When it comes to buying gas grills, there are certain considerations you must keep in mind before making a purchase decision. This ranges from knowing your own requirements, picking the right grill size, comparing prices, and being aware of technical differences between grills.
Natural Gas or Propane?
The first thing you need to decide is whether to buy a natural gas grill or one that burns propane. Natural gas costs about a third of propane, so it is much more cost effective. Most people content that natural gas also burns cleaner than propane.
However, propane is more easily available. You can pick up a tank at your local grocery store, whereas you may have to search harder for natural gas. This ease of availability makes it the fuel of choice for most people.
If you cook outdoors, you can get a certified technician to fit your home’s natural gas supply directly to your grill, saving you tons of money in fuel costs. But for occasional grillers, or those who prefer to keep their grills portable, propane remains the fuel of choice.
Gas grills can be made from a number of materials, ranging from cast iron, aluminium, stainless steel, porelain coated steel or iron, etc. Stainless steel is the material of choice for most professional grillers, but it is also the most expensive. Cast iron grills lend a special flavor to the meat and quite a lot of people prefer this material – it has a certain old-world charm. Porcelain coated steel is a very durable material that looks great as well.
If your budget allows it, go for a stainless steel grill. Stainless steel grills have greater durability, are easier to maintain, look great in every setting, and are definitely worth the extra price.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Grilling is largely an outdoor activity. Backyard BBQs are as American a tradition as Thanksgiving or Halloween. However, if you want to grill regardless of the weather outside, you may consider purchasing an indoor grill. They have all the functions of an outdoor grill, but are designed for indoor use.
Large outdoor grills are largely immovable, while smaller grills are typically designed for portability. If you want to move your grill around, take it on a camping trip or to a family picnic, you should consider getting a portable outdoor grill. Otherwise, a larger, more permanent outdoor grill would be a better investment.
For a family of four, a cooking area of 200 square inches would suffice. If you have a larger family or will be cooking for several guests, it is best to get a grill with at least 400 square inches of cooking area.
Look for a grill with at least 8,500 BTUs of burning capacity. Ideally, the grill should have at least 2 burners delivering a minimum of 8,500 BTUs. The greater the burning capacity, the better. Novices should refrain from investing in large grills with a lot of burning capacity (40,000 BTUs or more) as they can easily burn the meat with it.
Ignition and Heat Regulator
The best part about gas grills is that getting them to start is as easy as pressing the ignition button. I prefer grills with electronic ignition as it makes my job much easier.
Heat regulators are a very important part of gas grills. The regulator should allow you to choose between multiple settings, instead of presets like ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’. I like the heat regulator on the Weber Q series grills which allows for infinitesimal adjustment between heat settings.
Accessories, Side Burners, Work Tables, etc…
Gas grills with side burners allow you to work on side dishes even as you grill your steaks, tenderloins, etc. Work tables allow you to do tasks like making a sauce, chopping, etc. right on the grill itself. The ideal gas grill would have at least one or two side burners and two moderately large work tables.
Accessories such as storing cabinets, a small cooler for keeping meat or beer, cutlery holder, etc. are always welcome. Larger grills typically offer a lot of storage space and multiple accessories, though you should never base your buying decision on the lack (or surfeit) of these accessories.