Good For Large Decks Too, Member rwhirsch
I wanted a deck grill that was portable enough to accommodate shifting deck furniture and entertainment needs on a large deck, and also that was more convenient to our kitchen and dining area. I settled on the Weber 320, since it appeared easily portable despite its advertised 83 lb. weight, had a good manufacturer's reputation, had good reviews, and seemed to accommodate 99% of our cooking needs. The 320 came with a hood light, hood temperature gauge and warming rack, and I purchased a grill plate made for it, but sold separately. It took about an hour to put it together out of the carton. I also purchased a cover. I also put a 3 x 5 outdoor carpet underneath to keep spills, drips and spatters off the deck. We are in our late 60s, and have been grilling during our entire 44-year marriage. After using the grill about 15 times, I find the following: 1. The construction materials, fit and finish are excellent. It took about an hour to put together. Despite the use of plastics in the supports, wheels and folding trays, the materials are high quality. The aluminum-cast bowl is substantial and holds heat very well, even with lifting and lowering the lid. The big, oversized temperature knobs work very well. 2. It is very portable on my deck. I purchased a 3x5 outdoor carpet to keep it own to prevent drips and spatters from getting on my deck. 3. The exterior wipes down very well. The interior of the lid is very accessible to wipe down routinely. The interior of the cooking well is less accessible and takes some effort to get around the gas tube supports and configuration after removing the grill racks. The grill racks are well constructed and scrub with a wire brush very well. They lack the grooves of my older grill racks that accumulated crusted food and grease, and were difficult to keep clean. 4. The heat range from high to low is excellent, and quite significant. The cooking surface appears to heat fairly evenly, with a very slight hotter bias towards the right side where the burners connect with the gas source. I find that ""high"" will really burn hot, so I keep both burners at lower temps for actual cooking. Cooking times are comparable to my older, larger grill. So far, we have done steaks, hamburgers, some veggies, pork chops, and hot dogs; we have not yet done chicken. We have used it for a party we hosted for 12 people. We have had no flare-ups. 5. The cooking tube configuration will take some getting used to. Indirect heating will be more of a challenge. Instead of the traditional side-by-side two burner system, the 320 has an interior cooking tube surrounded by a separate, circular cooking tube. Both are individually lit and adjusted. I find that they are constructed close to each other, and turning down just one, say, the center tube, does not necessarily reduce the cooking temps enough for my tastes. I turn them both down low to cook, increasing only the outside tube's flame level when I need more heat. I prefer slow roasting/grilling times. 6. The electric starter uses a common AAA battery, which is easily replaceable. However, I find that the grill will ignite better if both cooking tubes are turned on, not just the exterior tube. I don't like mis-fires, since it wears on the starter, and those are usually the first things to fail (just before the temperature gauge), so I turn on both tubes for a few seconds before using the starter. 7. The bowl has a large drip hole, which I like since it will not become clogged with grease, sediment, etc. An aluminum drip pan (in a size supplied only through Weber outlets) is inserted into a tray, and the tray slides into grooves underneath the cooking bowl. Hitting those grooves is the most frustrating thing for me so far. I am sure with practice I will get better, but so far it takes me several tries to find the grooves and slide the tray with the aluminum pan underneath the bowl. My aging joints can only take so much of that. I line the aluminum pans with a piece of aluminum foil to extend the pans' life. 8. While the hood light will get more use during short-daylight winter months, I doubt I will ever use the warming rack. It takes up quite a bit of the cooking area. I have not yet used the separately purchased grill plate, and expect to use it in a limited fashion. The temperature gauge in the hood works, but I don't need it; I know when the grill is hot enough. In summary, the 320 has met our needs perfectly. It is very portable and useful for a large deck; it is well constructed with quality materials, and cooking times are just about the same as the big grills. It does handle about 95% of our grilling habits. The use of a rotisserie is out, but we never did much of that. I cannot grill rib racks like I used to (indirect heat, over a drip pan, with smoke) and may have to find a different way to use the 320 for ribs. So far, that seems to be the big cooking sacrifice for me in using the 320--doing ribs the way I used to, but I still have my old grill for that. I wish the drip pan were a little easier to deal with, and I hope the electric starter holds up, since match-lighting appears perhaps a little tricky. I think the Weber 300 would have been enough, and I am not sure the separate investment in a grill plate will be worth the expense. The warming rack is excessive for the cooking area, in my view, and the temperature gauge is unnecessary. The hood light will probably be useful in the winter, but there are portable lights that would serve the need just as well. The cover fits perfectly. I am also pleased with my own idea to protect my deck wood with a small piece of outdoor carpet upon which to set the grill.
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