Gas BBQs Buying Guide
There’s nothing quite like an Aussie summer barbie, and a gas bbq can help you get sizzling. But do you know whether you want a portable bbq or a freestanding model? Would you prefer an LPG bottle or natural gas? This buying guide is here to help answer all your burning questions.
Are gas bbqs any good?
There are a few striking advantages of cooking outdoors with a gas bbq. They are quick to heat up, so you won’t waste time waiting around for your bbq to pre-heat. This makes gas bbqs just as handy and functional for weeknight dinners as it does for an Australian Day barbeque – just slap a quick patty on.
Gas bbqs also offer good temperature control, letting you easily adjust the heat to suit your cooking requirements. An helps with this. With the hood closed, the circulating heat cooks food evenly and consistently.
What is the best gas for a bbq?
If you don’t have a natural gas connection in your home (and natural gas is available in your local area) you’ll need to hire a licensed professional to set it up. Installation can be expensive, but a natural gas bbq is cheaper to run in the long term.
Also known as propane, you slot these gas bottles into your bbq via a supplied hose. You'll need to remember to refill the bottle so you don't run out of juice when everyone is waiting for snags. You can do this using Swap ‘n’ Go at your local service station - an 8.5kg gas bottle costs $25-40, depending on your area.
If your bbq is designed for dual fuel, you may be able to convert your gas type. However, fuel conversion can void some warranties, so it’s better to know which kind of gas you prefer at the start.
Types of Gas BBQs
If you’re planning to venture beyond your backyard to barbeque, portable gas bbqs are a great choice. You can take them picnicking, camping or to the beach on a sunny day.
They’re lightweight and easy to carry to and from the car, which makes portable bbqs highly functional. Some feature folding side shelves and detachable stands.
Since portable bbqs are small in size, they have fewer gas burners. This means food can take longer to cook; not ideal for a hungry bunch of picnickers. They may also be equipped with less cooking features than their freestanding counterparts.
These popular gas bbqs are an Aussie backyard favourite. They're like the lovechild of a portable bbq and a built-in model. With their trolley-style set-up, you can move them around in your backyard , but they're heavier and more durable than a portable barbeque. Freestanding barbeques can either be flat-top or hooded.
Flat top bbqs: This is the type of bbq you'd see at weekend matches at your local football club. Typecast for sausage sizzles, they're a solid choice if you're using them to grill food, whether meat or veggies.
: Equipped with a drop-down lid, this bbq traps heat for cooking. It will let you bake, roast and smoke foods. Hooded bbqs are ideal for passionate home chefs who use their bbq for more than just special occasions. Just make sure your bbq lets you cook with the hood down, as on some models it's just a barbeque cover.
If you’re addicted to alfresco dining done in premium style, a built-in bbq might be worth it. With their larger hotplate and grill sizes, built-in bbqs are a great match for those who love to frequently entertain plenty of guests.
What to consider before buying a Gas BBQ
How much space do you have?
If you have limited outdoor space or a balcony, a small bbq or a portable barbeque will be best. If you’re grilling on a balcony, check your apartment complex’s by-laws first. Not all of them permit using a gas bbq on a balcony for safety reasons.
If you have plenty of space, you can opt for a freestanding barbeque or a built-in bbq. The larger the bbq, the more features there are to choose from. However, it is possible to find smaller bbqs with convenient cooking aids. For example, the is equipped with a hood and .
How many people do you usually cook for?
Since no one enjoys waiting for food, it’s important to select a barbeque with the right number of burners. Consider the number of people you normally cook for, as well as any guests you might normally have over for meals.
- A good size if you’re mainly cooking for a couple, with the occasional couple of guests dropping by.
- This is a popular choice, as it’s suitable for a family of four, or around 4-6 people. is the happy medium between 4 and 6 burners.
- These are more often found on freestanding and built-in bbqs. If you frequently entertain or have a family of 6+, a 6-burner bbq should meet your needs.
- While you’ll see these on some built-in bbqs, they’re not really neccessary for domestic use.
What’s your cooking style?
