BBQ Selection Tips

September 3, 2008 by  
Filed under 04: Gas Barbecues

Gas barbeque grills have been gaining in popularity for many year and now dominate the out-door cooking market. They come in two main types: natural gas and propane.

Natural gas grills burn, as the name suggests, natural gas (a type of methane chiefly). They produce high heat and an even temperature. Clean up is relatively easy and some grills are even self-cleaning to a degree, like indoor ovens.

But natural gas BBQs require you to have or create an outlet to hook the stove up to. Many homes already have them, so that’s not a problem. But it does limit the mobility of the grill. Once in place, you have a fairly short hose connection and the grill has to stay near the outlet. In rare cases that can present a fire hazard, but for most homeowners natural gas barbeques are a great option.

The other type of gas BBQ uses propane, usually from a refillable metal tank. Tanks come in various sizes, with 20 gallons a common amount. Propane grills produce a high temperature, only slightly less than methane. They’ll cook a thick steak just as well, requiring only a slightly longer cooking time.

Propane BBQs are convenient because they can be moved around. If you cook at different times of the day that can be a big advantage. If the sun is too hot in one spot (or you happen to be doing some yard re-modeling) the barbeque can be moved to another location.

But the tanks do run out, slower or faster depending on how long each cooking session is and how often the BBQ is used. Refilling them isn’t very expensive, though propane prices have risen sharply in the past few years. The hassle factor can be considerable or trivial depending on who your supplier is. Some suppliers just do a quick exchange of the tank and you’re on your way. Others make you wait in line, fill out paperwork and more.

Many natural gas BBQ models can be converted into propane and vice versa. The kits are simple to use and range in price, with some representing a third of the original cost of the grill.

Electric barbeque grills are another, newer option. They are in essence electric ovens set on wheels and can have a number of advantages. They have no fuel requirement, just a cord and an electric outlet. They can be self-cleaning, just as many interior ovens are. The temperature can be very precisely controlled. They do tend to be a little more expensive than other styles of BBQs, though.

With the technological improvements made in BBQs over the past 20 years, you can hardly go wrong if you select a major brand. Consider your budget, your preferred cooking circumstances, and go for it!