So, you’ve determined that it’s time to buy a new grill. That’s one major decision out of the way, at least. But where should you begin your search?
As is the case with most major purchases, you’ll have a better chance of success if you have a plan in mind beforehand. In this guide, we’ll steer you toward the best place to buy a grill–and away from the places you should avoid.
What To Look For in a Grill
Before you begin, think about what kind of grill you’d prefer to buy. This will make it much easier to narrow down your search, helping you to secure the best possible deal.
Gas grills are the most popular type of grill in the US, largely because they’re simple and convenient to use. With a gas grill, you won’t have to deal with messy charcoal or wait around for half an hour while the fire gets hot. Just turn on the burners, press a button, and you’ll be ready to cook within minutes.
On the other hand, charcoal grilling has definite benefits too. This type of grill is generally affordable, especially if you stick with the traditional kettle-style version. Charcoal also imparts a genuine smoke flavor that can’t be replicated by a gas grill, no matter how many fancy accessories it has.
If you’re ready to make a significant investment, you might look for a pellet grill instead. These units use real hardwood pellets as fuel, thereby allowing you to experiment across a broader range of flavors. You can also use pellet grills for a variety of cooking applications, from smoking to roasting to char-grilling.
These egg-shaped grills use charcoal as fuel, but they differ from regular charcoal grills in terms of construction and design. Most kamado grills are made from quality ceramics, but some manufacturers offer steel models as an affordable alternative. This type of unit is prized by pitmasters for its longevity and ideal heat retention.
When you’ve decided on a grill type, consider the following:
- How long are you expecting the grill to last? Would you be willing to pay more for a unit that will last for many years to come, or would you prefer to save more money by purchasing a grill that might not be around for the next grilling season?
- How often do you plan to use the grill? Are you the type of griller who cooks out more than once a week, or do you only fire it up on certain holidays?
- How much room do you have to work with? If you have a small patio or balcony, a two-burner gas grill will be your best bet. On the other hand, if you have a huge backyard that you’d like to transform into an outdoor kitchen, feel free to think bigger!
- Do you plan to entertain often, or will you only be grilling for two or three people on a regular basis?
- What ingredients do you like to prepare most often? Hamburgers and hot dogs might be the gold standard, but a grill can be used for just about anything if you have the right equipment.
Best Place to Buy a Grill
Now that you know what type of grill you want, it’s time to find a place that sells them. Your choices may vary depending on where you live, but in general, you can choose from the following options.
When it comes to buying a grill, I prefer to shop in person. Buying from a brick-and-mortar store might be limiting in terms of variety, but it allows you to get a good firsthand look at the grill without relying on customer comments.
Look for seasonal sales at home improvement retail outlets throughout the year. Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware are all good bets, and will frequently compete with one another to offer the best deals. As far as convenience goes, you should have a easy time finding one of these stores within driving distance.
Other retailers, like Walmart, carry grills and barbecue equipment as well. Their selection might be limited, but that won’t matter as long as they can offer a unit that will suit your needs. In general, big-box stores are the best place to begin your search.
That said, you might also want to check out the deals at your local hardware store. Many smaller retail outlets will offer decent grills at affordable prices. As a bonus, you’ll be supporting a local business instead of a huge conglomerate.
There’s no doubt about it: The internet can offer you more variety when it comes to shopping for a grill. You might not be able to check out the unit in person, but you could end up saving a great deal of cash.
If you choose to shop online, check the major websites to compare prices. You could score a great deal through eBay or Overstock.com. Just be sure to stick to reputable sites, and don’t fall for any online scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, that’s usually because it is.
If you’re a novice, Google Shopping is a useful tool for comparing prices. Remember that you’re bound to get a better deal at certain times of year than others (see When To Shop, below).
Some retailers might offer free shipping or in-store pickup, particularly on bigger purchases. Take a look at the fine print before you finalize a sale, and shop around to see which ones will help you save a few bucks.
Because you won’t be able to check out the grill in person, customer reviews can be an invaluable resource. Pay close attention to the negative comments to find out if certain complaints crop up regularly, and if the issues in question would be deal-breakers for you. Shipping issues are usually easy enough to resolve, but poor performance is another story.
One final tip: Always check the return policy and warranty information when making a major purchase. A reputable manufacturer should stand behind its product by offering free replacements on defective parts.
When To Shop
As we pointed out, some times of year are better than others when it comes to grill shopping. Fortunately, good deals are available throughout the year. The trick is to read the calendar while keeping an eye on prices.
Generally speaking, grills are at their cheapest in the late summer and early fall. After Labor Day, most people are ready to hang up their barbecue tools for the season, which causes many stores to lower their prices.
During this time, retailers are also hoping to clear out their inventory to make room for the holiday merchandise, so there’s a good chance you’ll score a great deal. If you can hold off until Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), you might see prices drop even further.
Let’s say it’s early spring, and you don’t want to wait six or seven months. Not to worry–the end-of-season sales represent only one opportunity to save. You might also find great prices just after Memorial Day, when stores will be clearing out their older inventory to make room for the latest models.
Don’t forget to check for sales throughout the grilling season as well. Because July 4th is synonymous with outdoor cooking for the majority of Americans, some retailers will offer discounts in the days immediately after the holiday.
However, remember that the major big-box stores will want to hold on to some of their inventory throughout the season. For that reason, you’d be better off waiting until early September if you’re sticking with brick-and-mortar shopping.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I buy a grill online, will I have to put it together myself?
In most cases, yes. In fact, this is often true even if you buy the grill in person. Some retailers might offer to assemble the unit for you, but this service usually costs extra.
How long will it take for the grill to arrive?
That depends on the retailer, as well as the time of year. Most of the time, you’ll receive your new grill within two weeks of placing the order online. During the holidays, however, shipping can take twice as long as you might expect.
The popularity of the grill itself is another factor. If the company sells a lot of a certain model, then it will have more of them in stock. Less popular grills may be more difficult to find and take longer to arrive.
What are the best reasons to shop for a grill in person?
As I pointed out, it’s easier to judge the quality of the materials if you can see the grill for yourself. You’ll also get a better feel for the dimensions of the grill, which will help you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for your outdoor kitchen. Depending on where you shop, you might also be able to wrangle a better price if you shop in person.
So, where is the best place to buy a grill? As you can tell, there’s no right or wrong answer.
While I prefer to do my grill shopping in person, I realize that this isn’t the best route for everybody. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a better deal by shopping online.
In any case, do your research beforehand and shop around before making your decision final. You don’t want to miss out on a great bargain by leaping at the first opportunity you see. Also, remember that the best prices can only be found at certain times of the year, so be sure to plan ahead.
Best of luck in your search, and happy grilling!