If you have an eye for quality and a hankering for a space-saving alternative to a row of grills, you’ll want to read our Weber Summit Charcoal Grill review from top to bottom.
If you have visions of seared steaks, roasted ribs, and smoked salmon in your mind, this might just be the one grill you want in your yard.
People love multi-function devices because they save money and space.
DVD players and VCRs combined, cellphones and PDAs combined, and, of course, the Swiss Army Knife is the poster child for multi-functionality.
For some backyard chefs, this extends to their grills; some love owning a roster of different grills and smokers for different jobs, others want it all in one, convenient package. That’s what the Weber Summit offers.
Let’s take a detailed look at this high-end, multi-purpose grill.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 What is the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
- 2 A Few Words About Weber
- 3 What Comes In the Box?
- 4 First Impressions
- 5 Why Do People Choose the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
- 6 Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Specs
- 7 Key Features of the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
- 8 Important Details
- 9 Summary of Pros and Cons
- 10 Should You Buy the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
- 11 Quick Tips To Get the Most Out of Your Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
- 12 Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Not For You? Here Are Some Great Alternatives
- 13 Wrapping Up the Review
What is the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
Somewhere between a standard grill and kamado lies the Weber Summit.
When you look at it, you’ll get the sense it’s some sort of hybrid. It’s shaped somewhat like a kamado, but it’s made of porcelain-enameled steel, not ceramic. I did decide to feature it in our guide to the best kamado grills though.
Between this and the double-wall construction, it does a great job of holding its heat while remaining relatively lightweight compared to a traditional kamado.
With the Summit, you can sear at high heat, or drop the needle for some low ‘n’ slow cooking. It’s a versatile grill that can’t be pigeonholed into a single grilling category.
A Few Words About Weber
Weber is easily one of the most recognizable names in the barbecue industry (you can click here for some of the weber story.). Their products run the gamut from basic charcoal kettle grills to the elaborate Genesis series gas barbecues with all the bells and whistles. This broad appeal and brand familiarity make Weber a trusted name in grilling.
A man named George Stephen made the first Weber barbecue. He made it out of a marine buoy, one of the products made by Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago. (Though the grills are now made in China.)
The unusual shape caught people’s attention. George would own the company within a few years, and the kettle-shape grill would become their signature product, and the veritable definition of a charcoal barbecue.
What Comes In the Box?
On top of the distinctive kettle grill, you also get a rolling stand, lower shelf, a briquette measuring cup, water pan, ash pan, diffuser plate (for indirect cooking), 2-position charcoal grate, 2 charcoal fuel holder baskets, and the 24” grill with hinged sides and interchangeable center.
You get a lot of cardboard, too.
It’s an interesting looking grill; parts of it seem old-school, but you can tell it’s state-of-the-art, too. The shiny black exterior looks terrific, but it also looks like it means business. Yeah, I like the look of this grill!
You’ll notice right away how thick the walls of the grill are. That’s because they’re double-walled and air-insulated to help retain heat. It’s this feature that allows it to cook like a ceramic kamado but weigh considerably less.
The build quality seems very good, with durable wheels, a heavy-duty hinge for the lid, and a sturdy stand. You get the feeling you’ll be using this puppy for years without a lot of trouble.
Why Do People Choose the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
Consumers see Weber as the progenitor of all kettle-style charcoal grills; this familiarity creates trust. Beyond that, they choose it because they want the versatility that this grill provides: with one unit, you can grill, smoke, and go low ‘n’ slow.
It also has a lot of cook space, so you can grill a lot of food at once. Because it’s almost a circle, however, it takes up less space than the same number of square inches would on a rectangular barbecue.
Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Specs
- Exterior Dimensions: 45.5” H × 39.5” W × 35.8” D
- Weight: <111 lbs.
- Material: Porcelain-enameled steel
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
- Ignition: LPG (disposable 1 lbs. Cylinder; not included)
- Total Cooking Area: 24” diameter cooking area / 452 sq. In.
Key Features of the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
Having two walls with a layer of dead air between creates a lightweight way to trap heat inside the cooking chamber. This allows the Summit to smoke and cook low ‘n’ slow efficiently.
