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Many are surprised to learn that built-in grills are often a few orders of magnitude higher in price than your average freestanding grill. In fact, built-ins are probably the most expensive type of grill on the market, on average.
So if you’ve experienced a little bit of sticker shock when you saw the prices of a few drop-in grills you were checking out, you aren’t alone.
But there are actually a few reasonable explanations as to why built-in grills are so expensive – and we’ve created this resource to help go over the reasons why.
Hopefully the answer to “why are built-in grills so expensive?” this will shed some light on your research process and help you decide which grill is the best fit for your needs.
6 Reasons Why Built-In Grills Are So Expensive
A built-in grill is essentially a permanent fixture – many times you’re going to pay somebody to come install and hook up your grill, and there’s no turning back once you’ve cut into your outdoor kitchen counters to install your grill.
This concept underscores the reasons why built-in grills are so expensive. Any time we are talking about installing something permanently, the last thing you want is an appliance that is poorly made and not built to last. Instead, you want something that’s built to perform at a high level for a really long time.
Craftsmanship and Precision
The first reason that drop-in grill are so expensive is that generally speaking, they are designed with a very high level of craftsmanship and precision. These grills need to be able to work perfectly in a built-in configuration, unlike freestanding grills that can be placed anywhere outdoors on a flat surface.
The stakes are much higher, from a design perspective, when the product needs to:
- Fit into a countertop configuration with minimal clearing space
- Hook up to a gas connection
- Be easy for any professional to install
- Retain heat consistently
- Have a sophisticated grease management system
- Reliably cook food
- Be easy to use
You can start to see how it would require some smart engineers and designers to put together a high end grill that isn’t going to disappoint once it’s permanently installed. These grills aren’t some generic design with a private label brand slapped on top of them.
Premium Construction Materials
Earlier, we brought up the concept that these grills are designed to be permanent fixtures in an outdoor kitchen. As such, it would be kind of disastrous if you were to install one just to have the entire thing turn into a pile of rust after a couple of years.
So with that in mind, built-in grills are expensive because they are built with the highest quality materials. Very often the chasis (aka the outer shell) of the grill is forged of a high end stainless steel with a polished or perhaps a chrome finish.
The shell of the grill is visually the first part of the grill you look at, but the quality of all of the other parts in a built-in grill need to be top quality as well.
Burners and grates particularly come to mind here. The burners obviously are the source of heat for the grill – they need to be reliable in terms of heat output and be able to withstand heat, smoke, and drippings that will inevitably come into contact with the burners.
The grates also need to perform and last a long time. Most built-in grill grates are either high quality stainless steel or porcelain enameled.
Most built-in grill burners are more powerful than your average grill burner, by a pretty wide margin. It’s not uncommon to see burners on a high end grill that are 2-4x more powerful than your run of the mill grill.
This means a few different things. First, built-in grills are generally better at reaching scorching hot temperatures – which is ideal for searing a perfect steak.
Second, more powerful burners means less preheating time, so these grills will ignite and get up to temperature in no time.
Finally, since the burners don’t have to struggle to reach hot temperatures, these grills are much more consistent than your average freestanding grill – especially when the heat is turned up.
Liners & Insulated Jackets
Built-in grills are, well, built-in to a countertop. In many scenarios, the surface or materials of the cabinet that houses a built-in grill are combustible materials.
When this happens, it’s crucial for the grill to sit in some sort of liner, or an insulated jacket as they’re known in the industry. It’s an important safety feature that shouldn’t be skipped.
And you guessed it, most grill brands that make built-in grills make a matching insulated jacket – which is undoubtedly made of similar high quality materials. This adds to the cost of a built-in set up.
Many Are Made In the USA
All things equal, products designed and manufactured stateside are going to be of a higher quality – but also more expensive to make.
This point kind of goes hand in hand with some of the points we’ve already made above – since quality materials and design fidelity are SO important for a built-in appliance, companies are reluctant to outsource manufacturing overseas.
In stark contrast, almost 100% of the cheaper freestanding type grills are manufactured overseas. Even your household names like Weber, Traeger, and many more are not made in the USA.
Many built-in grills are loaded with “extra” features that don’t come standard on a regular grill.
Since a well designed, high quality built grill is already going to be kind of pricey, the clientele most of these manufacturers are going after don’t necessarily mind paying a few hundred extra bucks for things like included infrared burners, rotisserie kits, griddle cooking surfaces, and the like.
There’s our quick rundown to answer the question “why are built-in grills so expensive?”.
While there are a handful of specific reasons to point to, it ultimately comes down to the fact that these grills are permanently installed into an outdoor kitchen or BBQ island – and you simply don’t want to end up with a product that is going to erode in quality after a year or two of use.
If you’re looking for a bargain built-in, check out our Cal Flame grill review next – the Cal Flame brand offers some of the most affordable built-ins on the market at the moment.