Buying your first barbecue isn’t easy, the options can seem endless and deciding which one is right for you can lead to a lot of indecision. To assist you virtually, we’ve assembled a list of five factors to keep in mind when shopping for a grill.
1. Does Size Matter?
When buying a barbecue, size does matter. Whether it’s the footprint of the barbecue itself, as it will fit on your deck, or the size of the grilling area. Both are key to getting the right barbecue, and are things that some folks don’t fully consider when choosing their first barbecue.
It must be said that the grill space you want and the grill space you need are two different things. The grill space you need is what is the area necessary to cook for your whoever regularly eats with you (family, friends, roommates, etc.). Think about how many burgers, chicken legs, or steaks you’ll need to fit on your grill at the same time. You don’t want to have to keep taking food off your grill to put more on.
The grill space you want is preference. While having too much grill space might seem like a good problem to have, and it is better than not having enough, it could be energetically inefficient and just plain impractical if you aren’t filling up all that space with food when you turn on your grill. Think about this after you’ve decided what you need:
- How much additional space do you want? Why?
- Do you plan on getting more experimental with your barbecue, thus needing more grill space?
- Do you plan on having regular backyard gatherings and using that space more than once?
- Do you plan on growing your family?
Now let’s talk about the footprint. Unless you’re buying your house after you choose your barbecue, the space you have in your yard for a grill is already determined. If you have a balcony, the space you have may determine how large of a grill you can get. If you have an open deck, you have a lot more possibilities.
Always measure your space before even beginning to look at barbecues, lest you end up making an easy mistake to avoid. As with most measuring, it’s best to measure and measure again. There’s a reason our experienced staff of barbecue experts always have their measuring tapes handy. Know the depth and width of the space the barbecue will be in, so you already have an idea of what size grills to pursue in our showroom. If a wider barbecue does catch your eye, you’re in luck: many units these days come with fold-down or removable shelves to make them more adaptable to varying spaces.
2. What Fuel Source Do you Need?
Barbecues come in a variety of fuel types: liquid propane, natural gas, charcoal, pellet, electric, wood, etc. When selecting what sort of fuel you’d like to power your barbecue, there are a couple questions to ask yourself, such as:
- What do I want to barbecue?
- How do I want to barbecue it?
- What kind of time do I have to grill or smoke?
You might be answering the first question with “barbecue, obviously,”’ but it extends a little farther than that. Consider what sort of cooking you want to do, thus the how, and also what you like to eat.
If you’re thinking gas grill, then the decision between natural gas and liquid propane comes down to what’s easiest for you. If you have a natural gas outlet already, natural gas is the more affordable option, but if you don’t or if you want to be able to move your barbecue around a little more freely, liquid propane is an excellent option.
Fuel selection is a greater matter than just natural gas or propane, if you’re considering a smoker. Some people might tell you to steer away from buying a charcoal smoker as your primary barbecue, especially if you are inexperienced (we believe in you though, if you want to go that route). A smoker can seem intimidating, but there are a ton of resources (including our staff members) that can help you figure it out. Another type of smoker is one fueled by pellets. Pellet grills make smoking just as easy as grilling and these days there are options that suit every budget and space requirement. They’re often referred to as a “set it and forget it” type of smoker.
If you live in a condominium complex or apartment building, make sure you are even allowed to have a barbecue on your deck or balcony in the first place. Smokers (both charcoal and pellet), and even propane barbecues in some instances, may not be allowed by your property manager or landlord.
3. What Features do You Want?
Barbecues come with a variety of features including:
- Side burners
- Sear burners
- Built-in meat probe thermometers
- Cast iron grills
- Stainless steel grills
- Cast Stainless steel grills
- Light-up knobs
- And more
Some features may seem more important than others, depending on what you prioritize, but with the variety of features available on different barbecues these days, there’s bound to be one that fits your needs. After learning about these features, we recommend looking up what they are best used for, maintenance aspects, and then think about if you would utilize having that option on your barbecue. We offer a ton of blog posts explaining how to use many of the above, as well as the pros and cons. Not a features type of person? No problem. Most brands offer basic models, where the sole purpose is to barbecue (and we’re okay with that).
