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Grilling hearty meats and vegetables is a classic summer pastime. If you are a new homeowner or are ready to start your own summertime grilling tradition, the best time to buy a grill is during seasonal sales.
Most people consider buying a grill at the end of spring or early summer. Unfortunately, this tends to be the time that grill prices peak. But a little patience goes a long way. If you can wait for the end of summer or big retail days such as Black Friday, you can buy premium grills at affordable prices.
If you’re ready to dive into the world of barbecuing, there are several factors to keep in mind to get the best deal.
When is the Best Time to Buy a Grill?
So, when exactly is the best time to buy a grill?
The sudden realization that you need to purchase a new grill happens in the early spring and summer for many shoppers. But if you can spend the summer at other pitmasters’ barbecues, you’ll be rewarded by waiting until the demand for grills goes down in the fall. By waiting till the end of the summer season to purchase, you can enjoy deep discounts of 40-70% off full prices. Labor Day weekend and Black Friday are particularly good times to buy.
Although these prices tend to drop as a result of lowered supply, another reason prices drop so significantly is to make room for holiday merchandise. In many areas of the country, vendors also put out fall décor, fire pits, yard maintenance tools, and other cold-weather items. To make space in the showroom and the stockroom, the grills have to sell.
While September and October tend to have the best grill deals, summer can come with its own sales – in fact, last year, there were significant discounts even in June and July, as retail stores and consumers geared up for the Fourth of July. You can wait and get the best deal, or if you need one for a cookout right away, use our guide to help you get a great grill without breaking the bank.
Where to Buy a Grill
You can purchase grills online or in a store. Ultimately, there is more convenience to buying online since you can have your new grill shipped right to your door.
If you’re not interested in brick-and-mortar stores, you can try online retailers like Amazon and BBQGuys. If you go this route, make sure to choose an online vendor that offers free shipping or get an Amazon Prime account to help you save money.
Tips for Shopping
There are some things you should keep in mind while shopping.
Use tools like Google Shopping and CamelCamelCamel to review price histories and see if you’re truly getting the best deal. Don’t forget to factor in delivery costs, if applicable.
It also pays to research grills, so you know what features and models you’re interested in, rather than just choosing based on quick initial in-store impressions. To come up with features that you want, think about what you need from a grill and write it down.
If you’re unsure which kind of grill would fit your home best, they come in several varieties: gas, charcoal, pellet, or electric. You can read reviews and detailed descriptions to find the correct model that fits your lifestyle. Make a pros and cons list to see which features you just cannot live without and the style of grill that is most convenient for your schedule.
It is also prudent to check weekly store ads because they’ll list sales, allowing you to stay on top of the latest deals. Some online retailers, like BBQGuys, will price match a great deal you find elsewhere, whether online or at a brick-and-mortar store.
You can also subscribe to your favorite online grill retailers’ newsletter. They’ll often send coupons and sale dates to members before releasing the details to the public, allowing you to get in first on the best grill discounts.
Lastly, keep in mind the differences between the places you shop. Online retailers are easy to browse from the comfort of your home and often have a broader selection of models available than brick-and-mortar stores.
How to Choose the Best Grill
When it comes time to choose a grill, there are several factors to consider. You’ll first want to plan out your budget, so you don’t get lured in by more expensive grills. You also have to decide the right size and configuration for your space.
Find the Right Size
For a larger unit, think about its proximity to kitchens and food sources. Locate it near an entrance to your home to save on travel time. If you want to be able to grill at any time of the season, even in inclement weather, consider putting the unit on a deck or patio under a covering. Ensure the overhang is high enough that the flames from the grill can’t reach it.
In some counties, apartments, and housing associations, you may have to place your grill on the grass or a cement pad set away from any structures. Account for this placement before you decide on a grill. Having a grill set away from your home may allow you to purchase a larger model.
Alternatively, you may want to set up an entire outdoor grilling area, using a built-in grill model as the centerpiece of your outdoor kitchen.
Consider Your Cooking Style
You also want to consider how you like to cook and which foods you plan to showcase often. Certain grills excel at sear marks, while others are perfect for low-and-slow smoking. There are sophisticated grills with backlit LEDs for better visibility, and there are also simple grills that just do their job.
Select the Best Power Rating
Another area to keep in mind is the power of the grill. Usually, grills come with BTU ratings that reflect how much energy is output, with a single BTU representing the energy needed to raise 1 imperial pound of water by 1°F.
