Tired of gas grills that don’t work or are you looking to find the best barbecue grills? What’s The Best – Grill can help you sort out the good gas grills from the bad and teach you how to buy all types of gas grills, natural gas grills and charcoal grills.
Our gas grills buying guide will help you decide if you need a new natural gas grill or if your old one just needs a good cleaning. We then take you through different features of gas grills and explain the different variables to consider when buying gas grills.
Finally, What’s The Best – Grill will give you some useful tips for shopping and safety and you will be ready to find the best gas grills for you!
DO YOU NEED A NEW GRILL?
You may only need to fix or clean your old grill.
- Follow the instructions in the manual to clean the burner ports and manifolds. When people say that their grill is “dead” a thorough cleaning can sometimes bring it back to life. Clean out all openings with a pipe cleaner or brush.
To clean the grates, turn the grill on high for about a half-hour. This will burn off residue on the grates. Then use a wire grill brush to scrub the rest. Do not use a hose/soap to clean the inside of a grill!
- Check for gas leaks. Just like the mechanics at the garage check your tires for leaks – wipe down the hose and all connections with sudsy water. Then turn on the valve. If bubbles appear, you have leak. Try a new hose or patch the one you have. It may also be trouble with the connection to the tank.
- Replace old parts. Try replacing grates or burners that are rusty or have weak spots. Clean lava rocks are better distributors of heat, so try replacing those.
- And of course, make sure there is gas in that tank!
If this seems like too much work, or if this won't salvage your grill, it's time for a new one.
There is nothing like a good old-fashioned barbecue. Check out this guide for all your barbecuing needs.
In general, as the number of features increases on a grill so does its cost. Carts, side burners, rotisseries, and stainless steel construction all add to a grill's price, but many manufacturers make these features optional which allows you to have greater control over the price of your grill. The price can range from $30 to $3000, but most grills range between $180 to $600 with an average price of $550.
IMPORTANT FEATURES TO CONSIDER
BTUs – In the store you will see the grill's BTU/hr rating displayed. This is a measure of heating power. The grill's inside temperature also depends on the grill's design and size. So consider the BTU/hr as well as the number of burners, side burners and size.
A BTU rating of 30,000 should be adequate for a grill with 300 to 400 square inches of area. As the number of BTUs increases so does the amount of fuel that is used, but cooking grids that retain heat can reduce the number of BTUs needed to cook food.
Number of burners – Many grills come with two burners controlled separately or one burner with dual controls. This will help you control where the heat is.
Some higher end grills have three burners for even more precise control. Consider what you will use your grill for when choosing the number of burners. Also steel burners can eventually rust, so look for stainless steel or porcelain coated.
Side burners – A side burner can be helpful for cooking a side dish while you grill. This will save you from running back and forth to the kitchen.
This burner is separate from the main body of your grill and is perfect for frying, boiling, steaming, or just simmering barbecue sauce. It can drastically increase the number of meals you are able to prepare on your grill, but it can also raise the price of your grill by over a hundred dollars.
Propane tanks – Most come with a tank, but beware some are at an extra cost. An old tank may not fit on a new grill, as the attachments have changed. Fortunately, this makes hook-up easier. One method of seeing how much gas is in the tank is weighing it on your household scale.
Some grills have a device that weighs the tank and indicates its fullness. These inevitably get out of whack with use. A new method is a magnet back card that indicates through color change when the gas is low. This costs a few dollars extra but seems worth it.
Rotisserie – If you enjoy the old-fashioned pig roast or just cooking something with a long stick through it and watching it turn, be sure to get a grill with a rotisserie. This is an extra heat source equipped with a self-propelled spinning motor for slow, even cooking of roasts and poultry.
Side shelving – This can help keep your sauces and tools handy.
SHOULD I ASSEMBLE IT OR HAVE A RETAILER DO IT?
- Most grills take at least an hour to assemble, sometimes closer to two.
- Do you have the time to do it?
- Are you handy? Do you spend Christmas Eve in frustration trying to put together the children's toys or is it a joy? This might be fun for you and give you a sense of ownership. It might be torture. Only you can decide.
- Do you have the time to do it?
- Having the retailer assemble the grill usually requires a small fee of about $20.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GRILL
- Appearance and features
Burners-Many grills come with two burners controlled separately or one burner with dual controls. This will help you control where the heat is. The greater control you have over where the heat is hitting your food the greater possibility you have for success.
