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Outdoor Grill Buying Guide

Britney, 11/08/2016

BUYING AN OUTDOOR GRILL?

The grill is at the center of every great barbeque. Whether it’s a family reunion or dinner for two, there is nothing better than sizzling hot food from your backyard grill.The core of any good grill is the cooking system. A well made charcoal grill will contain a sturdy, heavy-duty, plated steel cooking grate and a charcoal grate to place the briquettes on. There should be a lid with air vents as well. For free standing, non-portable, gas grill, you should look for models that have two or more separate burners (not just control knobs), which allow greater heat control. Smaller, portable and electric models may have fewer burners but should still have solutions for temperature control and emit even, consistent heat.

All grills should also have an efficient grease or ash collection system to keep the heat source clear of any clogs and any run-off juices from making a mess of your gorgeous grill. The best systems quickly flash the drippings, eliminating flare-ups and creating flavorful smoke. The first thing you’ll want to decide is what type of grill to purchase: charcoal, gas or electric. This is really a matter of preference. Each type of grill has its advantages. And no matter which you choose – you’ll be ready to start cooking in the great outdoors!

Topics in this Outdoor Grill Buying Guide

FUEL TYPES

SELECT THE FUEL TYPE THAT’S BEST FOR YOU

CHARCOAL GRILLS

  • Rich,smokey barbeque flavor only a charcoal flame can provide
  • Briquettes or lump charcoal are lit with a match and take 15039 minutes to heat up
  • Hard to regulate or maintain temperature
  • Can be messy – ashes must be removed
  • Charcoal may cost more than gas over time
  • Grill is less expensive with fewer moving parts to worry about

ELECTRIC GRILLS

  • Least authentic barbeque flavor
  • Easy to start – heats up quickly and evenly using existing electricity
  • Powered from a 120-volt or 220-volt power source outlets. 120-volt models are typically smaller and more portable
  • Great option for apartments or condos with residential restrictions
  • Easy to install

SEARCHING RADIANT BURNER

  • Special infrared gas burner converts propane or natural gas into infrared radiation for high heat output that sears in flavor
  • Easy to adjust and maintain even temperature
  • Significantly reduces pre-heating and cooking time which saves time and lowers fuel costs

GAS GRILLS

  • Uses lava rock, pumice stone, ceramic briquettes or heat plates to mimic charcoal barbeque flavor
  • Easy to ignite – start cooking in about 10 minutes
  • Precise temperature control for even cooking
  • Requires a 240-volt electrical connection

There are two types of gas:

Natural Gas comes from the gas line already in your home

  • Pipe is connected to the line where you want the grill permanently located
  • Initial cost of grill is higher, but lower fuel costs over time
  • Gas is available anytime

Liquid Propane (LP) comes in portable metal tanks

  • Tanks are easy to hook up, affordable, refillable and recyclable

INSTALLATION TYPES

GRILLED TO PERFECTION

Next you’ll want to consider the style of the grill. Each style is designed for a specific installation. So select the location, measure for size then check out the information below to make sure you get the style that is perfect for your home.

BUILT-IN

A built-in grill is finished only on the top and front and fits in a surrounding base that provides support. Select from models that have a cement or stone island base (usually sold separately), can be built into a custom enclosure, or used on a freestanding grill base cabinet or cart. If you entertain often, this will provide an impressive focal point to your outdoor eating area.

FREESTANDING

A freestanding grill is the most popular choice due to its ability to transfer from in-box to ready-to-use quickly and easily. It can stand-alone since it has matching paneling on all sides, that give it a complete and finished look from every angle. It is not only convenient to install, many models offer storage that hides the gas tank or gas connection from view.

PORTABLE

A portable grill moves easily. It can be freestanding with wheels attached to the legs or a small tabletop model that can be placed on any flat surface. Available in liquid propane, charcoal and electric, it’s easy to take on the go – for tailgating, a picnic in the park or family camping trip.

POST MOUNT

A post mount grill is built on a singular stand meant to be permanently installed in your patio area. Different from a built-in grill, a post mount grill is fully finished all around, allowing for a beautiful look from any viewpoint. And the real beauty is that it doesn’t require a lot of space on the ground, so it’s sure to fit in almost any sized yard.

GIVE IT A SHAKE

Quality, sturdy construction in both the grill body and frame are important whether it is made from ceramic, stainless steel or cast iron. An easy way to test construction is with a simple shake. A poorly made grill will wiggle unevenly and may sound loose or flimsy. If a grill isn’t solid on the sales floor, chances are it will fall apart rather quickly on your patio or deck. Not all grills are created equal, but there are several components that are common to nearly all models.

GRILL FEATURES

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU GET YOUR GRILL ON

Certain features simplify the way you use and maintain your oven. There are several features you should look out for depending on your cooking preferences, aesthetic tastes, capacity needs and demand for easy maintenance.

SIZE

The primary or main grilling surface is measured in square inches and should be your most important consideration. The secondary work surface includes other areas such as warming racks and side-burners.

COOKING GRATES

Come in either cast iron, porcelain coated cast iron, stainless steel, and porcelain coated steel or steel. Look for strong, high quality grates that will resist heat damage and hard weather corrosion.

