The quick answer is a resounding “Maybe” and to ensure no one feels I’m waffling and sitting on the fence here; I will categorically declare “It depends”.
I don’t think we need to go into long descriptions as to what a grill cover does — The name says it all! But there is a large range of quality and features you need to be aware of, which we will discuss further below.
As with anything else in life, before committing to any purchasing decisions, there are nuances to consider.
Here are some instances where you should definitely consider a grill cover:
1) Your grill is exposed to the elements. Rain, sun, snow, dust, bird poop your grill sees it all, day in — day out. If that is the case, then you should consider purchasing a grill cover as it will protect the appearance of your grill and possibly extend its useful life.
2) The built quality of your grill. For cheaper grills to sell at a lower price point, compromises are made on the quality / thickness of the material (steel, aluminum) and of the Stainless-Steel layer (Chromium Oxide). Therefore, these grills are more prone to rusting and degrade faster than a high-quality grill without protection.
3) Infrequent or seasonal use: If you use your grill almost daily in all seasons, there is less likelihood of moisture creep and corrosion. However, if you fire up the BBQ infrequently or store it for a long period of time outdoor, then a grill cover is heartily recommended.
You can therefore see the advantages in keeping your grill protected from the elements if possible. If that is your case, and you have a good quality grill you may be able to do without this accessory. Many users of high-end grills have reported years of use without covering and the grill still look as new as the day it was purchased.
A quick note on good quality grills: While most grills may look similar, the same cannot be said of the quality of the materials used and its components. From personal experience, I remember buying a cheap grill in a big box store — After all, it looked identical to the ones costing 5 times as much in my BBQ dealer showroom, and it’s the gas that does the cooking anyway, so why waste money! Aah, the innocence of youth! In a short time, the igniter failed which I had to fix on a regular basis then gave up and used matches. Then the paint started flaking and white rust started attacking the aluminum. Then the burner decided to become a blow torch. Then, then, then… After 2 years of ongoing repairs, the old adage proved true: “You get what you pay for”. Therefore, buy the best quality grill you can afford. Things to look for: Quality of material / components, brand warranty, local support, internet reviews etc. (shameless plug — your local WE LOVE FIRE dealer are experts on all things BBQ, Patio and Hearth related and committed to warranty and after sales support.)
According to this article from Consumers Reports, even with a good quality grill you may need a grill cover. This is especially true if your grill is near a pool (chemicals), trees (caustic sap) and lawns (lawn chemicals) which can erode the stainless-steel coating for rust to eat away at your investment.
What features should I look for when buying a grill cover?
Do not make the same mistake I did by buying a cheap cover as some cheaper options do not ‘breathe’ and may trap moisture and cause your grill to prematurely rust.
Here are some features to look for:
1) Venting: Some better grill covers provide air vents to avoid trapping moisture.
2) Size and ease of putting on and off: One size does not fit all. If you have difficulties taking off and putting the cover back on, you will likely stop using it.
Your local WE LOVE FIRE dealer can recommend the proper size and fit for your grill. Some grill covers come with handles for easy removal.
If you are unsure what size you need, measure the grill from top to bottom, then width with all the sides and other accessories extended. Then bring these to your local dealer. They may have something in stock or can order it. In some cases, made to measure covers may be available.
3) Material: Back in the ol’ days you pretty much were stuck with vinyl. But now other materials are available which also dictates the longevity and how much you will pay. Here are 3 popular options:
Canvas is considered a premium grill cover. The material is durable, UV resistant, and due to PVC or other coating is water repellent. And as a rule, is the best-looking option.
Polyester is considered a stronger material than vinyl since it is more tear resistant and can withstand exposure to oils, solvents, and several chemicals. It is typically layered with vinyl or PVC to render it more waterproof.
Vinyl covers are waterproof and inexpensive. However, with both vinyl and polyester make sure the gauge (thickness) and stitching (quality) are there as thin material will eventually crack and develop rips and holes.
If your grill is exposed to the sun, look for a cover that provides UV Protection. Otherwise, the cover will prematurely discolour, crack and leak.
4) Cost: It depends on size, material, quality etc. but at the time of this writing it averages between $20 to $100 or more.
5) Maintenance: This is the easy part. Just hose the cover down (you can use mild soap) and leave it to dry. It’s also not a bad idea to clean your grill at the same time so as not to transfer dirt to the inside of your cover. As always, look at your owner’s manual for more specific directions.
So, do you need a grill cover? A good quality grill is worth protecting and extending its life. A grill cover is reasonably inexpensive and provide years of protection for your investment. You local WE LOVE FIRE dealer can help you make the right product choice for all things BBQ.