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Cast Iron, Aluminum or Sheet Metal

A Gas Grill worth the investment will be constructed of Cast iron, Cast Aluminum or Sheet Metal. Obviously the cast iron unit will tend to last longer, be more durable and cost more than the other two types. The grill should also have a lid (or hood) with adjustable air holes for heat control.

Two, Three or Four Gas Burners
Look for a grill having a minimum of two to three gas burners which will allow for greater control of heat. For instance, indirect heating may be accomplished by using the gas burner on one end of the grill and placement of the meat on the other. You may also add a water pan directly beneath the meat to make it perform similar to a water smoker/grill. On those days when things are not going in your favor, utilize the burners that are working and remember to fix the ones which are not!
Gas Grills require a diffusing material between the meat and the direct heat from the gas. This material, in addition to diffusing the heat, contributes to the amount of smoke generated and protects the burner elements. These substances may consist of Lava Rocks (less common), Compressed Pumice Rocks (or briquettes), Metal Plates or Ceramic Materials. Grease buildup on these diffusing elements is a potential flare-up hazard!


  • Package of Ceramic Material - Ceramic diffusers can come in all shapes. Usually your grill will have a bag of material such as this to spread on the lower grate to help prevent flare-ups.
  • Racks of Ceramic Diffusers - An ingenious idea to place the ceramic diffusers in separate trays which allow for easy management.

  • Stainless Steel Diffuser - This durable diffuser blocks some of the grease and dripping which lead up to flare-ups, but the large square holes let some through.
  • Simulated Charcoal Metal Diffuser - This clever esthetic idea simulates black charcoal. Made out of heavy cast iron metal it's holes allow heat out and drippings in. It's unique uneven surface should allow grease to seep into the low areas and burn up.
  • Cross Bar Diffusers - These diffusers consist of perpendicular upside (^) v-shaped bars which eliminate much of the grease and drippings reaching the flames.
  • Stainless Steel Diffuser Pan - This diffuser pan covers the entire cooking surface below the grates and does not allow any grease or drippings to reach the fire. Additionally, the design allows for easy cleanup AND a place to place the wood chips if you are seeking some "smoky flavor" in your food.
Food Grids
Let's not forget where the real action is, the Food Grid. This grid covers the entire cooking area above the diffusing materials and burners and is where the entree is cooked. The grid is usually constructed of 1) round stainless steel 'bars', 2) stainless steel 'plates', 3) stainless steel 'plates' or 'bars' covered with ceramic or 4) cast iron covered with ceramic. Some of the better grills offer one or two secondary grid(s) which either rest on top of the primary grid or are attached to the hood. Utilize the secondary grid(s) for potatoes or other items where direct heat is a concern. Make sure the secondary grid(s) are removable in order that larger pieces of meat such as a turkey or a large brisket can be cooked.

  • Brushed Stainless Steel Grids - One of the most common surfaces. Effective, however will not last as long as others.
  • Stainless Steel Bars - These bars are about 1/4 inch in thickness and will last a long time. Easy to clean also. Another view.
  • Adjustable Grates - Grates now come with some clever ways to adjust the height of the cooking surface. Greater Adjusting Grid w/ceramic coating - One grid turned each way.
  • Dual Grids w/Fryer - TEC has their own type of grids and this photo shows the fryer attachment and shelf above. Another view.
    Heat Control Valves
    Gas Grills utilize heat control valves for regulating the inside cooking temperature. The preferable method is to have one control per burner. The 'High' setting would be for burning old food and grease from the rack and rocks. Sounds a little like a dance. The 'Medium' setting would be for most types of cooking and the 'Low' would be for warming foods. Use the heat control valves to regulate the temperature as reflected by the thermometer.
    Gas ignition Buttons
    Most Gas Grills today are equipped with an ignition button(s) for ease and safety of lighting the fire. Our personal experience would reflect that, over a period of time, you will need to replace parts for the spark mechanism or be prepared to use good old matches. Make sure the manufacturer has the necessary replacement parts for the igniters.

    Viewing Window
    This window is a matter of personal preference. It allows for viewing inside the grill without the necessity of opening the hood. Keep in mind, however, inside the grill is usually smoky and grease has a tendency to splatter on all surfaces of the grill, including this window. Be prepared to clean it occasionally, or lose this feature due to not being able to see through it any longer. The alternative is to lift the lid, dodge the smoke and take care of the food as needed! Gas Grills quickly reheat to the desired temperatures.
    Outside Shelving
    We believe this is an item to pay extra for. The convenience of having a nearby surface to hold the food, sauce and utensils is immeasurable. Insure you get adequate shelf space to work on! You will be happy each and every time you have a cookout.
    Side Burners
    Some larger grills provide side burners as an additional cooking surface for items such as beans, chili, corn or anything else which might otherwise be cooked indoors. This feature allows most of the cooking to be done outdoors rather than heating up the house with the kitchen stove. Keep in mind, however, that use of a side burner may eliminate practical space for a shelf to hold your normal cooking utensils. Some side burners have lids so the side burner area may still act as a shelf when not in use.
    Rear Burners & Rotisseries
    The rear burner is an addition to, and not a part of, the bottom burners. This extra burner is used for rotisserie grilling since the heat originates from the back side or the rear of the grill rather than from below. When using this method, place a drip pan below the meat to catch the drippings and keep them from dropping on the rocks below, which would otherwise have to be 'cooked off' before using the normal burners. This rear burner will assist in keeping your Gas Grill cleaner for the next cooking and will not take space away from the area used for a shelf.

    The rotisserie tends to cook the meat evenly over or in front of the heat source and likewise has a tendency to self-baste the meat. Rather than the juices dropping to the rocks below, they will coat the meat being turned and thus baste it. Utilize your marinades here, in-as-much-as smoke flavor is non-existent.

  • Rear Burner Indirect - This rear burner offers indirect heat to the meat by heating the metal which in turn offers the heat. There is a shelf attached to the rear burner and tray on top of the burner for wood chips.
  • Rear Burner - This is a good view of a rear burner which allows for direct heat to the meat through the vents shown.
  • Rear Burner Direct - This rear burner offers direct heat to the meat through the vents shown.
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