Pros: Even heat distribution. Solid firebox. Flare up control.
Cons: Cart door is flimsy. Definately on the pricey side
What does a $1000+ grill get you that a $300 grill does not? That IS the question. Not wanting to blow my money on a disposable grill, I wanted something that will cook well for a good 15 years. I've played with a couple new lower end grills from Thermos and Broil Mate and I was not particularly impressed. Easy flair ups, uneven heating and flimsy construction. So for my first store bought grill (I've inherited a Broil King before) do I want to put up with that and change it every few years or should I get something with a solid reputation and glowing reviews? The other grills that I was considering included Broil King Sovereign 70 and Weber Genesis EP-320. I was also offered a deal on Vermont Castings grills but I turned it down mainly because they don't use 304 series SS. I have the natural gas version.
Here are the elements to a BBQ grill to consider and how I broke it all down choosing the PT450RB.
It has to be black. Those SS bbqs will discolor over time. Heat makes SS change color. It will happen. The PT450 comes in a nice shiny black enamel. The side shelves are SS, but I really had no choice here. At least they aren't exposed to any real heat so they should look good for a long time.
My top two material choices are porcelain coated cast iron or solid stainless steel (304 series). I didn't want the cheaper 400 series stainless steel. I also did not want cast iron only because of the rusting possibilities. Cast iron is THE best for retaining heat and so you would assume that the porcelain coated cast iron would make the logic choice. Not so, porcelain coated things WILL chip in a few years. I've had porcelain coated before and it chipped. No thanks. That leaves 304 series stainless steel. All Napoleon grills offer 304 series SS but only Prestige II and up offer solid 5/16" (~5mm) wavy bars. We have a winner here. The grill heats nicely and so far seems very durable. As I have only had it a short period I can't say that it will last 15 years, but we'll see. The Weber model does offer straight 7mm SS grills, but you can't beat the wavy coolness.
Primary cooking area
I need over 400 sq inches. The PT450 gives 450 sq inches. Not much else to say here. It's a medium sized grill.
There are lots of jargon on these. Manufacturers patenting this and that and tube in tube. I do know that stainless steel burners last the longest. Napoleon uses 16 gauge SS for their burners in this model. Perhaps unique, perhaps not, the PT450 burners are oriented left/right instead of top/down. You'll have to see it to understand, it'll take too many words to explain. If you turn off the middle, you get a fairly large area for indirect heat. My coworker tells me it's a cool feature and is more versatile. I'll blindly believe him for now.
I originally didn't want sear plates. I would have been perfectly happy with a grate where I can throw on some ceramic blocks. I do believe that ceramics will distribute the heat the best but ALL of the high end grills I have seen come with sear plates instead. This is probably the best way to go in order to protect your burners and control flare ups. Napolean offers more of its 304 series SS here, nice and heavy. Angled nicely and does a great job in distributing heat evenly, channeling drippings and taming flare ups.
I don't want it. I don't want to pay for it. I've had one before I never used it. I've never seen anyone with one and use it before either.
I originally did not want a rear burner. The main reason is because I could not see myself doing rotisseries. Rotisseries is the only reason I can see for having this. I still haven't done a rotisserie yet but I am excited to try one soon. The rear burner in the PT450 is a ceramic infrared unit, not a traditional flame only unit. Heats up red hot and is fun to watch. The major decision making here is that you cannot add this as an option at a later date, it's now or never. Pretty much a $600 question I answered "yes" to. We'll see how this turns out.
Same issue as with the rear burner. I didn't want one because didn't think I'd be doing any fancy rotisseries. All the Prestige II series comes with this kit. Whatever, you get it for "free". As an optional accessory it's not that expensive anyways (~$60). You get 2 rotisserie forks with it. Never used it yet, can't comment on noise or power.
I can't stand the ones where the lid has those dinky handles sticking out the side that get loose during mid season. You know? The ones you need to tighten every so often or worse yet, you have to replace them. First and foremost my new grill need to have integrated lid handles. The PT450RB has a solid horizontal bar. Very nice, stays cool even when the box is reading +600F. The firebox also needs to feel solid and not wobbly when you shift it side to side. This shows craftsmanship and durability, not to mention it will give you good seal for heat retention. Neat feature but useless is the "zero clearance" lid opening. Pretty much means less clearance needed in the back for the lid to open fully. Come on, who backs up their grill right up to something else?
It needs to have at least a pair of those big rolly wheels. They look sturdy. I would not trust plastic castors to last very long if you truck your grill around a lot. The PT450RB has 2 larger wheels and 2 locking plastic castors. Those plastic castors scare me, I can't see them holding up to Canadian seasons for very long. Single door kept closed by 2 magnets. The door is not all that sturdy and does not remain shut if the cart is jarred hard.
Electronic ignition! How cool is that? Single AAA battery creates sparks for you at a push of a button. We'll see how long this lasts. Obviously it has a side access hole for a long lighter for ignitions as well.
The "other" things that are nice but I don't really care about.
- Side shelves have 6 tool hooks total and large slots for sauces and whatnot.
- Nice looking control knobs
- Secondary rack is stainless steel. Not flimsy rods. This thing is solid. My father-in-law mentioned that "it doesn't pivot outward when you open the lid". Well, why would I want my "secondary" surface covering my "primary" working surface? Keep it out of my way please. Also by not attaching it to the lid, this makes for a very stable platform. I would put a whole chicken on this rack and not be afraid.
- Nice temperature guage. It only goes to 600F though.
- Limited lifetime warranty. They call it the "President's warranty" or something. Pretty much after 10 years you get 50% off replacement parts. See their website for more details.
Random stats and stuff
- 42K BTU main burners.
- 19K BTU rear burner.
- With the 3 knobs at 1/3 "on", I can hold 450F. With left and right burners at 1/3 I can hold 400F. With all 3 maxed out I can max out 600F in less than 10 mins.
- Natural gas hardware comes with 10 ft quick disconnect hose plus female end as well.
- Made in Canada!
- No problem fitting into a small sedan after removing the large packing box (boxes within a box).
- ~2 hrs assembly time pretty much alone and hung over with a pregnant wife gleefully cheering on (and verifying instructions).
- It's actually takes effort to burn food on this grill :)
- Since I assembled it myself I know I don't like the screws that were used. They are fat metal screws that screw into "too small" holes to hold the cart together. Probably would have been better had machine screws and bolts been used. The firebox is pre-assembled and is very sturdy.
- The cart door could be sturdier. I already complained about the weak magnets holding it closed.
- Pricey pricey! From my original $900 budget I bought into this one at $1415CDN. I got a free cover and 3 Napoleon SS tools to make me feel better though.
- I have no faith in those plastic castor wheels and is my bet they will be the first to fail.
- Hard to find dealers. Napoleons are carried by a select few. This also means next to no bargains on them.