It makes sense to buy a bbq that will complement your personal cooking preferences. Gas barbeques are versatile, and many models can do more than just grill or cook on a hotplate. Here are some examples:
- This refers to cooking with the lid up, on the grill section of your barbeque.
- Searing: You can sear most meats on a grill for 2-3 minutes on high heat. Some gas bbqs even have , which is even more down-to-business.
- Hotplate: Perfect for cooking food that would otherwise slip between the grates of a grill. For example, you can barbeque diced-up veggies, onions and sausages - if you don’t mind them without the chargrilled flavour.
- Indirect cooking: While direct cooking refers to using a grill and hotplate with all burners lit, indirect cooking is gentler. If you have a 2-burner bbq, light up one burner but sit food above the unlit burner, and close the hood. Heat generated by the gas will evenly cook your food rather than burning it.
- Roast/bake: The hot air circulating in your gas bbq with the hood down works like a convection oven, letting you roast or bake anything from a traditional roast to pizza, casseroles, and cakes.
- This is handy if you cook a lot of stir-fries, and is available in many larger freestanding bbqs and built-in bbqs.
- If you prefer low-and-slow smoking this is doable on most gas bbqs. However if that smoky flavour is your kryptonite, you might prefer a charcoal bbq, since smoke sometimes escapes under a gas bbq's lid.
- This can either be in-built or removable, but it’s an optional feature, so look out for it.
How easy is it to use your barbeque?
Ease of assembly
Freestanding bbqs can be fiddly to assemble as they contain many parts – sometimes the retailer will deliver the barbeque fully assembled for a small fee, which will save you time and hassle.
There are two options – piezo or electronic ignition. Piezo ignition uses a a small hammer inside the ignitor to strike a quartz crystal, which creates a spark. They last about 10 years, after which time you’ll have to replace the ignitor. Electronic ignition bbqs are battery powered, so you’ll have to replace the batteries periodically.
If you have a portable bbq, consider how easy it is to pick up and carry. If you have a freestanding bbq, you’ll need one that uses bottled gas for it to be movable, as the unit slots into the bbq. Four castor wheels should make the bbq easy to move. Smaller models often have two wheels, with a handle on the other side to allow you to push or pull the bbq.
To avoid moving around a freestanding bbq too much, you can have its default position under shelter and close to your kitchen, if possible.
Gas bbqs require some special attention when it comes to cleaning, due to their intricate parts. For example, you’ll need to clean the ignition rod, as it often gets covered in food residue.
Look for handy features that make cleaning easier, such as fat drip trays, and tight grills, as this helps stop smaller food from slipping through the cracks and onto the burners.
How durable is the bbq?
Since your bbq will need to weather the elements and last you several years, it should feature a solid construction.
Cooking plate/ grill material: is the most durable material you can get. It retains heat the best. Combined with thick grids on your grill, this ensures food becomes properly cooked and caramelised. are also good quality. Just make sure you season the grill first to remove any oils or contaminants, and allow for non-stick cooking.
Frame finish: Again, a is a heavy duty choice, and looks sophisticated to boot. However keep in mind that it shows fingerprints and smudges easily, so may require regularly polishing. Painted finishes can chip off or scratch, so are less durable.
Entry-level bbqs, which are small or portable, start at around . They’ll usually have 1-2 burners. Mid-range bbqs can cost between . They’ll be more sturdily built, with a wider range of extra features to choose from. A large freestanding bbq or built-in bbq can set you back anywhere between .
Barbeques will be the most expensive to buy during the hotter months, so if you can wait until the end of summer, you’re more likely to snap up a bargain.
Overall, gas bbqs can be a great addition to your home if you enjoy cooking outdoors. Not only can they grill foods but also bake, roast, smoke and stir fry, with the right features and accessories. Always make sure any prospective barbeque suits your space, lifestyle, cooking style and budget - while having good build quality. Keeping these considerations in mind, you're sure to find a barbeque that goes the distance and helps you cater countless meals in the sunshine with family and friends.
About the author
Avleen is a content writer for ProductReview. Her area of expertise covers furniture and bedding, home appliances and beauty products. Outside of work she enjoys scribbling down poetry and music, reading fantasy novels, and discovering delicious vegan restaurants.