GRILLS & Outdoor Living
A CONSUMER GUIDE TO GRILL BUYING
Quite simply, there are barbecue grills for every need, budget, and lifestyle. You want high quality, reliability, safe performance, and durability – and of course, you seek value. There is a wide world of outdoor cooking choices available, from basic, popular-priced grills with some of the most-used features, to super premium models with every bell and whistle. Our purpose is to provide useful information to help you evaluate your needs, check your budget, and shop for the outdoor appliance that nearly all of us own.
Before you buy
- Decide if gas, charcoal, pellet, or electric best suits your needs.
- How important are optional features? (Are you into basic burgers or are you an adventuresome gourmet griller?)
- What about style? (Will your grill be a backyard centerpiece or just a useful appliance?)
- How about available budget? Traditionally, home centers, mass merchandisers or hardware stores have offered a wide range of grills for those shopping by price – but many specialty retailers now carry grills at all price points, including those in the premium grill category. The biggest difference is that specialty retailers may offer more one-on-one service.
- Here’s a big question: how will the grill fit into your future plans for the backyard? Do you simply want a new grill, or will it become the focus of an outdoor room you plan to create? If the latter, you may want to consider a premium grill to which modular units can be added.
- Assess the available cooking area of various models: do you cook outdoors often? Do you typically barbecue for just your family? Do you frequently entertain larger groups? An ample cooking space is 400 or more square inches.
Gas grills – the easy, convienent choice
Gas grills have gained popularity because they’re ready to cook on in 10 minutes. A gas grill makes it easy to regulate the heat and to cook at several different temperatures at the same time. The more burners a grill has the more cooking flexibility you’ll enjoy, but choose a grill with at least two so you can do indirect cooking. You can cook with the lid open or closed.
Gas grills come in various sizes. Grills with small footprints are ideal for a terrace or townhouse. If you have the space, look for a 30-inch, 42-inch or even bigger stainless steel model. These usually offer add-on modules or appliances like wet bars, refrigerators, wine coolers, sear stations and more.
Stainless steel is the most durable material and impervious to weather, while stainless steel cooking grids, burners and other parts clean up easily, won’t rust, and last longer.
Cast aluminum grill bodies, usually found with a powder-coat finish, require less cleaning time than stainless steel and retain heat better. Porcelaincoated steel is another good alternative.
The most popularly priced gas grills sell for between $129 and $299. Grills with more features can run from $700 to $1,500, while top-of-the-line, all-stainless steel appliances can easily top $5,000.
Charcoal – the traditionalist’s choice
Some people swear charcoal cooking produces better flavor. Charcoal can create a high temperature for searing, but also can be used for “low and slow” cooking. In addition, you can build a fire on just one side of the grill for indirect cooking. Your charcoal grill also can double as a smoker.
Charcoal grills come in all sizes and shapes. They range from small covered cookers with adjustableheight cooking grids, to kettle grills with domed lids high enough to cook a whole turkey, to huge powder-coated steel models.
Basic units sell for $50 to $100; deluxe models sell for $400 or more.
Pellet – it’s all about the flavor
Many people haven’t yet heard of pellet grills, but as gas prices continue to rise, they’re becoming increasingly popular. Small wood pellets, in a variety of “flavors” such as hickory, mesquite, and oak, provide the energy source and infuse the food with flavor from the resultant smoke. Pellet grills are especially attractive because they are energy efficient and clean burning.
Some pellet grills have a dual-fuel unit that can switch over to gas which can reach higher temperatures than pellets. Increasingly, these models include microprocessor-based circuit boards that manage the grill’s entire operation including temperature regulation.
Prices for pellet grills generally range from about $600 to $2500.
Electric – higher performance and ideal for an evolving demographic pattern
Electric grills have come a long way – improved technology has resulted in vastly improved performance. These grills are as easy to turn on as your kitchen stove. Some models can reach 700 degrees – great for searing steaks! A small electric grill may be the only option for apartment or condo dwellers. Wherever you plan to put an electric grill, have an outlet nearby, as an extension cord will greatly reduce grill performance.
Electric grills begin at about $150 for a small unit that is ideal for a couple or a downsized household. Larger, high-performance, high-end stainless steel models cost $1,800 to $2,000.
