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Barbecue buying tips

​Things to consider

How will I use my barbecue?

Consider how many people you’ll regularly be cooking for, and what type of meals you cook most often. Do you have a full-sized patio or deck, or will you be grilling on a small balcony?

This will help you decide how big your grill should be and what style you’ll choose.

What’s my budget?

The most basic gas grills can be under $300, while mid-range models are often $1,000 to $2,000. High-end stainless steel barbecues with lots of features can cost $5,000 and more. However, prices range dramatically according to size, features and quality of materials. If you use your grill often, or for many people, it may be wise to invest in a model with high-quality materials and a warranty.

Tip – Remember to budget for the installation of a natural gas connection, or hook-up or conversion to your existing gas system. Speak to your licensed gas contractor about the potential costs of this process.

Choosing a barbecue

  • Consider a barbecue with variable temperature controls. You’ll not only be able to grill, but also sear and slow-roast. Some cheaper barbecues don't allow for individual control over burners, but more expensive models often do.
  • Consider purchasing a rotisserie attachment.
  • Make sure the cooking grate has closely spaced, wide rods for foods like fish or vegetables that might fall through grate spaces.
  • Look for warming racks, convenient for heating buns and slow baking foods such as potatoes.

Choosing the finish and cooking grids

Barbecues come in many styles of finishes – from classic black to stainless steel and a variety of designer colours. What is most important is the finish on the cooking grid itself.

  • Stainless steel grids and burners resist weathering, clean up easily, won’t rust and last longer.
  • Cast aluminum or powder-coat finishes require less cleaning time than stainless steel and retain heat better.
  • Porcelain-coated steel also holds heat well, and is easiest to clean.
  • Cast iron is durable, heats evenly and is easy to clean, although uncoated cast iron must be seasoned with cooking oil to prevent rust.

Choosing the size

Measurements of barbecues refer to the cooking surface and are measured in square inches. Choose a size that reflects how you’ll be using your grill – where you cook, how many people you cook for, etc.

Grills are also measured by the number of burners. A barbecue with two burners, at around 350 to 400 square inches, should be enough to cook for four people. Barbecues with 500 to 650 square inches or more of grid space and three, four or six burners can really feed a crowd.

How many BTUs do you need?

The British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating isn’t the most important factor when choosing a grill. Though a higher BTU rating means more heat, most grilling is done within a certain temperature range so higher temperatures are often never needed.

For most cooks, the size and shape of the grill will make more of a difference to the grilling experience than BTU.
However, if one model in your price range has a much lower BTU, it might be a sign that you aren’t getting good quality for the price.

Infrared heat – is it right for you?

Infrared burners use ceramic tiles with microscopic holes to concentrate flame heat, converting it into infrared energy (like the sun).This energy means a more intense and consistent heat.

Infrared heating technology is increasingly popular with professional cooks. However, it can be more expensive than standard gas grills (though the cost is decreasing). Its super intense heat is great for quick cooking, but some experts like more control over their grill.

Note: Side burners and rotisseries (see Additional features) often use infrared technology.

These features are also available for the griller interested in a little luxury:

Side burners

Side burners let you do all of your cooking for a meal on one appliance, but can add to the cost. They have less power than main burners, making them good for side dishes or keeping sauces warm.


Rotisseries are popular for those who barbecue often or for many people. But, if you don’t think you'll ever cook a whole rotisserie chicken or turkey on your gas grill, this feature may not be necessary.


To smoke your meats or fish, a compartment or drawer is filled with wood chips which release smoke, flavouring the food. Different woods produce different flavours. Some grills have a smoker feature, or you can buy smoker box accessories for use with grills.

More information on infrared grills

Additional features

To barbecue safely and conveniently, ask your retailer about these options:

  • electronic ignition system
  • flip-down tables
  • tool rack
  • free assembly (remember to consider transportation)

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