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Your Guide to Buying the Perfect Grill

May 30, 2019 by Howard's

A summer of cookouts, barbecues, and family get-togethers is right around the corner! The only problem? Your beat-up, old outdoor grill just isn’t up to the job of prepping perfectly roasted veggies and deliciously grilled burgers.
Before you can sear the season away, you need a grill that has your back. So how do you know when you’ve found the perfect BBQ grill? At Howard’s, we’re all about making sure you get the most from your appliances, so check out this handy grill buying guide for hunting down the right grill before you start shopping.

Fuel Type

This is one of the most important choices you’ll make when grill shopping. The fuel type of your grill will affect everything from its cooking precision to its placement in your backyard, and even the flavor of the food it cooks.

Natural Gas
Natural gas grills are preferred by many for their ease of use. Because these grills are hooked up directly to your home’s natural gas lines, you don’t have to worry about refilling a tank the way you do with propane. Just turn a knob and know your grill will fire right up every time!
Natural gas tends to be more energy efficient than propane in cold weather too, and these grills are typically more affordable as well. The main downside of natural gas grills is that they require more work during the installation process in order to get the gas lines hooked up, and your grill can’t be moved around after it’s installed.

Propane grills function similarly to natural gas grills, but they derive energy from a removable liquid propane tank instead of direct fuel lines. Propane is more powerful than natural gas and swapping out propane tanks is much more economical than installing gas lines. Plus, these propane grills have the benefit of being totally movable—you can roll them around your patio to find the perfect vantage point for both socializing and cooking. They do require a little more consistent effort, though, as you’ll have to keep a close eye on your fuel levels so that you don’t run out halfway through dinner prep.

Charcoal grills have something of a cult following, especially the grills made by Big Green Egg. Some people absolutely swear by charcoal, claiming no other grill cooks more effectively or leaves food with a tastier flavor. The downside of these grills is the cleanup process and the effort it takes to cook your food just right. The lack of dials to control heat means you just have to wait until the coals reach the right temperature, so the grillmaster typically has to take on a more active role in the food prep process. That’s great for grilling enthusiasts, but people who prefer a more casual grilling experience might find this to be more work than it’s worth.


When shopping for a grill, think about the kind of cooking you’ll be doing and the amount of space and firepower it will require. Chicken breasts or burgers for the kids don’t require much cooking space, but if you want to be able to make ribs or enough food for a larger gathering, you’ll need some room to spread out.

Most gas grills have at least two individually controlled burners and start at about 27 inches wide. Larger, professional-style gas grills can include up to six burners and reach up to 54 inches wide, with space for over two dozen burgers and an upper rack for smoking. Most grills fall somewhere between these two extremes though, so measure your patio space and gauge your grilling needs to make sure you go with a size that suits your needs.

Charcoal grills don’t have burners to measure size by, but they typically range from 13 to 30 inches in diameter. Small, portable charcoal grills are perfect for tailgating or picnics, with enough space for about 4 burgers at a time. Larger options have enough room to make 40 burgers at once, or roast an entire pig!


Of course, you can find basic grills that will get the job done just fine, but buying a grill with special features that make cooking easier will be a good investment in the long run.

Built-In Thermometer
Especially if you plan to get a charcoal grill, a high-quality thermometer is a must. Two, is even better: one to gauge the overall temperature of the grill, and a meat probe to double check that your food is cooked all the way through before serving.

Rather than hand-cranking a rotisserie over an open flame, some grills come with mountable rotisserie motors, which provide consistent, even heat to pork, poultry, or whatever you want to roast.

Side burner
If you want an easy way to keep your side dishes warm while the steak or kebabs are finishing up, a side burner is a perfect way to make sure all your dishes are ready to serve at the same time.

Ash trays
No, not the kind you’d use for cigarettes, but for the ashes at the bottom of a charcoal grill. Cleanup can be messy when you’re cooking with charcoal, but a grill with a removable ash tray can help keep things simple.

Start grilling season in style with a grill that suits all your needs. Just bring this grill buying guide into your local Howard’s and our associates will be happy to help you find that perfect grill! Grill on!

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