7 things the experts want you to know before buying a gas BBQ

Want to go for gas? There are a few things you should consider before investing

Portable gas bbq on a patio with light grey outdoor tiles and a wicker outdoor seat
(Image credit: Future/Phil Barker)

Quick and easy to ignite, it’s not hard to understand why gas BBQs are so popular. But before you whip out your credit card, there are a few things the experts want you to know before buying a gas BBQ.

Yes, the best BBQs come in so many different shapes and forms, but there’s no doubt that the best gas BBQs are a firm favourite among those who want to cook up their sausages or veggie burgers in record time. When you have a gas BBQ, there’s no need to wait around for the charcoal to light or battle with the wind. You can grill up a storm with the push of a button, no matter the weather.

But just as there are things you should know before buying a charcoal BBQ, there are also things you should consider before buying a gas BBQ. After all, you need to ensure it’s truly the right option for you and your family.

1. Size matters

BBQs are an investment, which is why it’s so important to choose the right one for your needs. One thing you should know before buying a gas BBQ is that size matters - especially if you have a large family and plan on using your new BBQ regularly.

The experts at Napoleon Grills suggest, ‘Choose a grill size that fits your cooking needs and available space. Consider how many guests you typically cook for. Larger grills offer more cooking area and are ideal for bigger groups, while smaller grills are sufficient for fewer people.’

But one of the perks of buying a gas BBQ is that you can often buy a bigger BBQ and localise each burner. This is echoed by the team at Napoleon Grills, who say, ‘If you have a larger grill, you can just light half of the area if grilling for fewer people.’

So, we'd say that bigger is always better.

2. There are different gas options

Dennis Littley, a fine-dining chef and owner of askchefdennis.com explains, ‘Most gas grills use propane tanks, but some can be connected to a natural gas line. You need to decide which fuel source is more convenient for you. Natural gas can be more cost-effective in the long run, but it requires a fixed location for the grill.’

Because of this, most people buy propane for their gas BBQs - like this Flogas Leisure Propane Gas Cylinder from B&Q. However, there are many things you need to consider when buying these gas canisters:

Weight: It’s important to consider the weight of the gas canister before buying a gas BBQ. These canisters often weigh anything from 6kg to 13kg, which isn’t always practical for the elderly, those with dexterity issues, and those who don’t have access to a car.

Storage: Gas canisters need to be stored upright in a safe, well-ventilated location. This can be difficult if you have limited garden storage - but shouldn’t be a problem if you have a shed or garage with a corner to spare.

The price: Gas canisters aren’t cheap, but one thing you might not realise is that you don’t necessarily need to buy new ones each time. In fact, B&Q offers a discounted refill service. But in the charcoal BBQ vs gas BBQ debate, gas is still more expensive than charcoal.

Availability: Unlike charcoal (which you can buy from supermarkets and garden centres), propane for gas BBQs is harder to come by. In some cases, this may mean that you have to have the gas for your gas BBQ delivered to your home.

3. Heat distribution is key

Gas BBQs are famed for being able to heat up quickly and efficiently, but experts urge you to consider heat distribution when buying a gas BBQ.

Dennis says, ‘BTUs (British Thermal Units) measure the heat output of the grill. While a higher BTU rating generally means more cooking power, efficient heat distribution and retention are just as important. Look for models with good reviews on even heat distribution.’

By doing this, you can maintain an even cook every time and also protect your investment. In fact, maintaining an even heat distribution can actually extend the life of your burners, prevent damage and rust, and improve the whole cooking experience.

4. You can be flexible

Many assume buying a new BBQ involves choosing one fuel type over another. But we now live in a world where fuel types are becoming more and more flexible - as seen with the Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker (which our tester gave five stars in her review).

So, if you want to buy a gas BBQ but don’t want to miss out on the smoky flavour of a charcoal or wood-fired BBQ, you could opt for a more flexible option instead.

Brian George, AKA The GrillMaster, in association with National BBQ Week, says, ‘Gas grills with lava-rock beds are perfect as you can even get a charcoal smoke effect by placing wet wood chips or herb branches in a tray above the burners.’

These features will normally add a bit of money to the price tag, so it’s best to assess your budget before whipping out the credit card.

5. They require maintenance

Knowing how to clean a BBQ is key to keeping it in full working order, and how you do this differs depending on your fuel type. And while it’s important to clean a gas BBQ on a regular basis, these BBQs also require other forms of maintenance. After all, you can’t play around with gas.

Dennis says, ‘Consider the long-term maintenance required, like replacing burners and ensure that replacement parts are readily available.’

You also need to check the gas pipes and connections before every use to ensure you don’t spring a leak. If you notice something that doesn’t look quite right, it’s best to avoid lighting the gas BBQ until you’ve found and fixed the problem.

6. The materials matter

You know what they say; if you buy cheap, you buy twice. And while it’s always important to buy a gas BBQ that suits your budget, you should also avoid cheap gas BBQs that are made from poor-quality materials.

The team at Napoleon Grills say, ‘Opt for high-quality materials like stainless steel, which is durable, long-lasting, and resists ageing.’

Choosing stainless steel over a lower-quality material - like plastic, for example - can also help to maintain an even heat distribution and prevent damage. So, while the initial outlay may cost you a bit more than a cheaper gas BBQ, it’ll ultimately save you money in the long run, as it should be more durable.

7. Extra features can help

While the gas BBQ itself can provide hours of entertainment (and plate-loads of food), it’s fair to say that choosing a gas BBQ with extra features can make a huge difference. These features can not only enhance the cooking experience but also make cooking way more convenient.

Brian says, ‘Modern gas grills are now so much easier and user-friendly and are perfect for both impromptu or after-work barby’s as well as for more sophisticated alfresco eating and outdoor dinner parties.’

‘They also get up to cooking speed quicker and are so much more controllable, especially the multi-burner grills or those with a hood or smoker attachment. Many gas grills now come with a rotisserie, hobs, griddle plates, or woks and warming plates.’

So, before you buy a gas BBQ, make sure you research which attachments or features you’d like to use and whether you’ll need to buy them separately. Sometimes, you can buy BBQs and accessories as part of a bundle, which should bring the price down.

Our top picks of the best gas BBQs

FAQs

What do I need for a gas barbecue?

The idea of buying a gas BBQ may seem simple enough, but there are things you need for a gas BBQ to get the most out of it:

  • The BBQ itself.
  • A gas canister.
  • Stainless steel utensils.
  • Meat thermometer.
  • Fire extinguisher (just in case).
  • Scrubbing brush.

Do you need to clean a gas BBQ?

Yes! It’s important to clean any BBQ, and this includes a gas BBQ. Failure to do so could damage the BBQ or lead to rust or permanent staining. Before cleaning a gas BBQ, however, you must always disconnect the gas pipe.

Then, wipe over the burners after every use, clean the grease trays, scrub any grill grates, and then give the outside a clean.

Ideally, you should then cover your gas BBQ with a specialised cover and store it in a shed or garage to maintain its cleanliness.

Now you know everything you should know before buying a gas BBQ, what’s the verdict?

Lauren Bradbury
Contributor

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.