So you want to buy a grill? You've gone to the big box stores. You've looked at Weber, Char-Broil and a dozen more. You've listened to salespeople tell you about surface areas, BTUs, side burners, infrared burners, and a dozen things you've never heard of. Now you're more confused than before and what you need is a little friendly advice. This article is a guide to help you decide what features you want when shopping for a grill.
The first thing is the price. You get what you pay for! If you drop in your local department or hardware store you will see grills in the price range of around $150 to $300. However there are grills that can run over $10,000. So you should decide how much you want to spend before you shop because you can spend as much as you want.
The second thing to take into consideration is the fuel. Decide if you want gas, charcoal, or wood pellet. For gas grills, do you want propane or natural gas? Natural gas requires a gas line at the location of your grill. Many grills can be bought in either configuration but you can't run a propane grill on natural gas or visa versa. Many lower priced grills do not have the natural gas option. Of course natural gas will cost you less in the long run and save you trips to the propane store. If want to read more on Propane vs. Natural Gas grills, read our previous blog post. Charcoal takes longer to set up and clean up, but it generates more heat and imparts a slightly different flavor. Wood pellet burners are the most sophisticated with digital thermostat controls. They are great for smoking, although the smoke flavor is delicate and not as powerful as charcoal fueled smokers.
Next is the material the grill is made out of. Stainless steel is the preferred material of professional cooking equipment, but not all stainless is created equally. 304 stainless steel is the most common and is a commercial grade metal used only in the highest quality products. This stainless steel has superior corrosion resistance than most common metals, and will retain its beauty and luster longer than other common stainless steel grades. One thing to watch for is not just the body, but also the frame. There are many "stainless steel" grills that have painted steel frames that can rust. Once you decide on the material, look over the whole grill to see how it's put together. Is it all stainless steel or only parts of it? Is it all 304 stainless or is it a mix? This matters. Some manufacturers take shortcuts with metal!
Once you have these factors decided, you need to pick the size and features you want. For the size, think about the kinds of things you will want to cook on your grill and for how many people you might want to cook for. Start by looking at the number of square inches of primary cooking surface. That's the main cooking grate. Some manufacturers list total cooking area and that includes the warming rack suspended above the primary cooking area. Yes, you can cook up there, but heat dissipates rapidly the further you get from the flame, so food will not cook very quickly on the upper rack. This can be good, and a removable warming rack is a nice feature. But the important measurement is the square inches of the main grate. Square inches are calculated by multiplying the length by the width of the primary cooking surface. When deciding how much surface you need, remember that you do not want to crowd a grill, that you should leave at least an inch between steaks or other things being cooked. Also look at the space you have for the grill. Get one that will fit safely and conveniently.
As for features, do you want a side burner? How about multiple level cooking surfaces, or a smoker box, side burner, rotisserie burner, lights, or any one of a dozen things that get added to a grill these days. Make sure the material of the features are created with high quality metal just like your grill.
Materials, thickness of metals, quality of parts play a major role in how long a grill will last. However, the biggest part of the lifespan of your gas grill is how well it is take care of. A well taken care of grill can last a long time! The best grill out there will rust and fall apart if it is left uncovered and uncleaned. Of course a better grill will last longer, but you can get a long time out of a cheaper grill is you take care of it.
Warranty and support
What kind of warranty and/or guarantee does it come with? The best grills come with lifetime warranty on most (if not all) of their parts. Also, check the warranty on the burners, sometimes they have a separate warranty than the rest of the grill. You want five to ten years. What is the dealer's reputation? Is there a phone number and email for tech support? What if you need parts?
However, a good quality grill is a joy to use while a poor quality grill can lead to bad experiences that leave you less likely to cookout. One way to separate the bad from the good is to look for name brand grills versus store brands. Store brands change factories annually and lack the depth of support that will help keep you grill working for years to come, because if you take good care of it, it should last for many, many years.
Increte of Houston has helped thousands of Houstonians enjoy the outdoors again with attractive, practical outdoor kitchens in Houston for more than a decade. Not only do we have knowledgeable employees who can answer all of your grill questions, we also sell grills and outdoor kitchen appliances ourselves. Contact us today and let us help you find the grill of your dreams. Visit our grill website, Smokin Hot BBQ Grills, here and check out the best grills on the market.