The Ducane Brothers Metal Fabricating Company started in 1946, specializing in manufacture of oil-fired furnaces. They began making gas grills around 1975 with the slogan, “Buy your last grill first” and developed a respectable following. Indeed many Ducane owners seem hooked.
When the company went up for sale around 2004, Weber-Stephens swooped in and grabbed it. I asked the folks at Weber what the acquisition brought to their business. Were they concerned that Ducane simply cannibalizes Weber sales? “Ducane has Weber DNA,” they replied, “It’s a great brand that offers value to people who aren’t in the price range of the Genesis line”.
Manufacturing was immediately shifted from North Carolina to China, where Weber makes their entry level Spirit Series. Current Ducane product line consists of three LP Gas models: The Affinity 3100, 4100 and 4200. All three are virtually identical in construction and appearance: Black porcelain-enameled steel body with cast aluminum sides and stainless steel control panel and side tables. As one opens and closes and fiddles with knobs, it’s easy to believe the Ducane reputation for basic, functional and durable grills remains intact. “Serviceable” is a word that comes to mind.
All Affinity models have stainless steel burners that line up left to right the way we like them, battery powered electric ignition, grease catch pan, two locking casters and two swivel casters. And of course the obligatory cheap built-in lid thermometers which you will want to ignore and use a more accurate digital thermometer.
Instead of a small grate, The removable warming rack is different than most, which are standard wire racks. On the Ducanes they are porcelain-enamel coated steel trays with slits cut through them. The heat distribution plates are very large, covering most of the area beneath the cooking grates and it’s easy to see why Weber chose not to refer to them as “flavorizer bars” as they do on the Weber line. One user griped online claiming the heat distribution plates are too close to the cooking grate and so large they catch all the drippings thus exacerbating flare-ups. That might be a problem, but in general, the closer to the cooking surface, the hotter the surface and the better searing.
The assembly manuals are of the IKEA variety: All illustrations, almost no words.
Ducane Affinity 3100 features three burners generating 36,000 BTUs and a grilling area of 407 square inch, slightly less than the 418 square inches claimed in Ducane’s brochure. This small discrepancy is due to Affinity’s frame design which blocks small portions of the stainless steel rod cooking grates.
Ducane Affinity 4100 (shown above) has four burners for 48,000 BTUs and 508 square inches of actual grilling surface, less than the 526 square inches of stainless steel rod cooking grate. Stainless steel rod cooking grates.
Ducane Affinity 4200 is exclusive to Lowe’s. It is the same as the 4100 but it has porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates and a flush mounted side burner.
Bottom line. These are basic, no-frills, value grills backed by Weber’s good name and their stellar customer support.