Propane grills can sear meat better than an electric grill and are easier and faster to start than a charcoal grill. The main considerations when choosing a propane grill are
- Price, quality, construction and manufacturer's reputation.
- Size, power and cooking effectiveness.
- Features and accessories.
Popular brands include Weber, Coleman, Char Boil, Ducane and Thermos. This article covers multi-burner full sized grills, not single-burner portable grills.
Propane Grill Price, Quality and Construction
Propane grills can cost a few hundred dollars for a basic model. Large 800 inch models can reach over a thousand dollars for well-known brands.
While all grills will cook, a premium brand grill is likely to
- Be sturdily built to support the weight of the burners, grates and propane tank. No flimsy, swaying, lightweight construction.
- Have burners protected from grease drips for easy cleanup and reduced flare-ups.
- Have a 5 year guarantee.
- Last 10 or more years.
- Have spare parts available even when the model has been discontinued.
Propane Grill Size, Power and Cooking Effectiveness
The cooking area of propane grills range from 300 to over 800 square inches (in comparison, indoor electric grills seldom exceed 200).
The grills are rated by the number of burners (typically 2 to 6) and the BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat generated per hour. An average rating is 12,000 BTUs per burner.
Some users have reported that more BTUs don't necessarily mean a hotter, more powerful grill. This is because the heating efficiency of the grill is also important. In any case, most grills will be hot enough for normal grilling (easily reaching 550 degrees Fahrenheit) so the BTU rating isn't significant.
More important is even heat distribution and the ability to hold a constant temperature. Premium brands have a good reputation for this.
Independently-controllable burners allows more cooking options such as indirect heating, and cooking on part of the grill while warming on another.
Propane Grill Features and Accessories
Propane grills typically have more add-ons and features compared to other grills. Useful features include
- Side burner.
- Cover with built-in light, to check on cooking progress in the dark.
- Cover with built-in thermometer.
- Replaceable drip pans.
- Rotisserie attachment.
- Fold-down shelves, to reduce space when not in use.
- Onboard storage for propane tank.
- Propane tank gas gauge.
- Hooks for hanging cooking utensils.
- Battery or piezo-electric ignition.
Some grills have front-mounted burner controls. These take up less space compared with top-mounted controls, but require awkward bending over to see clearly.
The Best Propane Grill
Propane grills are more expensive than other types of grills. This increases the temptation to go for a cheap brand. However the weight of the burners and grate means that solid construction is necessary for years of trouble-free operation.
This is one type of product where "you get what you pay for".