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  • Writer's pictureDevon Kmet

Grill buying guide : everything you need to know

Updated: Mar 1

For most of us, summer is synonymous with BBQ and outdoor living in our backyard oasis. Memorial Day and 4th Of July usually go hand in hand with cooking on the grill, salads, gatherings and fireworks. There is just something about the way the meat tastes off of a grill versus indoors. With summer upon us every store is stocked with all different types of grills, but which one is for you? Whether you are looking to buy for your first time or looking to replace your grill, we have all the information you need.

Types of grills

Back in the olden days, you had one choice of grill - charcoal. Then propane grills were added, changing the game all together. The most recent addition are pellet grills. But, how do you know which grill will work for you? We broke down each grill's pros and cons so you can make the best choice;

  • Charcoal grills - The classic grill is usually a kettle style grill with a grate laid in the cavity and charcoal placed underneath the grate;

Pros - least expensive, smaller and easier to move, achieves higher cooking temps, adds a smoky flavor that you cannot achieve on a propane or natural gas grill, charcoal pellets now come in a range of flavors to add to the smokiness, portable to take along with you on a camping trip, best for small backyards.

Cons - Take extended time (about 15-20 minutes) to heat up, no way to control the temperature so can cause uneven cooking, clean up is harder as you have to wait for it to cool then dump the ash from the charcoal, generally due to smaller size you can only grill small portions making this not the best grill for large gatherings, must replace charcoal and accelerant every time you use the grill which can add up in cost.

  • Propane grills - Gas fueled grills are larger grills that often come on wheels with a side station to place the propane tank. You also can get side burners to cook all in one place;

Pros - Quick warm up with the touch of a button (5 minutes or less), produces odorless flame, even cooking temperatures, easy to clean, come in range of sizes to support large or small gatherings, some upgraded models come with side burners to cook an entire meal on the grill, heavy duty grates mean a better surface to cook and sear meat on.

Cons - Propane tanks need to be replaced on average every 9 hours of cooking and can be expensive, does not give a smoky flavor, more expensive than charcoal, most models are large and require more space, are heavy to move and take more time to assemble.

  • Natural gas grills - Similar to a propane grill but these grills require a permanent location to be hooked up to a direct gas line versus using a propane tank;

Pros - Fuel never runs out or needs to be replaced, easy to clean, burns with a clean flame

Cons - More expensive for initial assembly, requires a gas company to come out and hook up a safe line, cannot be moved, may be bulky and needs a large space.

  • Wood pellet grills - These are somewhat of a hybrid between a charcoal grill and propane grill. The base of the grill is known as the hopper is where you will place the wood pellets in, and an electronic igniter starts the wood to heat up producing smoke;

Pros - Uses a convection cooking process to heat up food which allows for an even cooking surface, gives the same smoky flavor you get from charcoal without the mess, wood chips come in several flavors to add unique taste to your food, has a digital thermostat that reads the temperature for you so you don't have to worry about over or under cooking meat, come in different sizes and are portable for easy set up.

Cons - Expensive, does not provide the sear on meat that propane and natural gas grills do, takes longer to heat up than propane but is less time than charcoal grills.

Grill considerations

Now that you know the basic types of grills, you will want to answer some basic questions to begin your comparison. Do you want something small and portable? Do you have space to put a larger grill but want the ability to move it later? How many people do you usually cook for? These are all questions that we took into consideration when thinking about what type of grill would work best.

  • Space - The first thing to consider when buying a grill is the space in which it will live. Not just the cooking space of the grill but the side burners or propane tank side shelf. These add square footage to the grill, ensuring that the grill you have your eye on will fit in this space. Take measurements and measure the floor unit of the grill at the store to make sure it has the right dimensions. Also take into consideration where you want the grill such as next to a door so you can easily come in and out of the house and get to the grill. Or will you want to set it up in a location that is next to your outdoor dining area so it is easy to serve.

  • People - The next thing to consider is how many people you will be cooking for on average. If you have a family of four then you will not need a grill that can cook for eight. Also consider how many gatherings you have that you will need more space to cook on.If you are a family of four but have people over weekly or even monthly where your family of four quickly becomes eight, you will want to factor that in. Having too much unnecessary space will cause you to go through propane quicker, however you also want to ensure you don’t need to cook in batches just to have enough food for everyone.

  • Power - Grill power is measured by output in BTUs (British thermal units) The higher the BTU does not always mean the best grill. This goes hand in hand with the above mention of how many people you will be cooking for. Larger grills need a larger output to ensure cooking thoroughly whereas smaller grills will need half the amount to do the trick. So once you know the size of the grill you want, you can then compare the BTU needed.

  • Accessories - Last but not least you will want to think about what you need out of the grill. Do you want an easy clean up? Then you want to look at propane. Do you want side burners so you can cook an entire meal, look at propane or natural gas. Do you need a small portable BBQ that you can take camping? You will want to look at the charcoal or pellet models. Do you need storage for utensils or pots and pans? Do you want space to prepare your meal next to your grill? You may want to create an outdoor kitchen with a built in natural gas grill. Think of what accessories you want from your grill so you can choose the best grill for you

Need help from a professional handyman?

Now that you bought the perfect grill, why waste time assembling it when you can hire Multi Lakes Handyman Services to do it for you? Our friendly contractors have over 30 years of experience and they can give you back precious time in your day by completing the task for you. Our assembly services can help you update any space in no time flat. Give us a call.

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