11 tips for buying a Gas Grill – BBQ buying guide

11 tips for buying a Gas Grill – BBQ buying guide
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How to buy A Gas Grill like a pro?

When we choose to buy a Gas Grill that would suit our needs, there are several aspects and considerations that are not necessarily known to all buyers especially if it is their first barbecue

Many people ask me “what to look for when we buy a gas grill”?, So, here we are to give you our tips how to avoid our mistakes.

First and foremost – it is important to us to match the gas grill that we acquire to our needs and buy a grill with a perfect experience of grilling and a long-lasting barbecue experience

It is like when you choose a new car, you have to define whether it is a city car or a 4×4 monster road vehicle. The same goes to grills – it is important to set a few answers yourself the following questions:

  • How many guests do you typically have? Are you a small family with a dog or a large batch of friends?
  • Are you grilling once a week or only at Memorial and Independence Day?
  • Where do you plan to put the grill – at the backyard or narrow apartment balcony?
  • Budget – basically there are 4 prices ranges for gas grills
    • up to $250 which are smaller, less powerful and less resilient ,
    • between $250-450 – there are lots of variety, but, we must say it is many of them are not giving the right price-performance.
    • above $450 – these are mainly good grills and the difference is with the different features.
    • above $1,000 – these are premium grills and last long

10 Rules to the BBQ buyer: how to buy a gas grill smarter?

Gas Grill is for experts and buying a gas grill is for professionals

Preface: Gas Grill is the most efficient, short and accurate to prepare your meat (in comparison to wood-fueled and charcoal grills). But, this only stand if you picked the right grill.

Rule #1- How much BTU do you need for your BBQ/Grill?

BTU means the ability of the BBQ burners to produce heat.

People should know that there is no way to grill a steak with a gas grill who’s power is less than 100 BTU/square inches

(that is 15 BTU/square cm for our Australians and Britons readers)

Disclaimer: for long BBQing – you can use grills with less than 100 BTU/square inches – but not for Grilling – read more about the difference between Grilling and BBQing

How do you do the calculation? – you take the BTU and divide it by the size of the cooking area.

A numerical example – if you have a grill that gives 54000 BTU , and the area is 25.6″ x 17.3″ (that’s 65 cm x 44 cm) then you calculate 54000/(25.6 * 17.3) = 122 which is above our minimum standard.

(for metric system users that’s 54000/(65*44) = 18 which is above 15)

Infrared burners typically emit intense heat to sear and cook food so Please be noted that infrared burners have better heat dissipation, So grills with infrared burners can have a lower BTU/Area coefficient.

Gas grills are difficult to maintain at the low temperatures required (~225-250 °F)

Rule # 2 – What’s the ideal size for the grill cooking area?

The main factor in determining grill size is the cooking area.

The cooking area is calculated in terms of square inches or square cm. The minimal cooking area you need for a family is 400 square inches (or around 68cm x 38 cm) and three burner gas grill should features 400-500 square inches of cooking area. People who use their five or six burners grills should have 500-6oo square inches of cooking area.

Rule #3- How many burners should a grill have?

2 burners can fit no more than 4 hungry people, while with 3 burners you can satisfy 8 people easily and 12 people with a bit of patience. It’s a bit difficult to achieve even heat distribution with any fewer than 3 burners, but we see a new trend of 2 burners compact grills with a smaller cooking area that can fit a nice balcony.

It is especially important that the burners are  far enough from grates and not too close to meat.  Direct contact between meat and flames  is a recipe for calamity …

A well-known rule for every grill man/grill-woman is not to roast on open fire.

This has two meanings. One, when a flame bursts out of the burner, it must not burn the flesh! We want to roast. Do not burn! And the second point is that in order for the fire to be uniform and dispersed well, it must be at a precise distance from the grate.

The ideal distance is between 3-5 inches ( 8-12 cm) – you should  measure it  before you buy

Rule # 4- Grill’s footprint

In addition to the cooking area, the footprint of a grill must be considered, mainly if you have limited storage room. Most barbecue grills have side shelves that can be displaced or collapsed. As safety concerns, the grill must sit 5-6 feet (2 meters) away from the house and other inflammable materials. You should ensure that your deck or patio can facilitate your new grill’s wingspan.

Rule #5 – Which type of BBQ burners are the best?

As in any car – the most important thing is the engine, so in the grills, the burner are the heart of the grill. If the burners do not work properly, the whole grill is worth nothing!

There are several types and levels of burners in the market:

1. The best burner is the stainless steel burner, this burner is made as a perforated tube. These burners usually last for many years and provide best blue fire.

2. Other burners that exist on the market are the cast iron burners. These solid burner provides the fire with the desired power. But the material from which it is made can rust very quickly, since it is impossible to protect the iron from the fat that falls on it or anything else that causes rust.

3. The latter are tin burners, which are found in simple grills and these burners are ineffective. Most of them rust in less than a year.  They also do not  provide the desired amount of heat.

4. Infrared burners. In general, Infrared burners are only for giving the meat a “heat shock” and caramelising and make the meat with crunchy edges.  BUT, it is a kind of an ax –  not suitable for delicate jobs. If you do not stop in time, the meat will become dry and dark.

