5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Gas Grill

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Ah, sweet summertime. The days are long, the weather is warm, and dinner can be cooked on a grill, without a single pan to clean. What’s not to love? Unless, of course, you’re grill-less!

1. What’s your budget?

The very first question to ask yourself before you get into things like BTUs and whether you want natural gas or propane is How much are you willing to spend? Compared to their charcoal counterparts, gas grills tend to be on the pricier side. A gas grill typically starts around $200, and can cost well over $1,000 with all the bells and whistles.

That said, there are ways to game the system. Like anything seasonal, the beginning of summer is the time that you’re less likely to find a great deal on a gas grill. If you can wait until late July or August, the savings could be worth it.

2. How much cooking space do you need?

The next important thing to consider is how much cooking you’re going to be doing at once. Are you thinking a few steaks for you and your boo? Or are you hoping to host the neighborhood block party? (In which case, you’ll want to fit 20 burgers and a dozen hot dogs on that grill at once.)

It’s also helpful to think of your grill like your stovetop — i.e., in terms of burners. You can opt for a version that has three burners, which might allow you to cook a few different things at once, or you can go big with six burners.

3. Do you want natural gas or propane?

The decision between natural gas or propane might be moot: You’ll only have the option of natural gas if you have a gas line connected to your porch or deck, or wherever the grill will live. If you don’t, and you don’t want to go through the process of adding one, propane is your best bet.

If you have a gas line, the benefit is that you don’t have to worry about keeping the tank full. On the other hand, propane gas gets hotter than natural gas.

4. How many BTUs do you really need?

Once you’ve figured out how you’re fueling your gas grill, you can think about how powerful you need it to be. BTUs — or British Thermal Units — tell you how hot your grill is capable of getting. And no, the answer is not to get whatever grill has the highest BTUs — that can use up your fuel faster than you need it to! The recommended formula is actually 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking space.

5. What other features do you want?

Depending on your budget this question might not be relevant, but if you have money to spend, you can add a million and one features to your basic gas grill. A rotisserie feature! A smoker! Infrared technology to ensure a juicier steak! Think about what’s important to you and how you use your grill — many people pick the fancy features, only to ignore them when they’re actually cooking.

One of the most common add-ons is stainless steel, which is both more expensive and less weather-resistant than options like cast iron. If you do decide to go the stainless steel route, know that there are different grades: 203 is the highest quality, 304 is the most common, and 430 is the one that’s likely to be susceptible to damage in the elements.

Do you have a gas grill that you love? Tell us which one and why you love it!