Buying Quality to Save Money – The Grill

July 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

These past two weeks I’ve been playing musical chairs with our backyard grills. It culminated with a trip to the county dump where I discarded the grill loser. But this post is more about buying quality to save money.

The theory is this. For some products, it can make more financial sense to spend extra to buy higher quality because it will save money over the long term. By “higher quality” I am not referring to more bells and whistles. In this spending category, I’m referring to design and build quality that can extend the useful life of the product.

I’m thinking that the traditional backyard grill may be one of those products.  I’ve owned plenty of them.  Father’s Day brought me by far the most expensive and presumably highest quality grill ever – a stainless steel and aluminum Weber gas grill. I think the extra cost will be worth it. Actually, I think this grill may be the last one I will ever buy. Let’s hope so.

I took my new grill to our Kentucky lake home, which I anticipate we will own longer than our present Tennessee home. The grill I had up there still functioned, but being a low end grill at six years of age, it was in a state of rapid decline.

The grill at our Tennessee home was 15 years old and no longer operational. It was a high quality natural gas grill when purchased in 1994. Recently it developed gas leaks that are safety problems. Since I had already replaced the burners once a few years ago and rust was starting to generally take over, I determined that the wisest course of action was to send that old grill to the grill graveyard. I brought the old bargain grill from the lake back to Tennessee in an attempt to squeeze another grilling season or two out of it.

My trip to the dump (actually a county “convenience center”) was interesting. The dumpster designated for metal trash had at least three other grills in it. In fact, I see grills scrapped almost every trip I take to the convenience center. I’ve never seen a stainless steel Weber grill in there. That’s a good sign.

Products like grills that are kept outdoors and operate at high temperatures are perfect candidates for the “buy quality” strategy. Durability of such products can closely correlate to the quality of materials used. Higher quality materials will last longer and of course will cost more. With a little extra attention paid to protection and maintenance, it is logical to believe that you will receive an excellent long term return on your larger initial investment.

There is one more component of the “buying quality” theory that some folks overlook. Spending a lot more to buy more quality makes the most sense for products that you use a lot. I grill almost every night when we are at the lake in good weather so the usage factor is there for spending more. As a counter-example, it would not make economic sense to buy a high end power tool that you are going to use once a year or less.

So that’s my “buy quality” story for backyard grills. What are yours?

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5 Responses to “Buying Quality to Save Money – The Grill”
  1. doctor S says:

    Outdoor grills have given me issues over the last few years. We have gone through 3 of them in 5 years. Each of them were nothing amazing, but sufficient gas grills. However, after seeing the results from a stainless steel Weber grill that my uncle purchased 2 years ago, I am ready to spend a little extra on it. Especially, since it is something I enjoy in the summer.

    Another frugal tip for the grillmaster is running a direct gas line into your nice grill. My uncle did this as well and his justification for it was “Why should I buy propane when I pay for it for the house?” Makes sense? The big part is spliting your gas line and getting an external line routed to your gas grill. While I am not too familiar on the details of actually doing such a thing, I am sure it is done often.

  2. Rick Beagle says:

    Count me as a Weber fan for all of the reasons listed.

    It is funny how different we are, but how similar our thoughts end up being on the little stuff….

    My old grill was starting to fail, and in a fit of kindness, my wife, and in laws decided to buy me a slew of cheap grills for about three years running. After the third year and the usual, “wow, you need a new grill” – I took command of the situation and went out that very night and bought a weber. The difference is stunning, and here I am three years later and it still looks as good as new (okay, maybe not, but I don’t fear for my life when I light her up).

    Rick Beagle

  3. A high end grill like a Weber is definitely worth every penny. I’m sure the cost-per-year works out to be less, and you’ll find it much easier to grill a perfect steak every time.

    I’m also convinced that it’s worth buying a higher end snow blower (like a Honda)- it will cost 3 times as much, but work much better and last much longer. Then again, I’m sure that’s not a concern for you southern folks!

  4. August West says:

    My Dad lived by this approach. A frugal man, he only purchased top quality tools, paints, and home appliances; alas, he could never afford to purchase a new car during my childhood. In a similar vein, one of his fellow church vestrymen, an extraordinarily wealthly but humble venture capitalist, instructed me once when I was painting his mansion during high school: “If you need to buy anything to repair my house – best quality only.” The words of these two men still ring true for me today.

  5. cjbr549 says:

    I suppose that I am lucky due to where I live. I have had the same grill gas grill for 16 years. It is a standard aluminum housing with steel grates. I have replaced the burner and the wheels (it has lawnmower wheels now). I have lived in the desert for about half the time I have owned it, which has saved it from the rust. I think that I will have to replace the grates in it soon, but I have the means to weld some up from stainless steel, so that should give it another 16 years. And since I know exactly how it cooks, I am not eager to get a replacement and start burning things until I figure it out. Not bad for a $100 grill.

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