OK - so this is my first gas grill. I've been a fan of charcoal for most of my 34 years of life. While I lived in upstate New York I would shovel a pathway out of the snow to get to my BBQ in the dead of winter. I was that dedicated.
Recommend this product?
Eventually I moved to warmer climates - Phoenix - and found the benefits of cooking on an outdoor grill in the middle of summer. All the heat stays outside keeping the house nice and cool. Unfortunately, I was hit with the double whammy - the potential for brush fires and the fact that my wife does not like the flavor of foods cooked on charcoal. So I had to buy a gas grill.
I wanted something that would last for years, had a large enough cooking surface for entertaining, the ability for a rotisserie attachment, and a side burner. I reserached many different brands and models and ended up getting the Char-Broil 'RED' three burner grill.
According to the website these are the features of this grill:
Converts to Natural Gas with Dual Fuel® Conversion Kit, sold separately 34,500 BTU stainless steel main burners 13,000 BTU flush-lidded sideburner 550 sq. inch porcelain cast iron cooking grates with wood chip opening 200 sq. inch porcelain wire secondary cooking surface Red and black porcelain grill lid Stainless steel control panel, side shelves, handles and towel bar Red and black grill cart and doors Condiment basket inside cabinet door Temperature gauge Towel bar on sideshelf Integrated electronic ignition 4 Casters/2 lockingOK - there are a lot here, but I'll go through the features I saw that I really liked. One was the ability to convert it to Natural Gas if I make a permanent home in my back yard for this. Not all grills have this. I also liked the large size of the cooking surface - it is much larger than I need for two people, but when we have parties I can have 15-20 people and I have plenty of space for hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and veggies. The grill looks great and, with the enamel is should be much easier to maintain than the all stainless steel. The locking casters are also a great feature and make this thing rock steady.
I was a little concerned with the amount of BTU's on this unit. Other grills in the same price range have 10,000 more BTU's available, but I will say I think this is perfect. I've cooked two 12 pound turkeys in this with no problems and have plenty of heat for searing steaks, burgers, and chicken. Because of the special 'infrared' cooking method it honestly needs fewer therms to get the same cooking temperatures. The end result is less gas used.
One of the main features of this grill is the 'infrared' grilling. It sounds like a gimmick, but I think the concept is sound. This is how it essentially works:
The three burners are located horizonatlly at the bottom of the grill. Above the burners are two 'U' shaped pans or bowls. These completely cover the burners. As the burners heat the bottom of the pan which 'projects' heat into the food. This gives you a few things. The main advantage is that there is no flame directly under the meat which means less burning and less flare-ups when fat hits the flame. Since my wife doesn't like this taste - this is perfect for me. There are two pans - one small one (1/3 of the grill size) and one large one (covering the rest of the grill size). Because of these pans you can put liquid into the pan and use it to cook/flavor the food. You can also add wood chips into these pans to give you the 'smoky' flavor of a charcoal grill. These pans work very well at eliminating flare ups and giving you more versatility in cooking. I've even heard of people boiling beer in the smaller pan for cooking brauts or putting peanut oil in one for deep frying.
I found a few 'complaints' on-line about assembly time and, honestly, I don't understand them. This thing comes essentially pre-assembled. The main grill and cart are assembled so all you have to do is take out all the packing material, attach the prep area and burner, and drop in the propane tank. It took me about 45 min to assemble everything and all I needed was a knife to open the packing materials and a screwdriver - phillips or flat would work. Since I am a bit of a nut I also picked up a small bottle of Loctite 'blue' which is basically a glue for the screws. I can still take the screws off if I need to, but they won't work their way loose after some use. I even removed the screws holding the panels on the bottom of the cart off to Loctite them. Still took me less than an hour.
After I got it assembled and rolled it to the patio I fired it up. The manual suggests letting it run for15 min to burn off any manufacturing oil. Within 5 min of first firing it up the grill was running at 700 degrees. Nice and hot! I took my chicken, seasoned it, and took it outside to wait for the grill to finish it's burn-in. I turned off two of the burners, turned the last one about 1/2 way down and plopped the chicken down. 5 min later I flipped them and saw the beautiful grill marks on the chicken. Two min later I was done. I turned the one burner to 'clean' and headed inside with the chicken. I noticed that the temperature gauge was showing about 400 since the lid had been opened for 10 min or so. I went back outside about 10 min later and the temperature was back up to 700 ON ONE BURNER! I was amazed.
Long term use
I've had this grill for an entire season now and I still use it 3-4 times a week. It is so easy to use and heats up very quickly. I can actually 'BBQ' on this - low and slow - and have made phenomenal ribs, brisket, and pork BBQ. I've used the side burner to boil water for corn on the cob, make sauces, cook beans, etc. Plenty of heat. I keep it covered and it still looks almost brand new. I did add some 'command hooks' to the front of this thing for hanging utensils close buy. The towel rack is OK, but it seems a little out of reach sometimes.
Cleaning is relatively easy. Turn the burners to 'clean' and come back in 20 min. This works much the same way as an oven 'clean' cycle works - it heats up the stuck on food and burns it to ash. I still scrub the grates with a stiff brush just to keep it looking as good as new, but it is getting harder to clean. I just can't get everything off. I may have to take the grates out and soak them like the manual recommends.
There are a couple of negatives. One is the secondary 'cooking shelf' in the grill. Most grills have these today and I understand their purpose but it makes it very difficult to reach the back of the grill if needed. Also, the 'U' pans are showing signs of wear and I suspect I'll have to replace them next season. Also - I wish there was a light on the handle, but you can buy one pretty cheaply.
Overall I love this grill. I've used many other grills in the past and always figured I'd end up buying a Weber, but this grill is absolutely perfect. It isn't as expensive as the Weber grills and isn't quite as sturdy as the Webers, but I am sure it will last a good long time. I like the fact that the food doesn't taste 'burnt' to my wife, but I can still get that smoked flavor if I want.
Amount Paid (US$): 400