Every website slowly has a how-to buy a gas grill guide, but many have just copied it from some source and some of them don’t make too much sense to me.
Considerations Before Buying A Gas Grill
In this how-to buy a gas grill guide I looked at every possible thing you should take into consideration before buying any gas grill.
You spend money on something you hope will use a lot and a long time. Take your time to read my how to buy a gas grill tips and come home with the gas grill you really need and will enjoy using to grill some great food.
You can also have a look at my post about what the best time is to buy a grill and possibly save some money.
What Size Grill Do I Need?
We all can have a little of the shiny object syndrome. Meaning that we get attracted to a large grill with all the extras.
Don’t fall for the shiny object syndrome but only buy what you need.
Deciding what size you need is just as important as all the other things we write about in this grill-buying guide.
However, by buying the right size grill you can save on the cost of gas.
Overall I like to make the statement that size does matter. With a larger grill surface, you have more options.
You can create different temperature zones.
But the main thing is to decide what you need as a minimum grill surface.
You should calculate about 72 square inches for every member of your family is what most people suggest.
This means that for a family of 4, you need 4 x 72 = 288 square inches.
What most other guides forget to mention is that you need to leave about 20% of the surface open and not crowd your grill full of food.
This means in the family of 4 we talked about you need 360 sq inches of primary cooking space.
In my opinion, the real rule of thumb should be 80 square inches of grill surface per person.
Here is also where many buyers forget to give the manual a good look.
Many times the manual mentions the total grill space and that is:
Total cooking space = Primary cooking space + secondary cooking space.
Secondary cooking space is things like warm hold racks and sometimes even side burners.
Make sure that your primary cooking area is large enough to match the required 80 inches per person.
This will give you enough room to move your meat around from hot to cold zones or create an indirect grill setup.
Another extra is that you can probably even smoke on your gas grill with this size grill because of the multiple burners.
How many BTUs do you need?
BTU stands for British Thermal Units and will tell basically how hot your grill can get.
Let’s start with the rule of thumb you need 80 – 100 Btu per square inch of primary cooking space for your gas grill.
If you use this formula you will not fall for “the let’s buy a grill with the most Btu’s” to be on the safe side.
- Too much BTU will make your grill use more gas than needed.
- Not enough BTUs will not heat up your grill.
If you like searing steaks your grill needs to be 550 – 600 degrees. Read the manual to make sure you can reach this.
As I mentioned earlier the gas grill burners are the most replaced parts. Again a reason to have a look at a good brand that offers replacement parts for their grills.
There are many types of burners. From cheap aluminum and cheap metal to stainless steel and I have even seen cast iron burners.
What I prefer are stainless steel burners of a high quality like 304 grade.
The burners should run from the front to the end and not from side to side. In this way, it is much easier to set up hot, medium, and cooler zones to enable cooking multiple types of food at the same time.
Have a good look at the heat diffusers that cover the burners. They should cover the whole burner! The reason is that grease and drippings fall down and these heat diffusers protect your grill from them.
Also, check the material of the diffusers and make sure that they are not made of some cheap flimsy metal that will rust fast and need to be replaced. If you however see one that is going bad replace it right away.
It is cheaper to replace a diffuser than a burner.
Some grills are equipped with so-called infrared burners. After reading on forums I came to the conclusion that they do not get any hotter than regular burners and add no value to the grill. But you might have a different opinion.
Before spending a dime I like to know what type of warranty the grill I have in mind comes with.
It is a well-known fact that better brands most of the time come with good warranties.
Burners are the most replace part of a grill. This means that it makes sense to me that they have a warranty of around 10 years.
I talk about burners and what to look for in them later.
It makes no sense to look at a 2000-dollar gas grill if your budget is 500 dollars.
Stick to your budget but realize that in many cases you get what you pay for.
Don’t expect a $500 2 burner grill to be the same quality as one that costs $1500.
Some brands offer a large grill but forget the quality of the construction.
Solid construction will prevent your grill from falling apart after one or two seasons. But besides that, it will also help prevent the heat from escaping through all cracks and not fitting parts.
Have a good look at how the grill is built. Bolted together is in many cases not as sturdy as seamless welded joints.
