Reviewed by: Eddie
Looking for an easy to use electric grill for outside? Or are you not allowed to cook on gas or with charcoal where you live? Have a good look at my review of the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared 180.
The temperature of this tabletop grill reaches 550 degrees with its 1500 watts and has some amazing features and high customer ratings.
The bigger brother is the Char broil patio bistro 240 I reviewed here.
This electric grill will give you a lot of value for your money and is backed up by the quality of the Char-Broil Company. The choice of red or black color options gives you the ability to choose the color that reflects your personal taste or best fits your patio, deck or balcony.
The char broil tru infrared 180 impresses with its features and the results this “small” grill provides.
Read the rest of the Char Broil Tru Infrared 180 review:
Table of Contents
1. Grill surface
2. Material of the grate
4. What is infrared grilling
5. compared to Propane and Charcoal grills
6. Customer Reviews
7. Pros & Cons
8. Our opinion of the charbroil infrared 180
9. Recommendations and tips
Grill surface of the char-Broil 180
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The manufacturer says the effective cooking area is 245 square inches but keep in mind that this includes the surface area of the warming rack. This means that the actual grill grate is about 180 square inches.
There is a rule of thumb that the grill surface you need is about 72 square inches per person.
For the Char Broil Tru-Infrared 180, this would mean 180/72 equals 2-3 persons for whom you can grill at the same time.
Including the warming rack – or 245/72 – would mean 3-4 persons for whom you can cook at the same time if you would use the warming rack for baking potatoes, vegetables or other side dishes.
There is also a rule of thumb for hamburgers and that is about 20 square inches for a burger and that means that you could cook about 9 burgers at the same time.
This is a tabletop and portable grill. If you have the need to cook a whole turkey or larger pieces of meat this grill is not big enough.
A turkey might fit on the grill surface but in order to cook a turkey, the lid would have to be closed in order to reach the optimum cooking temperature. The room between the cooking grate and the top of the lid is not high enough to close the lid with a turkey on the grill. For those kinds of larger meats, it is better to look at a larger grill.
Material of the grate
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The grate is made of porcelain-coated steel. Porcelain-coated grill grates hold their temperature very well and this will give the nice grill marks on your meat we all like to see.
The opinions and discussion on the best material for a grill grate will go on forever and ever.
Everyone has their own preference. Porcelain-coated grill grates have the advantage of being less maintenance sensitive.
This means that it is easy to clean as compared to stainless steel or cast iron because the porcelain coating gives it a smooth and basically non-stick surface. For the grates, most of the time it is enough to turn the grill to the high setting for a few minutes after you have used it. This will burn off most of the grease of the grate and then you can use a soft grill brush to brush off the rest.
Main Features of the CharBroil Tru infrared 180
- Removable dial controller so it can be stored inside
- 1500 Watts – This is typically the wattage for this size grill
- Removable grease tray for easy cleaning
- Easy to store
- 120 volts
- Temperature gauge in dome
- Grate, lid and firebox are porcelain coated
- 17.7″W x 19.5″D x 17.3″H
- Weighs about 22. lbs
What is Infrared Grilling
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In short, an infrared grilling system means that there is a heat deflector between the heat source (gas, charcoal, or electric) and the grate. This results in the temperature being more even all over the grill. The meat also stays moister because it is not directly above the heat source and this will prevent it from drying out. Here is a picture of the infrared system to make it easier to understand:
If you would like to know more about what infrared grilling is you can read our full explanation here.=>> What is infrared grilling<<=
Charbroil 180 Electric Grill compared to Propane and Charcoal grills
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It is hard to compare an electric grill to a propane or charcoal grill. Most of the time, you can achieve a higher temperature on a gas or charcoal grill simply because of the fact that they are more powerful and will, therefore, reheat faster after opening the lid to check on your meat.
Gas and charcoal are “on” all the time while an electric grill kicks on and off depending on the temperature setting. This means that the element has to warm up first again after you open the lid and the temperature drops. Compared to gas or charcoal it takes longer to reach the set temperature again.
Since this is an electric outdoor grill I would not use it in the rain for obvious reasons. Electricity and water do not get along too well.
However electric grills are just easier to use as all you need is a 120 volt outlet and, in some cases, this is the only option you might have. Apartment complexes have rules that prohibit the use of gas or charcoal grills because of the open flame. Some might provide a community grill but that is not very convenient if you want to grill for a few friends on your own patio and eat at your own table.
There’s also no need to worry about running out of gas or messing and cleaning up charcoal when it comes to an electric grill. All you need is a 120 volt outlet and as long as you have power, you’re good to go.
