Buying a barbeque grill can be a confusing process for the individual who is new to the art of outdoor cooking. For most people, the traditional idea of outdoor cooking is usually cooking with charcoal on an open or covered grill. The interest in the process may have begun with the restaurant style of cooking on a medium to large pit, often made from fire brick. Outdoor cooking in recent times has become a popular family event and the marketplace has responded with a varied group of products that make cooking a very enjoyable experience.
During the past decade the typical grill has progressed from simple, single burner types to today’s more modern multiple-burner styles. During the past few years the availability of heavy duty stainless steel “outdoor stoves,” which utilize protected burners, has become common and can be found, not only at grilling “specialty” stores, but also at many of the larger department chain outlets.
For the individual who is interested in a full range family grill, the latest models are just the thing. Many of the full size grills feature up to four burners. All of the newer models are engineered for safety, which had been a particular problem for the forerunners to the modern stoves. The stainless steel frames make for easy cleanup, along with being more flame resistant.
Smaller grill models are manufactured for the person who may want to cook regularly, but not prepare large amounts of food at one cooking. Many have one large burner that is designed for different levels of gas flow. This allows the grill to have hot and cool spots for different foods that respond better to different amounts of heat. Both the large and small types of grills now have side burners built on the frame with a standard stove outlet. These can be used for many different food preparations, such as boiling vegetables.
Consumer protection laws now require all propane gas containers to have OPD (overflow protection devices) on all tanks. The older models were engineered with gas lines that connected with internal threaded connector nipples. Today’s newer model OPDs have external connecting threads. The old models were counter-sunk, meaning that the threads were inserted by using a counter-clockwise turning motion. New propane tanks are engineered to be connected with a clockwise turning motion to eliminate the possibility of cross threading, which can lead to a tank explosion caused by propane leaks.
Additional protection features include requiring the burners to be covered, normally by an a-frame shield directly above the each burner. This protects the food from direct fire and keeps flareups reduced to a minimum, allowing for a safer cooking process and a cleaner eating experience. Older models were designed to allow lava rock as a primary source of protection and heat retainer, allowing for more of a smoking cooking process. Modern grills are not engineered for that purpose and use of a designated type of “smoker” is suggested. Always inspect a potential purchase for the design of the burner protectors and the OPD devices on the fuel lines.
If you are not necessarily looking for a bargain and are more interested in getting a good grill from a good selection sample, the best time of the year to buy is the spring. The new styles are showcased in the spring, as grilling is generally associated with summertime activities. For the individual who may be looking for a bargain, or the enthusiast who realizes that grilling is an “any season” activity, such as football tailgating, the fall may be the best time to shop for the appropriate cooker.
Most grills come assembled, as many retailers are glad to sell the product ready to use. Older models normally included propane tanks, but with the increase in protection laws, specialty propane tanks businesses are very common and allow for a convenient and cost-effective way to keep the grilling process safe. All tanks purchased with a trade-in have been inspected and repaired before being filled and placed in the sales inventory.
When you go shopping for a new grill, keep these tips in mind. And remember that happy grilling makes for happy eating. It starts with a new grill!