Hurray, hurray, grilling season is just around the corner! If you're on the market for a new grill, the possibilities can seem just about endless. If you're buying your very first grill, it can seem like a whole new language figuring out specs and sorting through what bells and whistles you really need. Get one you don't like, though, and you're kind of stuck with that expensive purchase for a while.
So before you shop, beware these mistakes to avoid when shopping for a new grill.
1. Assuming that bigger is better.
I've found that grills fall into the realm of TVs and cars, where it's very easy to get caught up in trying to find the biggest, baddest grill you can afford. Or maybe your neighbor has some tricked-out grill that he insists you need. Resist! The best grill for you is the one that fits your lifestyle.
Follow this tip: Besides deciding if you want to go charcoal, gas, or electric, consider your budget, what sort of outdoor space you have, and what kind of food you'll be cooking with the grill. Your needs may be totally different if you have visions of smoking ribs every weekend versus grilling the occasional burger! Find our list of questions to consider here.
2. Not considering your nightly routine.
Do you expect to throw a few chicken breasts on the grill 10 minutes before dinnertime? Or are you ready to spend 20 minutes teasing out a fire the old-fashioned way? Do you mind if your hands get dirty? Or will you find a gas tank unwieldy and scary? If you're not realistic about how you'll use the grill, you just won't use it at all.
Follow this tip: Know the pros and cons of a charcoal grill versus a gas one, and really think about how either one will fit into your lifestyle.
3. Picking something that's too hard to shop for.
Gas grills will require regular tank refills, while charcoal grills need to be constantly replenished with, you guessed it, charcoal. And all grills need to be cleaned in between uses, stored somewhere, and periodically maintained.
Follow this tip: Be strategic. If you don't live near a hardware store, it may be tricky to replenish a tank; but you can buy charcoal online. Then again, if you want to use the grill nightly and won't have to to nurse the charcoal to life, the grill won't work for you either (see above).
4. Ignoring local regulations.
In some spots, it's not just unsafe to have your grill on your deck, the side of your house, or balcony — it's illegal! Make sure you know the rules for your building and town before making an investment.
Follow this tip: Check the local laws and with your landlord or neighbors to make sure that the type of grill you want is allowed where you want it and won't be a nuisance to the people nearby. You don't want to learn the hard way that you've made an unsafe mistake.
5. Tossing the manual.
Aside from helping with the assembly, your manual is full of useful information, including safety stuff and how to maintain the grill.
Follow this tip: Take the time to read through all the instructions right away, even if you had the grill built by the hardware store. Read the whole thing. Then, you know, follow the directions! And keep it on hand in case any issues or questions arise later.