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Hey guys, I'm new to the forum, and I apologize in advanced for the long post.  I have a few questions/concerns over some Kamado grill options.  I hope to be able to narrow my choice(s) down with some feedback from you.  I have never owned a ceramic Kamado grill, nor have I even owned any kind of charcoal grill.  So if I should look at another option, please don't hesitate to say so.

 

I'll only need to cook for a maximum of 3 - 4 people 99% of the time.  I plan to use it fairly often (2 to 3 times a week).  I have a gas grill if I need to cook more burgers, etc... than these will hold, or if time is a factor.  I'm posting my own thoughts on each of these options below, and hope any feedback will help me choose one, especially if any of the concerns below aren't anything that I should be concerned with.  I'm OCD and research everything to death which ultimately makes it harder to choose.  :lol:

 

Below are my observations based on research and reading forums.  At the end I will state what my gut is telling me to go with.  However, I want your feedback as well, especially if you've used the particular grill.  I don't want to make this post the typical tell me what I should buy question.  My goal is to obtain any other factors I should consider that I didn't cover and if my strongest candidate is a good decision that I likely won't regret.  Buying any of these grills won't stretch me too far, but the expense is enough that I can't take the decision lightly.

 

Primo Kamado:  Ceramics originate in the US which is something I would prefer.  However, I've read some posts on here and other forums that makes me leery of the customer support from the factory.  I also am concerned about the thickness of the ceramics as they don't appear to be as thick as others.  According to their site, there's several local dealers though which could help with customer support issues and service.

 

Kamado Joe (Classic):  Ceramics originate from China, but this is not a complete deal breaker if the ceramics quality is fine.  Ceramics are thick on this grill and seems to offer a good value.  I read only good things about Kamado Joe's customer service.  The nearest dealer is 45+ miles away.  However, I've read a newer version is coming out in 2014 and have not seen the price drop to reflect trying to clear inventory yet at BBQGuys.  If we go with this option, I might be tempted to wait and see if the price comes down on the current model, or if the price difference isn't a deal breaker on the new.  Kamado Joe also seems to lack a feature to let you drop the grate closer to get a good steak sear (picked up from a professional review).  Also a higher cost to get stainless hardware, is it worth it?

 

Grill Dome Infinity (Large):  Ceramics originate from India (same comment as Kamado Joe's ceramics).  Ceramics on this grill are also thick.  Grill Dome's website shows there is one local dealer, but that dealer's website does not show this brand of grill in their product offerings.  I also read it might be a little more difficult in controlling the temperature.  There also appears to be a quality issue with the ceramics finish.

 

Big Green Egg (Large or Medium):  Ceramics originate from Mexico (same comments).  There is one local dealer 15 minutes away.  I understand that you pretty much have to buy every accessory separately which reduces the overall value.  However, this grill seems to be the most popular and has a large following, which will make it easier to ask for help.  The medium grill might be a bit too small though.  A professional review I read states the gasket quality is average at best.  Hopefully it isn't too difficult to replace the gasket with a higher quality one down the road.

 

My gut is telling me to go with Kamado Joe due to the value it appears to offer along with its customer service.  My biggest concern is my lack of experience could end up causing damage such as cracking the ceramics.  Anyway, thanks guys for your consideration, time, and knowledge.  I did also consider the Akorn, but I'm not a big fan of having to do work on it to seal it up.  There could also be longevity issues.

 

Thanks!

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Welcome to the forums, be sure to introduce yourself in the New Members section! All the units you are looking at are quality cookers so there should be no worries there. If you are worried about damaging your cooker due to inexperience then I would take the Akorn route. The sealing issues aren't much of an issue with the newer cookers as they were with the early generation of the Akorn, it's been proven time and time again that the quality of the Akorn has risen significantly with each purchase and satisfied user who joins the family. If/when you decide to go to a ceramic, the Akorn should fetch you a decent amount back on your investment and you gained some priceless knowledge in the process. There have been a couple times that I, as a new kamado cooker, have been very thankful I wasn't using a ceramic because I would likely have been looking at some cracked stone and a broken heart. I'm sure that there are those who would say, skip the Akorn, don't waste the money, etc. but if damaging a ceramic is a reality for you, don't put yourself in that position.. You don't give the keys of the Lambo to the 16 year old who just walked out of the DMV...

