Then, as usual, we oiled the grates, placed a 3- to 4-pound chicken in the dead center of the grate surface, and closed the lid. Over the course of an hour, we monitored the grills for temperature but kept any adjustment of the burners to a minimum. We learned a lot about them and we have a guide to what we learned , but they also helped us identify a few design strengths and flaws of the grills. We assembled the six grills alone and in teams of two, to see if the former was even possible answer: yes, when the instructions were clear and the assembly was well-thought-out and if the latter made much of a difference answer: yes, in every case.
Overall, the cooking tests were far more important to us; you assemble a grill only once. But poor instructions can make assembly slow, frustrating, and full of retraced steps. Same for assembly that requires lots of screws and bolts, or screws and bolts of multiple sizes. Even absent those problems, a simply bad design can make assembly needlessly difficult.
And poorly finished parts can have dangerously sharp edges—sharp enough to cause a nasty cut.
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So we kept an eye out for all of these issues. Finally, after all the tests were done, we performed routine maintenance by removing and replacing the propane tanks, emptying the grease traps, washing the grates, and scrubbing out the fireboxes. The Weber Spirit II E is the best gas grill for most people, offering an unrivaled combination of top-notch grilling performance, a versatile three-burner design, durability, and an affordable price. It excelled at every test, producing the best sear of any grill on our burgers and equaling or outdoing the others on our barbecue chicken and whole roasted chickens.
Its overall compact size helped by a new fold-down side table suits almost any patio or deck, but its grilling surface is big enough to cook a complete meal for a family, or a dozen burgers for a party. Weber warrants all parts for a full decade—among the best coverage in the industry.
With square inches of cooking space, the Spirit II E can easily accommodate 12 large hamburgers, two whole or cut-up chickens, or a large cut like brisket for smoking. Or it can cook a complete meal for five or six people—the three-burner design means you can, for instance, sear steak or fish on one side of the grill and cook vegetables on lower heat on the other. And you can cook them really well. We had no problems with the meat sticking to the flat, porcelain-coated iron grates.
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And we had no problems with flare-ups, the grease fires that produce charring and acrid smoke. All grills produce a brief burst of flame when grease drips onto the burner hoods; the problem is persistent fires.
The Spirit II E also exhibited the most consistent heat across the entire cooking surface in the test, just as the original Spirit did in Among the competition in our test, the Napoleon model in particular had noticeable cool spots toward the front of its grates. After 10 minutes, the burgers at the rear the hottest part of the grill were medium-well and those at the front were medium-rare to medium this difference might even be handy, if your diners have various preferences.
On the Napoleon grill, on the other hand, some of the front burgers were nearly raw in the center, while the rear burgers were well-done. The Broil King ran too hot even on its lowest setting, turning out charred chicken and sauce. Photo: Michael Hession. The Weber Spirit grills both the previous and current versions produced beautiful barbecue chicken, with crisped skin and caramelized sauce.
Both produced perfect barbecue chicken. By contrast, the Napoleon grill struggled to produce crisp, browned skin, and we soon discovered why: Its built-in thermometer was registering 50 degrees hotter than the actual temperature inside the grill. The result was flabby barbecue. The result was charred chicken and burnt sauce. Its cousin, the Weber Genesis II, performed almost identically. Both turned out something close to the Platonic ideal: deeply browned chickens with skin so crisp it puffed up like a balloon.
In our test, the Broil King and Napoleon performed fine, but not spectacularly—we had to adjust the heat frequently to keep the temperature consistent, and the Napoleon ran about 20 degrees cool according to our probe thermometer, so we had to compensate for that. In regard to assembly, of the six grills we tested, the Spirit II E was the simplest and had the most well-thought-out instructions; even if you lack much experience with this sort of work, you could likely assemble it easily.
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However, actually moving the Spirit, still packed in its box, to your patio will require two people or a hand truck, because its shipping weight is pounds. One thing Weber does exceptionally well: It clearly labels the little bags of bolts and other fasteners A, B, C, and so on and cues them to the stages of assembly, so you rarely have more than one or two bags open, and finding the right component is always easy.
The gas tank mounts externally see the top photo in this section , instead of in a cabinet underneath the grill, as is typical such as on the previous-generation Spirit. This design also let Weber put a sturdy shelf under the grill—a handy place to store pans, bags of wood chips, a small cooler, and other stuff you may need while grilling.
The same goes for the Genesis II, whose grates are identically made but slightly larger. The other grills also have easy-access grease traps—not much to ask for, really. And as a general observation, this grill is sturdily built from the ground up: Lots of metal, little plastic, and tight tolerances add up to a stiff chassis. For monitoring how your dinner is doing, your eyes, your experience, and a good instant-read thermometer are better tools.
Weber constantly refines its designs, even on its classic kettle, which has been around for well over 60 years. And again, Weber warrants every part of the Spirit II for a full 10 years, so the company has a financial incentive to build it to last for years, too. We wish Weber would take a cue from some competitors including Broil King and make the bars of its warming racks run front to back, parallel to the main grates.
As it is, the warming-rack bars run edge to edge, and you have to awkwardly jimmy a spatula in there sideways. The Spirit II E and every grill should come with a grill cover. The Weber Genesis II E gas grill is also an exceptional performer, and it offers several clever, life-improving design elements that we love. Performance-wise, we found the two Weber models nearly identical, with the Spirit just slightly edging the Genesis II on burger-searing performance. In terms of materials, the two are almost twins, offering heavy cast-aluminum fireboxes and porcelain-coated cast-iron grates.
