For many grilling enthusiasts, owning a built-in grill is a dream come true. From the moment it’s installed, your backyard or patio is transformed into a true outdoor kitchen. The downside? They’re also a huge investment. Our Fire Magic Echelon Grill review will help you decide whether or not the investment is worth it in this case.
When you buy a built-in grill, you want to be sure that it will be worth every penny you spend. It’s always important to choose the right product, but it’s imperative when it comes to home improvement projects. Because a built-in grill will alter the focus of your outdoor living space, you owe it to yourself to buy the very best.
Does the Fire Magic Echelon fall into this category? The grill comes from a reputable company, and one that prides itself on quality above all else. The sleek lines and contoured surfaces of the Echelon give it plenty of eye appeal, and it’s made from top-notch materials.
Potential buyers should be aware that there are several versions of the Echelon. The sizes and available features may vary somewhat. For the purposes of this review, we’ll cover the E7901 model.
If you’re wondering what the grill has to offer, take a look at our Features and Benefits section, below. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the basics.
- Appealing design
- Top-notch construction
- Generous cooking surface
- Powerful burners
- Lifetime warranty on burners and cooking grates
- Very expensive
- Many secondary components can be quirky
- Customer service department is slow to honor the warranty
Fire Magic Echelon Grill Review: Features & Benefits
The Echelon comes with detailed installation instructions. That’s a good thing, because the process is time-consuming enough as it is. It also requires a measure of skill, so we would recommend asking a knowledgeable friend or family member for help.
Remember to keep at least 18 inches of space between the grill and any flammable items. If you have any deck or patio furniture that’s made of wood, move it as far away as possible.
Design & Construction
The Fire Magic Echelon has all the classic elements of a built-in gas grill, with a low rectangular shape and domed lid. The burner control knobs are silver in color, matching the rest of the components. A bar-style handle helps you lift the lid without burning your fingers.
Like all of Fire Magic’s grills, the Echelon uses high-quality stainless steel in its construction. Everything from the burners to the cooking grates is composed of 304 stainless steel. The components are designed to withstand the heat of the gas-powered flames, even through long seasons of use.
Some of the grill’s components, such as the interior lighting, can be finicky. If you frequently grill at night, you might want to rethink your options.
Additionally, the handle isn’t as well-made as the rest of the grill. Some buyers have noticed some pitting in the metal after the first year or two of use.
There are three main burners on the Fire Magic Echelon, as well as a back burner to round out the rotisserie kit. Each burner is constructed of 304 stainless steel measuring 1/4-inch thick. Their design includes a raised lip above the flame ports, which helps to prevent them from becoming clogged with grease runoff.
The main burners deliver a combined BTU output of 96,000. As for the rear burner, it has a BTU output of 13,000 all on its own. Because the primary cooking surface measures 792 square inches, these are impressive numbers. Even when you add in the 288-square inch warming rack, you’re getting over 100 BTUs per square inch.
Unfortunately, the burners don’t always perform as effectively as you might hope. The flames can be erratic, even when the regulator is working properly. Since Fire Magic offers a lifetime warranty for these burners (see Warranty, below), we expected better.
The firebox and lid are made from the same durable stainless steel as the rest of the grill. The lid opens to a 90-degree angle, giving you access to the cooking surface while providing adequate space for exhaust. It also includes a spring-assist component to smooth out the opening and closing procedures.
In theory, these benefits should help the unit hold its heat well. When the burners are working at full tilt, this is usually the case. If you’re having trouble keeping the grill at the desired temperature, the issue might be with the burners.
One other note: The earlier version of the E7901 included a dial-style thermometer on the lid. While it was generally effective, it was also difficult to read. Fire Magic also offers an updated model with a see-through window and a digital thermometer, complete with meat probe.
Cleanup & Maintenance
Stainless steel cooking grids aren’t usually our first choice. That said, the ones on the Echelon have a bar-style design with flat tops, which helps cleanup go more quickly.
This model is equipped with “Flavor Bars” to give grilled meats a more intense smoke flavor. These triangular grids also tame potential flare-ups and help protect the burners. They can be removed and washed easily, and we would recommend doing so after each use to keep them in prime condition.
As for the grease management system, we think there’s room for improvement. While there is a drip tray that slides in and out for easy removal, it’s too small for a cooking surface this size.