Use the infrared mainly for the last minutes to give the last browning.  In high quality grills the infra will be used only in the back or as side burners

Rule #6 – Heat distribution

A uniform and effective heat distribution is the secret to juicy and delicious meat. If the heat distribution is not done well and uniformly, we may encounter a problem known that meat on the left side of the grill has not warmed yet, while the meat on the right side of the grill has long been burned …

Another problem with grilles that have not been properly designed is that the front third of the grill does not heat. why is it happening? Because the gas is circulated in the tubes, run until the end of the burner and return. When the design is bad to the pressure in the tube is not accurate – the gas usually only gets back two thirds of the way, so the front part will not heat!

Here too, as in the burners, there are several methods of doing this in an optimal manner:

1. In the past, lava stones were used to disperse the heat, (and no, the stones give no taste!). The problem with the stones was that each stone would heat on its own, and it would also disperse the heat according to its strength. This would lead to uneven heat, waste of gas and inefficiency and a 30% reduction in output. In Addition, the stones absorb fat, which could lead to an outbreak of flares and unnecessary burning of the meat …

2 Cast iron. It is known that iron absorbs heat, stores heat and eventually emits heat. This  makes the heat dissipation much more efficient, much faster and most important for us much more uniform. That is to say, if the grate we want to purchase is made of cast iron this is a good sign.

3. Triangles. After we passed the “Stone Age” we come to the new method used by most of the grills today. And this is as you probably already understood, the “triangles heat plates”. The conical shape of the heat plate, absorbs the heat  and sends it directly to the top. The more sharp the triangles are, the more efficient the heat dissipation will be.

Uneven heat distribution is one of the major problems of grills, but you can lower your risks that your grill would have uneven heat distribution and inconsistent temperatures by the following tips

  • Check what it farthest point from your burners – a point above a feet (30 cm) will be cooler than required.
  • Grills with metal burner shield have better distribution of heat, even though the shield itself reduces the over all heat (see rule number 1)
  • High BTU Burner location – if the burner are too close to the surface, the heat will too focused and not distributed across the entire grid, if you have a grill with 5-7 high BTU burners which are too close you will need to put lava stones or ceramic rods to ensure better heat distribution

Rule #7 – The material the grill is made out of

Cast Aluminium

A lot of grills have bodies made of cast aluminium, which has traditionally been used because of its resistance to rust and its ability hols heat and distribute it evenly.

Aluminium castings are very durable and often come with 10 year to lifetime guarantees.

The quality of the casting varies by thickness and grade of aluminum.

Also available are porcelain coated steel and stainless steel grill bodies which offer a high level of rust resistance while sacrificing some grill efficiency.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is the best for your grill body

But, be careful since not all stainless steel is created equal. For durability and performance, you want both the grill body and the frame to be made from stainless steel.

It is important to know that there are several types of stainless steel with significant differences in price – Model 304 and Model 430 (and 316 model which is a little less popular). When it comes to stainless steel the smaller the number the more quality of the stainless steel. The 304 model contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. The 430 model contains 17 percent chromium and 0.12 percent carbon. This means that the 304 model stands at higher temperatures less rusting and maintains a glossy appearance over time.

Trick for Professionals: if you want to know which stainless steel model the grill has? Take a magnet for the refrigerator and place it on the inner part of the grill. If it sticks, then it is the lower quality 430, if it does not stick, then it is the quality is 304

Rule #8 –  The grill’s lid test

The first thing you need to test is – the lid’s weight – the heavier the better In high quality BBQs, the grill cover will cover and sit well on the bottom of the grill, the higher the weight of the lid, the higher its quality and the better the heat inside the grill and save you energy.

You also need a lid that closes fairly tight for smoking. Alas, lids do not seal tightly due to laws to prevent them from building up explosive gases.

Rule #9 –  The grill’s grates

Cast Iron grates  are recommended for maximizing heat transfer (see above, heat dissipation).

Stainless steel grates have a nice advantage that they can be cleaned very easily. There are also massive stainless steel grates, which provide both cleanness and good heat absorption!

Enamel coated grates are less recommended. Their only   role is the as plane  for laying the meat on.

Our tip: The more massive the grate, the better.

Rule #10 – Avoiding flare-ups – fat drainage system

Flare-ups are usually caused by fat that drops onto the burners. A fat drainage system is very essential for maintaining the grill, and to prevent the undesirable phenomenon of flare-ups.

We need to ensure that our grill has the option of emptying the fats by replacing disposable bowls. Or at least an easy access to periodic cleaning. A quality grill will have a drainage system that is used for routine maintenance of the grill.

A new patent recently released, which we like very much, is a diagonal grate that protect the burners and cause the fat to drain away from the burners.

Nonetheless, infrared burners are less sensitive to fat and generate less flare-ups

Rule #11 –  The brand and the warranty

In choosing a grill, the main element that we must take into account is who the manufacturer is and how much warranty the product is given.

Our rule: The higher the manufacturer’s warranty, the greater the confidence in the quality and efficiency of the product.

There are manufacturers who come and go and leave the consumer looking and wandering to find spare parts. It is equally important that the agent that you are buying from  has spare parts. Gas grills and parts are very important and should not be underestimated, since the product has to endure under harsh weather, in the transition between heat and cold, between rain and sun, etc.

Assume that over time you will need the spare parts. Another small tip … It is important to know that buying a grill from an anonymous manufacturer or importer may save you a few dollars on the purchase, but later you will likely get expensive repair service. Or worse, you may not even find parts for your BBQ and you will have to put it on your balcony as a silent statue for the savings you’ve made … Grill is a product that, if you buy it right, daily enjoyment will be not only from this barbecue machine, but also to an innovative hobby and steak house in your home!

Out tip: recommended BBQs should give at least years warranty on burners (the best today give even 25 years)