Enhanced Retail Tracking Service information on the home improvement industry from The NPD Group showed that consumers spent over $4.9 billion on grills, smokers, camping stoves, accessories, and fuel in 2020. Of the more than 14 million grills and smokers sold between April 2020 and February 2021, gas and charcoal grills accounted for two-thirds of the sales.
Statista reported that Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) research in 2020 showed 61 percent of respondents owned gas grills compared to 49 percent of charcoal grills.Gas grills have certainly gained in popularity in recent years, but the debate still rages on about which model is actually better.
For your consideration, here are some of the major pluses and minuses associated with gas grills.
Advantages of Gas Grills
- Simple Start — Unlike the headaches people have to deal with when attempting to start charcoal grills, gas grills can be relatively easy to get going. In most cases, all you need to do is press an ignition button and then turn a dial. Give a moment for a preheat and you are ready to go without having to wait several minutes for coals to heat up.
- Temperature Control — On a gas grill, you are going to have a knob that allows for an easy way to dictate temperature. Thus, you can easily go from low heat for simple chicken preparations to really hot when you have steaks to cook. No need to worry about moving hot coals.
- Easier Cleanup — Charcoal grills can be an exceptional hassle to clean after use. You will not have the same kinds of troubles with a gas grill, which is far easier to clean after using. To clean a gas grill, just turn off the gas, remove the grill grates and metal pieces covering the burners, vacuum the dirt and charcoal inside the grill, soak the grill grates and metal pieces in hot water and dish soap in your sink or a large plastic bin, allow them to sit for about a half-hour, wipe off the grill grates and metal pieces with a damp rag, and then scrub any difficult stains with a grill brush if necessary.
- Greener Grilling Option — Grilling is responsible for only a small part of overall carbon emissions and fossil-fuel use. Charcoal grills, however, emit more carbon than gas grills because they literally burn carbon. While gas grills do not emit the same pollution as charcoal grills, they do still burn fossil fuels, although propane is typically more efficient and burns faster and hotter, which uses less fuel. Bob Vila notes that a Department of Energy study on the carbon output of grills found that gas grills fueled by liquefied petroleum gas generated only 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour, only about half as much as the 11 pounds per hour generated by charcoal grills.
- Versatility — A gas grill may have multiple burners, which allows you to cook meats at one temperature and vegetables at another. You will get a nice grilled flavor, but people who still want the smoky flavor associated with charcoal grills may be able to accomplish this by purchasing a smoke box for only about $20.
- Health Benefits — Foods prepared on gas grills can be lower in calories and fat. Gas grills can suck excess fat, especially when slow-cooking, leading to lower calories. Again, charcoal grills lower air quality and pose cancer concerns in addition to other health risks.
- Cook Everything — The ability to easily control heat and temperature usually means that gas grills are capable of grilling almost every food you want. It is far more difficult to lower the temperature on a gas grill, which means many foods are easily burned. The wider range of temperatures allows for slow cooking the right meals.
- Lower Fuel Costs — Using a charcoal grill will almost always require the purchase of charcoal, but a gas grill requires a propane tank that can last up to 20 hours and could be used for multiple grilling sessions. Gas tanks are generally affordable, so you will ultimately spend less than the person who has to buy more charcoal every time they want to grill.
Disadvantages of Gas Grills
- Affordability — Gas grills, unfortunately, tend to run a bit more expensive than charcoal ones. Whereas a charcoal grill can be purchased for as little as $30, gas grill prices usually begin around $150 and then can run up into the thousands of dollars for nicer models. Costs of gas grills increase when you are seeking more cooking surfaces or burners.
- Assembly — It is not exactly easy to get a gas grill set up because you will need to hook up a propane tank. This process can be somewhat daunting for many inexperienced grillers.
- Limitations on Use — Some gas grills may be portable, but most full-sized grills are heavier and cannot be transported to other locations. They can also be larger in size, requiring more space than charcoal grills.
- Flavor — Again, you are going to lose the smoky flavor associated with charcoal grills when you use a gas grill. This can really leave some foods suffering. Worse yet, smoke from a gas grill is usually a cause for alarm.
- Fuel Concerns — It is not always easy to see what your gas level is on a propane tank. This can cause real problems if you only learn that you are out of gas when you are in the middle of trying to cook for a house full of guests. You will almost certainly need to invest in having backup fuel tanks ready for such occasions.
- Safety — According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than charcoal ones. Leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires. It is important to ensure a propane tank is properly attached without leaks and the gas grill is at least 10 feet from the home.