Choosing a Gas Grill
There are many options when choosing a gas grill; however, there are three important qualities every gas grill must have:
- Even heat distribution
- Long-lasting quality
- Safe operation
Every griller knows that hot-spots are the worst! A grill with really hot areas and some cooler areas makes cooking very difficult. You should be able to move your hand over a gas grill and not feel much of a difference in temperature throughout the grilling surface.
Gas grills should last for many years, not just a few seasons. That means they should be built from heavy-gauge and
corrosion-resistant materials. Generally speaking, if a grill looks or feels like it is poorly-made then it probably is going to let you down within a year or two.
You should be able to use your gas grill with children nearby and not fear a gas leak or flare-up. This means the plumbing and fittings must be secure while fat and juices from your food must be directed away from the direct flames.
Now you know the basics and you are in luck because every grill FireCraft sells has these qualities. This brings us to the decision you need to make - here's how we see it:
Fuel: Gas grills are either fueled with liquid propane (LP) or natural gas. Most gas grills are fueled by liquid propane from a 20lb re-fillable tank. Many gas stations and hardware stores fill the tanks via an "exchange" service (empty tank for full tank). If your home is heated using natural gas, you might be able to use a grill fueled by natural gas. In this case, you would permanently attach your grill to your home's natural gas plumbing. The advantage to a natural gas grill is that you never need to refill a gas tank. The advantage to a propane grill is that the grill can be placed anywhere.
Burners: We recommend gas grills with 3 or more burners. Why? It is difficult to achieve even heat distribution with any fewer than 3 burners. Additionally, indirect grilling requires at least 3 burners. If you are interested in a larger gas grill (larger than 36 inches) than you will need at least 4 burners. Burners should be made from tubular stainless steel, cast stainless steel, or cast brass. Generally speaking, only the highest quality grills have cast stainless steel or brass burners. We recommend avoiding cast iron burners.
Configuration: This is simply a personal choice question. Most grills are stand-alone, meaning they sit on their own stand or cart. Another option is a built-in grill. Built-in grills sit in custom-made outdoor kitchen islands or counters. If you are
building an outdoor kitchen in your backyard then a built-in grill might be for you.
Side Burners: Side burners offer a great way to expand your cooking area and are a great way to heat up sauces or boil water
without having to go back into the kitchen. We recommend side-burners made from stainless steel or brass. If you want to add a side-burner to your grill, make sure it was designed for your make and model grill.
Infrared: Professional chefs often use extremely high-heat to sear meats and caramelize fruit. Infrared burners give grills this same ability to sear foods at over 1,300°F using little fuel. Typical grill burners never reach these high-heat levels. How does infrared work? The infrared burner heats an object, often a ceramic grate, which quickly reaches searing temperature. This grate, not the fire, then sears the food. It's quick, it's efficient, and it really works well. Most grills that offer an infrared burner option section off one area of the cooking grid to use for the infrared burner.
Rotisseries: One of the classic ways to grill meat is by using a rotating BBQ rotisserie near a hot fire. This is done by inserting a spit (a sturdy metal rod) through your food, securing the food with metal claws, and then attaching the spit to a heavy-duty motor. The motor slowly turns the food near the fire until the food is cooked. The advantage of this cooking method is the food cooks more evenly and bastes itself internally as the food rotates. Many grills offer a rotisserie option but we like rotisseries that are heated using dedicated burners mounted behind the food, not underneath it. This prevents flare-ups and allows the food to baste properly.
Heat diffusers vs. ceramic/lava briquettes: There must be some sort of a barrier between your food and the flames of a gas grill, otherwise you would suffer from flare-ups. There are two types of barriers: heat diffusers or shields and ceramic or lava briquettes. Heat diffusers or shields are thin metal barriers that allow heat through but prevent the fat and juice dripping from your food from hitting the flames. This type of grill heats up VERY quickly. Ceramic or lava briquettes absorb heat from the fire; then, the hot briquettes cook the food. These types of grills take longer to heat up but infuse food with more flavor.
Cooking Grate Material: Grill grates are made either from porcelain-coated cast iron or stainless steel. Here's the deal - cast iron grill grates are super non-stick if you season them properly and they retain more heat than steel. This means food will stick less to cast iron and will have bolder grill marks. HOWEVER, cast iron must be cleaned carefully and seasoned every once in a while. If you need some help with seasoning cast iron check out our Caring for Cast Iron page for more info. Stainless steel has much less attractive cooking qualities and is more expensive than cast iron, but requires almost ZERO maintenance. Just hit it with a stiff brush and you are good to go.
Truth about BTUs: Nearly everyone in the grill industry measures the power or heat of their grilling using British Thermal Units (BTUs). In reality, a BTU represents the amount of fuel a grill uses NOT how hot the grill gets. A grill's ability to produce heat is a function of its design, cooking grid proximity to the heat source, and BTUs. That being said, BTUs still do a good job predicting how powerful a grill will be.
Warranty: This one is easy - the longer the warranty the better a grill is usually made.
Shipping: Some smaller or lighter gas grills ship to you via UPS ground. This mean the grill arrives at your house in the classic brown UPS truck and the driver will leave the grill at your door. Larger and heavier grills must ship via truck freight. In this case a delivery company will call you and arrange a delivery time.