Guide to Buying Grills
Without a doubt, summer is the season for barbecue nights with friends and family members. If you’re planning on hosting a few barbecue nights at home or near the beach, you’re going to need your own grill. In fact, depending on how many people you plan to invite, you may need more than just one or two great grills. Unfortunately, buying a grill can be a very overwhelming process. This is especially true if this is your very first time purchasing a grill. There are so many different factors to consider, which can make finding the right grill for you nearly impossible unless you have the help of a buying guide.
If you’re in the market for a brand new grill, this buying guide should prove to be a major help to you. As long as you take into account the information and advice mentioned in this buying guide, you should have no problem finding a great grill for your needs at an equally great price.
Charcoal Grills vs. Gas Grills
When it comes to buying a grill, many people wonder whether they should get a gas or charcoal grill. In fact, “Gas or charcoal?” is probably the most commonly asked question by consumers shopping for a grill. Unfortunately, the war between charcoal grill users and gas grill users is almost as fiery as the debate between PC and Mac users. Here is some information about the advantages and disadvantages of charcoal grills and gas grills so that you can make the decision for yourself by taking your needs into account.
Charcoal Grills: Pros & Cons
Without a doubt, the main advantage of the charcoal grill is the ability of the charcoal to get hotter than a normal gas grill. Use a lot of coals on a great charcoal grill and the temperature can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit or more. If you want to get your lamb chops and steaks crispy and well-cooked on the outside, but pink or red on the inside, you will need as much heat as you can get. However, keep in mind that a great gas grill with a infrared burners will be able to reach temperatures as high as charcoal. Of course, a gas grill with an infrared burner will definitely be more pricey than a standard gas grill and possibly even a standard charcoal grill. Therefore, if temperature is your main concern, a charcoal grill is likely your best bet.
Another advantage of the charcoal grill is that charcoal tends to emit strong and delicious smoke flavors. The longer the food cooks, the more the smoke flavors will impact the flavor of the food. Of course, short cooks like burgers and steaks don’t produce much smoke. However, the impact of what little smoke that is produced on the flavor still makes charcoal grills a winner for many.
The main disadvantage of charcoal grills is the increased risk of fire due to the use of charcoal. Due to this increased fire risk, many local fire codes ban them from apartment buildings and high rises. Sparks and coals can fall from chimney starters or through the vents to escape the grill. To put these sparks and coals out, you may need water or even a fire extinguisher.
Another disadvantage is the difficulties of using charcoal. First of all, charcoal is difficult to light and get up to temperature. Flare-ups are also an issue, as they can pose a possible health risk and burn food. With a charcoal grill, it can be hard to determine the temperature. If the temperature gets too high, you can’t turn it down fast. You will need to add more charcoal during long cooks to keep the temperature high. Finally, there is the potential that you will get soot all over the food.
Gas Grills: Pros & Cons
The main advantage of the gas grill is the control and the convenience. Therefore, gas grills are incredibly popular among beginners and individuals pressed for time. Not only are gas grills easy to start, but they heat up within 15 minutes. The temperature of a great gas grill is easy to maintain and crank up or down as necessary. You can configure a gas grill for multi-zone and indirect cooking. Finally, gas grills are much easier to clean than charcoal grills.
The main disadvantage of the gas grill is its general inability to reach high temperatures. The average low- to mid-priced gas grills will be able to reach a temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit at the most. However, if you get a great high-end gas grill with double-layered hoods and sear burners, it may able to reach a top-end temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Therefore, if you’re willing to spend more money, this con may not be relevant to you at all.
Another disadvantage of the gas grill is safety. If you don’t handle it correctly, gas has the potential to be explosive. Hannah Storm, an ESPN host, experienced second degree burns when a gas grill exploded in her face. Even though safety is a disadvantage of a gas grill, this type of grill is still a little safer than charcoal grills. There is no way for sparks or hot objects to escape a gas grill, lowering the risk of fire.
Propane Grill vs. Natural Gas Grill
Throughout the country, propane grills have proven to be far more popular than natural gas grills. About 65 percent of gas grill users prefer propane while the other 35 percent of gas grill users prefer natural gas. Some gas grills offer users the ability to use either propane or natural gas. If you’re wondering whether you should get a propane grill or a natural gas grill, here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Propane Grills: Pros & Cons
If heat is the name of the game for you, the propane grill is likely a better option for you. Propane contains far more energy than natural gas. While natural gas contains 1,000 BTUs, propane contains about 2,500 BTUs. Therefore, if you need as much heat as possible to cook your favorite dishes, you definitely need a propane grill instead of a natural gas grill.