Although you don’t have to spend any money on propane or charcoal there is still the expense of electricity, of course.
The manual mentions that this grill is 1500 watts, but you have to realize that it uses more watts.
There is a difference and there are 2 ways to calculate the watts of any electric products and this grill actually uses 1800 watts, although the heating element is 1500 watts. The higher reading is called the surge watts. Keep that in mind while using an outlet and extension cord.
Here is a little calculation on how much it would cost on average to run this grill for 2 hours.
The real cost will depend on your local price for electricity:
The average price of electricity is 12 cents per kilowatt per hour.
This grill is 1.8-kilowatt surge power. (1800 watts = 1.8 kilowatt)
For 2 hours that is 3.6 kilowatt and that times 12 cents brings us about 43 cents for using this grill for 2 hours. Compare that to about $.50-$1.00 for briquettes for the same grill size and the same amount of time and they’re nearly identical with a slight advantage going to the electric grill.
The biggest difference, though, is the flavor. When grilling with charcoal there is a lot more flavor and even a flame from a propane grill adds flavors to the meat that you will miss with an electric grill. This is what most people notice first when they change from charcoal or gas to an electric grill.
There are easy solutions to this. You can add wood-chips on the grill in a package you make from a piece of aluminum foil and poke holes in it. Or you can add the wood-chips directly to the grill-grate which is what Char-Broil states. The small openings in the infrared grill grates prevent the wood chips from falling through the grates on the heating element. You can click on wood chips for smoking to read more about how to do that.
The electric controller is of course one of the most important parts of this electric grill.
I see that the recommendation is to take it out of the grill after every use and store it inside and this makes sense to me.
There is a light in the knob that cycles on and off when the heating element kicks on or off. This will indicate that the temperature is reached and you can check this on the built-in temperature gauge in the lid.
However, you have to realize that the temperature gauge is placed higher than the grate and this means that the temperature at the grate level probably is higher than the gauge reads. Most grills come with a cheap and not very accurate temperature gauge.
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In order to provide the most thorough detail about each grill, we put in hours of research. The manufacturer website and owner manual and product manual also provide us with useful information and so do some forums.
I have found and read a ton of reviews for this grill.
One thing I noticed is that there was only one that mentioned flare-ups while grilling and that is one of the great advantages of the infrared system – there are far fewer flare-ups to deal with which is overall safer than using propane or charcoal.
Although I am a little “old school” and love charcoal I have to admit that I am impressed with the high ratings I found for this electric grill.
There are some complaints about having to clean the grates and that it is not easy with the porcelain coated grate. I have porcelain-coated grates on my smoker/grill and have no problem keeping them clean with a soft wire brush and water and soap once in a while. Read all our grill brush reviews here to find one.
With a tabletop model, one of my concerns is the stability and if the legs slide on any surface. I have not found any complaints about the stability or sliding on certain surfaces although some mentioned that they put the grill on a slip-skid mat or on a towel to be extra cautious.
Since the heating element is six inches from the bottom of the grill and the legs are also about six inches high, it is safe to place it on a table and not worry about the heat. Although I still recommend keeping an eye on it.
The numbers on the temperature dial are not representative of the actual temperature. They will only show you your desired temperature and you have to get used to working with it to find the right setting for your cooking temperature. The temperature gauge that is in the lid will help you with this. You just have to realize that most of the temperature gauges that come with a grill are of lower quality and we recommend the use of a quality thermometer. You can read our thermometer review here
Just like any other grill, the outside gets very hot. The handles on the lid stay pretty cool and the lid does not have to be held upheld up to stay open. You can open it and use both hands to check or turn your meat.
Pre-heating takes about 15 – 20 minutes for searing. Although this seems like a long time it is not. Compared to using a gas or charcoal grill there is not too much difference in the pre-heat time. Charcoal probably takes longer than 20 minutes and a gas grill might be a little shorter.
For searing, the grill grates have to be hot and that takes time on any kind of grill.
Pros & Cons
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- Portable. The locking option for the lid makes it easy to carry without having to keep it horizontal
- Compact but still large enough for 2-3 people. This grill is great for small balconies and small spaces or anywhere where the use of gas or charcoal is not allowed.
- Maximum 550-degree temperature. First I was not impressed with the “only” 1500 Watts because I was not sure that this was going to be sufficient to reach the high temperatures that are required for some meats. But I have not seen many complaints. (Read my summary about what to do when you think the temperature is not high enough.)
- There are mixed opinions about cleaning. But there are more voters for easy to clean than hard to clean
- The removable controller makes it easy to protect this important electronic part during inclement weather without having to move the entire grill.
