Most helpful critical review
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A good short-term value
on July 6, 2013
Reviews are all over the place for this thing - which is to be expected I guess. Also, here on Amazon I suspect this same grill is being marketed under different brands because I'm seeing the same photo for various manufacturers. In light of the fact it only costs $30, yes, it's a cheap solution and probably a bargain by most accounts. I won't comment on the ineptitude of people using it and expecting the world for this price though.
Assembly Instructions are excellent (requires a screwdriver and 30 minutes).
The table legs on mine will fold up but won't cover the lid locking it in place. Perhaps it isn't supposed to do this but there are raised notches in both ends of the lid that leads me to believe it is. For now, I just use a really short bungie cord stretched over each leg to keep the lid on during transport.
Heat: For its size, it gets the job done. For me it really only has one setting which is wide open for everything. It cooks really slow without the lid so I control the heat by adjusting the lid slightly leaving small gaps but usually just keep it fully covered. There is good ventilation underneath and on the back. I get 3 uses per bottle at full blast. Total of about 7 good sized steaks (two at a time) and about a dozen burgers (6 at a time). That's 3 meals at about $1 per meal fuel cost. Like most cheap grills, the end closest to the regulator is the hottest but this grill is better than most at distributing heat even with that flaw.
The drip shield (mounted just over the burner) is flimsy and will bend easily. It's also flat which helps distribute the heat but grease will puddle up and cause a lot of flare-ups depending on how lean your meat is and how much carbon build up you have on it.
The main reason I give it 3 stars is because of the difficulty to clean. There's a heat shield plate attached on the inside bottom with a half-inch gap that traps all kinds of stuff and is difficult to access. (You can't remove it). And I know people don't meticulously clean their grills after each use and the flimsy drip shield (above) is hard to clean after a good carbon build up because it bends so easily. After the last 3 uses I'm about to clean this thing again thoroughly and I'm not looking forward to it. There are also long and wide slots on the bottom for air and grease drippings so be careful what surface you put this on.
But it is compact and perfect for travel. For extended trips I've discovered that if you remove the cooking grate you can pack in 4 propane bottles under the lid - just lift off the drip shield and set it directly over the burner to protect it from the weight.
Overall, depending on how well you take care of it, a grill lasting a couple of seasons for this price should be considered an excellent bargain. This thing doesn't pretend to be anything other than a $30 cooker. 1 star off because the legs don't latch over the lid unless I bend them. Another off for the heat shield design which really could have been made to remove for easier cleaning (But like everything else these days, I suspect the Char-Broil lawyers required it to be bolted down to avoid potential lawsuits from the idiot-section of our species).
UPDATE: Ignitor got wet and quit. Lighting it the old fashioned way now. Also, I think the regulator is going bad because this thing is starting to take forever to "heat up". Once it gets going though it cooks fine.
I still give it 3 stars because of the reasonable price and the fact I can store bottles under the lid but I'll be upgrading to something that puts out a few more BTU's.