Trying to light charcoal sucks — not to put too fine a point on it. With the built-in Snap-Jet propane igniter, you can forget about chimney starters, lighters, matches, flint, or whatever you’ve been using. Push in and twist — that’s all there is to it.
The grill is one of the best parts of this cooker. Just love how it hinges to allow access to the charcoal during cooking, and how you can remove the center to use cool (optional) attachments like a pizza stone, or a skillet to take full advantage of its capabilities.
You can really expand your grilling roster with this one.
Ability to have dual temperature zones
The hinged deflector plate and the charcoal baskets both allow you to set up multiple temperature zones. This is awesome if you want to sear and then roast, or you’re doing, say, steaks and veg at the same time.
Even if you’ve never set up dual zones before, you’ll be doing it regularly with this system.
One-touch cleaning system
Scooping ashes is a nasty job, but this deceptively simple system makes it much less of a chore. Just swing the damper handle back and forth, and the propeller-like blades inside will push and pull the ash down through the vents and into the collection chamber.
Easy-open spring-loaded lid hinge
It’s not as heavy as a kamado lid, but it’s still big, and could be a real chore to lift with a standard hinge, especially if you’re carrying a tray of meat, and you only have one hand free.
However, the hinge is nice and solid, and the two big stainless steel springs make opening and closing a breeze.
Controlling airflow is critical to holding the right temperature on a grill like this. The top vent can either be wide open, or you can adjust the dial for more or less airflow.
At the bottom, there’s a convenient handle for opening or blocking the vents. Easy-to-understand symbols show you where to set it for different kinds of cooking.
Specs and features are great, but what’s it like to actually use it? Let’s have a look.
Ease of Use
One of the least desirable aspects of charcoal grills is the time spent lighting the charcoal. Even using a chimney starter, it can take a while. That’s just the price you pay for the beauty of charcoal cooking, I’m afraid.
Fortunately, the Summit Charcoal grill’s propane ignition makes this job a lot easier than it is on other different types of BBQ smokers!
Having the control provided by top and bottom vents makes it an easier job to hit and hold the temperature you want. And when you’re done cooking, the ash catcher attached at the bottom makes a messy job a cinch.
There are many ways to configure the cooking grate and the charcoal, and this might be daunting to someone not familiar with this kind of grilling. You’ll get the hang of it after a few uses, no doubt, but there will be a learning curve.
We do have an article on how to use a kamado style grill, that goes in depth and shows step-by-step how to use a kamado grill, so do check that out if you end up buying!
Cleaning and Maintenance
As mentioned above, the ash catcher is very simple to work: use the damper handle to brush the ashes down into the removable collection chamber. The exterior can be cleaned with a sponge and warm, soapy water, or cloth and glass cleaner.
For interior cleaning, Weber recommends a wire brush for scraping both the kettle and the grills, followed by warm, soapy water and a sponge. I’m not a big fan of wire brushes, so I’d rather use a less abrasive scraper to remove the build-up.
There are Weber Facebook groups galore including sizable ones in Australia (with one specific to Alice Springs!), Germany, and the United States.
The largest American group I’m aware of (39,000+ members) can be found at this link: Weber Kettle Fans
If you’re down under, you’ll want to check out this huge community of more than 37,000 Aussie Weber addicts: Weber Addicts
For social, you can follow Weber on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (good content here), Pinterest, and Instagram.
Customer support can be reached toll-free in the States all week from 7am-9pm Central Time, or you can email them, or use the online form.
Customer service reviews vary, with negative reviews moderately outnumbering positive ones. In my personal, unverified, and unscientific opinion (but one based on years of working in the online space), far more people take the time to complain than to say they’re happy. So, if the negatives are only outnumbering the positives by a little, I think there are probably far more unreported positives.
And, let’s face it; any customer who doesn’t get what they want is going to be angry, even if they’re totally in the wrong. The bottom line is Weber seems to provide good, conscientious customer service.