Check all parts and see how solid they are. Don’t forget things like wheels and the lid. A well-fitting lid will keep the temperature in the grill and not escape through the seams.
Keep your eyes also on minor things like wheels especially if you like to move your grill on your deck or patio.
A sturdy gas grill will also be a safer grill.
Gas grills need an igniter or starter. There are several types of igniters and if you read reviews none of them are perfect.
The battery-powered ones need replacement batteries and the push button ones fail sometimes. In both cases, they have to generate a spark to start the burner.
Some grills use one igniter that runs across the whole length of the grill and others have separate starters for each individual burner.
Have a look at the grill you have in mind and make sure there is still a hole to light your burners with a long wooden match or a special gas lighter for grills.
Looking at the space you have between the grill grates and the lid is advised if you like to use your grill for more than hamburgers, hotdogs, and steaks.
A chicken or that holiday turkey you like to grill needs space under the lid. How much you need is something you have to decide.
Propane or Natural Gas
If you have natural gas it makes sense to hook up your gas grill to it and not have to worry about running out of gas anymore.
There are however also reasons not to do this. Propane burns hotter than natural gas. Adding a gas line to your patio or deck must be done by a licensed business and this can cost.
If you are planning on using natural gas now or in the future make sure to buy a natural gas grill or that you can buy a set to convert your grill from propane to natural gas.
It is my opinion that grill grates are in many cases the last thing people worry about.
This is the part where your meat or veggies are cooked and should get some attention to prevent sticking or not making these nice grill marks.
Grill grates can be made of many types of material. From simple steel to stainless steel and coated with porcelain. (My favorite)
All grill grates will work fine as long as you keep them clean and use some oil before using them.
I like my porcelain-coated grill grates because they are easy to clean and do not rust.
My Char Broil X200 came with infrared grill grates and that was the reason I bought it.
I like the infrared feature of these grill grates and the no flare-up part.
There are now companies that sell these grill grates to replace your original grates and use that infrared feature.
I recommend having a look at them since I have the experience that cooking a burger without flare-ups is a lot nicer than moving it away from the flames all the time.
If you want to be a successful grill master on your gas grill, you must be able to control the temperature of your grill.
Your grill should be equipped with multiple burners to be able to cook with multiple zones as I mentioned in the burner part.
The gas flow is controlled by the knobs on your grill. Some grills can be regulated step by step and others are a little tougher to set up.
shipping a gas grill is maybe the last thing on your mind, but can be a deal-breaker in my opinion.
Some companies offer free shipping on their grills and others charge you for it.
Still a thing to look at before buying a gas grill. Picking it up at your local hardware store is an option if you have a trailer or a pickup truck.
If you do not have one of these it is maybe a good idea to look at shipping costs and if another store gives you free shipping.
Extra Features on a gas grill
Now you have the basic checks done for how to buy a gas grill for your situation you can have a look at the extra features you like to have. If you have the budget you can add as many features as you like and need.
Here are some extras you can use to make your grill into a grilling machine.
Side burners are a great addition to your grill. It will make it possible to heat up a sauce or keep the pane with glaze warm.
It will help you not run back and forth to the kitchen all the time.
Grill lights can make it very easy to use your grill after dark.
A side table is almost a must for a gas grill to place the food on before or after grilling. Or buy a special grill prep table.
A rotisserie can be added to grill some great chicken or other larger cuts of meat on it.
Smoker boxes are a great addition if you like to use your gas grill for low and slow and still like to have that smoke flavor.
Grill mats are nice if you like to grill smaller pieces or food that falls apart fast.
Fish baskets are good to keep your fish together while grilling.
A grill tool set is also a must. Or at least a spatula and a fork
Grill Cover For Your Gas Grill
Now I have talked about everything to keep in mind when buying a gas grill in this how-to-buy-a-gas grill guide, it is time to talk about keeping your new gas grill in shape and protected from weather influences.
Look for the best grill cover you can afford. Nothing makes less sense to me to spend a lot of money on a grill and meat and then save money on a grill cover.
I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide on how to buy a gas grill and feel free to leave a comment if you think I left out anything.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken