Interesting observation on new gas grill - longer cooking times even though it's "hotter"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by panammaniac, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. I'm in the process of breaking in my new gas built-in.  You can see it on my profile - it's an Allegra which is a relative newcomer and fairly unknown at this point, but there's a variety of reasons why I went with that one.  I've used it a half dozen times and have been very pleased with it so far, although as with any new cooking device it's taken some getting used to.  Before the built-in I had been using a Weber Genesis for about the past 7 - 8 years.

    There's one interesting phenomenon that I've noticed right away.  It is taking about 20% longer to cook my food on the Allegra compared to the Weber, even though it's a considerably "hotter" grill.  My Allegra is 87,000 btu vs. the Genesis which is 38,000.  In fairness, the 87,000 includes the sear burner which is 10,000 in itself, so with all four regular burners on high I'm still pulling nearly double the btu of the Genesis.  I could get the Genesis up to about 525 - 550 degrees with a good 15 minute preheat.  The Allegra hits 525 in about 5 minutes, but the hood thermometer doesn't go much higher than that - it pegs out around 550 and I'm sure it gets much hotter than that just based on putting my hand 8" above the grates.  I'm estimating it's north of 600 after a 10 minute preheat.

    So far I've cooked burgers, steak kabobs, pork tenderloin, grilled pizza, and a couple of chicken dishes on it.  All have come out great, but as mentioned above they have taken considerably longer to cook than on my Weber.  I scratched my head over that for a few days but I think I understand why...

    - Hood temperature vs. grate temperature:  The Allegra has solid 304 SS grates, vs. the Weber which is cast iron.  Even though the Allegra is theoretically hotter, it may be that the Weber's grates are hotter than the Allegra's when I throw the food on.

    - Grill geometry:  On the Weber, the grates are a bit closer to the burners than on the Allegra, contributing to more direct heat on the food.  Additionally, the Allegra has a much higher hood, so even though the temperature at the hood thermometer is higher than on the Weber, that doesn't necessarily reflect what's going on at food level.

    On the positive side, I've found that the Allegra has much better heat distribution than the Weber.  My Genesis had a few hot spots, especially near the back of the fire box, and I had to take care to rotate the food to avoid overcooking one half and under cooking the other.  The Allegra seems to be nice and even front to back and side to side.  Even when I made my grilled pizza I didn't have to worry so much about rotating it every minute or so like I did on the Weber.  I had a nicely cooked crust, where on the Weber I'd end up with a couple of charred spots if I wasn't very diligent about rotating frequently.  So overall it's been a very positive experience with the new built in.  It's just taking a bit of getting used to, and from my vantage point the stainless grates perform very differently than the cast iron grates.  I have to leave things in one spot a bit longer to get nice grill marks - no biggie.  The stainless is sure a lot easier to clean sticky marinades off of though!

    Has anyone else experienced anything similar?
  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It sounds like you answered your own question and would be my guess as well.

    Seems like you are getting less of a Direct heat from the new grill and its performing closer to an oven, it's most likely designed to do this and could be an advantage for certain types of cooking.

    I would keep doing what you are doing and try not to compare it to the Weber and use the new grill, learning its strengths and weaknesses.
  3. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I have a 30 year old genesis and last year I put new flavorizer bars in it. The new ones are heavier and stainless. It is like night and day. It was good before but man it's great now. One thing about it and time will tell but I wonder if your new grill will last like mine has. This year I'm getting new grates for it and a stainless burner bar. I should be good until I die. Hahaha.....
  4. Yep, Webers are built like Sherman tanks.  Mine is around 8 years old and I've been consistently using it 3 - 4 times a week over that time and haven't replaced a thing yet.  The weak link is the electronic ignitor.  Mine broke a couple years ago and I never bothered to replace it because it's just as easy sticking a long nose butane lighter into the manual light hole.  Other than that it's been an awesome grill.  Slightly quirky maybe as it has definite hot spots, but still a very good grill that will last forever.  I'm still debating whether to hold onto it or try to Craigslist it.  As good of a piece of equipment as it is, there's a part of me that wants to keep it around.  On the flip side, with a nice new built-in I know it won't get used much, so I fear it sitting around and becoming a giant spider habitat.  I've had some thoughts of converting it into a propane fired pizza oven.  One of my friends works for the company that makes the Baker Stone grill top pizza oven which would fit nicely on top of the Genesis, or I can make my own custom fit hearth using refractory tiles and some mortar.  Even then, the Genesis would probably get fired up once a month at best.  Ahh, decisions....

