We had high expectations when tests began on the S-470 from Weber’s premier gas grill line, aptly named “Summit”. With a few minor exceptions, we were not disappointed. It cooks beautifully and has great features that are clever, effective and easy to use.
The 470 has four main burners at 12,200 BTU each, a 10,600 BTU sear burner in the center and a 12,000 BTU side burner. The primary cooking area is 468 square inches, and the removable warming rack is 112 square inches. The 470 has a built-in rotisserie with a motor that drops down into the side shelf to be hidden away when not in use. There is a 10,600 BTU rear-mounted, infrared burner for the rotisserie. A smoker box with dedicated 6,800 BTU burner occupies the right side of the cook area. Main burner knobs are illuminated and there is an LED gauge on the control panel that displays how much fuel is in your propane tank.
It appears size and placement of the gas burners and flavorizer bars were painstakingly scrutinized because there is very little clearance between the grates and the bars: only about 1.25″. That puts the heat right under the meat. The heavy stainless steel flavor bars, which blanket the upper firebox, effectively mitigate hot spots and provide good heat distribution at grate level. We got good results roasting on the grates.
Two heavy grates made of stainless steel rods cover most of the firebox with a large, 3.5″ wide x 18″ deep perforated smoker box that runs along the right side from front to back. The smoker box is flush with the grate surface. There are eight flavorizer bars directly beneath the grate and one perforated bar that constitutes the bottom of the smoker box.
Summit provides excellent searing capability reaching 750°F at the cook surface center with all main burners on high. There is a sear burner in the center between two main burners. Crank it and temp shoots up over 900°F. Before harnessing this firepower, we recommend you read our article on how to grill Steakhouse Steaks.
As with many gas grills, there is a slight temperature drop in the front and on the sides: Approximately 5% with all main burners at medium. For indirect cooking, Weber recommends setting the left and right mains at high while leaving the two middle burners Off. We often recommend turning one side on and the other off. This generated a good roasting temp of about 320°F at the center. We sizzled tasty salmon fillets at 500°F by dialing all four mains to Low. You can get a lot of different cooking set ups with the 470. Even the smoke box burner can be used to make small temperature boosts. But to take advantage of this versatility you need an accurate digital thermometer. As always, the in-hood bi-metal dial heat indicator is way off and as usual we recommend you ignore it and get a good digital.
One of Summit’s most appealing features is the “Tuck Away Rotisserie System” that needs an electric outlet. A rotisserie motor folds down into the left side shelf, flush with the surface. Pull a small latch and it pops up and snaps in place ready to roll. The spit is stored in the cart and accessed via an opening under the right side shelf. Rotisserie forks hang on hooks inside the cart. It’s easy to get up and running in no time flat. We cooked crispy, juicy chickens flawlessly with only the IR backburner in about one hour and fifteen minutes. Afterward, remove the spit, wrap up the cord under the motor and snap it back into the side shelf. Done!
On the downside, the smoker box is ineffectual window dressing which does little more than create an illusion that food is being smoked. Gas grills are not great smokers to begin with for a variety of reasons. Unlike a real smoker, they are designed to let lots of air in and out so smoke doesn’t get a chance to interact with the meat surface and infuse its distinctive flavor. We loaded piles of wood chips into this box trying to get something close to smoked ribs, only to watch our efforts…well…go up in billowing clouds of smoke that poured out of the large holes just inches away from the smoke box. Wood chip foil packets placed in the middle, under the grate work better. We tried to reposition the box at the center between the two grates, but couldn’t do so effectively. This box is especially frustrating because it takes up 70 square inches that could otherwise be used for cooking. At best you can get a very light smoke flavor on thin meats like fish. Although we have disproved the merit of soaking wood chips to produce more smoke, we found wet chips are good for refilling Weber’s box because they stick together, making them easier to load with tongs over a hot grill.
If you really want to smoke, stop fiddling around and get a smoker. A good place to start is our How to Buy a Smoker page.
The side burner is pretty basic with peizo electric ignition. One of our readers asked if he could use it for deep frying and Weber’s answer is an emphatic NO! They believe a large pot of boiling oil perched on a side shelf next to a bank of flaming gas burners is unwise. Furthermore, as with any burner affixed to a side shelf, weight can be an issue. A wok or sauce pan is OK, but no giant pots of chili, water, or oil.
Each control knob has “Snap-Jet Individual Burner Ignition”. Knobs feel solid, but dial movement could be a bit smoother. Main burner control knobs may be illuminated with a switch on the upper left control panel. The infrared rotisserie backburner knob needs to be held in the ignition position for a moment until the burner glows red. There is no heat adjustment for the sear burner. The smoker box knob has a high to low range which can be used to goose up heat in small increments.
Another cool Summit item is the “Integrated LED Tank Scale”: A push button fuel gauge on the upper right control panel that monitors the weight of your LP tank, and extrapolates it to display remaining fuel levels in five approximate increments. You don’t get a two minute warning when gas is about to run out, but you can easily see if you’re getting low with the touch of a button. All igniters are piezo-electric. The illuminated knobs and tank LED are battery powered.
All Summits come with battery operated “Grill Out Handle Lights” that tighten onto the lid handle and are activated by a tilt-sensor switch when the grill is opened. They may also be turned on and off manually. Grill Out Lights use three LEDs to focus illumination directly on the cook surface. If your grill area is pitch black, you’ll need more light than the Grill Out can provide. But even with subdued, ambient light it throws just enough additional brightness straight on the grill surface to be an asset after dark. One could reasonably expect aomething better on Weber’s top of the line.
A fold up warming rack, or at least warming rack storage hooks, would also be appropriate for this premium priced cooker. Current options for getting the warming rack out of the way are awkward and unsightly. We ended up leaving ours on a side shelf when access to the entire cook surface was needed.
It is common for gas grills to have many exhaust vents and equally common for rain water to enter the grill through these vents. Weber is no exception and Summit actually has an additional bank of water friendly vents above the control panel. The hood and cook surface are water proof, but the interior of the cart can get soaked pretty quickly in a downpour. The grease tray readily collects water and should the grease pan fill up and overflow, it can make a nasty mess in your grill and on your deck. If you don’t have the cover on, and if you cook in the rain, as I do, expect the cart interior to get very wet. If you must grill in the rain, keep an eye on the grease pan.
The heavy duty locking casters work great on a flat, finished surface. But they have a pointed extension that sticks out and almost grazes the floor. This obtrusive piece, which is not common with other manufacturers casters, got in the way when rolling the grill up an incline like a ramp, and acted like a plow on grass; ripping through sod before quickly becoming embedded. Weber explains this is an “anti-tipping” feature that is required in many areas of the world. As their export business grew, this became standard on all models.
Summit models come almost fully assembled and you need only to attach four small brackets, four hex bolts, three screws, and three plastic plugs. The unit is heavy and requires two people to lift the pre-built head and cart out of a large, molded plastic skid.
Summit is attractive, solid, powerful, versatile and comes with Weber’s outstanding warranty and 24/7 customer service. One of our readers recently spoke with an independent hearth and patio dealer who stated his Weber models had upgraded features unavailable through big box stores. This is only true of the Genesis line. All Summits are created equal no matter where you buy.