Gas or Charcoal — What’s the Best Grill for Your Money?

It’s grill season! Yes, that sentence does deserve an exclamation point, because it’s a glorious time for many young parents in the audience. It’s a time to clean off the utensils, scrape down the cooking elements and purchase the appropriate heating materials that make their meats and vegetables taste that much better. For some, the start of grilling season is more important than the Super Bowl and the premiere of The Walking Dead combined.

You want to feel this way as well; however, you’re not sure which way to go with your outdoor cooking. You’ve heard positives and negatives about all types of grills, done your research and even fantasied about purchasing the five burner propane grill with its own wine cooler. However, you don’t want to break the bank on something that you may or may not use on a regular basis during the summer or even fall months. Well, we at Young Family Finance are here to give you a hand, despite some of our individual biases. Here are the pros and cons for each type of grill and what expense you may incur.

Charcoal Grill

Pros: Somewhere between the time they stopped using wood pellets and started using propane came the charcoal grill. Small and compact, these range from $40 circular tubs to $200 models with cabinetry and multi-level cooking elements. Cooking is fairly easy for one of these. You add charcoal or wood pellets, mix in a little lighter fluid and strike a match. You cook once the coals or wood are hot enough. Those three elements can cost as little as $20 to purchase for grilling.

Cons: Unfortunately, if you frequently grill, the $20 can start to add up since charcoal and wood are not reusable. In other words, once they’re done giving off heat, they need to be disposed of. This means a possible $100 seasonal cost should you wish to grill every few days.

Gas Grill

Pros: Even heating, clean flavor and fairly simple cleanup are the positives to this type of grilling. There are two options here. One, you can have a grill hooked up to a portable propane tank, which costs around $50 at first and about $20 to refill after the gas runs out. Two, you can hook the grill up to an external gas line from your house.

Cons: This type of grilling can cost the most, and not due to the portable propane can. A good three-burner grill with a side burner, shelf and cabinet can cost a few hundred dollars. Add more money to that if you’re looking for something in the stainless steel range of a grill that is part of an outdoor kitchen. Should your purchase one that connects to an external gas line, you’re gas bill will be more during the grilling months. Plus, you run the risk of severe damage should there be a leak in the line that causes an explosion.

Then there is a third cost — failure of parts. Where a charcoal burner doesn’t allow you to control the heat, a gas grill does. This means the grill knobs or the heating elements themselves could fail due to overuse or neglect when it comes to cleaning. In the end the cost to replace these items may not be worth it and result in the replacement of the grill at a higher price.

 

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