    As for the Allegra lasting as long as the Weber, I'm confident that it will.  It's very solid construction and comes with a lifetime warranty.  Before I built my island I did enough research on grills to write a masters' thesis if such a thing existed.  There are several companies out there right now making less expensive knock-off versions of high end built-ins.  The Allegra is made by the same company that makes Luxor grills, which run in the $4000 - $5000 price range.  Allegras are in the $1600 - $1900 range and use similar construction and are of similar quality, but they don't have some of the "high end" features like built-in smoker boxes with dedicated burners, spring assisted hoods, and so on that the Luxors have.  They are a relative unknown on the market at this point but they're most definitely a quality product.
  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would keep the Weber. It is always good to have backup. Quality backup that is. That is one heck of a great idea on the pizza oven. I will have to check into that myself. I hardly use mine and it's a shame. I am just addicted to my Kettle and UDS. Charcoal is the king of my patio. I think you should take a good photo of your outdoor kitchen so we can all be shamed. Hahahaha..... apology in advance if you have and I missed it. Ok nevermind, duh. I see your profile pic now.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Oh and I don't have hotspots anymore with the new improved flavorizer bars. In fact it was kind of weird first time I cooked on it because I used the hot spots to my advantage before. After cooking on it for 3 decades you get pretty familiar with something. I feel like I am related to the dang thing. By the way I bought 3 new igniter modules last time I replaced it. Really cheap and easy to install a new one.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  7. Yeah, I know what you mean about feeling like you're related to it.  I've only had mine for about 8 years and while it seems almost silly to keep it (like I said, it won't get used much and will probably just turn into a spider habitat) I just can't bring myself to let a stranger haul it off for a couple hundred bucks or whatever I can get for it.  If I do get rid of it I think it will go to a relative, otherwise I might just play around with the pizza oven idea.  I found some pretty cool plans online that look like they would make a fun weekend project:  The Baker Stone Pizza Oven also gets pretty solid reviews everywhere I look and my friend who works for them raves about the things, so I might just give that a try too. They run around $120 on Amazon.

    I also know what you mean about the hot spots going away.  I know exactly where they are on the Weber and used to take full advantage of them for cooking certain things.  I've pretty much gotten used to the new grill now but the first couple times I cooked on it were an adventure because the heat was so darn even across the entire cooking surface.  I know installing new ignitors isn't a big deal either.  I just never bothered to do it.  I have the older Genesis with the burner knobs on the side table, and those require different ignitors than the ones with the knobs across the front.  You can buy the newer ones at OSH but for mine you actually have to call Weber and order them.
  8. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Kind of like this one?
  9. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Not nearly as nice as your outdoor kitchen but it does the trick.
  10. Haha no, my Genesis isn't that old.  That's a classic for sure, but that's Weber for you - definitely a quality piece of equipment and exactly why I hesitate to get rid of it.  Unfortunately Weber is a bit lacking when it comes to built-ins.  When I first started planning my outdoor kitchen I was looking at the Summit built-in but there are a number of things about it that make it not the best choice for a fixed outdoor kitchen.

    Hey, your outdoor kitchen is every bit as functional as mine, and you seem to have a few more cooking devices than I do.  I just have the gas grill and the sideburner, and the Traeger that I can roll up next to it when I want to do a little smoking.  I considered including a sink but with the indoor kitchen just a few steps away I ultimately chose not to.  I'm loving my new outdoor kitchen though.  Tons of prep space, and with the double sideburner right there I don't have to run back and forth between the grill and the indoor kitchen like a madman anymore.  It's also nice to have the seating area right there.  There's enough space for 5 people.  I chose to go with a counter height bar instead of a raised bar like a lot of people do.  That way it's multi-purpose space - I can use it for prep, seating/eating, or as the buffet line for larger parties. 

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