Smokers – A smoker allows you to cook slowly, letting steam created from water and the heat from the grill saturate your food. Many smokers also use a variety of differently flavored wood chips for added flavor.
Warming Rack – A cooking grid that is further away from the main heat source then the primary grid. A warming rack can increase the total cooking area making it possible to cook more food at the same time or just keep the food you have already prepared warm. Many models have retractable or removable warming racks that allow full access to the primary cooking area when desired.
Cooking grate – This can sear food better if it has wide bars that are closely spaced. Most grates are made of porcelain-coated steel or the somewhat sturdier porcelain-coated cast iron, bare cast iron, or stainless steel.
A porcelain-coated grate is rustproof and easy to clean, but over time it can chip. Bare cast iron is sturdy and sears beautifully, but you have to season it with cooking oil to avoid rust. The best of both worlds: stainless steel, which is sturdy, heats quickly, and resists rust without porcelain.
Shelves – These usually flip up from the front or side or are fixed on the side. Shelves are usually made of plastic, but a few models have a removable shelf that doubles as a cutting board.
Igniter – Many grills have an igniter that creates a spark to light the gas. These can be with a push button or rotary igniter.
Fuel tanks – Most come with a tank, but beware some are at an extra cost. An old tank may not fit on a new grill, as the attachments have changed.
Thermometer – Many grills have a thermometer on the lid, which measures the air temperature inside when the lid is closed.
Do you want your grill to coordinate with your wood deck? You may want to purchase one with wooden slats and handles.
- Cart – Grills are mounted on portable carts. Be sure that it is sturdy. Make sure it doesn't rock back and forth.
1. Wheels – Many carts come with 4 wheels and/or locking casters for easy movement. Some come with two wheels and need to be lifted at one end to move.
2. If rain or snow is a problem in your area or if space is limited in your backyard a cart makes your grill easy to move, unlike a model mounted on your patio. Many carts also provide extra storage area and tool holders.
3. Extra shelves and burners – see Important Features
- Size– When looking for a grill, size is very important. You want to purchase a grill that will fit your needs now and in the future. Don't just plan on your summer dinners for you and the family. Think of all those reunions, summer gatherings, birthday parties, and neighborhood barbecues that may come up. Will you want to be able to accommodate larger numbers?
- Type of Gas
A grill either uses a fuel such as propane or natural gas, or it has an electric burner similar to one found in an electric kitchen range
1. Propane – This requires using a fuel tank that is refillable.
2. Natural – Having a gas line run outside to hook up a grill is a nice, efficient way to power that grill. It also eliminates the need for the seemingly always-empty fuel tank.
To make cleanup easier, look for a grill with a dip tray. You also may want to look for heat-deflecting panels in the hood. These allow the heat to spread evenly.
If your region gets extreme weather, make sure the grill will fit in your shed or wherever you plan to store it.
Consider how often and how much you will be grilling. Some lower-priced gas grills ($250 or less) are good values. Models costing $350 to $575 usually have more features, longer warranties, and sturdier carts. Spending thousands of dollars gets you many or all of those features plus more burners and mostly stainless-steel construction.
Be careful, many city fire codes prohibit grills within 15 feet of buildings or on patios or decks above the first floor. Because propane is heavier than air, a leak poses a potential threat to neighbors below. If you live in an apartment or condominium, make sure you can use and store your grill.
Make sure you get a quality grill, even if you will use your grill only on summer holidays or occasional weekends. A cheap grill will not last and will likely be frustrating to use at times.
Basics of Grilling
- Always open your grill first. Then light it.
- Be sure to let your grill heat up properly. Don't stick meat on a cold grill. It will stick.
- Keep the lid closed for cooking.
- Read your owner's manual thoroughly before grilling.
- When you are first using your grill, keep a stopwatch nearby. Note how long you cooked things for and how they turned out. This will help you learn how your grill works, as each performs differently.
- When grilling, keep the grill away from overhangs and in an open area.
- Watch your clothing. Be sure long sleeves are away from flames and heat. Watch long hair as well.
- Store gas tank outdoors-even when empty.
- Keep your grill clean. If it won't wipe up, burn it off. Turn the grill on high, let it heat up, and then scrub it with a wire brush.
- If the grill won't light after a couple tries, turn off the gas. Let it sit for a few minutes and try again.
- Be sure to close off the propane tank when finished grilling.
- Sauces tend to burn, so apply them in the last couple minutes.
- There are lots of grill cookbooks and special grilling accessories from tools to spices. Check them out and have fun!!
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