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10 Tips

By Laura T. Coffey, Times Correspondent
Published May 6, 2007


Got a hankering to buy a grill? If you're in the market for a gas grill that lights immediately and holds up well outdoors, these tips can help you choose one that will meet your needs:

1 Check your budget. Most quality gas grills cost between about $200 and $500. You can spend more than that, of course, but the added benefits may have more to do with aesthetics than cooking quality. The more you pay, the more likely you'll find a stainless steel design.

2 Get out the ol' measuring tape. Make sure your grill will fit in the spot you've chosen for it. A large grill with shelves on either side will be about 6 feet long and almost 3 feet wide.

3 Reflect on your needs. If you cook out only occasionally, most any simple grill will suffice. But if you plan to grill often for many people, opt for a grill with side shelves, side burners and a warming shelf, and consider spending a little bit more to get wide stainless or cast-iron grates. Such grates do a good job of keeping fish and meats juicy when you cook them.

4 Know your audience. Grills with a cooking surface of 300 to 400 square inches are fine if you normally cook for three or four people. If you have a large family or entertain frequently, you might want to buy a grill with 600 to 800 square inches of cooking area.

5 Think about freedom of mobility. It's easy to move a grill with wheels out of the way or out of the elements. Look for wheels with a full axle because they hold up better over time than wheels bolted to the frame.

6 Built-ins are lovely, but more complicated. Built-in grills are often part of a major landscaping effort. Before you fork out cash for such an undertaking, make sure the grill's design fits in with your plans for your yard - and your annual budget.

7 Kick the tires. Take a look at a fully assembled model of the grill. Give it a thorough once-over to make sure it's durable enough and its size will work for your yard, deck or patio. Make sure the rolling cart doesn't rattle when you shake it.

8 Bring a magnet to the store. If you're willing to pay more for a stainless-steel grill, make sure you're getting the right kind of stainless steel. If a magnet sticks to it, it's of an inferior quality.

9 Ask about replacement parts. Since grills take plenty of punishment from hard use, wind and rain, it's important to be able to replace parts that break. Choose a retailer that provides a good selection of replacement parts. And while you're at it, invest in a grill cover.

10 Know what to do about warranties. More expensive grills usually come with better warranties.

Laura T. Coffey (laura@tentips.org)

Sources: Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org); About.com (http://bbq.about.com)