn’t feature wheels at the bottom. We suggest assembling it on the spot where you plan to keep it.
Also, the lighting for the control knobs are a nice touch, but it would be a complete feature if the manufacturer also included optional lighting for the cooking surface. The way things are now, you need to have a light bulb turned on in the area to see what you are grilling, while the backlight only makes sure that you will have no trouble reading the current temperature settings.
2. Weber Spirit E330 Liquid Propane – Utility Over Power
|Cooking surface||529 square inches|
|Delicious and juicy food||[usr 5]|
|Searing station for crusty meals||[usr 4]|
If you ever need to choose a grilling system without knowing any of its features (although that is not something we advise), you should pick Weber. In their three decades of existence, they probably never designed a unit not worth buying. The same applies to Spirit E330, a decent model that deserves its place among the best propane grill for the money.
The central cooking surface has 424 square inches of space, which is enough to serve a crowd of four or five hungry people at once. If we are talking about central burner tubes, there are three of them, and they are all of the high-quality stainless steel. They can deliver up to 32,000 BTUs of power across the grilling area. If you compare it to the previous model, you will think that this unit is weak. In reality, the truth is that the manufacturer decided that it doesn’t need more strength for this grill. They are, as usual with Weber, right because the only difference you will see in the performance of Spirit E330, and LEX485 is that this one takes a minute or two more to achieve the desired heat. That is something that this unit overcomes with a more affordable price, considering that it will cost you only $549 on Amazon.
The affordable cost doesn’t mean you don’t get a portion of bells and whistles with this unit. Weber also includes a side burner that can provide 12,000BTUs of power, as well as a rear burner that you can use for searing thanks to its 7,500S BTUs. It’s an interesting approach from the manufacturer, considering that most of the designers make their rear burner adaptable for rotisseries, but in this case, you have a searing station. That also improves the versatility of the grill, which we can even say for the warming rack that has 105 square inches and expands the total cooking surface to 529 sq. In.
The iron grates are made of cast iron with the porcelain-enameled finish, which is a choice that has multiple advantages. The first one is that it guarantees the food won’t stick to the surface of the grilling area and the second one is that it improves heat retention. Weber Spirit E330 features the patented flavorizer bars system. These bars are placed beneath the grates, and their task is to catch the grease that drips from the food and turn it into sizzle and smoke. They are the reason this is one of the best propane grills for the money when it comes to the smoky flavor and juiciness of the meat. You might think that only charcoal can deliver that result, but you will rethink that when you try a delicious steak made on this unit.
Flavorizer bars are above the burner tubes, and they conveniently protect them from clogging. The drippings that the bars don’t manage to catch go directly into the removable grease tray that secures you won’t make a mess while grilling. It’s interesting to mention that the flavorizer system has 5-year manufacturer warranty, as well as the cooking grates. The guarantee stretches to ten years for the burner tubes, lid assembly, and the cook box, which is good enough for us to believe that the company trusts their product.
That should be enough to cover the performance of Weber Spirit E330, so let’s talk aesthetics now. If you are into having a unit that will both perform and look impressive, this is the one for you. If you like dark tones, you will be thrilled with the combination of black and silver the manufacturer used. The controls are conveniently on the front side of the grill. The side burner is on the left, while you can use the right as a working area. You have a cabinet with an ample storage space beneath the grill. You can use this area to store your grilling tools, as well as refreshments, marinades, or anything you might use during the session.
The cabinet rests on four wheels to make the unit easy for moving. Once you get it to the desired location in your backyard, you can use the locking feature of the casters to improve the sturdiness of the construction. If you plan to keep it outdoors during the entire season, here is the official Weber cover for this series of grills. It will cost you extra $70, but it will be an investment in extending the lifespan of the product.
Weber has always been designing their grills with high-quality materials for every component. The same is the case with the Spirit E330, which is made of stainless steel that is incredibly durable. The cast aluminum makes cook box and lid resistant to rust, while the cast iron cooking grates are the highest quality in their category.
We also can’t commend the versatility of this unit enough. The searing station on the back is notably a nice addition, and it’s perfect for that crusty outside you want to give to your food. The primary cooking surface is amble, while the warming rack and the side burner complete the package and enable you to prepare any meal you like on this unit.