BURNERS

Help control the heat. A good grill will have two individually controlled burners; three on high end grills. Stainless steel or porcelain coated steel burners are known to be rust resistant.

SIDE-BURNERS

For preparing vegetables or sauces can be useful if your grill is located far from your kitchen.

INFRARED BURNERS

Cooks food quickly using infrared radiant energy that sears the outside of meat, locking in the juices and flavor.

HALOGEN LIGHTING

Illuminates the grills surface making it easier to cook at night.

SMOKERS

Infuses food with flavor and make meat mouth wateringly tender through slow cooking at low temperatures. They require a chamber to hold the smoke and smoke source, like wood chips. Some grills come with a smoker box while others can double as a smoker. Freestanding smokers are also available in charcoal or gas fueled models.

ROTISSERIE SPLITS

Rotates food within the heat-filled grill chamber, for slow roasted meats with a juicer more intense flavor. This requires less heat than flaming grilling. Grills may have an integrated rotisserie and /or built-in motor with a dedicated rear rotisserie burner.

THERMOMETERS

Built into most grills to allow for monitoring the temperature of the grill without lifting the lid. Some models have digital displays with meat probes.

WHAT’S A BTU?

The heat a gas grill generates is measured in BTUs, which stands for British Thermal Units. But BTUs alone cannot measure a grill’s effectiveness. Size and shape, construction, design elements such as distance from the flame to the grilling surface and burner controls all play a part in how a grill heats and maintains its temperature. As a guideline you can look at the size of the primary grilling surface and figure 80-100 BTUs per square inch for a regular gas grill and 60-80 BTUs for an infrared gas grill.

ADDITIONAL OUTDOOR ACCESSORIES

TAKE THE PARTY OUTSIDE

Transform your deck or patio into your favorite place for entertaining family and friends by adding an outdoor kitchen to the backyard. Outdoor kitchens at minimum start with a built-stainless steel grill or grill with a base cabinet. If you want to entertain with style consider installing a fully equipped kitchen complete with countertops, sink bar, refrigerator, icemaker, warming drawer, storage cabinets and more. Depending on how plan to use the kitchen – for a typical barbeque or a gourmet meal – will determine the appliances and accessories you choose. Then all you’ll need is a bright sunny day and yard full of guests.

STORAGE AND ACCESSORIES

Imagine the convenience of having everything you need at your fingertips without running to your indoor kitchen. If you do, plan to include stainless steel cabinets and drawers for storage space in your outdoor kitchen. There are options available to meet every countertop or space you need. So you can store your grill brush, outdoor dishes, pots, pans and more to make it much easier to cook and serve a delicious meal.

FREESTANDING GRILL BASE CABINETS

A cost saving option for families on a budget. There are models with cabinets and drawers for storage or deluxe options such as a refrigerator unit, marinating drawers, warming drawers or adjustable shelves.

OUTDOORS BARS

A great way to have cool drinks ready for your guests on a hot day. Sizes vary from 30”-60” and can be freestanding or built-in. And for the weekend bartender, it can be as elaborate as you want – Stainless Steel Sink, Faucet, Ice Storage, Bottle Boots, Cutting Board and Towel Bar.

OUTDOOR RANGE HOODS

Recommended if your outdoor kitchen is going to be located under the eaves of your home or a closed patio cover. A range hood for ventilation will make your outdoor kitchen safer and keep the fresh air fresh.

OUTDOOR REFRIGERATORS

All-weather units that work even in extreme high and low temperatures. Available in compact, under-counter (under the grill), or refrigerator drawer models they can be used to keep food cold nearby. Freestanding or built-in they are usually 24” wide with 5.5 cu. ft. capacity.

OUTDOOR ICE MAKERS

Generally 15” wide and provide a steady supply of fresh, crystal clear ice – some models producing up to 65 lbs. in 24 hours.

BEVERAGE COOLERS

An attractive way to eliminate messy ice Often mounted on wheels for easy portability; sizes vary.

BEVERAGE CENTERS

Ideal for cold drinks – some models include wine racks, even convert to a kegerator. Freestanding or built-in they are typically 15” wide with 3.2 cu. ft. capacity of 24” wide with 5.5 cu. ft. capacity.

PATIO TORCH

Provides cozy mood lighting and warmth like the model shown from an attractive single, luminous 4’ flame with a 360°view.

OUTDOOR PATIO HEATERS

Warms you with infrared radiant heat from propane, natural gas or electric.

FREESTANDING PATIO HEATERS

Ideal for keeping a large area warm (up to 24’ depending on the BTUs of the unit) and can be moved wherever you want the heat.

OUTDOOR ELECTRIC FLOOR AND TABLE LAMPS

Provides heat from a Halogen bulb, warming a 10’-12’ area. They required access to an outlet.

OUTDOOR FIREPLACE OR FIREPITS

Adds ambience along with warmth. Most are fueled by propane but some can be converted to natural gas. Use these units outdoors in a well-ventilated space – not inside a screened0in porch, gazebo or any other enclosed area.