The propane grill may be your only option if you plan on barbecuing at a mountain retreat or remote cabin. In these areas, getting a natural gas line installed could be practically impossible. On the other hand, as long as you bring propane with you on your trip, you will have no problem using a propane grill. Just be sure to have a few backup propane tanks on hand, as you won’t be able to go to a supermarket or convenience store as easily.
As you can imagine, it can be pretty embarrassing to need to go to the store to get more fuel in the middle of a barbecue. While this isn’t a possibility for natural gas grills, it is a huge possibility for propane grills. Fortunately, most propane grills come with a meter that indicates when propane stores are getting low. Therefore, as long as you pay attention to the meter, running out of propane shouldn’t be a huge issue. Also, propane is found in just about every convenience store and supermarket. It likely won’t be a huge inconvenience if you ever have to go out for more propane in the middle of a barbecue.
Natural Gas Grills: Pros & Cons
Both propane and natural gas are excellent choices when it comes to small carbon footprints and low carbon dioxide emissions. This is especially true if one compares the contribution of propane and natural gas to global warming to the contribution of coal, gasoline, kerosene, and other fuels. However, natural gas happens to be even cleaner than propane. Therefore, if you’re dedicated to green living, natural gas is your best choice. Of course, you can’t really go wrong whether you choose natural gas or propane. Also, it is possible that the cost of natural gas will only amount to one-third of the cost of propane.
Another advantage of the natural gas grill is the convenience. In general, the main complication is setup. However, once you have natural gas installed in your home and connected to your gas grill, you should encounter few or no complications. You won’t have to worry about making a quick stop at the store to buy a new propane tank. Instead, you just need to turn on the gas grill and you will enjoy a supply of fuel that is unlimited. When it comes to setup, it is the best idea to contact a gas company so that a professional technician can do the job for you. If you know next to nothing about installing a gas line, don’t even think about doing it yourself.
The main disadvantage of the natural gas grill is the installation costs. If you don’t have access to natural gas in your home, you will need to have it installed. As you can imagine, the installation process can be quite pricey. However, if you happen to have a natural gas main near your home, you may be able to get the natural gas installed in your home for free. However, if your home is located far away from any mains for natural gas, you will likely need to cover some of the costs of having the main extended to your house. Therefore, the upfront costs related to installation could set you back when it comes to natural gas.
Gas Grill vs. Electric Grill
Without a doubt, the fuel and type of grill you use can have a major impact on the flavor of food. Without a doubt, gas grills are more popular than electric grills. However, the best grill for you will depend on a number of factors, such as your residence and the type of foods you want to cook. Here is some information about the advantages and disadvantages of gas and electric grills so that you can make the right decision for your needs.
Gas Grills: Pros & Cons
The main advantage of gas grills is related to the cost. A gas grill will cost you far less to run than an electric grill. In fact, most appliances that run on gas are more inexpensive than appliances that run on electricity. Of course, this is not always true everywhere, as local prices of gas and electricity vary. If you want to be certain that a gas grill will be the cheaper option for you, check your bills to determine the rate for gas and electric from your provider.
In general, gas grills can only be used outside due to the threat of fire and the need for ventilation. Therefore, if you plan a cookout and it looks like it may rain, you may have no choice but to cancel the barbecue and reschedule. The only way you can use a gas grill indoors is if you can achieve proper ventilation. You also need to ensure that there will be enough space for the gas grill. That way, the risk that flammable material will melt or catch fire is lower.
Electric Grills: Pros & Cons
Even though gas grills are cheaper to run than electric grills, you will likely find electric grills to be a lot more convenient. This is especially true if you’re considering a propane grill rather than a natural gas grill. If you get an electric grill, you will never have to worry about lugging huge tanks of electricity everywhere you go. Also, you won’t have to worry about running out of gas in the middle of a barbecue. Instead, you will have an unlimited supply of electricity from your home. As long as there are no power outages, fuel won’t be a worry for you when it comes to the electric grill.
