Gas Grill Buying Guide | How to Buy a Gas Grill
We know that finding the right gas grill for you can be a challenge. Over the past 2 decades alone, our experts have tested countless grills from dozens of brands, each with its own set of industry-specific terms and marketing jargon. There’s also the seemingly endless list of features and accessories to worry about, not to mention misinformation like BTU count equating to heat output or that all stainless steel is the same.
Add it all together, and the grill-buying process can seem intimidating and overly complex. But BBQGuys® can help you cut through the clutter and find the right gas grill in no time! For a simple and fun shopping experience, follow our easy guide below. Your backyard will thank you.
Choose Your Configuration
Built-in Gas Grills
Built-in gas grills (which are also referred to as drop-ins, grill heads, or grill inserts) are placed into a BBQ island as part of a larger outdoor kitchen. They can often be purchased with full lines of matching outdoor kitchen equipment, allowing you to create a cohesive aesthetic in your backyard. Built-in grills make for a natural gathering place in your outdoor area, and can often add significant value to your home.
Freestanding Gas Grills
Rather than being built into a structure, freestanding gas grills are placed on a movable cart that usually has an enclosed storage area for fuel tanks and cooking accessories. These grills are more mobile than built-ins, meaning you can rearrange your outdoor setup with little hassle. Look for freestanding grills with a side burner so you can prepare side dishes or simmer your favorite sauce for basting.
Determine Your Gas Type
Gas grills run on either natural gas or propane, which create virtually identical results and are often similarly priced despite minor differences in composition. It’s important to be completely confident about this decision before you purchase a grill — converting from one fuel type to another should be performed only by a licensed professional, and doing so can void the warranty from certain grill brands. Because both fuels cook similarly, your decision should come down to availability and convenience.
Natural Gas Grills
If you already have existing natural gas lines in your home, then a natural gas grill probably makes the most sense for you. Just like water or electricity, natural gas is continuously piped into your home by a utility company as long as you pay the bill. This highly convenient fuel type, which is most commonly associated with built-in configurations, gives grillers the confidence to cook as much as they want without worrying about running out of fuel.
Propane Gas Grills
Homeowners without natural gas lines should strongly consider using propane. Standard, 20-pound propane tanks can be purchased and exchanged at most hardware or grocery stores, and refilling them is as easy as visiting your local propane distributor. Though propane comes with the added responsibility of refilling fuel yourself, using these portable tanks makes your grill more mobile than what it would be when connected to natural gas with a quick disconnect hose.
Choose Your Grill Size
Who said size doesn’t matter? The amount of cooking surface your gas grill offers is extremely important because it determines how much food you can prepare. Larger grills typically include more main burners (models in our selection have between 1 and 8), which in turn dictate what kinds of cooking techniques are available to you. The more burners you have, the more flexible you can be when it comes to multi-zone cooking. To find the right size, ask yourself how many people you normally grill for, the maximum number of people you’d grill for, and how often you’d grill for that many guests. Then see where your answers fall within our 4 size categories: Small, Medium, Large, or XL. Just remember, you can always turn off a burner or two, but you can never make your cooking surface larger.
Small grills have cooking surfaces that are 26 inches wide or smaller with anywhere between 1 and 3 burners. We recommend grills in this size range as the best option for grilling full meals for small families or cranking out burgers a dozen at a time. Just keep in mind that fewer burners means fewer temperature zones, so indirect cooking and other advanced techniques may be hard to achieve.
We classify Medium gas grills as those that are between 27 and 33 inches in width. Depending on the brand and model, they’ll come with 2–4 burners. In addition to having enough space and burners to take advantage of indirect heat, this category is where you’ll start to find additional features like side burners and rotisserie burners that greatly improve cooking versatility.
Large gas grills fall between 34 and 42 inches in width, and have the ideal number of burners (between 3 and 6) for experimenting with various grilling techniques. You'll have no problem utilizing heat zones, slow roasting with indirect heat, or cooking multiple courses at once. These grills make it possible to craft epic meals for large families, or grill heaps of burgers and hot dogs during backyard cookouts.
If you’re the go-to griller for gamedays and family gatherings, an XL grill will be able to meet your demands. They can easily feed a large crowd of sports fans thanks to their spacious cooking area (43 inches and up in width) and as many as 8 burners, allowing virtually any cooking technique. XL grills may also be equipped with rotisserie cooking systems, sear burners, or carts with ample storage area.