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Welcome, Kenexcelon, great to have you on the forum. It sounds like you have really done your homework, and the grills you have narrowed down are all outstanding grills. There are owners of all these grills here on the forum who are better qualified to give you an assessment than myself, so I'll leave that to our resident experts. Do keep in mind that, as far as the ceramic grills you mentioned, this is primarily a forum of Kamado Joe enthusiasts, with a small amount of Primo owners, and perhaps a couple BGE and a couple GrillDome owners, so comments here will, no doubt, go overwhelmingly towards, KJ, but not without good reason, as they are outstanding grills.

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Unless you're accident prone, such as frequent tripping while carrying heavy objects, knocking over furniture as you walk by it, driving your car into the garage door or clipping the side of the garage on the way in/out frequently, I wouldn't worry about damage to any grill.  Anything that happens through normal use (that's not you rolling it down the stairs or tipping it over), regardless of your experience, should be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

 

With regards to getting the grate closer to the coals, take a look at the new KJ racking system and see if that offers what you need, either on its own, or with the addition of anything else (like a smaller grate).  I don't think this is a very big issue, you can see plenty of posts where Andy is pegging his temps at over 1000 degrees in the dome.  Besides, you could always put a grill/grid directly on top of the firebox by removing the fire ring, or stack your coals up higher.

 

And welcome!

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I've never heard of anyone saying they wished they'd gotten a smaller grill, only the opposite.

I also haven't heard of anyone damaging ceramics in a cooking situation, only in a mis-handling situation. This brings a consideration, but I believe they all have lifetime warranties on ceramics.

Your thoughts on brands, I would lean towards the one that offers the best customer service, even considering dealer location. As far as cooking, they are all quality grills, I think you are at the personal preference point.

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While all the grills that you listed are of high quality, I noticed that you did not include Vision. IMO, the Vision Pro C, could easily fit into the quality range of the grills you are already looking at. However if you do this I guess it just made your decision that much more complicated. Enjoy your research. With those grills and the vision, I don't think you can go wrong should you choose anyone of them. Ps. I have been cooking on my ceramic kamado (Vision Pro C) for over a year now and it is still safe and sound. If I can use  it safely without causing damage to it or to myself, I would say anybody can. Pss. After reading the forum for a year, If I were to get another grill, I think it would be the Primo XL oval because of it's versatility. Psss. Nothing in my experience, cooks like or better than a Kamado. 

 

Again have fun, and good luck.

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Knowledgeable local dealers can be a great asset but some local dealers can have little to no knowledge or experience with the product. I would not worry about the thickness of the ceramics, all the top cookers can cook great food. There are differences between the brands and it all comes down to what would overall best suit your needs regardless of what anyone else has or thinks. Keep in mind any of the mentioned brands can have ceramics crack or lid misalignment or at some point require gasket replacement.

Once you become accustomed to any of these cookers, manual temp control should not be an issue although strong winds can be a factor. I own a Grill Dome and have used a Classic KJ and did not find the KJ to be easier to adjust temps. As a matter of fact some cookers require a real light touch on low and slow to keep the temps down such as only lighting one small spot but I can use an electric starter with the GD and easily maintain low and slow temps. GD does not offer a lot of accessories compared to the competition. It is my opinion that they have been guilty of outdated thinking but there are supposedly changes coming although they seem to be real slow in coming. I think there are better choices right now.

Kamado Joe does everything to make sure the customer is treated right and their cookers do a great job. Primo is, this is the way we do business. If you buy a Primo and it arrives without any problems then you should be ok unless you ever have a situation that you have to deal directly with the factory. It is a shame because even though larger round kamado's now offer 2 zone cooking the Oval does it better. I also like that the Oval has a level where the cooking grates are level with the gasket area.