Smokers gain in popularity – the ideal second (or third) ‘grill’
Cylindrical water smokers are a good choice for beginners since they are affordable and easy to use. Whether made of powder-coated or porcelain-coated steel, or stainless steel for premium models, these versatile grills feature stacked sections so lots of food can be smoked at once. Some allow the bottom section to serve as a regular grill.
Charcoal is the favorite fuel for smokers, but electricity and gas are convenient because they maintain more consistent temperatures while requiring less attention. A water pan placed directly over the source of heat ensures that foods will stay moist even after hours of cooking.
Horizontal dry wood smokers made from powder- coated, heavy-gauge steel resemble two black barrels set side-by-side. The smaller barrel – the firebox – connects to the larger cooking chamber with an opening for the smoke and hot air to pass through for “low and slow” indirect cooking. There are also smaller single chamber models, some lighter in weight. They can run from about $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on size and material.
The third type of smoker is a kamado cooker, an egg-shaped, thick-walled ceramic grill. Most are charcoal fueled, and their ceramic insulation traps heat, making them inexpensive to operate. They can be held as low as precisely 180º for smoking to as high as 800º for searing and grilling. Space-age ceramics make these grills virtually indestructible. It is possible to find a kamado cooker that is gas fueled, though that is much less common, and also at least one that is constructed of stainless steel. Kamados come in many sizes and prices will range from about $200 to more than $1,000.
Types of Grills
An outdoor grill that uses charcoal for fuel.
Some grills now provide the option of cooking with gas and/or other fuels.
An indoor or outdoor grill; heat comes from an electric coil element, so it requires access to an electrical outlet.
An outdoor grill heated by natural gas or liquid propane.
Use infrared radiant energy to produce very high heat very quickly; they also operate with uniform heat, resulting in consistent cooking; fueled with natural gas or liquid propane.
Egg-shaped ceramic cookers that are charcoal-fired; they originated in the Far East.
Round or nearly round charcoal grill with a cover; typically stands on three legs.
An outdoor grill that uses wood pellets for fuel.
Any grill small and lightweight enough to be transported; they range from aluminum foil throwaway grills to stainless steel models.
Charcoal, wood, or a combination of both, and natural gas or liquid propane can fuel smoker grills; available in numerous configurations, including electric.
Can be fueled by liquid propane or electricity; is filled with oil for frying, or can be used to boil or steam foods.
Cleaning Your Grill
- BEFORE lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray on the grates. The protective spray cuts down the clean-up time afterwards.
- For charcoal grills, line the bowl with aluminum foil. After grilling, and once the grill and coals are cool, simply discard the foil with the coals and ash, then wash and reline with foil for next time.
- Use a wire brush or even crumbled aluminum foil to scrub away buildup on the grates once the grill has cooled.
- Spray grease-cutting dishwashing detergent on grill and grates (once cool). Scrub with brush or abrasive pad, then rinse. A repeat may be necessary.
- Don’t forget to place a grill pad or splatter mat beneath your grill before cooking. These naturally heat resistant pads will protect your deck or patio from any grease that misses the drip pan and will make it a lot easier to keep your outdoor living area clean and looking like new.
Napoleon Prestige Pro 665 RSIB
Hamrforge Old Iron Sides Reverse Flow Smoker, Charcoal BBQ & Rotisserie
Renaissance Le Bol
how to CREATe AN OUTDOOR ROOM
Sitting comfortably with friends or family in the backyard on a cool summer evening, with a warm fire and dinner sizzling on the grill, is pure pleasure. It is also the precise reason why people throughout North America are turning their yards and decks into inviting outdoor living spaces. People are extending the comfort and luxury of their homes into the great outdoors, and the result is the popular trend called the “outdoor room.”
Popularity yields full-featured products
As consumer interest in the outdoor room continues to grow, hearth, patio and barbecue manufacturers are developing stylish, full-featured products to enhance the comfort, convenience and pleasure of entertaining or relaxing outside, no matter the climate or season. Manufacturers now have extensive product lines that can help extend a home’s living space both literally and visually. There are barbecues and fireplaces in all sizes and styles, from simple to high-tech, and plush (or sleek) patio furniture and accessories to help set any mood.
