When I was researching grills I wanted one that would, of course, make amazing meals, but also last a long time. Good customer service was on the list as well as the look of it since it is right outside the door. It came down to Weber or Napoleon.
I went with Napoleon, mainly because it was Canadian. However, the particular grill I got was actually made in China.
My friend has a Weber and he’s very pleased with it. He’s had it for 8 years. He cleans it once a year, with a pressure washer, uses it constantly, cooking for a family of four. Rarely covers it. If ever.
I’ve had the Napoleon since April. I use it fairly often (or did) cooking for myself and my 86-year-old mother for whom I’m the primary caregiver, and who loves bbq’d food. I always cover it. The grill was brand new when I got it. It has been cleaned since both with a pressure washer (parts) and with several different stainless steel cleaners, including Napoleon’s. Below you’ll see how they measured up.
The Weber, I think, looks near showroom condition, on the outside, anyway; the Napoleon, not so much. On top of the staining the side grill also blows out in the slightest wind. I brought that up with Napoleon and they didn’t respond to that issue. As for the rusting on the side grill, I was told I need to treat it more often.The picture was taken after it’s second use after it had a full treatment with sea salt and oil and was baked in the oven at 400.
As for the staining, including not only on the inside, main and side grills, but the upper grill, that I have yet to use, on the outer lid, back and outer right side, I was told I need to clean it more often using their cleaner. They are willing to replace some of the parts and have sent me a partial bit of the back. Considering how often I have used it, though, I’m thinking a thorough cleaning, very thorough, including back, would be required after every or every other use. This includes getting in behind the unit. Otherwise you’ll be arguing with customer service and rebuilding your grill every 3 months. I think it would be safe to say that the Napoleon is a very high maintenance grill.
After a lengthy conversation with Napoleon it turns out that the parts aren’t covered under warranty but are considered maintenance. They replaced the one, and might replace another piece for customer relations but it’s at there discretion and the labour involved, my labour, in replacing the base is extensive. This type of discolouration on the lid and outside is to be expected with these grills even within one season of use.
They recommend leaving the cleaner on longer before wiping it off, and I did. I made a small amount of headway over a long period of time but it’s in one tiny area and there is a long way to go.
Considering the build up and staining over a few short months. without a lot of use, the cleaning should probably be done after ever couple uses inside and out. Napoleon says they don’t expect that but the evidence in this case runs to the contrary. If you use your bbq in the winter, cleaning could be especially challenging, especially in behind, but if you don’t come spring, it might be hours of cleaning, with a lot of cleaning solution, and even them it may remain stained.
Update April 29th 2015
I received an email this morning from Paul in Toronto who has also had problems with his Napoleon Grill. Below you’ll find a copy of the email along with photos that he was kind enough to send:
Saw your article about Napoleon vs Weber and I concur. Napoleon is trying their best to avoid really doing the right thing with regards to the shocking amount of rust that has built up on the stainless steel sections of my Napoleon 485.
I used it for less than one season. Bracket bolts corroded off. See pictures, taken after I wire brushed everything.