One of the first things you’ll need to decide when you start looking into buying a barbeque is what type of fuel you’d like to be burning. The two main types of barbeque available on the market are gas and charcoal. Electric grills are a less popular choice but are a great option for when a live fire is prohibited on your property. The most popular choice, and the one we’ll be looking at in this article, is the gas barbeque.
The main advantage that a gas barbeque has over charcoal burning models is that they’re much easier to light and take significantly less time to come up to temp. Charcoal requires some care and technique to catch and build up. Then you must wait until the briquettes have burned down and gone white hot before you’ve reached prime cooking ability. A gas burning barbeque just needs the gas line open and an electric starter or lighter to start the fire. Without the warm up time of briquettes you need only wait with the lid down for the interior of your barbeque and grill to come up to temp before you’re good to go. Most gas-powered barbeques can typically reach temperatures of 400-600 degrees F.
The majority of gas barbeques you’ll find in stores and online will be designed to burn propane gas. Propane can be purchased in wide variety of quantities. Small 16 ounces cylinders are widely available that are great for taking camping or picnicking with a portable grill. Larger propane tanks are also available upwards of 30lbs. 20lb tanks are the most common size for backyard barbeques and can be refilled.
It’s worth noting that many gas barbeques that come equipped to have a propane tank installed can be easily and safely converted to use the natural gas that is already delivered to your house with utilities. The natural gas you pay for with your utilities is significantly cheaper than the propane you can purchase to refill your propane tank. If you plan to barbeque regularly for a long period of time this may be the way to go so save money.
Gas VS Charcoal Barbecues
There are really only two drawbacks to choosing a gas barbeque over a charcoal burning barbeque. First, you’ll probably notice that propane models come with a higher price tag than the charcoal ones. You’re essentially paying for the added convenience of a quick and easy light. For most people this extra cost is more than made up for by the significantly fast warm-up period of the gas models. It makes last minute barbequed dinners a much easier decision. Secondly, you won’t be able to smoke your food nearly as well with a propane model as with a charcoal grill. Some gas burning models do come with a smoker basket. Sadly though this won’t come anywhere close to what a charcoal barbeque is capable of. The gas simply burns much cleaner than charcoal briquettes so there will be significantly less smoke to begin with. Even with a smoker basket, the distribution of smoke usually leaves something to desire whereas the burning charcoal is more evenly distributed beneath the cooking food and wood chips can also be more evenly distributed.
Once you’ve decided on a gas barbeque you’ll be able to find a grill to suit any need. There are barbeques perfect for anyone from a complete beginner to a master of the grill. They range in size from small one-burner grills to massive 6+ burner models. In addition to the stationary deck models you’ll also find a wide variety of barbeques designed to be portable so you can take them camping. And of course the price tag can vary from just under $100 to well over $3000 for the deluxe models. You’ll want to base your selection on three factors, probably in this order: desired use, budget, and size.
Backyard VS Camping Barbecues
If you’re looking for a great barbeque for hosting weekend cookouts and grilling up evening meals you’ll be looking at completely different models than if you’re looking for the perfect portable grill to take with you on your annual family camping trip. So first things first, decide what you want to be using your barbeque for and where you want to make the investment.
Next you’ll want to decide on a budget and start looking at what’s available in your price range. Look at what changes as your price increases and decide what features you’d like to invest in. You might not even need to max out your budget here to get everything you want out of a grill. If your budget is flexible and you find the models in your initial budget aren’t quite meeting your expectations, look at what those extra features will cost and decide how much they’re worth to you. The beauty of the market here is that there is such a range in what’s available that you’re almost sure to find something affordable that checks off all the requirements boxes.
When looking at lower end models there are a few things look for. Keep an eye out for painted aluminum barbeques that won’t be as prone to rust or corrosion. These will last longer in the elements even if you don’t invest in a barbeque cover, though these are sometimes recommended. You’ll also want to have porcelain coated steel grates, preferably with grills that aren’t too far apart. The porcelain-coated steel will clean easily after each use and should last you quite a while. The grill spacing is important to note so that you don’t have to worry about food falling down between the grills too easily. A basic one-burner grill is fantastic for cooking burgers and hot dogs. If you plan to stick mainly to these foods then a simple barbeque with one or two burners will do just fine.
Which Barbecues are the Best?
For a broader barbequing repertoire you’ll want a wider temperature range and multiple burners with independent temperature control for a two-zone method of cooking. This is where one area of the grill is hot enough to provide a nice sear and grill marks and the other area of the grill provides a lower heat to make sure your food is cooked through to perfection without charring the outside too early.
At the higher end you’ll find a little more variety to meet your preferences. A stainless steel body is the way to go as they withstand the elements marvelously without rusting. Models will tend to have at minimum 3 burners and many will have a side burner for sauces and things or to use as extra prep space with a cover. Warming racks will also provide extra cooking area. You’ll find grills in stainless steel, porcelain-coated steel bars, or in cast iron grates.
Now that you’ve had a brief intro and have an idea of what to look for go out and do some research. Talk to and ask questions of the guys selling the barbeques. They know they’re stuff and can help you narrow down your search to find the perfect model for you.