According to customer reviews, flavorizer bars are another reason why they chose this model. The unique flavor that they provide along with promoting healthier eating is why many purchased this grill. The users also liked added convenience in the form of the side working area and the grill cabinet with ample storage space.
IF we are honest, we have to say that we expected a bit more power from this model. That doesn’t affect the performance or the unit, as we discussed in the review, but it would be nice to brag about the strength of our grill if we splash our cash on it. However, in this case, we can ‘only’ tell our friends about the utilities and extra features that this model packs.
Another thing we noticed is that the temperature gauge mounted on the lid can be inaccurate. In fact, the temperature that it shows can differ for up to 150F from the real state of things. That is why you should consider purchasing a thermometer. It won’t cost a lot, and it will make the grilling process a lot more comfortable, and you will reduce a risk of burning your food.
3. KitchenAid 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill – Ideal for Large Crowds
|Cooking surface||696 square inches|
|Durable burner tubes||[usr 5]|
|High-quality construction||[usr 4]|
Unlike other models from our list, KitchenAid 4-Burner had a grill cover included, which made this unit intriguing immediately. We then focused on the performance and other features and concluded that this is a product that is worth your while. The grilling system unarguably falls into the category of large BBQs. It has a total cooking surface of 696 square inches, although a portion of it (approximately 150 square inches) is reserved for the sear station and the rotisserie burner. While we are on the topic, let’s mention that the searing heater is infrared ceramic with 15,000 BTUs which secure that it performs brilliantly. The rotisserie station is on the back side but keep in mind that the product does not include a kit, which you have to buy separately. The good news is that it delivers 13,000 BTUs for perfectly roasting that whole chicken.
The ignition is a piece of cake as the grill uses a system where you just need to push a single button to get the heat going. As for the central cooking area, it offers stainless steel cooking grates that to an excellent job of providing consistent temperature across the entire surface. Of course, that wouldn’t be possible without four powerful burner tubes that can produce up to 48,000 BTUs per hour. The manufacturer believes in the quality of these burners so much that they give a 10-year warranty for them.
The other features are there to make you feel like you have a kitchen in your backyard. There are tables on the side that you can use as a working area, while the grilling cabinet below the grill offers an ample storage space that can fit all your tools, marinades, rubs, and other essentials you want to keep for the next session.
We can describe the design of the KitchenAid 4-Burner by using only a single word – classic. It’s just like other gas BBQ systems look like, nothing more and nothing less. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you are looking for a sleek design that will stand out from the crowd, this one isn’t it. On the plus side, lovers of traditional-looking grills will love this silver unit. You should know that there is an option to use natural gas with this product, but you will need a conversion kit.
The heat output of this system is admirable. The strong stainless steel burner tubes can make the entire cooking area hot in no time and secure even and consistent temperature throughout the whole grilling process. Adjusting the heat is also easy thanks to the valves on the front panel of the unit, which makes the product suitable for newbies.
Another enormous advantage of this product is its sheer size. The ample grilling surface means that you can host a BBQ party for a bunch of people (you can serve 8-10 at once with this unit). There is no reason to run back and forth to the kitchen or juggle the platters thanks to the side burner, as well as the additional working area and the storage space available in the grill cabinet below the grates. The rotisserie lovers will also like the fact that they have the option of roasting an entire chicken on this product.
The unit is robust and has a solid construction thanks to the quality of the elements used to put it together. If you need another reason why KitchenAid 4-Burner fits into the best propane grills for the money, it’s the resistance to weather that this product has. No wind can knock it over and, as long as you protect it with the cover, there is also no chance of corroding or discoloring anytime soon.
KitchenAid only borrowed its name for this product which is manufactured by Nexgrill. That’s not something we like to see happening, but the company decided to sell the license to use their name and logo on the products. While that doesn’t affect the quality of the unit, we believe that it is still a way of deceiving the customers that put brand as the top priority.
It’s nice to see that the manufacturer provides a cover in the default packaging, but for the price, they could have also sprung for a rotisserie kit, primarily since the burner on the back is designed with this purpose in mind. That way, they would not only save the users extra expense, but also the hassle of ordering another product.