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10/2/2014
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Gas Grill Warranty Details

The proof of the pudding, so to speak, is the warranty coverage. Generally, the better the burner, the better the warranty.

If this statement is true, then the grill company is willing to stand behind their burners to the point where they will replace their burners for whatever reason for as long as you own the grill, right?

You would assume so, wouldn't you?

So why would a company then limit the conditions where this would be true? There are several valid reasons, among them hostile environment, misuse and abuse.

A hostile environment is a situation where the burner is subjected to forces not within the design intentions, like grilling on the planet Venus, or under water, or inside a burning garage, or something like that. It's an out for the company, especially when you push the envelope. Actually, it is most commonly defined as a grill installed next to a swimming pool; the chlorine in the water has a tendency to do nasty things to grills.

Misuse would be using the grill in a way that is not specified by the manufacturer as "proper," like using the rotisserie at the same time that you have the lower burner grilling a steak. Another way is to grill while the grill is not level. Or another way would be to use the grill when it is dirty.

Abuse is generally an extreme thing, but some people will actually abuse their grill when it doesn't work right. Then they try to get recompense from the manufacturer, retailer, or both, for the harm the abuse creates. Most of the time, it is because the owner doesn't take the time to read the owner's manual. But, just like what you see on "CSI," they can tell if you have tried to adjust the fuel mixture with a sledge hammer rather than a small screwdriver.

These are all valid reasons not to cover a product. Consumers can -- and will -- come up with the craziest of situations where the grill will fail, and it's the manufacturer's fault that they didn't consider the possible failure for the given condition.

That's the primary reason that they will not cover malfunction of the grill when it has been installed in Timmy's treehouse, even though it has been leveled properly, cleaned thoroughly and consistently, and generally cared for like a member of the family: they are not willing to pay for your car after the grill caught the tree on fire, which caught the house on fire, which caught the tree in the front yard on fire, which collapsed on your car in the street -- 50 yards

Here's the deal: the more limitations placed on the warranty, the less faith the manufacturer has in the burner, or the less money they are willing to part with if the burner were to fail. To cover themselves, the company will write in exceptions to what they will not honor; the idea that a "more defined" warranty is a better warranty is false: the "more defined" the warranty, the less that company is willing to cover.

To demonstrate this, the DCS and Star burners are virtually identical; the only difference is the feeder tube, which is ramped up into the burner tube on the DCS and straight in to the burner tube on the Star. You would think that they would carry a similar warranty, but they do not: Star warrants their burner for burn-through, and DCS does not!

Guess who has the more verbiage in their warranty? Yup. DCS. What's the difference? More exclusions.

Let's take a look at the warranties for the burners we have tested so far:

Fire Magic:

Warranted for as long as you own your Fire Magic grill; includes burn-through; "limited to personal, family or household use only"; non-transferrable.

Lynx:

Lynx's warranty states: "The solid brass grill burners are warranted to be free from defects in material, workmanship and structural integrity when subjected to normal domestic use and service for the lifetime of the original purchaser." Includes burn-through; no replacement burners are available for purchase, notably.

Alfresco:

"Lifetime warranty to the original purchaser, covers the main grill burners. This does not apply if the unit was subject to other than normal household use...

...Alfresco Gourmet Grills will NOT cover... ...damage resulting from accident, alteration, misuse, abuse..."

The special section on "Orifice Cleaning" states: "Use a needle to clear any debris. Be extremely careful not to enlarge the hole or break off the needle." Another section of the warranty states: "Clean appliance after each use, and check for blockages, especially at the burner orifices..."

DCS:

"Lifetime warranty on all stainless steel components, including stainless steel grill burners..." and: "For proper lighting and performance of the burners keep the ports clean." The DCS warranty does not cover burn-through.

Conclusions:

Cast burners consistently outperform sheet metal burners.

A better warranty is NOT more defined, but less defined.

Look for a warranty that covers burn-through. This would mean that Lynx, Fire Magic and Star are the best-warranted burners on the market.

More to Follow

As opportunity allows, we will expand this test and summary of warranties with other grills available on the market. No one grill manufacturer is exempt from our testing.