Ultimate tips to buy a BBQ
By JP Lavoie
You’re probably wondering what need to be considered when purchasing a BBQ. We got of of the answers for you!
The starting system
The starting system is one of the first components you will usually have to change on an entry-level BBQ. Make sure that the protective casing and the joints are well made, to avoid rust and dirt. That being said, an electronic or rotative system would be better than a push-button.
The bigger the cooking surface is : the more burners you’ll need. In fact, a big cooking surface with insufficient burners will increase your gas consumption. The thicker the burners are, the longer they will last and the better they’ll store heat. Burners made of thin stainless steel are more at risk of getting crooked when exposed to high temperatures. Also, we recommend a BBQ with independent burners in order for you to control the heat and make indirect cooking.
The infrared burner
The infrared burner, made to sear meat, reproduce the effects of charcoal and can reach a temperature of 1800°F. Made out of ceramic, it absorbs the heat and grill the meat perfectly. It can be into the grill, next to a regular burner, or on the side shelf, like a lateral burner.
The BTU per hour (British Thermal Unit per hour), is a unit describing the power of a BBQ, in terms of quantity of heat, for a moment of time, produced by a heating element. The number of BTU in a BBQ is more of a sale technique than a necessity. If it’s sealed and well-built, it will get to the temperature you want with a low BTU value, while consuming less gas.
First of all : grids in steel or cast iron, covered with porcelain. Those are the least durable. They don’t tolerate fluctuation of temperatures. The steel that expands when hot is at risk of breaking the ceramic enamel and then, the grill can rust easily.
Following are the cast iron grids. The grids made of cast iron make very nice marking on meat. As cast iron can stock heat, you will get a higher temperature than the max temperature of your burner. However, cast iron grids need to be oiled to prevent rust and you need to oil it often, so it doesn’t dry.
Finally, the classic stainless steel grids. Depending on the quality of the steel, (stainless steel 304 vs stainless steel 416 for example), the stainless steel grids are usually easier to clean. You don’t need to oil the grids, but can only be cleaned it with a BBQ brush. The heavier the grids are (9 mm vs 7 mm), the more it’ll stock the heat.
The magnet trick
There is a very simple trick to know if the cart 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 made of stainless steel : a high-quality material. However, it’s important to know that there is one type of stainless steel that is still magnetic but still very good: the 443 stainless steel. It is known as a being a ferritic stainless, so there is iron, but by the way it’s made it is also super resistant to salt, heat, and fat. So the best stainless steels are the 304 and 443, then more low-end steel : the 430 and the 416 that comes after all, 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 the 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 and warm. A good thick tank usually has better burners, so it can keep performing at a higher level.
The best lids on the market are made of stainless steel, ideally 304 commercial steel, thick enough with a doubled lid. The better the quality of the enamel used in the lid is : the easier it will be to maintain your temperature. It is also very important to check the lid joints since it needs to be stable and without any leaks where heat could seep out. Make sure there is a space used as a chimney, used to evacuate the heat of an over-performing BBQ. That’s why high-end BBQs have a bigger opening at the back. If it wasn’t there, it would be hard to control the BBQ and have low temperatures.
The cart of some low-end BBQ is made of steel, covered with a thin layer of paint. These carts are likely to oxidize with time since they’re not really protected. Best case scenario, the cart will be made of stainless steel covered with quality paint offering an optimal protection. If there are wheels on the cart, make sure to check if there is a locking system.