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The Great Debate: Gas vs Charcoal


The great debate between gas and charcoal grills has been around for decades. It's important to remember that there will always be folks who prefer one fuel type over another. (This is also an ongoing debate among the BBQ Guys staff.) We know it can be confusing trying to decide which type of grill is best for you. That's why we've created this guide for you to compare the grills and solve the great debate!

What's the best grill for you?


Consider your tastes, lifestyle, budget, and cooking style. We recommend selecting a grill that satisfies your individual needs. If you're having trouble deciding, give us a call, we'll be happy to help.
Lion Gas Grill Weber Charcoal Grill
Gas Grills Charcoal Grills

Advantages

  • Convenience: Gas grills light up immediately, and it only takes a few minutes before you're ready to cook. To shut the grill down, simply turn it off.
  • Versatility: Gas grills offer multiple burners and a large assortment of accessories like infrared burners & rotisserie kits.
  • Temperature control: Each burner typically has its own control knob, making it easy to precisely adjust the temperature.
  • Cleaning: It's fairly easy to clean a gas grill, but some cooking types of grates might require some extra care.
  • Taste: Charcoal grills offer great taste and smoke flavor. Some people say food from a gas grill just doesn't taste as good.
  • Cost: Charcoal grills are generally less expensive than gas and charcoal is widely available.
  • Versatility: Some charcoal grills may also have direct & indirect cooking areas.

Disadvantages

  • Flavor: Generally less flavor than charcoal grills. Any grilled flavor comes from the drippings of the food, which are vaporized by the flame taming system. Using a smoker box can help add some flavor to your food.
  • Fuel: If using propane, you may unknowingly run out of fuel in the middle of cooking if you don't check your tank before you start.
  • Bulky: In general, gas grills take up more space than charcoal and they are usually more expensive.
  • Time: Charcoal grills generally take 20-30 minutes to start up, unless natural lump charcoal is used in combination with an electric lighter or chimney starter.
  • Convenience: Charcoal grills are less convenient than gas.

Ease of Use

  • Convenient: It's as simple as turning a few knobs. Ideal for those occasions when you need to grill quickly.
  • Less convenient Requires a little guesswork to achieve the desired temperature.

Start Up Time

  • Lights immediately: Ready to cook in minutes.
  • 20 - 30 minute start up time required.

Temperature Range

  • Low temperatures are easily achieved. Most gas grills average 500° F for the highest temperature. Premium models may have infrared searing burners for high temperature searing.
  • Low temperatures can be achieved. Depending on the amount of charcoal, you can achieve temperatures near 700°F. Average high temperatures hover around 500°F for most models.

Fuel Cost

  • $1.00 per hour: Depending on propane gas prices, expect it to cost around $1.00 an hour to operate. Natural gas is lower, but a connection may need to be installed.
  • $1.50 per session: Cost will vary, depending on brand and type of charcoal used. Per cooking session, briquette charcoal averages $3.00-$3.50 while natural lump averages $1.50-$1.75.

Cleaning

  • Drip pans, flame tamers, and burners need regular cleaning. Cooking grates can be cleaned by turning the grill on high for 15-30 minutes, then brushing the grates. If you have cast iron grates, they will need oiling.
  • Lots of ash residue is created by charcoal. Brush or scape the cooking grate before cooking, and occasionally clean up the ash pan. Some charcoal grills include an ash catcher to make clean up easier.

Space

  • More space: Gas grills typically need more space. They can be inserted into a BBQ island or mounted on a cart.
  • Less space: A small area is needed and they are a good choice for limited outdoor space like an apartment balcony. Check your rental agreement for restrictions.

Price Ranges

  • Entry level gas grills range in price from $500 - $1,500.
  • Premium models with advanced features can cost $2,000 and up.
  • Tailgating style grills can cost as low as $29.00. Standard models will run $75-$150 and up to $1,000 for deluxe models.

More Info

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