Fire Magic’s warranty is one of the most comprehensive packages we’ve seen. The cooking grates, burners, and housing all carry a lifetime warranty. That’s good news, considering the fact that the burners can be erratic at times.
A 15-year warranty is in place for the valves, inner liners, and porcelain components. The back burner assembly—excluding the ignition system—is also covered for 15 years.
The flavor grids are covered for 5 years, and the electrical components and ignition system are covered for 1 year. Any part that isn’t mentioned above carries a 3-year warranty.
Navigating these options can be confusing, but it sounds like a good deal once you’ve read through the entire package. Be forewarned, however, that Fire Magic’s customer service department can be difficult to deal with.
Have consumers been satisfied with the Fire Magic Echelon? We were curious too, so we took to the internet to find out what people were saying.
There were a few positive remarks from buyers who had enjoyed many long years with their Echelon units. On the whole, though, the consumer response was poor. Most people felt that the grill wasn’t worth the money they spent. Considering the high price point, that’s a disappointing consensus.
As you may have guessed, the Fire Magic Echelon is difficult to recommend. Not only is it expensive, it doesn’t always live up to the promise that’s hinted at in the generous warranty package.
If you want to keep your options open, try one of these units instead. They’re comparable to the Fire Magic Echelon in certain ways, but they offer better value overall.
#1 Blaze Grills Intelligent 4-Burner Natural Gas Outdoor Grill
As built-in gas grills go, this one is easy on the wallet. Note that it runs off of natural gas, so you may need to make some adjustments if you already own a grill that uses propane. The four-burner system comes with heat zone separators, making it easier to prepare multiple ingredients at the same time.
How they compare:
- Affordability: Blaze Grills
- Installation: Fire Magic
- Design & Construction: Fire Magic
- Cleanup & Maintenance: Blaze Grills
- Burners: Blaze Grills
- Warranty: Blaze Grills
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, check out this offering from Blaze Grills.
#2 Napoleon Prestige 500 RB Propane Gas Grill
The “night light” control knobs on this unit are a clever touch, making it easier to grill in the dark. The Prestige also comes with a rotisserie kit for roasting whole chickens and large cuts of pork butt.
How they compare:
- Affordability: Napoleon
- Installation: Fire Magic
- Design & Construction: Fire Magic
- Cleanup & Maintenance: Napoleon
- Burners: Napoleon
- Warranty: Fire Magic
If you plan to use your grill as a roaster, consider the Napoleon Prestige.
#3 Bonfire 3-Burner Built-In Gas Grill
The Bonfire is a well-made grill with plenty of quality components. A rotisserie kit, protective cover, and natural gas conversion system are included in the purchase price.
How they compare:
- Design & Construction-Fire Magic
- Cleanup & Maintenance-Bonfire
- Warranty-Fire Magic
The Bonfire could be a great fit if you don’t need a great deal of cooking space.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a freestanding version of the Fire Magic Echelon?
Fire Magic offers the Echelon in several freestanding models. The E1060s Portable Grill series is enormous, with plenty of cabinet space. The models in the E790s series are slightly smaller, but they still have a sizable footprint.
The E660s series rounds out the options with grills that are the smallest in the bunch. There’s also a freestanding flat-top griddle option.
Who should buy a built-in grill?
First of all, you’ll need plenty of patio or yard space to accommodate your new outdoor kitchen. Built-in grills require commitment—and preferably decent weather. People who live in colder climates should invest in a grill cover for protection.
This isn’t a purchase for casual outdoor chefs who only fire up the grill every so often. If you consider barbecue to be a hobby as much as a cooking technique, then you’ll probably get your money’s worth out of a built-in grill.
Do built-in grills offer better value than freestanding ones?
Not necessarily. If this is your first time buying a grill, we would recommend starting with a stand-alone unit. It would be disappointing to install a built-in grill only to find that you don’t use it as often as you thought you would.
While the Fire Magic Echelon is an attractive grill in theory, it has too many problems for us to recommend it. Considering the high price tag, it’s bound to lead to disappointment.
As an alternative, consider the Blaze Grills Natural Gas model. The grill is efficient and simple to use, and it earns high marks from consumers. Some of the secondary parts aren’t as impressive as the ones on the Fire Magic, but the grill performs well, which is all that really matters.
Click here to take a closer look at the Blaze Grills Intelligent 4-Burner Natural Gas Grill.