4. What Style Suits You and Your Home?
Nobody likes an eyesore, especially one they have to look at everyday from their kitchen window. We aren’t saying looks are everything, because we obviously didn’t prioritize “style” as your first thing to think about, but there is some importance in making sure you like how your barbecue looks in your yard. It’s going to be there for many years, maybe many decades, and you want to make sure it’s something you can be proud of. Thankfully, most barbecues don’t come in outrageous and regrettable colours. Majority of barbecues are neutral, such as black, charcoal, and stainless steel. Don’t get us wrong, now and then we’ll offer a bronze, red, blue, or even green barbecue. These are gorgeous too, but they do require you to commit to liking that colour for a very, very long time.
5. What Your Max Price?
We recommend having a budget before you start shopping for barbecues. This is another aspect that helps narrow down your search to your ideal grill. You don’t want to spend outside of your budget, for common sense purposes, but you don’t want to go to low either – as quality, features, and BTUs (heat) tend to not be as reliable. You’re not saving money by buying a cheap barbecue if you have a to buy ANOTHER one after five or six years, now, are you?
When it comes to features, barbecues that INCLUDE certain upgrades, such as stainless-steel grills, side burners, and rotisseries tend to be more cost effective. If you purchase a barbecue with cast iron grills and you want to upgrade later, the cost of the stainless steels alone is more often than not, much more expensive than the difference in price between the basic model and the upgraded model. Something to think about.
6. What Materials do You Like?
Quality extends to every component of the barbecue, so it’s important to be able to recognize quality construction and components. Like a garment where the fabric is only as good as the stitches holding it all together, a barbecue in totality is only as good as what makes it a whole barbecue.
The best way to recognize a quality barbecue is to feel it; move the knobs, lift the lid, check all the nooks and crannies. Heavy material doesn’t automatically make a better product in the case of a barbecue, though on certain components such as the grills, burners, and flavour bars, a thicker gauge steel will certainly mean better quality and longer life. Country of manufacture is an important factor for many people these days, which is why we, a Canadian company, offer products that are 100% manufactured in Canada. The advantage of a Canadian-made grill is that they’re made to function year-round in our harsh climates, with features such as double-walled lids to trap the heat, and higher BTU output to boost the heat, for example..
7. How's the Warranty?
This is one that some people don’t think about because commonly, people tend to get very excited when they think about all the grilled possibilities (and we can’t blame them).
The warranty of the barbecue should not be your core deciding factor, but it should be something you keep in mind, especially since barbecues from the big box stores usually lack in knowledge in the warranty department.
The advantage of buying a barbecue with a ten- or fifteen-year warranty is that the manufacturer will honour that warranty, which means you’ll always be able to get parts for your barbecue for the duration of that period. It’s far better to ask and know about the warranty up-front than to have to hear the bad news years later, while trying to get replacement parts for your barbecue and you’re left hanging.
8. Do You Want White-Glove Assembly and Delivery Services?
This decision is truly a no brainer. There’s a reason we have our skilled, competent and exceedingly handsome Barbecue Butlers on staff to handle the occasionally frustrating and always adventurous task of assembling barbecues. For $30 we carefully assemble your barbecue and give it an inspection, leak check and test fire (this is a service you won’t get with big box store assembly service). So, you can ask yourself, “Do I want to put my new barbecue together and possibly hate the next few hours?” or you can just choose instant satisfaction with our unique and detail-oriented assembly team.
Now, that it’s built, can you take it home? For $90 within city limits we’ll do it for you and drop it off right where you want it in your backyard. If you aren’t happy with where we set it down the first time, we won’t leave until you are. Assembly and delivery are the services you really want to consider closely when choosing not just what barbecue to buy, but where to buy it from.
If you have any other questions regarding buying a barbecue, hit that chat button in the bottom right corner of the webpage, call, or come visit one of our five locations across Canada, we have two in Calgary and three in the GTA. Our barbecue experts are on standby to answer your questions and help you make your barbecue shopping experience one you’ll love.