Napoleon offers four charcoal grills and two charcoal smokers that compete head to head with equivalent Weber products.
Out of the six products there is one that really catches my eye.
Let’s do a quick review of the Napoleon charcoal grills and smokers and see if any of these are right for you.
Napoleon Charcoal Grills
Napoleon offers four charcoal grill models and it is their high end kettle that has my attention.
I have to admit that I am confused about the Napoleon kettles. These are marketed as “The Original Infrared Grills” but the grills do not have infrared emitter plates like you find on other infrared grills. Perhaps they are referring to the infrared energy coming off of the charcoal? Don’t let the infrared claim trip you up as these are almost identical to Weber kettles.
All three of the kettles come with a heat diffusing charcoal grate. The idea behind the grate is that it helps focus the inlet air through the charcoal bed for better convection cooking.
The NK22K is Napoleon’s Entry Level Kettle.
The NK22K is a head to head comparison with Weber’s 22 inch Premium kettle.
These are both 22 inch grills made of porcelain enameled steel with a ten year warranty on the bowl and lid and much shorter limited warranties on the remaining components.
The NK22K is available in black while Weber offers the Premium kettle in black, copper and green.
The biggest difference between these grills is that the lid on the Napoleon has a lower profile by a few inches. This doesn’t matter if you are smoking ribs or grilling steaks but can cause some issues if you want to make a beer can chicken or cook a turkey.
I am giving the win to Weber on this one just because of the shallow lid on the Napoleon.
The ProK22 is Napoleon’s High End Kettle
The ProK22 is available as a free standing kettle or a cart based grill. In some of their marketing material this grill is called the Rodeo Pro.
Let’s take a look at the cart based model and see how it stacks up against the cart mounted Weber Performer.
The ProK22 has many features that make it an upgrade over the standard Performer grill. The specific upgrades are:
- The ProK22 has a hinged lid that opens at a 45 degree angle and can be rotated around the grill. This is more convenient and flexible than the side mounted lid holder on a Performer.
- The ProK22 has hinged cast iron grates instead of the nickel plated steel grates on a Performer.
- The level of cooking grate on the ProK22 is adjustable between three different positions.
To appreciate the adjustable cooking grate levels take a look at the video below.
While I don’t think the ProK22 is as nice as Weber’s Deluxe Performer that has the built in charcoal ignition system and expanded side table, I do think it is a nicer grill than the basic Performer model.
The Pro605CSS is Napoleon’s High End Charcoal Grill
The Pro605CSS looks like a full sized gas grill that is actually a charcoal grill. This is a high end stainless steel charcoal grill. The grill has a lot of features including an oversized price tag.
The Pro605CSS has 605 square inches of grilling space and utilizes the same wave patterned cast iron grates found on Napoleon gas grills.
The charcoal tray on this grill can be raised or lowered with a simple levered handle for easily adjustable heat settings. The grill also has a unique charcoal fired, rear mounted, rotisserie burner.
I have a hard time recommending this grill from the standpoint of cost and performance. The Pro605CSS is at the same price point as Weber’s ultra premium Summit kamado style grill. While the Summit excels as both a grill and a smoker the Pro605CSS lacks the precision air control needed for proper use as a smoker.
If you don’t care about smoking meat and just want a nice looking stainless steel charcoal grill then this is a nice option. If you are on a budget then here is another stainless steel charcoal grill that you might like better.
Napoleon Charcoal Smokers
Napoleon has two smokers which are identical in features but different in size. The Apollo 300 has a 19 inch grate diameter while the Apollo 200 has a 16 inch grate diameter.
The Apollo smokers are very similar to Weber Smokey Mountains but did not make my list of the Best Smoker for Beginners because of some details of the product design.
Take a few minutes to watch this training video from Napoleon and then I will tell you why I like the WSM better.
Why the Weber Smokey Mountain is Better
The Weber smoker is better than the Napoleon smoker because of size, air leaks and portability.
The size issue is interesting. For years the people who loved their 18 inch Weber Smokey Mountain cookers said that the only problem was that they were not large enough. In response to that complaint the folks at ProQ designed a similar smoker that was a little larger than the 18 inch WSM. This design for this larger smoker from ProQ was licensed by Napoleon and is being sold as the 19 inch Apollo 300.
The problem is that after the design for the Apollo 300 was introduced Weber came out with a 22 inch smoker which is HUGE.
It makes no sense to buy the Apollo 300 now that the 22 inch WSM is available.
The Apollo smokers come in four modular sections and have two access panels. The WSM comes in three modular sections and has one access panel.
Regardless of whether you have an Apollo or WSM you are going to spend some time fighting air leaks at the access door and where the modular sections join.
The design of the Apollo with the extra module and extra door provides more opportunities for air leakage. The biggest leak point on both the WSM and Apollo is the access door and the Apollo has two of them.
One of the reasons that I eventually stopped using my WSM is that moving the three sections one at a time back and forth from my garage got old.
The Apollo smokers make this problem worse by having four sections to transport instead of three.
While the Apollo does have handles to make moving the sections easier I still wouldn’t want to make the extra trip.