Available Upgrades, Accessories and Attachments
- Grilling rack
- Rib rack
- Assorted grill inserts (skillet, pizza stone, sear grate, poultry roaster, wok)
- This same grill can be purchased with a larger cart that includes a work surface, drawer, and briquette storage
- 10 years for rust and burn through on the bowl and lid
- 5 years for rust and burn through on the cooking grates
- 5 years for rust and burn through on the cleaning system
- 5 years for rust and burn through on the plastic parts
- 2-years on all other parts
Summary of Pros and Cons
- Incredible build quality
- Lots of well though out design features that help while cooking
- Capable of producing excellent food
- Easy to light
- Lots of cooking space
- Good for many kinds of grilling
- Looks terrific
- Lack of a digital temperature readout (though this seems to be a pretty accurate thermometer)
- Top vent not capped to keep out rain/snow
- No workspace, unless you buy the “Grilling Center”
Should You Buy the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill?
Until the Swiss Army sticks a grill in a knife, this is one of the best choices you’ve got for a multi-function outdoor cooker, and we even gave it top spot in our roundup of the best smokers available today in the charcoal category. There isn’t much you can’t do with it, and Weber has simplified the process as much as possible without completely removing the human element.
If you want a certain level of convenience, but you don’t want to give up the fun and control of building a fire and holding a temperature, you and the Summit are probably ideally suited to each other. Your money will be well spent on this fabulous grill.
Other Models Might Suit You If
- Don’t want to worry about vents and temperatures
- You’d prefer a more basic charcoal grill
- It’s just too darn big!
Quick Tips To Get the Most Out of Your Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
- Buy some of the optional inserts for making pizza, wok cooking, frying bacon and eggs, etc.
- Open the Rapidfire lid damper all the way to get up to temperature quickly
- Add 165 sq. In. Of cooking area with the expansion grilling rack
- Always have spare LPG canisters handy for lighting the charcoal.
- Check out our guide to using a charcoal grill, to learn how to cook on it successfully.
Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Not For You? Here Are Some Great Alternatives
So you thought you’d found a match, but it turns out you and the Summit just didn’t connect? Not a problem — perhaps one of these three suggestions will be a better fit in your life.
Weber Original Kettle 26” Premium Charcoal Grill
So you’re sure you want charcoal, but aren’t sure you want to pay premium bucks to do some smoking maybe here and there? This cost-conscious kettle is worth having a look at.
It has many of the same features as the Summit, including the one-touch clean out, the porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, hinged cooking grate, and the top and bottom vent dampers. It’s less versatile, but it’s a great grill with some premium features.
Don’t just take my word for it: have a look here:
Weber Master-Touch 22” Charcoal Grill
Like the Original Premium, this charcoal grill has many of the same great features as the Summit. It’s a good bit smaller, though, which is perfect for a smaller space. It’s only 24” wide and 29.5” deep — so if the Summit is too much for your yard to handle, this could be an option.
It even comes with the same, hinged cooking grate with the removable center disk for different inserts. You’ll get an awesome grilling machine in a compact package.
Too good to be true? Nah! It’s all right here:
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
If you know you want to smoke, and you know you want to grill, but you also know you don’t want to fool around with charcoal and baffles and vents, here’s the solution.
This grill uses wood pellets fed automatically from a hopper to provide heat and smoke. Set the temperature and let the DLX do the rest! Great results, minimal effort. All you’re missing is the ability to sear. If you can live without that, this should be in the running for your backyard cooker.
You can read our full review on this site — just click the link!
For a quick overview, follow this link:
Wrapping Up the Review
If you never considered one before reading this Weber Summit Charcoal Grill review, then welcome to the world of Weber! Buying a Weber makes you part of a barbecue community that has been growing for more than 65 years. This is a lovely grill that combines tradition with technology for a great grilling experience.
If you’re ready to buy, or if you just want to browse it some more, go ahead and spend some time with the Summit by clicking on this link:
We have plenty of other great reviews of grills and smokers for you, and we invite you to take a look.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, feelings, comments, queries, and consternation with us in the comments below. We are always interested in what’s on your mind!
As always, it has been a pleasure hanging out with you. Let’s do it again soon!