Our Ultimate Tips to Choose the Right Gas BBQ
You’re probably wondering what you need to consider when purchasing a new gas BBQ. We’ll be answering all of your questions in the next few lines. Enjoy !
The Ignition System
The ignition system is often one of the first components that breaks on a low-end gas BBQ. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the protective casing and the seals of the ignition system are well crafted, to avoid any rust or dirt accumulation. That being said, an electronic or rotative system is sure to be more convenient and reliable than a push-button switch.
The bigger your cooking surface is, the more burners you’ll need. A large cooking surface with few burners will indeed raise your gas consumption. Burners made of thick metal will last longer and better capacity to store heat. Burners made of a thinner material also have a higher chance to bend or warp when exposed to high heat and might also break down faster. We also strongly recommend you choose a model with independent burners. This will allow you to control your heat better and add the possibility of indirect cooking.
The Infrared Burner
The infrared burner is designed to sear meat and mimic the effect of hot embers. It can reach a temperature of 1800 °F. Made out of ceramic, it absorbs heat and grills meat perfectly everytime. You usually can find it either under the grill inside the tank or on the side panel, as a lateral burner.
The BTU (British Thermal Unit) per hour is in fact a calculation unit used to describe the heating power of a BBQ. It quantifies the heat produced by a heating element for a moment of time. The amount of BTU displayed for each BBQ is more of a sales technique than a real necessity. If a BBQ is well built and airtight, it will get to the temperature you need, even if it has a low BTU value, while consuming a lot less gas.
First, let’s talk about the procelain coated grills, made of steel or cast iron. Those are the least durable, since they don’t have a good tolerance to large temperature fluctuations. Steel expands with heat and risks breaking the enamel, making the grill more vulnerable to rust. In addition, these grills needs to cool off completely before you can clean them.
Next, there’s the cast iron grills, which are great if you enjoy nice grill marks on your food. These keep getting hot, compared to steel, that doesn’t get hotter than the inside temperature of the BBQ. However, cast iron needs a good cleaning to prevent rust and you need to oil it often, so it doesn’t dry. Finally, the classic stainless steel grill. This one, depending on the quality of the steel, support heat and pass it on to the food. The heavier it is, the more it can get and keep its heat. Adding to that, you can clean it while it’s still hot.
The magnet trick
There is a very simple trick to know if the tank and the lid are made of quality material: you just need to put a magnet on it. If it sticks, that means the metal is, in fact, a mix of steel, nickel, and iron, which is conducive to oxidation and therefore to rust. If the magnet doesn’t stick, it’s because it’s only stainless steel, a high-quality material. However, it’s important to know that there is one type of stainless steel is magnetic but still very good: the 443 stainless steel. It’s known as a ferritic stainless, so there is iron, but by the way it’s made, it’s super resistant to salt, heat, and fat. So the best stainless steels are the 304 and 443, then 430 and 416 that are low-end steel, with a higher iron content and risk of rusting.
The tank is one of the most important parts of the BBQ. It keeps the heat and allows BBQ to go up in temperature. The tank needs to be thick and made of stainless steel or aluminum fusion, so it can stay clean and straight while keeping its thermic properties. The thicker it is, the longer it will take to heat it, but it will stay hot. A good thick tank usually has a better burner, so it can keep performing at a high level.
The best lids on the market are made of stainless steel, ideally 304 commercial steel, thick enough with a doubled tank. The better the quality of the enamel used in the lid, the easier it will be to keep a steady temperature. It is very important to check the lid joints because it needs to be stable and without leaks where heat could seep out, except for the chimney that is used to evacuate the heat of an over-performing BBQ. That’s why high-end BBQs have a bigger opening in the back. If it wasn’t there, it would be hard to control at low temperature.
The cart of some low-end BBQ is made of steel, covered with a thin layer of paint. These are likely to oxidate with time since they’re not really protected. Best case scenario, the cart will be made of stainless steel covered with quality paint offering and optimal protection. If there are wheels on the cart, make sure to check the locking system on them.
The popular charcoal BBQ
Would it be possible to combine the speed of gas and the good taste of food cooked over charcoal? Now yes!. This is finally possible with a new system that has a gas tank installed under the charcoal, that allows to start it faster. In 15 minutes, the cooking surface is ready. We recommend having a BBQ with a thermometer in the tank, so you can control the temperature and juggle with different types of cooking. Furthermore, some BBQ models from that type have a container in which the ashes fall, making the BBQ easier to clean.
For me, people with a small budget for their BBQ should choose a charcoal grill, since it’easier to find one of super high quality but cheaper.
Written by JP Lavoie