When purchasing a new grill, many consumers come in our showroom with the thought that they need a grill with a lot of burners in order to get more heat (and more cooking surface). When you see these mass market grills at big box stores with numerous burners they think that is better. In fact, more often than not ... it is not. Simply put, it is taking more burners to reach higher temperatures. These Mass market grills with large quantity of burners are more often than not imports. USA made grills will generally have less burners with more BTUs. Whereas imports will have more burners with less BTUs. At the end of the day, we are looking for high even heat and the ability to sear.
BTU's... What are they?
BTUs (British Thermal Units) is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
In grilling, it is the gas usage to the maximum heating output of the main burners. The main burners are the burners that lie beneath the cooking grates. Excludes a side burner, a smoker burner, a rotisserie burner which generally have lower or equivalent BTUs depending on the Manufacturer.
Many manufacturers will say that BTUs are not important. This is not completely true. When determining BTU in a grill you take into account many factors including the style of burner, design of the grill and the amount of cooking area. Then the total BTU of the main burners only. As this is the part of the grill you will be using most often. In short, you need to compare total BTUs to usable Cooking Area. It is true that the higher the BTU the more fuel you will burn. But you may be making sacrifices with lower BTU output.
Where you get the best of both worlds (higher heat and fuel efficiency) is with Infrared Burners. The technology in these burners allow for both super hot temperatures and great fuel efficiency.
Grills will higher BTUs will reach higher temperatures (faster) than those grills with lower BTUs when comparing the same size grill.
Grill Burner Style
Burner Styles will vary as well. In theory, any burner that uses metal poured in a cast have better heat retention as well. Lynx Grills use a Cast Brass Burner and Fire Magic uses a Cast Stainless Burner. These burners have a large width allowing them to cover more grilling space than a tube burner. U shaped burners also have a large width but are made of stainless metal. These do not conduct heat as well as the cast burners thus most of them utilize ceramic briquettes as its heat distribution and radiating system. Stainless Straight tube burners are found in many mass market grills require many burners to efficiently heat the cooking area.
Below you will see 3 Styles of burners : First Lynx Cast Brass Burner, Second U shaped Burner used in Alfresco, Artisan, Sedona by Lynx, Twin Eagles and Delta Heat and lastly a straight tube burner used in Weber, Napoleon and countless imported grills. As you can see in the first and second pictures, these burners have a greater width allowing them to heat a larger grilling surface than the third straight pipe burner.
Top Grill Manufacturers Comparison - Burners to Cooking Area
Most important .. Always consider maintenance
Did you know many mass market grills from big box stores need new replacement parts every 12-14 months? The most frequent parts to go is the burner and tube (pipe) burners are the most popular style to replace. Buying a high quality grill (preferably USA made) will ensure high quality parts that have a great warranty.