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Tioga

Im looking to move up to my first ceramic kamado. Suggestions?

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I have several years of experience with the Akorn kamado and I'm thinking of moving up to my first ceramic kamado. I'm hoping to get better temperature control and cooking zone versatility with the ceramic. My budget is about $800 max. I'm thinking about the Lowes Kamado Joe that includes the divide and conquer system. Please advise me if you think my choice is a good one or if you recommend another kamado in my price range. Thanks in advance.

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I also recently upgraded from an Akorn to a ceramic. I went with a Kamado Joe Big Joe. The Kamado Joe you saw at Lowe's, I assume it was the Classic? If so, that's an excellent grill. Also, take a look at Pit Boss. You can find them at Costco. And don't forget to take a look at Vision Grills kamado, usually found at Sam's Club. Those three grills should all be within your budget. In my opinion, I'd lean more towards the Kamado Joe Classic or the Vision.

 

Of course, as with any purchase of anything, it boils down to what's best for you. Take your time, shop around. Build a pro/cons list and make an informed decision. The great thing about this forum is you can ask questions to the very owners of those grills and more.

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I’ve owned a large BGE and now have a Vision grill. I think the Vision is a nice grill, would work fine for you  and would let you cook anything up to a 16 lb turkey with ease. That said, from my admittedly limited reading, it appears to me that the Kamado Joe folks have a more innovative and flexible cooking system. 

My original Vision grill came with a lava stone diverter. That broke relatively quickly and I purchased a Woo ring from the Ceramic Grill Store and replaced the lava stone with a 16” Broil King Pizza stone. That has been my go to indirect setup for the last 5 years or so and I’m very happy with it. I’m not sure what CGS gets for the woo ring these days, but if you decide to go with a Vision grill, You should price out the Woo ring and stone along with the grill  to see if the combined cost is within your budget as, if you are at all like me, you will  undoubtedly have to replace the lava stone relatively quickly.

 

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I bought the Kamado Joe Classic at Lowes a couple of weeks ago, and couldn't be happier.  IMO, it's really a great value for the money.  When I started shopping I would have bet you a dollar that I would end up with a Big Green Egg.  The flexible cooking system in the KJ is really great.  The Classic II features some really nice upgrades, but I figured I could live without those features and spend the extra $300 on meat. :-D  I'm really happy with my choice; no regrets at all.

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IMO, you can't go wrong with any kamado from the following msg's in alpha order: BGE, KJ, Primo, Pit Boss, Vision. Both Vision and Pit Boss use Auplex ceramic components, and we have a number of owners of both grills on our forum. I would say if you want to go ceramic  the most economical route would be Vision or Pit Boss, however, some folks have reported amazing deals on KJs as well. It just comes down to what you like, are attracted to, and what you want to spend on it. Happy Shopping and Cooking. 

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I've also had an Akorn for several years, and have wanted to move up to ceramic. Two things stopping me thus far, the Akorn has been so good (great grill and has held up great) I can't (yet) justify the upgrade, and I'm holding out for when we downsize (1-2 years?) and my wife lets me build the 'grillin' gazebo' I want!

That being said, based on my subjective research, a KJ Classic or Classic II are at the top of my list.  

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Here are some considerations that I take into account for many of my purchases.

 

-Warranty. Your budget allows you to select among kamados with a lifetime warranty and that adds a lot of value to your purchase. 

 

-USA made. I'm in the States and try to, but often cannot afford to, support US manufacturing. When it's a feasible option, I will pay more for it within reason. I think the Primo is US made but I'm not familiar with it so I'm not making a recommendation. My KJ was not made in the US.

 

-Size of user community. Fortunately, kamados are fairly similar so you can likely get good advice on issues with any brand, but it helps to have a sizable user community. For one thing, a lifetime warranty means little if the company goes out of business and the more customers a brand has the less likely they'd go under. Another benefit of a large community is accessibility of accessories. The BGE folks really took over in my area a couple of years ago and every hardware store I walk into has their BGE displays filled with accessories. Just about everything I've bought for my KJ has had to be mail ordered and I prefer to shop local. No regrets on my end, but when I bought my KJ they were offered in two local hardware chains that switched teams shortly after my purchase.

 

-Overall value. This is what really sold me on the KJ. I consider it an abomination that other brands don't come with something as basic as a deflector plate that opens your cooking world to so many more options. Stands, ash tools & drawers, covers--all of that adds to your cost if they're not included up front.

 

-Features & development. KJ is great about this. I love the Divide & Conquer system. I love that when I had to warranty my fire box they sent me the upgraded Classic II version, and that all of their upgrades (that I know) are retrofit to the original Classic if I have a desire to upgrade other features. I might like to have an airlift hinge one of these days as I age, for example, but have no need for it now. And KJ is regularly experimenting with new things that interest me like their charcoal basket. Another brand has a little drawer you can use to add smoking wood as you cook without disassembling your setup and I'm totally jealous of that.

 

-Color. I like the red OK. Wish it were one of the black ones, but, whatever, it has personality.

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I've had a Pit Boss 24" for about nine months now and love it! I live in Japan so I was limited in my choices, they carry the Pit Boss kamado's at Costco here so bought one. I was prepared to add gasket material to the vents, I'd heard you have to with the Pit Boss but without any modifications I have no trouble holding a 230 degree low and slow cook. That said I do think the Kamado Joe "Divide and Conquer" system has a lot of merit, I'm considering purchasing an after market unit that will allow me to do this.

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My thanks to the OP for asking this question. Same scenario, hooked on Kamado cooking with both the large and smaller Acorn and ready to move up. Was considering the Primo but with the cooking options of the Joe classic, your opinions, and a mid $700 price i plan to pull the trigger on this soon. Do you think the classic 2 is worth a $350 upgrade?. Hope I won't regret not getting the classic 2.

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On 4/8/2019 at 10:02 PM, Tioga said:

I have several years of experience with the Akorn kamado and I'm thinking of moving up to my first ceramic kamado. I'm hoping to get better temperature control and cooking zone versatility with the ceramic. My budget is about $800 max. I'm thinking about the Lowes Kamado Joe that includes the divide and conquer system. Please advise me if you think my choice is a good one or if you recommend another kamado in my price range. Thanks in advance.

 

My suggestion is to go look at as many as you can FIRST HAND.  Find out where the dealerships are close to you and go have a look.  Touch the grills.. open the lids... look at the components.... see what looks and feels best to you.  

 

 

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