However, this rating doesn’t tell the whole story because you also need to factor in the grill’s max temperature and temperature range. Some grills can reach high temperatures with lower BTU ratings, providing you with an avenue to save even more by buying a less powerful unit.
Types of Grills
There are many types of grills, all with their pros and cons.
Charcoal grills are typically cheaper than other grills, although their cost doesn’t factor in the recurring expense of charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. The significant advantage of charcoal is that it naturally produces very high heat, giving the food a smoky, grilled flavor that other models can’t deliver. On the negative side, charcoal grills require more set-up and cleaning time and can even present a fire hazard if the ashes aren’t correctly discarded.
Gas grills are what people usually envision when getting a grill. They fire up fast, require minimal cleaning, and can last for years. The downside of this convenience is that it doesn’t have the same deep flavor that charcoal grills can produce. They also tend to be more expensive, and you’ll need to buy propane continually.
Electric grills are suitable for apartment and condo settings because they work with any electrical outlet. They are typically smaller and used indoors with grill plates. Unfortunately, as they emit no smoke and don’t sear, the food doesn’t always taste like it’s been grilled.
There are also pellet grills, a variation on the standard electric grills. These are powered by electricity, but their heat comes from wood pellets, granting a smoky taste, precise heat control, and even cooking as the smoke circulates. Pellet grills still don’t generate the grill marks you might want and are limited in use by the electrical requirement. As an upside, many pellet grills have Wi-Fi capabilities so that you can control the cooking action from your phone.
An alternative to a grill, the smoker, is an excellent choice as either a solo unit or an additional part of an existing grill. These units excel in delivering rich flavor, beating out even charcoal grills on taste. They’re like the slow-cooker version of a grill, cooking foods at lower temperatures over longer durations. They also have a large cooking area for multiple big cuts. The downside is usually their high price.
Another variation on the classic grills is the portable grill. They’re much smaller and typically run on small 10 lb. propane tanks. They can be set up and taken down quickly and are ideal for camping and tailgating parties. Unfortunately, they can’t handle the quantities that you might need for larger parties.
Choosing the right grill for your needs requires deciding on a type and factor in the various features. Once you’ve determined what you want, there’s nothing else to do but shop.
Other Cost-Saving Tips
There are other ways to save money on your grill purchase.
Much like cars, you can wait until the newer models are released, so the older ones drop in price. Whether it’s electronics or grills, older models are always an excellent inexpensive pick.
However, the initial price of the grill is only one aspect of the total price. You need to factor in the fuel to get an idea of the overall cost of operation. Electricity is typically the least expensive, while charcoal grills cost the most and consume more fuel. But for gas grills, it’s possible to save money on gas refills.
Saving on Propane Gas
Gas grills are an excellent value, but it’s essential to know how much propane tank refills or exchanges will cost. Here are the general figures for propane prices in most areas of the country:
- Average tank capacity: 20 lbs./4.7 gallons of propane. These tanks are filled with 15 lbs. of propane/80% capacity due to regulations
- Price of a propane tank: A brand-new 20 lb. tank is usually between $15-20
- Refill prices: Ranges anywhere between $2-4 per gallon
- Tank exchange: $15-25
Many big box stores, tractor supply stores, and some gas stations do a tank exchange. This is where you bring back your used propane tank and exchange it for a filled one. All used tanks are inspected for leaks before being sold to customers. The cost is about the same as buying and refilling your own tank, but most find it more convenient just to use the exchange system.
Maintaining Your Grill
You want to take care of your grill because the longer it lasts, the more money you’re theoretically saving on buying a replacement.
For all types of grills, regular cleaning is the most important part of preventative maintenance. Regardless of the model, you need to take things apart and scrub them down with soap and BBQ degreasers. You can also turn the heat up to burn off debris, which you can then scrape off. If applicable, you should also make sure to empty the grill of ashes.
It’s also prudent to have a cover for your grill. This helps protect it from wind and rain exposure, which can cause rust and corrosion damage over time.
For gas grills, run soapy water along the gas line to see if bubbles form, indicating a leak which you can fix by tightening up the connection or replacing the line entirely.
Maintenance is usually straightforward and mostly requires that you scrape off food residue, scrub grates and the inside of the grill down, and deep-clean the grill at the beginning and end of each grilling season.
With a little bit of time and information, you can find the right grill model for your home. When it goes on sale, you’ll be ready to take advantage of big discounts so that your first backyard barbecue tastes extra sweet.
Although the most significant factor is in the timing of sales, there are also things to consider regarding features, models, and budgets.
If you can keep this all in mind, you’re sure to find the right grill at the right price.