Whether you like charcoal or gas, a single grill or a cooking station, how and where you use a grill will help you decide on the grill size and features you need. Flame cooking is what makes grilling so special, so it’s essential to pick the right type of fuel for the grilling you do. Charcoal fans love the flavor it imparts and the natural flame. Gas-grill lovers like a fuel that burns cleaner, is easy to start, and is always at the ready.
Barbecues or charcoal-fueled grills require charcoal or briquettes and take 15-30 minutes for the flames to reduce before the food can be cooked over hot coals. Many cooks use natural accelerants, paper, wood, and smoking chips like mesquite for flavor. Charcoal grills typically have air vents to help control the flames and cleaning vents that allow you to empty the ashes from the bottom.
Gas grills are powered by liquid propane (LP) or natural gas — each with its own valve so be sure you buy the right version. They typically have an automatic starter that ignites the flame with the touch of a button. Gas grills take very little time to heat up and are extinguished by shutting down the gas. Gas burns much cleaner than charcoal, but does not impart the smoky flavor of charcoal or wood-fueled cooking. Propane is sold in tanks that are refillable. A standard 20 lb. tank will last about nine hours before running out. Natural gas grills have a direct line to the gas supply and never run out of fuel.
Grill size is determined by the amount of space given to the grill and the amount of cooking surface it provides. A large specialty grill with two or more burners will require a lot of space. Measure the area where you intend to put the grill and check carefully to ensure that the features you want will fit in the space you have.
Think about the way you wish to use your grill. If you entertain large groups, like to grill a bunch of dogs and hamburgers for a crowd, then surface space will be very important. Typical family grilling for single entree meals, like steaks, chicken, or chops, do not require a lot of area. Meats cook well when close together because they share heat, which helps speed the cooking process. If, however, you like to cook full meals on the grill, including vegetables and side dishes, it is important to select a grill with burners and grill shelves for foods that cook at different temperatures or need to be kept warm. Individual controls will allow you to cook with one surface area at a time or all at once.
The heat output of a barbecue is measured in BTUs. The heat output will range from 25,000 to 120,000 BTUs. Keep in mind that 44,000 BTUs is consider hot and 60,000 BTUs is considered blazing hot. Side burners will range anywhere for 10,000 to 12,000 BTUs.
BTU, or British Thermal Units, measure the amount of heat that is generated per hour. Technically speaking, a BTU is the amount of heat that is needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Most full-size gas grills range from 25,000 to 65,000 BTU; smaller, portable grills can have as few as 5,000 BTU, and larger units can have as much as 100,000 BTU or more!
The BTU rating alone is insufficient to determine the heat output of a grill. You also need to look at 50,000 BTU to reach a searing temperature of 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit. On average, you should look for approximately 100 BTU per square inch of primary cooking space. Generally, the larger the grill, the more BTU are required to reach a similar temperature.
Remember also that because the BTU rating measures the total amount of heat generated by all the burners per hour, it is also an indicator of the fuel consumption. The higher the BTU, therefore, the more gas the grill will consume and the more often you need to refill your tank.
It is essential that the grill has passed the wobble test and is built to last. The grill should be good and stable. Check for the construction and the materials used, (the material the grill is made out of) The main body of the grill is usually made from cast aluminum, sheet metal, cast iron, or stainless steel. Stainless steel is the preferred material of professional cooking equipment but not all stainless steel is created equally. once you decide on the material, look over the whole grill to see how it’s put together. Is it all stainless steel (try using a magnet) to test the purity of the stainless steel. If magnet sticks is low-grade stainless steel.
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 unclean. Of course a better grill will last longer, but you can get a long time out of your grill is you take care of it.
Selecting the right spot for your grill depends on many factors. Proximity to the kitchen or food source is important for many outdoor cooks. Locating the grill near a door or entrance to the kitchen will make trips for food, utensils, marinades, cleanup, and serving plates easier. For those wish to create an outdoor dining or entertainment space, try locating the grill station near a patio, deck, or backyard picnic table. Warning: never place grill under a deck, an overhang, eave, awning, or under patio structure. Pay attention to prevalent wind directions, since no one likes to dine in a cloud of smoke.
Accessories complete the grilling experience and can even help with the decision on where to place your grill. Grill stations can have added counter space for food preparation, storage for pots, pans, and utensils, and sinks for prep and cleanup. Consider a grill with hanging space for spatulas, fork, and brushes. A small refrigerator can keep meats, beverages, and condiments cold.
- Check gas line connections for leaks with a soapy solution.
- Raise the hood before lighting the burner.
- In case of inability to light the grill, turn off the gas immediately.
- It is observed that LP gas gets hotter fast and it is better that lower setting of the control valve is maintained.
- Take care not to allow infants and children from playing with the grill when not in use.
- Cover the barbecue when not in use.
- LP tank should always be kept upright and never on its side.
- Do not use plastics or untempered glass utensils on the grill.
- Never cover or block any air openings in the bottom of the grill.
- Cooking on rusted cooking grids should always be avoided.
- Read and instructions of the manufacturer adhered properly.