- Easy to store – the easy to store option in combination with the removable controller is, in my opinion, a great plus.
After all. On a balcony or small patio, the available room is most of the time already limited. The controller is easy to take off the base and this requires no additional tools.
- Porcelain grate and lid for easy cleaning
- Warming rack that will give you additional cooking space.
- Porcelain exterior
This grill is great for balconies and small spaces. first I was not impressed with the “only” 1500 Watts, but I have seen no complaints about that. (Read my summary about what to do when you think the temperature is not high enough.) There are mixed opinions about the cleaning. But there are more voters for easy to clean. The easy to store and removable controllers are in my opinion a great plus. after all, on a balcony room is most of the time already limited.
The few cons I could find were limited to the temperature not getting high enough. (read my summary for the solution) The temp drops about 50 degrees when you open the lid and it takes about 3 minutes to come back to the desired temperature. I think this temperature problem is one of the cons that I read most and it is a con of any electric grill. As a result, I don’t know if this is really a problem or just requires some adjustment. I think all grills do this depending on how long you keep the lid open, but an electric grill is more known for this problem.
- No rotisserie available
- Have to buy an off-brand grill cover since Char-Broil does not offer one for this model. For a cover, you can use any cover that fits a 22.5-inch kettle grill and it will fit this grill. Just realize that it might be a bit too long. But better this than no cover at all.
- The cord is a little short with its 5 feet and you probably will need a quality extension cord. If you have to use an extension cord find one that is rated for 15 amperes or more and has the 3 prong grounding plug. Use the shortest extension cord you can find for safety.
- Since 1971 all outdoor outlets have to be of the ground fault type for electric safety. If yours is not a ground fault, contact an electrician for advice.
My opinion about the Char Broil 180 Tru-Infrared
After reviewing the char broil patio bistro 240 model we found a lot of the same features in the charbroil 180 tru infrared grill. This is a tabletop model.
Here is a table to compare the two grills.
Char Broil Patio Bistro Tru Infrared Features
Features Char Broil Patio Bistro 240 Char Broil Patio Bistro 180 Brand Char Broil Char Broil Watts 1750 Watts 1500 watts Tru-Infrared yes yes Colors 8 colors black and Red Grate Porcelain coated Porcelain coated Grill surface 240 Square Inches primary
80 Square inches warming rack
180 Square inches
65 Square inches warming rack
Removable controller Yes Yes Energy Use Low About 0.21/Hour
There were complaints about not getting hot enough and the temperature dropping fast. Most of the users mentioned however that the temperature is higher and they had to cook at a lower setting than recommended in the manual. So, in my opinion, it is a failure of the product if you experience these temperature problems and my advice is to return it within the warranty period and ask for another one.
For a cover, you can use any cover that fits a 22.5-inch kettle and it will fit this grill. If you like to use a rotisserie this is not the grill you should buy. I will look for a grill that can be used with a rotisserie and add it here as soon as possible.
Cleaning this grill is easy if you remove the grill and soak it in the sink for a while. Adding a foil liner before use is one way of avoiding the grill to get dirty. After use just remove the foil and you are good to go.
After everything I found out about the char broil tru infrared 180 grills I think I can recommend this grill if you like the easy use and have no need for smoking or slow cooking, although you can add wood chips to the grill for a smoke flavor.
Recommendations and Tips
The smoking rack is a nice accessory to use if you like to slow cook and use wood-chips to smoke your meat. This rack is placed a few inches higher than the cooking grate and in this way, you can put the wood chips on the grate to produce the smoke flavor.
The Pizza stone is great for making homemade or even store-bought pizzas on the charbroil 180. The stone is 13’4” in diameter and is 0.43” thick and fits perfectly. The reviews mention that it is easy to use and the Pizza tastes great.
Assembling is pretty easy to do with just a Philips screwdriver and a small adjustable wrench.
Here is a link to the assembly guide. https://content.charbroil.com/content/Char-Broil/Knowledge/12601711%20Assembly%20English.pdf
You should first wash the grate with warm soapy water and then run the grill on the highest setting for at least 20 minutes to burn of any remains from the assembling and cleaning.
Here is a link to the product guide. https://content.charbroil.com/content/Char-Broil/Knowledge/12601711%20Product%20English.pdf
The great thing about the Char Broil Company is that they offer replacement parts for many of their products. The Char Broil Tru-infrared 180 electric grill is no exception to that rule. All parts can be ordered from their website.
This can be a lot cheaper than buying a new grill. I personally think it is great. Most companies do not offer this option and you either have to find replacement parts and adjust them or maybe even have to purchase a whole new grill.
For all our Electric grill reviews you can go the menu.
Eddie van Aken