In our marriage, we've had two barbecues. The first was a cheap Kenmore model that we rebuilt several times and got 12 or so years out of. The second was a Broilmaster that reminds me a lot of our Jeep Cherokee--the frame and the guts are good, but just about everything that wasn't part of the frame fell off. It now needs a new burner, and rather than spend $100 and half a day doing that, we're considering upgrading to something one size larger and more attractive.
By larger I mean a grilling surface of about 600 square inches--propane units only. We don't care about a side burner but one this size will always come with one. What we do care about is the ability to sear, which is going to result from some magical combination of BTU's, distance from the burner, and the ability of flames to reach the meat.
We went looking yesterday: Sears, Home Depot and Lowe's. The size unit we're talking about is generally the mid-sized unit if a company makes three, and these are price at $700 to $1000 and at the end of the day we were more inclined to buy the Jennair, whose quality in terms of steel gauge and overall solidness was unmatched by any other units we looked at, plus amenities like a handle at one end for people like us who move our barbecue from one side of the house to other depending on the weather, at $899 or a cheap Charbroil for $269 since our marine environment is going to be so ruthlessly unkind to whatever we buy. Cast iron rusts, steel pits....
But damn is it hard to decide on this kind of thing without using it first. All you can do is try to imagine how it might work. The Jenn-Aire had the lowest distance between the grates and the burner, about 3.5-4". But the burners have these wide, shallow, upside-down V shaped covers which are supposed to disperse the flame, and eyeballing it suggests that there would be hot spots at the edges of the V and cold spots down it's unperforated 5" wide center area. Maybe that's the point--here you get flame, there you don't, but we can't look at that and see "even cooking" the way we could with the Weber (only the 400 sq in Silver model available to look at here).
The Charbroil, on the other hand, had the greatest distance from grate to burner, about nine inches. Can't see how you'd ever get any true flame-broiling from that.
For comparison, most of the other units averaged about five inches from burner to grate.
Anyway, just talking out loud here. If you love your barbecue and it both gets steaks nice and crusty on the outside without cremating the interior, and it handles low heat well, I'd love to hear from you.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov