Spring has sprung and the Easter Bunny has already come. That can only mean one thing. BBQ grilling season is almost here (for those of you living in colder climates) and your tailgating grill may need to be rebuilt, repaired or even replaced.
No need to get burned when buying your next grill. Whether it is for backyard use or out in the tailgating parking lot, we’ve got you covered with these helpful tips on how to pick the perfect grill for your needs.
Determine your usage and needs – How often will I use this grill? Will this grill be just for the backyard or will I also be using it for tailgating?
If you don’t have season tickets and tailgate occasionally, you may want to go with smaller and cheaper. The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill might be just what the doctor ordered. Small, cheap and portable, this little guy is adequate for cooking a few burgers and dogs and is not so expensive that it will kill your bank account.
If you plan on tailgating more often than a handful of games each season, a larger “workhorse” type grill should be considered. Something that is portable and easily set up and broken down quickly is always a good choice. The most popular tailgating grill we have seen for this criteria is the Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE. This grill comes in a variety of colors and is reasonably priced. If taken care of properly, this grill will last years and see many a tailgate party.
Charcoal or gas? – There are benefits of both but which one suits your grilling style? Do you tailgate for a long or short period of time? Does the stadium or arena you tailgate most frequently have a charcoal ban?
Most BBQ pit masters prefer the flavor that charcoal provides but charcoal grills have inherent problems. The biggest complaint about charcoal is the lack of control you have. Once the coals are hot, they are hot… very hot! There is no turning down the temperature on charcoal once they are lit. Also, the time it takes to get charcoal hot is a lot longer than a gas grill. Most Gas grills can get up to 500 degrees in less than 5 minutes. Charcoal grills will take 30 – 45 minutes to get proper cooking temperature. After they get hot, they also need time to cool down. If you tailgate for a shorter period of time, you may not have the time to wait for charcoal to heat up and cool down. Although charcoal may give a better flavor to your grilled food, the trend seems to point to gas being a better choice, at least for tailgaters.
You get what you pay for – In most cases, BBQ grills are priced according to quality. Higher quality parts tend to last longer and replacement costs are lower because you are paying for it up front. Do your research, but if you want a quality grill that’s going to last a while, be prepared to pay for it.
Buy local! – Most tailgaters reside in the USA but not all. We suggest buying a grill manufactured in the country in which you reside. Napoleon Gourmet Grills is a Canadian manufacturer of BBQ grills and has an outstanding reputation. Buying local also makes getting parts much easier and they arrive faster.
Consider size, accessories and BTU’s – Don’t go into buying blind. Think about what you will be cooking. A side of beef for a tailgate army or just a couple of burgers for you and a close buddy? A huge grill with just two hot dogs not only looks pretty weak but is a little embarrassing. Same goes with trying to grill three racks of ribs on a Hibachi Grill.
Where will the grill reside? If you live in an apartment with a small balcony or patio, don’t get the super huge grill. Mostly likely you won’t be able to fit it there. If you are taking it tailgating, consider what your tailgate space normally looks like. Do you tailgate in a crowded parking lot where the parking attendants are strict about how much space you can consume? Or do you tailgate in a spot where you can stretch out? Knowing your space constraints before you buy your grill will prove time well spent and will prevent having to go through the hassle of a return.
Check the warranty – If you are buying in person, make sure to ask your dealer about what is/isn’t included in the warranty. If buying online, make sure to read the warranty before clicking that “buy” button. A good warranty for grills will cover 10 years for burners, sear plates and castings which are the heart of your grill.
Stick to your budget – Think about what you can afford and what you need before buying. We all want the Roll Royce of grills but the Chevy may best suit your needs. Nobody wants to break the bank on a grill that will be used infrequently and is too much grill for how you are using it. If you plan on grilling every meal on your BBQ, by all means spend more because you can justify it by using it all the time. But be careful not to overspend. You don’t want to have the latest and greatest double throw me down BBQ grill and not be able to buy your kids shoes for school.
TLC – Take care of the grill you purchase and it will last you a long time. Even cheap grills, if properly maintained, can last longer than expected. If you have a grill with an electric starter, remove the battery during the off season so it does not corrode and ruin the starter. Cleaning the gas burner so that the vent holes are not clogged with grease and drippings will not only give your grill more heat but will make it last longer. Treat your grill with tender loving care and you won’t need to buy another one until technology changes again and you want the latest innovation.