Outdoor room basics
Anyone can easily create an outdoor room. In general, the concept encompasses a grilling and eating area, pulled together with a hearth product, such as a fireplace, firepit or chiminea. Some outdoor rooms are similar to indoor kitchens, with expansive counter space and full food preparation areas complete with sinks and plumbing. It’s even possible to add a dishwasher and a refrigerator to make trips inside to clean up or grab cold drink a distant memory. Other outdoor rooms take the concept further with the addition of pizza ovens, cocktail bars, fountains, trellises, patio heaters, spas and pools. Landscaping, lighting and sculptures are additional elements that can help create a cohesive feeling within an outdoor space.
Products for the outdoor room
Hearth: Wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces, firepits, chimineas, fire and fountain combinations
Cooking: Barbecue grills, wood-fired pizza ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, sinks, cocktail bars, food preparation areas
Furniture: Dining tables, couches, chairs, end tables, hammocks, chaise lounges
Water: Swimming pools, spas, waterfalls, ponds
Flooring: Wood, brick, stone, slate, stamped concrete pavers
Shelters: Pool houses, gazebos, sunrooms, awnings, umbrellas
Accessories: Sound systems, art sculptures, fences
Lighting: Landscape lanterns, pathway lighting, candles
Decks: Natural woods, vinyl, fiberglass, recycled plastics
Heaters: Freestanding or table-top patio heaters
Creating an Outdoor Room
Pulling together an outdoor room is less about the quantity of product and more about creating an outdoor living area that meets a homeowner’s idea of comfort and relaxation. Here are some simple steps to help create the perfect outdoor room:
Determine the ideal use of the outdoor space
Use a notepad to jot down ideas about how the space will be used in all of its applications, from entertaining to relaxing.
Create a wish list
The increase in the number of magazine and newspaper articles has created an abundance of information on outdoor rooms or outdoor living spaces. Clip or print pictures and put them into a notebook.
Review the home’s style
It’s important to have an understanding of a home’s architectural style when creating an outdoor room so that the outdoor spaces accentuates the home’s indoor spaces. There are products available for every taste and style.
Visit a specialty retailer
Take the notebook and wish list to a specialty retailer that sells hearth, barbecue and patio products. A specialty retailer can help determine the materials and outdoor room products available in an area and guide the final plan, as well as coordinate installation.
Research the products
After obtaining the details from a specialty retailer, go online to review products and manufacturer information.
Draw a plan
The best way to achieve the desired end result is to sketch out a plan. Don’t worry about picture-perfect drawings – it’s the general idea that counts!
Stone patios, retaining walls, fences and decks are basic foundation elements.
Consider fire and food
These are key elements in every well-designed outdoor room. Position the fireplace as the focal point, blend in the cooking and eating areas and then consider additional features.
Add the furnishings
Select comfortable patio furniture that invites people to settle in for an extended period of time. Regardless of style, outdoor furnishings are available to add beauty and character, creating the atmosphere of a lush oasis. In addition to tables and chairs for the eating area, consider chaise lounges, couches and side tables.
Use landscaping as an accessory
Carefully placed trees and shrubs can add important texture and appeal to an outdoor room. Select plants that change with the season, offering different colors, blooms or scents depending on the time of year.
To extend the amount of time spent outdoors, consider lighting for pathways, around pools, or to accentuate landscaping.
Details, details, details
After all is said and done, there is always still more that can be added. Decorative details such as an attractive table or a favorite work of art can help turn a backyard patio into a stunning outdoor room
Build the space
Have fun putting the space together. Consider multiple conversation areas for enhanced functionality and interest.
Take it in stages
Outdoor rooms are often created over a period of years to accommodate large wish lists on limited budgets. During the first year, install the hearth product and define the grilling and eating areas, then accessorize the next year. Finish off the project with the installation of landscaping.
Consult a professsional
A specialty retailer is a key partner in creating an outdoor room. In addition to expertise and products, a specialty retailer can offer key insights about what’s available in a particular area and what works best in a certain climate.
Montigo H38SVO Outdoor Gas Fireplace
Napoleon St. Tropez Patioflame Fire Table
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