Things to consider when purchasing a grill
Many people are passionate about their barbeque recipes and methods, and many get into a friendly, informal competition with neighbors and family involving secret ingredients and procedures. Either way, summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors and some wonderful food. Whether you are preparing a simple meal for a small group, or for a large gathering, food off the grill is a staple for summer get-togethers.
This season, you may be looking to purchase a grill. Maybe you need an upgrade, or yours was blown away and damaged in a storm and a replacement is needed. Or maybe you just want to “wow” your friends and family. No matter your reason for seeking a new grill, it is important to think about what you need and want in terms of a grill’s functionality, durability, longevity, available accessories, and even aesthetics.
BBQ gurus know there are so many options for grilling, and each will insist their own personal preference is the best. If you’re looking to buy one to start off your summer, the possibilities can be endless. With this in mind, we turned to Kent Rankin from Rankin’s True Value. He has years of experience helping customers with questions on the best options to meet their needs and budget. He outlined several key considerations for us to share with you.
Kent noted that there are several popular brands and all offer different price points and functionalities, but there is a perfect grill out there for everyone. Some good brands include Weber, The Big Green Egg, Char Broil, Napoleon, and Primo.
Type of Grill
If a brand wasn’t enough of a decision to make, there is more to consider. Gas, electric, infrared, and charcoal are the options you may select from.
When making the selection that is right for you, Kent said, consider how much time it will take for your grill to be ready to cook. “Electric and gas grills start fast and are quickly ready to use. Charcoal may take approximately five minutes (if you use a chimney starter), while the ceramics may take a total of 20 to 30 minutes of warm-up time before they are ready to use.”
To determine what is best for you, Kent suggested you consider your environment: “People in apartments or condos may be limited to electric, due to restrictions in their community.” For those who live in their own home, he said that it depends more on how it will be used. Will it be used occasionally or on a regular basis? How many people will you be cooking for at one time? Will you be slow-cooking or smoking your meats, or mostly flipping burgers, hot dogs, and chicken? All of these are important questions to ask yourself when determining the best grill for you.
If you are a fan of smoked meat, which requires long, slow cooking, there are steel and ceramic options for you. It is important for slow cooking lovers to note that maintaining heat is crucial to the creation of a good meal. If you need to open the grill to add more charcoal during the cook time, it could impact your end results.
“A steel smoker will only hold the desired heat consistently for a few hours before it will need more charcoal, Kent explained.
Steel vessels (not the professional grade) may make “maintaining a constant temperature almost impossible, and they cannot really be used in the winter as the outside temperatures will not allow the grill to reach the internal temperature that is needed.” If you are set on a steel smoker, you may need to consider spending the money on a competitive smoker the professionals use.” Kent also noted that when using steel smokers, “Many of these have a water pan, so you can add moisture. The steel variety loses moisture which can dry out meat.”
Ceramic smokers “hold the heat better (up to 12-plus hours, eliminating the need to open it to add charcoal every few hours), and can be used in the winter. Also, the ceramic smokers retain moisture better than steel, without the use of a water pan.”
Kent was quick to note that Weber did just come out with an insulated steel smoker (double wall steel) which improves the efficiency of the steel version. “It is more expensive than the Green Egg, and this is the first year it is available for purchase.” But if you are set on steel, this may be another option for you.
If you have a limited budget, there are plenty of options available. A smaller Weber charcoal grill can be purchased for around $80 and a gas grill can go for around $399. Of course, if your budget falls into the “sky’s the limit” category, the options may range into the thousands of dollars for a model with all the bells and whistles for the professional barbecue enthusiast. There are even models that offer it all in one product: gas, charcoal, smoker, and grill combined, which can serve as an complete outdoor kitchen.
What is a grill purchase without the benefits of a few add-ons? Kent does recommend a few must-have accessories: “they are worth the investment.” These include a meat thermometer, a cover to protect your purchase, and a good brush or pad to clean your grill with.
If you wish to add other accessories now or in the future, there is a plethora of options. For the rib lovers, there are a variety of rib racks available. Pizza lovers can rejoice knowing there are pizza stones for grills. For those that just enjoy a good roasted chicken or turkey, there are turkey roasters and beer can chicken racks. The list of accessories available is “endless,” according to Kent.
Certain brands like Weber and the Big Green Egg have very specialized accessories for the BBQ guru and technology fans. For instance, Kent noted that the Big Green Egg offers the Flame Boss (several models available), an all-digital version with a fan which is used in conjunction with your smart phone. It can monitor the internal temperature of the meat and of the grill. Weber offers a comparable product, known as the iGrill. This may even be a great Father’s Day gift this year.
Many locally-owned and chain stores offer a variety of options for you to chose from, but now you are armed with information to help you with your selection process. Enjoy the tasty summer BBQs and the fun you have along the way.
For more information on the grill options available at Rankin’s TrueValue, visit the Warrenton store, or go online to www.truevalue.com.
Grills Ideal for Tailgates & Camping
Brands ideal for this fun grilling adventure are the same as the backyard types, but in a miniature version. Some are charcoal, others are gas (which may use the small canisters of propane campers are known to utilize).