I got a CharBroil Tru Infrared two burner. It uses LP gas to cook with (liquid propane) which is sold just about everywhere. I was afraid that it would make the food taste like petroleum but it gives no flavor to the dinner whatsoever.
I like LP grills because it’s quick to heat up. Just turn on the gas, flip the ignition and POOF it’s lit. The heat adjusts like a stove does, with a knob. LP gas is ubiquitous, and it’s pretty cheap considering how long a tank lasts. Hookup is easy but be sure you follow all the safety practices.*
Charcoal is great but it takes much longer to heat up. You have to prepare the charcoal and let it glow for about half an hour before it’s ready to use, otherwise it’s not hot enough. There is an art to charcoal and it’s harder to turn up and turn down the heat.
I think the difference is a lot like power boats versus sail boats.
You also have to watch out for hot spots in a grill. There are naturally areas which are going to be hotter than others. I find that the back of the grill is hotter than the front on mine, and I think that the parts of the grill above the flames are hotter than the parts further away from them. Also, the parts with the most coals under them would be hotter on a charcoal grill, so the deep part of a kettle grill (the middle) you would think would be hotter than the sides.
I liked the Tru Infrared grill because it has the typical grills on the top of course, but it has “emitters” under the grills. Emitters are simply plates with lots of little holes pierced in them, which are made of very heat conductive material. They take the heat generated by the burners and distribute it evenly on their surface and then send it up through the grills. That makes the heat distributed more evenly and you have fewer hot spots. I think that the heat it generates is negligibly less hot than a conventional grill, but any heat loss is offset by the consistency of heating across the grills’ area.
As for choosing the right grill, I knew we wanted a compact one as there are only two of us. LP gas was a must because I could not spend 30+ minutes just heating the thing up to cook plus all of the time and energy it takes to load charcoal etc.
We looked at several grills which would have been just fine. Weber has a great name and it is more expensive than the CharBroil, I think it is very well built and would last longer. However, it had the usual technology under the hood. The CharBroil had that Tru Infrared heat disbursing edge to it which makes it harder to burn the food but easy to get it to a golden color and beyond (but you CAN burn things on the grill,too, my friends…so you actually do have to do a bit of attending to what you are doing here). I think that CharBroil does make a point of being a more technically forward thinking company and their grill isn’t as high quality as Weber but I am sure it will last for years. I wasn’t really impressed with the quality of the Weber bottom of the line portable grill and it was pretty expensive, too.
I had not heard of CharBroil before I went looking for grills and I do admit to listening to the guy from the hardware store who sold it to us but he steered us in the right direction and I would recommend it.
I am planning to go on more adventures in grilling this summer and beyond. My next door neighbor, Laurie, is the grillmaster of the house over there (grrrl grillmasters? Heck, yea).
*We were advised to paint the connections with soapy water to see if there was any bubbling to show leaks. I did that and found no leaks. HOWEVER, I SMELLED GAS PERSISTENTLY AND WHEN I LOOKED THROUGH THE OPENING IN THE TOP SIDE OF THE CANISTER I SAW THE AIR SHIMMERING THE WAY IT DOES WHEN GAS IS ESCAPING. When I turned off the gas, the smell was gone and so was the shimmer. Getting the same result a second time, I took back the canister and found that the threads on the nozzle were actually faulty! The threads should be sharply defined with NO slashes across them which would allow gas to leak out of the connection. SO PLEASE BE SURE TO DO THE SOAP TEST BUT IF YOU SMELL GAS OR SEE A SHIMMER LIKE A HEAT SHIMMER AROUND THE CONNECTION PART OF THE TANK, SHUT IT DOWN, TAKE IT OFF, AND RETURN IT TO THE PLACE YOU BOUGHT IT. IF YOU HAVE A FAULTY SET OF THREADS IN THE CONNECTION YOU WILL SMELL AND SEE GAS WHEN THE TANK IS TURNED ON AND NOT WHEN IT’S TURNED OFF. So inspect the tank you pick up at the place where you buy your gas.