A Final Note on Size: Keep in mind that the number of people a grill can feed is highly subjective and will vary from person to person based on what you like to cook and how you like to cook it. The experts at BBQGuys also assign a burger count to each gas grill, which is useful when envisioning the maximum number of people a grill can feed in one go.
Choose Your Class
To make our industry-leading selection of gas grills easier to navigate, we sorted every model into 1 of 4 clearly defined classes — Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Entry-Level. Each class reflects a grill’s quality, features, and performance so you can get right to the BBQ grills that have everything you’re looking for. Choosing the right gas grill class for your needs is crucial for narrowing your search and taking the next step toward completing your backyard.
Luxury Gas Grills
- Highest possible quality of parts and materials, generally backed by lifetime warranties
- Beautifully designed to serve as an attractive outdoor centerpiece
- Top-of-the-line features make cooking engaging and entertaining
- The most reliable cooking systems and widest temperature ranges of all gas grills
Premium Gas Grills
- Usually built entirely with 304, commercial-grade stainless steel
- Long-lasting grills, some with lifetime warranties, that can be built into a BBQ island
- Wide range of accessories allow you to personalize your grill
- Produce consistent, dependable results along with easy-to-control heat
Practical Gas Grills
- Built using a mix of stainless and painted steel, with warranties up to 10 years
- Wallet-friendly with adequate quality and dependability
- Cooking versatility is limited by smaller range of features and size options
- Decent heat retention, though temperatures top out around 500° Fahrenheit
Entry-Level Gas Grills
- The most affordable and accessible grills, making them a popular choice among beginners
- Ideal option for those ready to start their grilling journey without a large investment
- Basic designs with fewer features, though some are built with lasting materials backed by a lifetime warranty
As you can see, warranties play a big role in how we judge gas grills. That’s why we recommend that you always check the warranty before purchase. Grills with a long-lasting warranty from brands with good customer service are highly desirable because you’ll be taken care of should any part fail or need to be replaced down the road.
Consider The Way You Like to Cook
All this talk of configuration, fuel type, size, and class can make it easy to forget what this journey is really about — grilling! Now’s the time to step back and look at what you grill and how you do it. Your grilling style determines what aspects of a grill should matter most to you, and how you'll want to customize your grill to fit your needs.
Is it your goal to become the best outdoor entertainer on the block? A grill with gorgeous LED backlit control knobs or internal stadium lighting will illuminate your culinary artistry and dazzle your guests.
No matter what kind of gas grill you’re thinking about choosing (no pressure if you haven’t made that decision yet), you have the option of customizing it with accessories. Some, like grill racks and pizza accessories, will expand your cooking horizons, while handy Wi-Fi or Bluetooth grill thermometers can help you keep a close eye on your food. We highly recommend you invest in a grill cover, which can protect your grill during harsh weather and extend its lifespan.
Make sure you’ve thoroughly thought about where you plan to place your gas grill. If it has a rotisserie and lights, it must be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. Built-in grills come with their own set of considerations — most brands need an insulated grill jacket when placed in a combustible BBQ island (which we strongly advise against building), and natural gas and propane have different requirements for grill ventilation because of their densities relative to air. When in doubt, consult our Free Outdoor Living Design Service for help with outdoor kitchen planning.
Lastly, don’t put too much stock in BTUs. Many people believe BTU directly equates to heat output, but in reality it’s just one part of that equation. What 1 BTU (British Thermal Unit) actually measures is how much energy is needed to raise 1 Imperial pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. That’s helpful when trying to figure out how fast a given propane burner can boil a 60-pound pot of water, but it doesn’t shed much light on grill performance. Rather than focusing on the BTU of a single burner or all the burners combined, look for a grill’s max temperature and temperature range. A fuel-efficient grill is one that can reach high maximum temperatures with a fairly low BTU count, using less gas to deliver the same temperature and ultimately making your wallet happy.
Made it this far? If so, you now have all the tools to make an educated decision when buying a gas grill! That being said, our BBQ experts are always standing by at 1-877-743-2269 to answer any questions you may have about gas grills or outdoor living in general. With BBQGuys, finding the perfect gas grill doesn’t have to be such a challenge.
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