Sunday, April 11, 2021

FAQ: Replacing the Bands on a Large Big Green Egg

 [FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post.

I got a brand new Big Green Egg!

Replacing the bands on a large Big Green Egg

Not really, but it does feel like a brand new Big Green Egg. In reality, I replaced the bands and hinges on both of our large Big Green Eggs.

This isn't a tutorial; rather, it is just my experience replacing the bands and hinges on our Big Green Eggs. For an excellent tutorial, use the one that I used - Jay Wilson's Big Green Egg New Style Band Installation. 

Are Bands Covered by the Warranty?

By the time you need it? Not likely. People often hear "lifetime warranty" about the Big Green Egg, but that's leaving out the keyword "limited." Here's what the BGE warranty says about the bands and other metal components:

Source: as of 04/10/2021

The good news is, I've owned 3 Big Green Eggs, and none of them have had band issues in the first five years. The downside is that if you need your bands replaced, they are likely out of warranty.

"The Big Green Egg makes every effort to utilize materials that resist rust..."
You know I'm a huge fan of Big Green Egg but I have to call them out on this one.
Several competing brands, like Grill Dome and Vision Grills, use stainless steel bands. This Vision Grills was the third kamado that we bought, and it is still rust-free. 

Why Replace The Bands on a Big Green Egg?

One of my Big Green Eggs is over 13 years old, and it was exhibiting all the signs that it is time to replace the bands on your Big Green Egg, 

  1. Rust
  2. Frequent need for realignment due to overbite, underbite issues 
  3. Smoke leaking from between the top and bottom, but your gasket is in good condition
  4. Dome lid occasionally slams shut on its own
  5. Spontaneous Catastrophic Disassembly 

Rusted bands on a large Big Green Egg
Rust on bands is deceptive because what you see on the surface might only be a hint of what's going on underneath the paint. In my case, after 13 years, the bands were eaten up with rust.

Big Green Egg with an alignment problem
Over or underbite is an alignment issue when the top and bottom pieces don't line up. The Egg is still useable like this, but it will likely damage your gaskets sooner or later.

See how the top dome is cattywampus? With the old band design, you could do a realignment, but it wasn't easy.

Rust on a Big Green Egg
To make matters worse, at 13 years old, my hinges' hardware was rather worn out. For the first ten or so years, if I did a realignment, it would hold for at least half a year, if not longer. Near the end, I could do a realignment, and within 5 uses, it was cattywampus again.

I didn't have a shot of my Eggs leaking but trust me, they leaked like Cheech and Chong were inside the thing lighting up.  This also can be fixed with a realignment, but if you have the old style bands (pictured ones here are new) and if you have to keep doing realignments, it's time to bite the bullet and replace them. (Photo Credit)

When your hinge hardware is failing, it is a gamble to leave your Egg open like this. With my oldest Egg, the slightest wobble or bump would trigger the thing to slam shut if I wasn't there to catch it. This is not a good thing.

Band failure on a Big Green Egg
Several weeks ago, I was grilling some jerk chicken when my oldest Egg suffered Spontaneous Catastrophic Disassembly. As I was closing it, the left rear of the bands finally gave into the rust, folded, and then broke.

What's the Difference Between Old and New Style Big Green Egg Bands

  • Hinge design
  • Adjustable
  • Handle width
  • Lid catch
  • Opening distance

The new hinge design extends out further on both sides than the previous design. The springs extended mostly horizontally versus strictly vertically on the earlier design.

The new bands are adjustable, making alignment issues a thing of the past
The best thing about the new hinge design is this right here - where the hinge connects to the top band is ADJUSTABLE, making alignment simple as can be. For someone who has had Big Green Eggs for 13 years, this is a huge development, and I wish I had changed my bands out 3 or 4 years ago.

The new hinges increase the handle width from about 4 inches to 9 inches. 

Adding a lid catch to the band set is a fantastic idea. If the bands ever come loose, typically during extremely hot cooks, the dome lid can fall out and potentially break. This makes that much less likely to happen.

Opening Distance - One cautionary tale I heard about the new bands was that they don't open as far as the old ones. I had concerns that my Adjustable Rigs might not fit in, but that was a non-issue. Every accessory that I have still fits in the Egg.

Is It Hard to Replace the Bands on a Big Green Egg?

Not at all. In fact, the new bands are MUCH easier to install than the old style. It took me about 25 minutes on the first one and about 20 minutes on the second one. I would rate it a 1/5 on the swear-word scale, meaning it was rather easy with minimal frustration and minimal swearing. 

The only regret that I have about replacing the bands on my Big Green Egg is that I didn't do it earlier. I didn't realize how frustrated I had gotten with both of my large Eggs until I replaced them last weekend.

Here's a time-lapse of one of the installs.

If you are intimidated by performing the install, don't be, it is rather easy. My tips are simple:
  • Watch Jay Wilson's video. It's worth the 28 minutes.
  • Follow the directions; not all holes get a bolt.
  • Double-check your spacers before the final tightening.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace the Bands on a Big Green Egg?

I paid $138 for each of my bands for a large Big Green Egg. 

Replacing the bands on a large Big Green Egg
That kit includes all the parts you will need, including the bands, hinges, handle, spacers, and nuts/bolts. You'll need a 7/16 and 1/2 wrench or thin-wall sockets. Despite the look of the box, large pizza not included.

tl;dr - Replacing the bands on your Big Green Egg 
  • costs about $138, 
  • probably isn't covered by the warranty in most situations, 
  • is easy to do, and
  • you will be happier later if you just go ahead and do it now.