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Consumer Reports picks the best gas grills in time for the warm weather

Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010

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Shoppers Can Find Standout Sizzlers for $380 or Less



Yonkers, NY — A Consumer Reports nationally representative survey found that more than half of Americans who grill are doing so more than once a week in season and according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports, Americans can purchase a great grill for $380 or less. The full report, which features 46 gas grill models and basic grilling tips, appears in the June issue of Consumer Reports and online at

There are eight recommended gas grills that shoppers can purchase for $380 or less, and six of those eight have been deemed CR Best Buys, including the medium-sized Char-Broil Commercial Series 463268008, $300 that offers even cooking for a good price. Looking to grill for a gang? The CR Best Buy Brinkmann 810-1575-W (Walmart), $380, has five main burners, infrared rotisserie and costs less than most grills this size.

Consumer Reports tests also revealed a few duds. The Team Grill Patio Series Pro bears the colors of owners’ favorite sports teams, but tests found for a steep $800, cooking was uneven and mediocre overall. High price tag and futuristic looking Solaire AGBQ-27GIR, $1800, also cooked unevenly.

“There are so many grills to choose from and shoppers need to know which features to look for and which they may want to skip,” said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Report. “Most importantly they need to know to that a high price doesn’t always provide the best grilling experience.”

Five Questions to Help Sort through Manufacturers’ Claims

  1. Are more Btu better? No. Btu just indicates how much gas a grill can burn and the heat that it could generate. The grills with higher Btu weren’t at the top of the Ratings. The grill’s design, venting, and cooking-area size affect the Btu needed, but generally a smaller cooking area needs fewer Btu.
  2. What’s infrared? It is a way to transfer heat. Infrared technology uses heated surfaces to radiate intense heat to food, not the air, making it good for searing. Consumer Reports tests haven’t found that one method is superior or that infrared cooking is better than cooking on regular burners. The Consumer Reports survey revealed that 63 percent of people who had grills with infrared burners used them regularly.
  3. Which extras will I use? A gas gauge, extra storage, infrared burners, a natural-gas hookup and side burners were the most frequently used features in Consumer Reports’ survey.
  4. Any forgettable features? Griddle plates and rotisseries were used least often, according to Consumer Reports’ survey. Stainless steel requires frequent wipe-downs and polish to keep its shine. A porcelain-coated grill is durable and easier to maintain.
  5. Have some cooking tips? Before and after cooking, clean both sides of the grates with a stiff wire brush; use a nylon brush on porcelain-coated and cast iron grates. Do not use soap. Oil the grates before cooking by making a tight pad from two folded paper towels, dip it in vegetable oil, and drag it across the grates with tongs. Fully pre-heat the grill and keep the lid closed.
How to Choose

Shoppers should look for sales, coupons, rebates and look for stores that offer free assembly, which can save time and frustration. Other tips include:

  • Size the grill. Match the cooking area to the number of people you usually feed. Consider how much space is available on the deck or patio where the grill will be stored.
  • Consider flare-ups. Usually the greater the space between the grates and the burners or flavorizer bars where the grease lands means less of a chance of sustained flare-ups.
  • Focus on safety. When shopping, check the grill’s sturdiness by nudging it at several points. Check for sharp edges and corners. Grip the handles to check how close your hand gets to the lid to make certain you’ll avoid burning yourself. Don’t toss the warranty card. Each year the Consumer Product Safety Commission issues several grill recalls, so mail in the card or register online in case the manufacturer needs to contact you.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
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Consumer Reports picks the best gas grills in time for the warm weather
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