Grill Buyers Guide

The promotional material for grills are often filled with confusing jargon…

No worries! This guide will help understand what BTUs are…

Read on to learn the difference between propane grills and natural gas grills, and more…

 

Charcoal? Natural Gas? Propane? What’s the difference?

They are all different type of fuels, charcoal is carbon residue that results when wood and other substances has been slowly burned until no moisture or other constituents remain. Though, most store bought charcoal briquettes are generally composed of coal, sawdust, and other lumber byproducts. Charcoal is generally valued as a fuel for barbeques as it is relatively easy to ignite compared to wood–while still infusing the smoky wood flavor to meats that are commonly associated with wood fires. For this reason, many grilling enthusiasts choose exclusively use charcoal grills. However for newcomers to grilling with charcoal can be tricky. Thus is is recommended that inexperienced grillers start with propane or natural gas. What’s the difference you ask? Propane is type of natural gas that has been compressed into a liquid and stored in canisters and tanks–commonly seen on many grills. Natural gas on the other hand refers to grills that are hooked up to a gas line–similar to gas stove. These are radical differences that should be noted when shopping for a grill.

It’s all about the BTUs…

The BTUs stands for British Thermal Units and is measured as a unit of energy. Without getting too bogged down in the mathematics and science of BTUs, BTU is important in grilling because the more BTUs means the grill can reach higher temperatures faster-which is important for certain grilling techniques such as searing with required very high temeratures.

On the subject of temperatures…

A handy feature included in most propane and gas grills is thermometer. The built in thermometers are reasonably accurate at reading the internal temperatures of the grill. However, it is a very worth while investment to purchase a good electric thermometer that has a prong that you can directly stick into the meat for the most precise readings.

The grilling space: size does matter.

Most grills will advertise how many square inches of grilling space their grill has–which means exactly that. How much grill space you need really depends on how you plan to use the grill. If you frequently host large parties then having a grill with a large amounts grilling spaces makes sense. Take care to ensure that cooking space actually refers to the grills space and not the total area of the grill–many grills commonly specify the combined area of both the grill and the upper level warming rack commonly found in most grills.

Porcelain-enamel coatings–the more, the merrier…

On the subject of grilling space, high quality grill grates usually are coated with thick layers of porcelain-enamel coating for added heat resistance to the grates metal frame–which is typically cast iron or steel.

Apart from the cooking surface, some high quality grills use enameled coatings on the lids and walls of the grill help insulate the interior from the elements. In short, when shopping for a try to find grills that use porcelain-enamel coatings on parts other than the cooking grate–its one of the many marks of a good grill.

Flame guards

While spectacular to watch, flare ups from layers of grease and fat that accumulated on the grates and the bottom of the grill are an annoyance that can lead to burned and unevenly cooked meat. Some grills try to correct this problem by using porous, heat resistant rocks. Quality grills though, use porcelain-enamel coated  strips of metal set slightly higher than the burners–these are known as flame guards and act  as shields of sorts to reduce flare ups.


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