Top Five Questions About Buying a Gas Grill

Laura Sullivan

Article Posted By: Laura Sullivan

of The Home Depot

A gas grill with the lid open showing the grill inside, and text that reads Gas Grill Buying FAQ

A gas or propane grill can be a big investment. And these days there are so many models and features to consider, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the right grill for your needs. Here are the answers to the top five gas grill questions customers ask us at The Home Depot.

Natural Gas or Propane?

Natural gas is taken from underground petroleum deposits as-is and is sent to your home, usually through a piping system that’s run by a local utility company. Propane, on the other hand, is another type of natural fuel that goes through a distillation and treatment process before being put in those handy tanks that can be hooked up to a grill. Propane actually burns at a higher temperature than natural gas. Yep, the stuff in the tank actually puts out more BTUs than the same amount of natural gas.

But in the end, the real consideration is whether you want to hook a grill up to a gas line installed for the purpose, which is convenient, and in the long run usually cheaper than propane… or do you want more portability with a propane grill that you can wheel into the garage when the grill isn’t in use?

How Many BTUs Do I Need?

A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, measures the amount of heat a grill can produce. A grill with the highest BTUs may seem like the best at first glance — it can get the hottest, right? — but that is not necessarily the case. Many grill aficionados say that BTUs are oversold. When you are purchasing a grill, compare the BTUs to the size of the useable cooking surface. Look for 80 – 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking space. The more BTUs a model has, the faster it will burn up your fuel, so it is wise to only go for a grill with the amount of BTUs you need to get the job done.

Just as important as the BTUs is the weight of the grate and the materials used to construct the grill, and how tight the lid fits. Heavier construction and a good, snug fit of the lid means the grill captures and retains the heat well… and that means you don’t need any more than the recommended 80 – 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking space.

How Many Gas Burners Do I Need?

Having more burners means that you will have a more “diversified” grill—in other words, you can cook different items at different heat levels at the same time.

You’ll find plenty of gas grills out there with three burners. With these you can typically have about two jobs working at the same time while remaining true to the items’ ideal heat. For example, you could be searing a steak over high heat while roasting some delicate peppers at a lower heat in another “grill zone.” That might be enough for most outdoor cooks. But you can find four-burner gas grills or even six-burner grills, too—practically enough flexibility to make an entire four-course menu without setting foot in the house.

Do I Need a Side Burner?

That depends on just how much of a barbecue fanatic you are — and if you want your sauce for basting or topping at arm’s reach. Most outdoor cooks find that a side burner does a fine job of warming up sauces and side dishes, but they aren’t always a great option for serious cooking. It can be hard to control the temperature of side burners accurately enough for good cooking practice. If your grill is going to be two steps away from the kitchen, a side burner might be more than you need. But if making trips to and from the kitchen for sauces and side dishes is a pain, a side burner can be a very nice feature.

Do I Need a Rotisserie?

Need? No. But a rotisserie gives you another option for cooking that can produce fantastic results.

Spit-roasting is one of the oldest methods of cooking for good reason. Many say that meats are juicier when cooked on a rotisserie because the meat is “self-basting” as it moves around. And you’ll be turning the fire way down so that you’re “slow-roasting,” which leads to a juicier, even cook with a crispy outside.

Look for a strong, sturdy materials and a motor that’s built to last—and pay attention to the maximum weight so that you don’t overwhelm your rotisserie with too much meat.

No matter if you’re a outdoor gourmet, or an occasional backyard cook, The Home Depot has the right grill for you. Take a look at our Grills & Grill Accessories Department online.

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