I've had my Akorn for almost three years now, and thought I'd give quick review as to how it's holding up.
First some details. I picked up this Akorn for $250 at Walmart in March of '15. (It still had a clearance price tag on it from the previous fall/winter.) In the last three years I have lit the grill 227 times. If I had to describe an average cook, it would be at about 400F for around 1 hour. During the first year I kept close track of charcoal consumption, and I was averaging 20-23 burns per bag of Royal Oak lump. That is efficient!
I live in Massachusetts and keep my Akorn stored on a covered porch. I don't have a cover for the Akorn, but it rarely gets wet where it is located. I store it with all vents closed and keep whatever charcoal is left from the last burn sitting in the fire bowl. The ash bin only gets emptied out after each complete bag of lump is burned.
Durability: It seems like every review of the Akorn questions its durability. Here are some pics showing what mine looks like after two years and almost 230 burns:
The only damage I've had to worry about was caused by me. Lesson learned: never tilt the Akorn to remove winter slush from the bottom tray because it just might get away from you and slam into the deck! The result was two riv-nuts for the hinge pulled out from the body. Luckily it was an easy fix with a cheap tool from Harbor Freight. (I posted a step by step a while back for others who may need to replace the riv-nuts.)
The enamel in the ash pan is still shining after holding the remnants of 10-12 bags of lump! There is just a hint of surface rust showing where the inner and outer shells are riveted together.
The fire bowl has most of its original enamel intact. There is a little rippling toward the bottom where the fire burns hottest, and light rust is visible where the standoffs are welded to the bowl.
This is the interior of the Akorn with the fire bowl removed and ash pan installed. That lighter colored ring is where Akorns tend to rust out. So far no rust to be concerned about.
The fire grate has been warped sine I gave the Akorn its first really thorough cleaning two years ago. It hasn't changed much since then, so I don't plan to replace it.
Water really is the enemy of this grill! Mine is holding up great with no rusted parts or areas of concern. I have two friends, however, who both have Akorns purchased about the same time as mine who are not so lucky. In both cases, the grills spend much of their time exposed to the weather. Even though covers are used, both are showing rust at the connection between ash pan and body of the Akorn.
First cook with the Tip Top Temp on my Akorn Kamado. Smoked a pork loin to perfection this morning. Have a pork butt on now (less the apple wood chunks) In prior cooks on both a vertical smoker and on the kamado, temp would sour when the wood chunks for smoking would catch. Now with the Tip Top Temp, it closes the damper until the temporary spike subsides, then opens back up to maintain constant temp. Before the Tip Top Temp those adjustments were manual and much more tedious!