Grab your favorite spatula, and get dressed to grill, because barbecue season is here at last! Of course, we love to grill all year long here at Sunfire Energy Solutions, but late spring and early summer are without a doubt the best seasons for grilling.
Before you fire up the grill, though, take a look at your hardware—your grill itself and other accessories—and make sure that all the components are clean and in good working order. If they’re not, give your grill a thorough cleaning and replace any worn-out parts before using it. Even the most well-maintained grills eventually need to be retired, of course. If your grill has extensive rust or cracks, for instance, you may want to consider replacing it.
Finding the perfect grill can be a challenge. With so many choices on the market today, how do you know which one is right for you? “Unfortunately, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer,” writes grilling expert Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible, in a blog post on his website. We love being able to grill, smoke, roast, and bake on a Big Green Egg kamado grill, for example, “but a convenience-minded gas griller, or diehard wood griller, wants a different sort of live fire experience,” according to Raichlen.
Before you go grill shopping, we suggest you spend some time reflecting on what you really want out of your grill. Ask yourself the following questions.
How Much Am I Willing to Invest?
From portable grills you can take on camping trips to luxurious built-in Twin Eagles grills, we carry outdoor cookers to suit every budget, taste, and lifestyle here at Sunfire. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a great grill that works well—you can cook amazing burgers on a tiny grill with only the most basic features, for instance—but those who really love to grill may find that some of the more expensive models and brands have high-end features that are worth the extra cost.
When determining how much you’re willing to spend, think of a new grill as an investment rather than just another expense to add to this month’s budget. “You’d do well to remember that you’re not just buying a grill,” writes Geoff Williams in an article for U.S. News & World Report. “You’re buying a piece of equipment that could make a dinner with friends and family a fond memory for the ages—or a disaster. Botch the grilling, and you might turn a stomach or a formerly meat-loving friend into a vegetarian. Worse, you might catch your food or yourself on fire.” Invest in a high-quality grill that’s perfect for you and your family, and it will yield years of enjoyable backyard barbecues.
Charcoal, Gas, Electric, or Pellets?
One of the most important decisions you must make before you buy a grill is which fuel you want to use. There’s no right choice—barbecue enthusiasts and grill masters have been debating the topic since 1954, when the first propane grill hit the market. We can’t tell you which fuel is right for you either, but we can tell you about some of the main benefits of each: “Charcoal grills are popular because of the flavor, gas grills tend to be favored for speed and frequency, and a choice in pellet fuel garners controlled temperatures,” according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). Electric grills, which produce constant heat with no open flame, are ideal for those living in small spaces such as apartments.
Many people opt for gas grills for the sake of convenience: they’re fast to heat, easy to clean, and offer consistent results. People who use charcoal, on the other hand, often do so because they enjoy the grilling experience: “Charcoal grills are about the process—building and tending a fire and the cooking ritual itself,” Raichlen writes. “With a charcoal grill, you can smoke, barbecue low and slow, or direct grill. (It’s very difficult to smoke—really smoke—on a gas grill.)” Getting that quintessential smoky flavor tends to be another big factor for those who grill with charcoal.
People who grill with wood also do so for the flavor, especially if they like to smoke or barbecue foods. “Personally, I think food smoked or grilled over wood has an incomparable flavor,” Raichlen writes. “If chopping or hauling wood sounds like a chore, you might investigate pellet grills. Fill the hopper with hardwood pellets, then preheat to the desired temperature. The convenience of electricity with the flavor of wood.”
For most grill owners, speed and convenience are the benefits that reign supreme. Gas grills are the most popular outdoor cookers, owned by 62 percent of households with grills, according to research by the HPBA. Charcoal grills are a close second at 53 percent. Only 12 percent of households with grills own an electric grill. While only 2 percent of households owned wood pellet grills in 2015, ownership of these cookers is on the rise; according to the HPBA, 7 percent of prospective buyers planned to purchase a wood pellet grill in 2016.
What Size Do I Need?
Do you like to host big backyard barbecues for all your family and friends? If you’re aiming to feed a crowd, you may want to opt for a larger grill. “Hostly sorts should consider 1,000 square inches for the main grilling surface, while those grilling for one or two might get away with half that,” writes Michael Schroeder in an article for Angie’s List. Also consider what foods you’ll be grilling. If you plan to smoke a turkey, for instance, look for a grill with sufficient vertical height between the grill grate and the lid to accommodate the bird.
If you typically only feed small groups of people, a smaller grill may suit you best. Some of the smallest grills on the market are even portable. Do you want a grill you can take on vacations and camping trips? Consider a portable gas grill—they’re both convenient and compact.
What Features Do I Want?
After you’ve decided on your budget, fuel type, and grill size, you can get to the fun stuff: your grill’s main features. Do you want an outdoor cooker for the sole purpose of grilling steaks and burgers? Or do you want to be able to grill, smoke, roast, braise, and bake all kinds of different foods? If the latter sounds like your kind of appliance, then you may want to opt for a more versatile grill like a Big Green Egg—a ceramic kamado grill that’s fueled by natural lump charcoal—or a Traeger wood-fired grill.
If you prefer to go with a gas grill, look for one with enough BTUs (British thermal units) to support its size. “A rule of thumb is approximately 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking space (not including warming racks), or 50,000 BTUs for 500 square inches of cooking space,” Raichlen advises in his Up in Smoke newsletter.
Additional grill features you may want include:
• Sturdy side shelves
• Side burners (look for a grill with at least 12,000 BTUs per burner)
• A built-in thermometer
• A weatherproof grill cover
• A rotisserie
• Drawers for storing utensils
• LED-lit controls
• Illuminated cooking areas
• A fuel gauge (for gas grills)
If you can’t find the perfect grill for you in our showroom, then consider creating your own! Twin Eagles’ built-in grills offer the possibility to add even more features, such as a warming drawer, a Japanese Teppanyaki griddle, and a Salamangrill—which resembles an oven—for searing steaks and cooking pizzas at 1,500 degrees.
Plan a Shopping Trip to Sunfire
Once you’ve answered all the key questions and have a good idea of what kind of grill you want, visit our showroom at 301 E. Stephen Street in Martinsburg to check out our extensive selection of grills from Big Green Egg, Napoleon Grills, Traeger Grills, and Twin Eagles.
We also carry all the grilling accessories you need—including charcoal, pans, grilling tools, sauces, and seasonings—to make finger-lickin’ good barbecue, savory steaks, burgers, chicken, veggies, and more.
Call us today at 304-267-3029 to talk to one of our expert sales representatives, and let us help you find the perfect grill.
Sunfire Energy Solutions is a one-stop shop for HVAC products and installation, hearth appliances, grills, outdoor furniture, and hot tubs. We serve customers in Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, Charles Town, Ranson, Hedgesville, and Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, as well as the surrounding region, including parts of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Learn more at www.sunfireenergysolutions.com.