I do a lot of BBQ, my weber kettle I bought back about 1981 or 82, my weber Genesis about 1999, my smoker about 6 years ago. So I have used charcoal, gas, and electric + wood for smoke. During the season which for us starts in May and ends around end of October, we grill on the gas Genesis about 3 or 4 times a week. During the winter we will grill about every other week. Since we bought a new home (new to us a "foreclosure"), I now have a covered area to grill or smoke in the winter. I am frequently asked to grill at various BBQ parties for others. So I have used a variety of other equipment (mostly gas).
A few years ago you would have only heard me recommend Weber for a stand alone BBQ either the Genesis series or the Summit series. However now both the Genesis & the Summit series are made in China just like everything else. In fact is you grab the sides of my 1999 Silver Genesis cast iron box, and try to get some flex there is none. Grab the sides of the newer Genesis made in China and there is a flex, thus they are not made out as heavy a gauge material today. The same holds true for the Summit series.
So I am not going to claim any longer Weber is the best store bought grill any more, I think there are others on par for construction and design. Where Weber separates it's self from the competition is support. You can find Weber parts either locally or call weber and order. I have replaced the burner tubes 3 times, the Flavorizer bars twice, regulator once, igniter once, and the grates once. If you are going to buy get the stainless grates & flavorizer bars, they last longer and cleanup easier.
Burner design both the new weber Genesis & Summit now have front to back burners. My old Genesis had side to side, I have cooked with both and prefer front to back, it gives you better zone control, so you can be grilling steaks on one side very hot, and keeping something warm on the opposite side of the grill, side to side you really can't do that.
Get the biggest grill you can afford, BBQ grills are like boats, TVs, and meat smokers, bigger is better.
Get a backup propane bottle, so you always have a full one in reserve.
My old Genesis doesn't have a side burner so I use an electric hot plate. I have used both a gas side burner and my hot plate, when it's windy the hot plate works better. However if I was to buy a new BBQ I would get one with a side plate, it just is convenient.
P.S. I also own a electric smoker capable of smoking 16 racks of ribs, I use it about every 3rd week for ribs, pork butt, brisket. I also still use my weber kettle occasionally, I do wood flavored pizza in it and other stuff. My next back yard cooking acquisition will be a pizza oven.
Today I would buy a Summit or a custom built-in. Our Weber Silver Genesis cost about $400+ at the time using 425/13years that is less than $33 a year. Our household is down to 3 but I did two BBQs this past week one for 9 people the other for 7, and have done several other BBQs so far this year for up to 15 people, so I would still buy the biggest I could afford, because if you like it others will too and want to join you for BBQs.
My sister & her hubby, used to buy other brands of gas grills, all rusted out and all were basically non functional after 3 or 4 years. I convinced him to buy a Weber Summit, they love it, still used it and it's been about 6 years.
Edited by deltadude - 5/14/12 at 3:55pm