Do you need a $3000 gas grill? Maybe not...
Barbecues Galore sells high end gas grills. Some of these are very fancy, being built-in to stucco and brick or tile housings with refrigerators and counter-tops and other accessories. Others, like this 52" Grand Turbo model, are standalone units in solid stainless steel, with over 60,000 BTUs of power, not counting the side burners and the infrared burners - more than the furnace on our home! Count the knobs on the front of this baby. Yea, there's ten of them. Enough to immolate a cow.
And yes, we bought one, nearly ten years ago. Three thousand dollars, plus tax. Marked down from the retail price of $3499. Such a deal.
Do you need a $3000 gas grill? Maybe not. Don't get me wrong, it has been a great gas grill, although I feel kind of ridiculous powering up this monster to make two hot dogs. It is solid stainless steel, and well made, and with proper maintenance, it has given us over a decade of good service.
On the other hand, for the cost, we could have bought six (6) more pedestrian stainless steel gas grills with side burners, like the one we have in Georgia. Now granted, these smaller, cheaper gas grills will not cook an entire calf in one sitting, but let's face it - how often do you do that?
Or we could have bought twelve (12) average gas grills, which, if they lasted even two years apiece, would represent 24 years of service.
And in terms of durability, maybe six cheaper gas grills, if the last a few years each, will last longer than the Grand Turbo - or longer than Barbecues Galore will make parts for it.
I have to admit that perhaps one reason we bought the gas grill large enough to cremate a human body was purely status. When people see this honking monster sagging our deck, they go "whoa, is that a gas grill?" It is that huge.
But the satisfaction of having the biggest, baddest gas grill on the block is fleeting at best. Originally, we bought this grill with a natural gas connection. I had to run a 1/2" gas line to the house to run this beast, and it used every bit of it. Since then, we have converted it to propane and it works well, but sucks those little tanks dry pretty quickly. In most cases, we run only a couple of burners and cook in one corner. Um, why did we need such a big grill again?
While the whole thing is made of stainless steel, some of the latches have corroded. A spray with lithium grease seems to help that. I would put it inside for the winter, but it took three stout men and a horse to haul it up onto the deck, so it sits there all winter under its cover. The cover is starting to tear. I hope they still make the custom-fit cover! I wonder how much that will cost? Likely more than the cost of a more pedestrian grill from Lowes or Home Depot.
This is one of those purchases I have mixed feelings about. If the damn thing breaks, I'll feel I have so much invested into it that I'll have to pay hundreds to fix it, or have it fixed. With a cheaper gas grill, after five years, if something breaks, you just haul it out to the curb and say that's that - and go down to Lowes and buy a new one.
Having an emotional commitment to a gas grill is stressful.
On the whole, I'd have to say that I would have preferred to have $2500 more invested in my 401(k) ten years ago, and be flogging the last bits out of a $500 grill right about now. I'd have over $5000 more in my 401(k), which means that in terms of spending, I'd be $5000 ahead of the game.
And the steaks, chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers would have turned out just as well over the years. Yes, I would have missed the one time we used the rotisserie, but that's the sacrifices we have to make sometimes.
But of course, for that $5000 delta, I did get bragging rights to the baddest gas grill on the block, at least for a few years.
My neighbors must have thought I was an idiot.
Now, in order to flog the snot out of this thing and justify its exorbitant cost, I need to make sure it stays in perfect running condition for another decade or more.
That's the problem with these types of appliances, be they Wolf ranges or Sub-Zero refrigerators. They are so darn expensive, you don't feel you can just walk away from them and move on to the next thing.
With consumer-grade goods, you can just toss the machinery when it wears out, with no hard feelings.
GMC has tried to jump on this bandwagon, by selling its products as "professional grade" even though they are just warmed-over Chevies made on the same assembly line with a different grill. I am not sure it is such a good marketing strategy. Professional grade equipment should be left to professionals - people who operate equipment day in and day out and really wear it out.
For the rest of us, who use things only on an occasional basis, consumer grade is not only more than adequate, it is more cost-effective.
Why spend more for capabilities that you will never use?
There's the rub of the $3000 gas grill.....
Update: June, 2012 - we sold the monster gas grill with the house in New York. We got about $400 for it, which seems to be the going rate. The buyer got a good deal. It would have been too large for our new home, and too expensive to move.
Would I buy one again? No. At this stage in my life, $3000 in the bank means so much more to me than on my Patio. And we are finding that old-fashioned charcoal grills really do make the best food. We found a Weber kettle in the trash at a trailer park, in perfect shape. Total cost - free. It had a broken leg, but I was able to rivet that back in place.
Yes, Less is more. A lot more......