Unlike the gas grill, you can use the electric grill both indoors and outdoors. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to use the electric grill outdoors at all if it’s raining. In the event it starts to rain on the night of your barbecue, you can simply move the cookout indoors. The same is certainly not as easy with a gas grill. Also, electric grills require far less space than a gas grill because the risk of fire is far lower. Electric grills range from small counter top models to large patio or outdoor models that can cook enough food for more than 10 people at once.
Of course, the electric grill does not go well with water. As you can imagine, this can make the cleanup process for an electric grill a bit of a headache. Unless you want to ruin your electric grill, you cannot submerge the electric heating elements in water. However, most removable items are washable in hot water. While cleaning your electric grill, the unit should be unplugged for your safety.
Infrared Grill vs. Gas Grill
Compared to other types of grills, the infrared grill is relatively new on the market. Despite the recent appearance of the infrared grill on the market, it is already becoming popular and a favorite among some. In fact, infrared grills are used in many of the world’s best restaurants. If you’re wondering whether you should get an infrared grill rather than a gas grill, here is some information about the pros and cons of each type of grill.
Infrared Grills: Pros & Cons
Without a doubt, the main advantage of the infrared grill is its ability to cook foods faster. Even though both infrared and gas grills use natural gas, propane, and other types of gas, the two types of grills have different principles for the transfer of heat. For an infrared grill, radiation is the main method for the transfer of heat. On the other hand, convection is the main method for the transfer of heat for a standard gas grill. This difference explains why a gas grill will cook food slower than an infrared grill.
Since gas grills take longer to cook than an infrared grills, another advantage of the infrared grill is its ability keep moisture locked in food. The longer food takes the cook, the more dry and hard the food will be. Therefore, you can expect your food to taste better if you cook with an infrared grill. Not only that, but you will also save time because the food will be done faster. That way, you’ll have the time to mingle with the guests and enjoy the festivities instead of slaving away in front of a grill the entire time.
The infrared grill is not just time-efficient, but it is also fuel-efficient. Since the infrared grill can heat up very quickly, there is a very small loss of fuel and heat in comparison to that of a gas grill. This makes infrared grills more environmentally friendly and better for your pocket.
While there are many advantages of the infrared grill, this type of grill is certainly not without its disadvantages. As you can imagine, the main disadvantage of the infrared grill is the cost, especially since this type of grill is relatively new to the market. Now, low- to mid-end infrared grill will cost anywhere from $500 to $1000. In the past, however, an infrared grill could easily cost thousands of dollars. While $500 to $1000 for a great infrared grill may not be too expensive, it certainly is in comparison to other types of grills.
Gas Grills: Pros & Cons
The main advantage of the gas grill in comparison to the infrared grill is the cost. Essentially, if you’re on a tight budget, you’re going to want a gas grill rather than an infrared grill. The cheapest gas grills on the market cost just $100. If you want a high-end gas grill, you won’t have to spend more than a few hundred dollars. Undoubtedly, the same cannot be said for an infrared grill. As the infrared technology ages, it is possible that the price of infrared grills will become more comparable to that of gas grills. However, those in the market for a grill shouldn’t expect to see such a price change anytime soon.
The main disadvantage of the gas grill in comparison to the infrared grill is its inconvenience. Unlike an infrared grill, the standard gas grill does not allow the user to change the temperature as easily. Not only will a user encounter more difficulty with a gas grill during the grilling process, but they will also encounter difficulty during the cleanup process. Most people regard infrared grills as far easier to clean than a standard gas grill. General maintenance is also more of a hassle for the gas grill than the infrared grill.
Which Grill Should I Buy?
Now that you have a good idea of the advantages and disadvantages of various types of grills, you will need to make a decision on the type of grill you want to buy. This will make the buying process much easier, as you will be able to narrow your choices down to one or two types of grills. Unfortunately, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of different types of grills is one thing. Knowing which type of grill is perfect for your needs is entirely something else.
Here are some of the factors you should consider when deciding which grill you should buy:
- Fuel type
How to Sear on a Gas Grill
Searing refers to a technique that involves cooking at high temperatures so that a caramelized crust forms on the meat. This is referred to as the “Maillard Reaction.” The Maillard Reaction occurs when the sugars and natural amino acids move the meat’s surface and form flavor compounds. If you have decided on a gas grill, chances are you want to learn how to sear. For beginners, searing on a gas grill can be difficult without guidance or advice. Fortunately, you can follow these steps to learn how to sear on your own.
First of all, you need to pick the right cuts of meat to sear. In general, thicker cuts of poultry, steaks, and fish are best for searing. You can also sear scallops and swordfish steaks if you and your guests are craving seafood. Any tender steaks should work well for searing.
If you want to sear meat successfully, it is important that you perform the preparation process well. The meats you will use should be at room temperature. This will ensure that the muscle fibers will be able to absorb as much juice as possible for searing. Even if you plan on using a marinade, you should pat the meat so that it is as dry as possible. Meat that is too wet will steam rather than sear. If you’re worried about the meat sticking, spray cooking oil on the grates prior to searing.
Undoubtedly, the key to searing is heat. You will need temperatures to reach at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You will know the temperature is adequate if you hear the meat sizzle aggressively when it hit the grates of the grill. Some great gas grills have a sear burner that provides the perfect temperature for searing. Of course, you can always create this heat yourself with a gas grill.
You should sear your seafood or steak for no more than three minutes on the first side. Flip the meat over and have the other side cook for another one or two minutes. You want the surface of the meat to be crisp and brown. Be sure not to flip the seafood or steak too soon. If you want to see if the crust has formed yet, you can lift the corner of the meat. Once both sides of the meat are seared, move the food to a cooler part of your grill. That way, the indirect heat will finish cooking the meat.
Be sure you use a meat thermometer to ensure safe internal temperatures are attained. The outside of the meat could be brown, but the inside could still be quite rare.
Once you become experienced at searing meat on a gas grill, you can learn to sear professional crosshatch marks. You will use the “10 o’clock, 2 o’clock” method to sear crosshatch marks. Place the meat on the grill in the 10 o’clock position. Leave the meat on the grill for a few minutes. Then, move the meat to the 2 o’clock position and sear for another few minutes. This will allow you to achieve the diamond-shaped pattern.
How to Choose a Grill Cover
Once you’ve purchased a grill, you will need to buy a grill cover to store your grill safely and properly. Quality grill covers come in many different materials, such as canvas, vinyl, and polyester. There are also a number of features to consider if you’re in the market for a barbecue grill cover.
Polyester Grill Covers
The main advantage of the polyester grill cover is the durability and the light weight. If you live in a particularly humid climate, you will also be happy to know that polyester covers dry quickly. You can use polyester grill covers in any climate or weather, such as winter frost, extreme summer heat, and heavy tropical rain.
Vinyl Grill Covers
Just like the polyester grill cover, the vinyl grill cover is also waterproof. However, vinyl grill covers are not as resistant to light. Therefore, you may need to replace the vinyl grill covers more frequently.
Canvas Grill Covers
Canvas is a heavy-duty material that is frequently used for shoes, boat sails, and camping tents. Canvas grill covers are an excellent choice because they are durable and can be treated to be fireproof and waterproof. Canvas grill covers tend to be cheaper than covers made from vinyl or polyester.
Features of a Barbecue Cover
The inside lining of a grill cover will have a major influence on how well the cover stand up to exposure, tears, and fading. You should ensure that the lining of a grill cover is not prone to mold or mildew. Fleece linings are particularly likely to foster mildew and mold. Certain linings are also more prone to harboring insects. PVC, nylon, and polyester are usually preferred for the inside lining of grill covers.
You need to choose a grill cover made from a heavy-duty material. That way, the grill cover won’t be easily torn or ripped, even after years of use. A heavy-duty grill cover is less likely to blow away in the wind. A grill cover that is not heavy-duty will need to be secured and tied down regularly. Heavy-duty grill covers are more resistant to heat, so you won’t have to wait as long after cooking to replace the cover.
If you live in an area that frequently experiences heavy storms or strong winds, you need a grill cover with straps. In fact, even if you live in an area with a more mild climate, straps and ties are great features to have. You can use straps and ties to prevent animals from getting under the grill cover, for example, Also, debris will be kept out of the barbecue. Look for a grill cover with adjustable elastic cords for a more adequate fit.
You should get a grill cover with air vents so that condensation or moisture will not form beneath. If the grill cover is constantly damp, this will cause the grill to rust and corrode. Air vents will prevent the cover from ballooning on windy days.
In conclusion, buying a great grill can be a difficult task, especially if you know next to nothing about grills. However, as long as you consider the information discussed above, you will likely purchase the best grill for your needs.