My opinion is that if it came down to BGE vs Kamado Joe I would choose Kamado Joe without hesitation. It costs less, has a better top vent, gasket and indirect setup.

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Welcome to the group :-)

Just about a year ago, I was in your exact shoes. I too, research and analyze things to death just like you do...

After reading everything I could get my hands on, talking with EVERYONE (dealers and owners) that I could find, and talking with a rep from the main office of each company that you reference in your OP, I walked away with a KJ Big Joe. For me, KJ quickly rose to the top of the list.

It has been an OUTSTANDING ownership experience! As far as worrying about problems w/ the ceramic cracking...there is NO need for that. It comes with a lifetime warranty, and after experiencing a cracked fire bowl/fire ring (this was before KJ added the expansion slits), I learned firsthand that KJ's lifetime warranty is NO joke :-)

I would encourage you to decide between anyone of these FINE cookers, and just take the plunge. The only thing you'll regret is not having done it sooner. I cannot believe how enjoyable ceramic cooking is!!!!!

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I like my Classic Kamado Joe so much I cooked on it today at 26 degreesF. I wouldn't even bother going out to cook on my gasser or other grills I had, but when you know the food is going to be that good--you'll cook no matter what the temp. Cold temps no problem for the ceramic Joe. My wife bought my grill for my Fathers Day gift--best thing she has ever bought me in 23 years of marriage. The customer service is excellent also. The owner, Bobby, has even emailed me telling me to let him know if there's anything they can do for me. Now who else is going to do that?

Bottom line--get a Kamado Joe Classic or BigJoe. Whichever size you think you need, you will not be sorry.

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I too am in the camp of get a Kamado Joe. A few months ago I bought a Big Joe and do not regret getting the bigger size at all. Most of the time I am cooking for just my wife and 2 kids but I really like the versatility of being able to cook for more if needed. With the fire box divider and split deflector plate I can use only half if doing something small. I made my choice after much research into most of the same grills you are looking at and went with KJ because of the value (not a lot of extra to buy right of the bat) and the customer service quality reported by many people here on this forum.

 

In the end I don't think you would regret any of your choices above, but the customer service from KJ is a huge bonus.

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Unless you're accident prone, such as frequent tripping while carrying heavy objects, knocking over furniture as you walk by it, driving your car into the garage door or clipping the side of the garage on the way in/out frequently, I wouldn't worry about damage to any grill.  Anything that happens through normal use (that's not you rolling it down the stairs or tipping it over), regardless of your experience, should be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

 

With regards to getting the grate closer to the coals, take a look at the new KJ racking system and see if that offers what you need, either on its own, or with the addition of anything else (like a smaller grate).  I don't think this is a very big issue, you can see plenty of posts where Andy is pegging his temps at over 1000 degrees in the dome.  Besides, you could always put a grill/grid directly on top of the firebox by removing the fire ring, or stack your coals up higher.

 

And welcome!

 

Hi bferne, if I go the Kamado Joe route, is the new racking system even available for purchase yet?  I've searched for it, but haven't seen it available for purchase yet or if it comes with or not.  My gut is telling me to just get the KJ. :lol:

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IMO, there's only one MUST-HAVE: fuel. Charcoal in this case. A few pieces of hardwood for smoking would also be a good idea, maybe something pretty neutral and easy to find like Apple to start.

If you're getting a KJ, some nice-to-have items are already included, such as the grill-lifting pliers and ash tool. I'll give you the same advice I'm going to follow myself and that's to keep it simple while you learn the ins and outs of your grill. Discover what you really need after using the grill for a little while.

That said, even though I won't be buying my grills until the new year, I did already grab a Maverick ET-732 which I've been using on a friend's BGE. ;)

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What are some must have accessories that I should get as well (particular lighter, bbq thermometer (that won't break the bank), lump charcoal, wood chips etc...)?

To me, the MUST haves are simple:

1) Thermapen

2) Indirect setup

3) Good lump charcoal

With these 3 items, you can do ANYTHING. I have many others "wanted" accessories that I enjoy, but the 3 listed above are not optional IMO.

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