The Genesis II, however, features a frame made of welded rails, while the Spirit II is made of folded metal like most grills in its price range. Moving the tank to the outside also frees up space below the grill, which Weber fills with a generous and sturdy storage shelf. That bumps you up from 12 to 15 or so burgers for a big party, or it lets you cook an ambitious, complete meal for a large family. But although the Genesis II looks much larger than the Spirit, in reality the differences are not huge. Both models have a fold-down side table that reduces their width to under 45 inches, for easier storage.
For making dinner, your eyes, experience, and a good instant-read thermometer are better tools. One exasperating oversight complicated the assembly of the Genesis II. Its design evidently had a late addition: two steel rails to beef up the support for the tank. We hoped Weber would incorporate this step in future iterations of the main assembly manual, but as of June , it is not in the downloadable PDF. This model achieved decent searing on our burgers and performed genuinely well on our barbecue-chicken test, producing crisp skin and no charring, despite an alarming amount of smoke pouring out from under the lid more, by far, than we saw from other grills we tested, a real eye-stinging cloud—but also a sign that the grill hoods were doing their job and preventing flare-ups.
Its competition, the Char-Broil Advantage, left some burgers raw and burned some chicken parts while leaving others underdone, though it too roasted a whole chicken well. Dyna-Glo also pays attention to sharp edges, either filing them down or dulling them beneath a coat of paint the grease tray being the only notable exception—be careful. The Char-Broil model was a minefield of sharp edges and burrs.
To be perfectly plain: The Dyna-Glo grill is not built to last year after year. First and foremost: Use a grill cover. They keep your grill dry—which helps to prevent rust—and clean, which helps to prevent clogged burner ports and gritty grates. Second, clean your grill before or after every use. Next time you cook, brush the cold, soot-covered grills clean, wipe them with a wet paper towel or rag, and then proceed. If a burner seems to be running cool or creates patchy flames, use a thin piece of wire many grills come with one on a chain to clean out the gas ports, the little holes.
Take the battery out of the igniter before you store the grill long-term. Batteries can burst and corrode the igniter contacts. About once a year usually before winter storage , many grill enthusiasts do a deep clean of the whole grill, soaking the grates in hot soapy water and scrubbing them, and scrubbing down the firebox and rinsing it with a hose. Finally, be aware that a few parts of a grill are consumables, so you will need to replace them occasionally.
You can replace them in-kind, or find third-party options that claim higher performance and long lifespans. The grates also take a beating, and eventually most start to rust. Again, you can replace them with factory parts or third-party alternatives. Like the other models we tested in that category, it has a cast-aluminum firebox, porcelain-coated cast-iron grates, and three burners.
On paper, it has a lot going for it, but we were disappointed in its performance. It also struggled to hold a steady heat on the barbecue-chicken test. They also leave odd, distorted sear marks if you try to make the classic crosshatch pattern. Assembly was straightforward, and the instruction manual was well-thought-out. It boasts the highest total Btu of the four grills we tested in that range, at 40, If you have a talented student or teacher musician, you could even compose an original song. Already have one?
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Host a contest to update and refresh it! During game time-outs, cheerleaders lift the lid on the spirit can, signaling for the crowd to cheer. The higher the lid is lifted, the louder the crowd cheers. As the lid is lowered to the can, the crowd becomes softer. The spirit can holds T-shirts and candy, which the cheerleaders can throw out to the loudest fans. Get one of the fun cakes with a photo of your school printed on the frosting—everybody gets a piece! Upper-grade kids can face-paint little kids, tell ghost stories, and put on puppet shows.
Kids get such a kick out of playing and possibly beating the grown-ups. Hilarity will ensue. Personalize them for your sport or activity. Enjoy watching them flap in the breeze all over town. During the last weeks of class, invite kids to wear their senior shirts out in the world to proclaim their school pride for years to come. Use an empty gallon water bottle, a broomstick, beads, and ribbon. Award the stick on a revolving basis to the grade or class who shows the most school spirit. This makes a great annual tradition that builds school pride and stronger neighborhood-school ties. Students, teachers, staff, parents, and alumni get together to give a day of service in the community, whether by cleaning up sidewalks, planting trees, visiting seniors, or serving at food banks.
A color run is a healthy, kooky, and fun way to show your school spirit. For example: We are Eagles. We are considerate. We are responsible. Or create an honor pledge and have students sign it during an assembly ceremony. Give kids a chance to show off their dance moves in front of their peers. Call for individual and group performances. Tickets are free, and parents and community members are encouraged to attend. We know an elementary school in Ithaca, NY, that has a talent show every single Friday.
Simple or complicated? Share pictures of school events on your school Instagram page or create a Facebook page just for school events. Celebrate your school spirit with obstacle courses, relay and three-legged races, and parachutes. Kids go on a scavenger hunt around the school, completing certain tasks. The last team to make it to each checkpoint is out.
Finally, finally! Seniors get to park in the front row. Let them show their pride with a little personalization. Hold a special ceremony for graduating students to pass on a symbolic lantern to members of the class below them.
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Graduating high school seniors walk the halls in their caps and gowns to inspire younger students to go the distance. Read this article from ABC News. How do you show school spirit at your school? Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Throw a back-to-school cookout. Face-paint with your school colors. Have a school movie night.