How to buy a grill and what kind of grill or BBQ should I buy is a question we run into a lot. Reason for us to write a post on how to choose the right grill that fits your family size, your way of cooking and grilling, and your budget. We will answer all questions about choosing natural gas, propane gas, electric grill, or a charcoal grill in this grill buying guide.
There are a few important things to decide first before you can even start looking at grill brands or models.
Click to jump straight to each topic
One of them is to decide on the best time to buy a grill in my article I will provide you with all you need to know more and what to look for when buying a BBQ grill.
What Size Grill Do You Need
It is very important that you know how to choose the right grill size.
There is a rule of thumb that you need about 72 square inches for each person. With the average household, according to https://www.statista.com/, being 2.54 people that would suggest that 226 sq inches would fit your needs. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that.
You have to take into consideration what you are planning on doing with your grill. The 72 square inches are meat and other food like vegetables. If you are just looking for a grill to cook some burgers the only question you need to answer is “how many burgers fit on a grill” But it is better to look at it in another way. How many burgers am I going to grill most of the time and then decide the grill size you need.
A basis BBQ grill size calculator could look like: Persons to cook for X 72 square inches = grill size you need.
Roughly this is the size of an average dinner plate per person to make it easier.
One other thing to keep in mind is how much room you have between the grill grate and the inside of the lid. If you are looking for enough room to smoke a turkey or make beer can chicken you need at least a 12-inch room there.
Depending on your preference you can buy a square, rectangle or round grill.
Calculating the surface for a square and rectangle grill is done by multiplying the length and the width. This will give you the square inches.
A round grill is a little harder. You need a formula that goes like this: (diameter x diameter) X 3.14 – divide this by 4 = total square inches.
You can have a look at this calculator and let it do the work for you. https://www.calcunation.com/calculator/circle-area.php.
What is your budget
Before running to the store now you know how big of grill you need it is time to think about your budget.
When you have figured out how much you like to spend you have to take into consideration that you will also need some basic things like a cover, thermometer, grill brush, and some grill utensils that have to be added to your available budget to buy a grill.
What Is The Best Fuel For Grilling
There are basically 7 types of fuel that are used to fire up a grill. All have there pros and cons and (according to the experts) give their own flavor to the food you cook.
- Charcoal briquettes
- Lump charcoal
- Natural gas
- Propane gas
- wood pellets
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of these 7 fuels for firing up a grill.
There are two types of charcoal for grilling.
These are the most used. They burn at a consistent temperature and are widely available.
One of the most known brands is Kingsford that can be bought in most stores. I usually buy it here for a better price and get it delivered to my door.
This one is gaining in popularity because it does not contain any chemicals or other types of fillers in general.
In my experience lump charcoal burns hotter than the briquettes.
Lump charcoal is a little harder to find that is why I order them online in this store.
Pros and Cons of Charcoal
- Widely available
- Even heat
- Messy cleanup
- Needs time to heat up
- Hard to control the temperature
Starting a charcoal grill can be done in several ways. you can buy self-start charcoal. I don’t advise this because it contains chemicals that might get in the food you are grilling also. The same problem I see with some of the charcoal starter blocks that you can use.
My preferred way of starting a charcoal grill is to use a charcoal chimney starter. The second way is to use one of the electric charcoal starters we reviewed here.
Natural and Propane Gas
Pros and Cons of Natural and Propane Gas for Grills.
Both types of gas have in my opinion the same type of pros and cons.
- Easy to use
- Heats up fast
- Several sizes available
Pretty easy cleanup
If you need to more about how to buy the best gas grill you can Click here on this link to read my how to buy a gas grill guide.
- Can run out while cooking
- Have to check for leaks
- Not easy to see if you are running low
Propane is the most used form of fuel for a gas grill. The reason is that is widely available, although certain stores only sell one brand. Most dollar stores, gas stations, or convenience stores sell larger tanks.
It is a little hard to see how much propane is left and if you don’t have a spare tank available you can run out of gas in the middle of a cook session.
There are ways to see how much gas is left and you can read an article I wrote how to see how much gas is left in your tank here.
Wood is the oldest form of fuel that is used for grilling. Way before we had grills it was used for cooking. Charcoal is made from wood that is burned and then cooled off.
Most people use wood to give their meat a smoked flavor and if it is used by itself most of the time it in a smoker in the side firebox.
If you like to read more on how to use wood chips for smoking you can read this post I wrote.
Wood pellets are mostly used in pellet grills and smokers. They are wood dust and milled wood that is pressed into pellets. Wood pellet grills feed these pellets in the grill to maintain a steady temperature. This post is about choosing the right grill, but you can read more about pellet grills in the reviews we did here.
For many years electricity was only used to power the countertop indoor grills we reviewed here. But many brands starting to realize that customers who lived in an apartment building or other living situation where the use of charcoal or gas grills was not allowed. They started building electric grills for outdoor that in many cases come close to how any other outdoor grill performs.
For an electric grill, it is, in my opinion, very important to read all about the model you have in mind because there are good and bad grills on the market. If you are interested you can find many electric outdoor grills we reviewed here.
More How To Buy A Grill Tips and Advice
There are more things to take into consideration than just the size and what type of fuel when you look for the best grill. Charcoal grills have different needs than propane grills. It is impossible to have a one size fits all view when you are looking to buy a grill.
There is also the option to go for a gas grill and that is the reason I wrote a separate article on how to buy a gas grill since that needed more explanation about all the components the come with compared to charcoal.
Summary of how to buy a grill and my way of grilling
I have written a lot of words now and I can easily add another 2000 because there is so much to write when it comes to choosing the right grill.
One thing I will like to add is to have a look at my post on the best time to buy a grill and probably save some or even a lot of money.
Here I will tell you how I use my Charcoal and my Propane gas grill and maybe it will help you find your ideal and perfect grill. Although I believe after grilling for many years that the perfect grill does no exist.
I have a Barrel charcoal grill that I bought in 2006 and still use for mainly slow and low cooking of pulled pork. I also use it for indirect grilling of chicken, turkey, pork chops, and many other dishes. Every year I clean it very well and use some black heat-resistant paint to paint it again. It still looks great after all these years.
I have a Char Broil Grill2go infrared grill that I use for grilling burgers, hotdogs, and other meat that you can cook on high heat. I also use this to take with us to the lake, camping trips, or a pick-nick in the park.
Those two grills have cost me around 275 dollars and have served me for many years now. I can basically cook anything I like on either one of them. The only thing I am planning of adding to my barrel grill is a side firebox so I can use the full size of the grill and not just the half I am using now because of the indirect method I use.
I hope that my story on this how to buy a grill article will help you find the grill you need and the one that will fit your needs and your family size.
There is one tip I would like to share and that is to use a quality grill cover to protect your grill from the elements. Even if you store it in your shed or garage. You can find your grill cover here in the reviews.
Eddie van Aken
PS: You can find many outdoor grill reviews and our ratings here in this category to help you. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have.
PPS: Give me a like or share on your Facebook page if you liked this post.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has run his own full-service restaurant for many years. Before that, he worked as a grill and buffet cook in some of the mainstream restaurants. With his experience using professional kitchen equipment, he is able to write expert reviews. You can read more about Eddie van Aken here.