The Gas Grill Buying Guide

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Ahhhh …the spring is here, and it’s finally time to buy that outdoor gas grill that you so much wanted to get. You race towards your favorite shop and suddenly you are bombarded with an array of different grills with different features, different sizes, and different prices. You scratch your head in confusion, and walk around trying to decide what to bring home. This is the point where the salesman sinks his claws into you and convinces you to buy their most premium model with all the bells and whistles, most of which you don’t need. You walk out buying a gas grill which is totally out of your price range.

Maybe before heading down to that shop you should step back and consider what you really need from a grill and what price range you can afford.

Although there are usually 3 factors that determine the price – size, quality, and features, you will usually find grills divided in three differnt price ranges – basic, mid-range, and high end.

Size

Are you going to use this gas grill frequently for a large number of people, or will it be used mostly for the close family. When comparing models, be sure to look at the “primary” cooking space. This the actual amount of surface space available for grilling. The warming tray, if included, cannot be considered to be actual cooking area. Average grills range in size between 300 to 600 square inches. The smaller ones are fine when cooking for 1-5 people. For larger groups you will need one of the bigger models.Basic Gas Grill

The number of burners are important too. The smaller grills usually have two burners, whereas if you are planning on cooking frequently for a larger group, you may consider a three or four burner grill. Such a grill will provide even heat over a large surface. With only two burners it is very difficult getting an even heat.

Another important point to consider is the BTU rasting. The BTU (British Thermal Units)rating will determine the amount of heat you get per hour. Most full-size gas grills range from 25,000 to 80,000 Btu. Some larger grills may even reach 100,000 btu or more. On average, you should be looking for approximately 100 BTU per square inch of cooking space. Therefore the larger the grill, the more BTU are needed to reach a proper temperature. A point to keep in mind though is that the higher the BTU rating, the more gas the grill will consume. Yet another point to keep in mind is that in reality, the BTU rating represents the amount of fuel a gas grill uses, not really how hot the grill actually gets. A grill’s ability to produce heat is a function of its design, cooking grid proximity to the heat source, as well as the BTUs. That being said, BTU ratings are still a good way to predict how powerful a grill will be.

Quality

Not all gas grills are built the same. Gas grills are constructed from a wide variety of materials, including cast iron, cast aluminum, stainless steel, enamel-coated steel or a combination of different metals. Stainless steel, copper and cast iron components are generally considered the preferred materials. There are differnt quality of stainless steel used in gas grills. Heavy-gauge material, and folded or reinforced edges, are evidence of a well-constructed grill. The burners should be made of quality material. Gas grills made from less expensive materials will normally not last as long, although they may work fine for the life of the grill.Mid Range Grill

Features

Storage Area:  Some grills have a storage area for grilling tools and supplies.

Stainless Steel Retractable Warming Rack:  Helps in keeping the food warm while the rest is being grilled.

Smokers:  Turns your gas grill into a smaoker.

Lighting Mechanism: All gas grills have some sort of starter or igniter. Some models offer an electric igniter, which sends a series of sparks to light the burner. These igniters require a battery in order to function. Others have a simple flint-type igniter, which requires no batteries.

Side Burners: Side burners offer a great way to expand your cooking area. You can heat up sauces or boil water without having to leave the grill area. If you want to add a side-burner to your grill, make sure it was designed for your make and model grill.

Rotisseries: One of the classic ways to grill meat is by using a rotating BBQ rotisserie near a hot fire. The advantage of this cooking method is the food cooks more evenly and bastes itself internally as the food rotates. Many grills offer a rotisserie option, but yet a better option would be to purchase a rotisserie that is heated by using dedicated burners mounted behind the food – not underneath it. This prevents flare-ups and allows the food to baste properly.

Infrared: Professional chefs often use extremely high-heat to sear meats and caramelize fruit. Infrared burners give grills this same ability to sear foods at over 1,300°F using very little fuel. Typical grill burners never reach these high-heat levels. Most grills that offer an infrared burner option section off one area of the cooking grid to use for the infrared burner.

Gas Grills in the Basic Price Range

The basic grills are usually the smaller “no frills” models. They have 1 or 2 burners, and very few features if any.

Gas Grills in the Mid Price RangeHigh End Grill

These grills are usually larger, and have 2 – 3 burners. They may come with a few features. These grills are usually big enough to cook for the family and some guests.

Gas Grills in the High End Range

These grills are the best of the lot. They are usually big enough to cook for the whole neighborhood. They usually come with a whole range of features – some useful, some not so much.

 

Last but not least, I would like to meantion something about warranties. Generally speaking, the longer the warranty the better the grill is made.

Happy Grilling.

 

 

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