By Harold Wagner
All too often consumers seeking a high end stainless steel gas grill are won over by a manufacturer's reputation, the look of the grill or other factors such as recommendations from friends or family. Now, this is a fairly large investment, as appliances go, and consulting an expert in the field could help in making an informed decision. A reliable gas grill specialist can help you evaluate the various features found in these high end grills and quide you to the best choice for the features you prefer. The simplest way to compare the manufacturers objectively, of course, is with a chart! Our chart at compares Fire Magic, Alfresco, Kenmore Elite, Viking, DCS, Dacor, Lynx, Vintage, Weber Summit Gold D, Wolf, Altima, Turbo, ProFire, Phoenix, Tec, Solaire Infrared, Vieluxe, Lazy Man, Jenn Air, Holland, FrontGate, Capitol, Crown Verity, Ducane and Dynasty.
Some of the features on the chart are:
* BTU Output: How many burners, and how many BTUs are standard? You'll need to do some math to determine the actual heat your food will receive. Ideally, you want to have over 95 BTU's per square inch of cooking surface. How will you know? Take your total BTU's and divide it by the primary cooking surface. So.... if your cooking surface is 660 square inches and the total BTU's are 104,000 then 104,000 BTU's divided by 660 square inches = 157 BTU's per square inch. That would be a winner!!!
* Temperature Range: This is a very important characteristic if you like to do a variety of cooking. You'll be able to do everything from searing steaks to baking pizza with a large temperature range.
* Burner material can consist of cast stainless steel, stainless steel sheet metal, cast iron, infra-red and even cast brass, which is used in commercial settings. Dual burners allow for indirect cooking and better heat control. Cast brass or cast stainless burners are your best bet. They will last longer and are more durable. Grease tends to burn through sheet metal easily.
* Infra-Red Burners are an option for those who demand a well seared steak. Thinking of an infra-red cooking system? Temperatures on an infra-red cooking system can reach up to 1600 degrees on some grills. Infra-red cooking allows for quick, high temperatures, which cuts cooking time and helps seal in juices -- perfect for searing a steak. If blackened food or steaks are your taste preference – infra-red cooking is the way to go. If you plan on conventional cooking -- go with a hybrid that offers infra-red and standard burners. Tip – make sure you can convert infra-red burners back to standard for large parties.
* Rotisserie backburners are a popular option. Used to cook large pieces of meat evenly, rotisseries use a lot less heat than normal grilling. BTU ranges generally range in the 13-15,000 category but the best grills offer 18-28,000 BTUs. Meats cooked using a rotisserie are generally juicier, self-basted and slow roasted. Tip - look for a model with a drip tray to make cleanup easier. Be sure to compare available rotisserie space, especially if you want to roast a turkey or two.
* A Triple Gourmet Grill allows you to use gas, infra-red AND charcoal cooking! How versatile can you get!!
* An adjustable smoker box is perfect for those who enjoy the added flavor of hickory, mesquite or other wood to your meats. It makes smoking easy. Adjustable vents allow you to control the amount of smoke flavor to provide just the right taste.
* Warranty is one of the most important features to consider. Only the best grills offer a warranty against a condition called burn through which affects the burners.
* Does the grill you are considering offer a countertop model? These types of gas grills can be dropped into an outdoor kitchen which can be customized with your choice of tile, stucco or other solid surfaces, doors, drawers and other accessories like refrigerators or sinks.
* Cooking Grids: Stainless steel cooking surfaces won't rust or chip. Porcelain cooking surfaces tend to chip and could flake off into food. No N.S.F. (National Sanitation Federation) affiliates use porcelain cooking grids.
* Cooking Grid Size: How many people do you regularly feed? The size of your crowd will determine how big your grill should be. Tip – make sure you can convert infra-red burners back to standard for large parties.
* Inner Liner: This accessory radiates heat more evenly to grill, directs dripping to tray and separates the valve and manifold from combustion chamber. This will prolong the life of your burners and reduce the chances of a grease fire. The grill hood covers the cooking surface and assists in trapping the heated air inside. Look for a double insulated wall hood. If you're buying a stainless steel model, with a double insulated wall hood, it won't turn a brown or blue hue. It will keep it's shine.
* Stainless Steel Flavor Grids: This heat distribution system should be stainless steel for long life and durability. Flavor grids reflect all the heat up toward the grilling surface and vaporizes drippings. You can add wood chips and other flavor enhancers to your flavor grids to add some zest to your choice of meat.
* Fuel Conversion: Will your grill easily convert from natural gas to propane if you want to move it from the back yard to the street for a block party?
* Side burners provide versatility giving you separate controls for each burner. Side burners offer you additional cooking options and come with single or double burners. You can fry up some french fries or treat the team to sweet corn. The BTUs range from 12-17,000, but be sure to look for cast brass or cast stainless burners.
More Great Options:
* A power/wok burner will give you even more cooking diversity. Saute onions or boil lobsters! Brown butter or deep fry a turkey! Having a party? A power burner can accommodate a 26" wok! With a range of 3,000 - 60,000 Btu's, the power burner is a definite advantage for any cook!
* A full sear plate or briquette tray (which can also be filled with lava rocks or wood chips) under the cooking surface protects burners and allows for drippings to smolder which gives foods more flavor. Look for a model that will quickly flash the drippings eliminating flare-ups.
* Adding a warming rack will keep food warm and away from direct heat and also give you extra cooking space.
* Add a griddle to your side burner and enjoy breakfast alfresco!
Armed with this information, you should be able to define your needs and choose a grill that will give you many years of great food and good times. Enjoy!
About The Author
Harold Wagner has over 15 years experience in the barbecue grill
industry and regularly attends the annual HPBA shows to keep current
with the latest developments. is a member of the
Hearth Patio Barbeque Association (HPBA) and has been in business
since 1981 with an internet presence since 1997. For more information
call toll free 1-877-669-4669.