Long time team member and Store Manager, Jim, is always looking for ways to help local neighbors with their projects. Specializing in all things grills, today he’ll share his insights and comparisons to various grills so you can be confident in making the right grill purchase. Take it from him, one of our own grill masters, “if you can use an oven, you can use a grill!”

As a new homeowner who might be buying a grill for the first time, you should ask yourself these basic questions:

What Fuel Source Do I Want to Use?

Whether it’s gas grills, charcoal grills or wood pellet grills, there are positives and negatives that come with each. Let’s hunker down on all three!

Gas grills (also called natural or propane grills) are great because they are extremely user friendly and the easiest to start up; just turn on the grill and hit the igniter. If your house takes propane or natural gas, or if your house has gas plumbed to the back porch, you could directly hook the grill up to the house gas, making it so you don’t need to get new propane tanks all the time. That’s a win-win if you ask us!

If you’ve ever tried something that’s been cooked on a wood-fired grill, you know you’re going to get that amazing wood flavor, and it’s actually quite easy to do! Just pick your flavor of wood and enjoy the subtle, smokey flavor in every bite. The only downside to wood grills, however, is they don’t get super-hot like gas grills. They’ll only carry those ‘low and slow’ temperatures to medium temperatures.

But what about charcoal grills? Not only are they the most versatile and provide great flavor, there are different types of wood for more flavor options. The only downside to charcoal grills is that it takes a little more responsibility than the other competing grills. What we’ve noticed throughout the years is that many of the more mature and retired residents living in Maple Valley often times lean towards the charcoal grill solely because of its versatility, lifetime warranty and the experience you get through the process. Despite our evaluation, however, wood pellet grills are without the doubt the fastest growing category because of the ease of use, not to mention the ‘low and slow’ setting will have your dishes coming out to perfection every time. Charcoal grills can also reach those high temperatures, as high as you want in fact, whether that be direct or indirect cooking. So next time you’re using a charcoal or wood-fried grill, be sure to use charcoal, wood chunks, or a mixture of both! There is a little more work to using these grills, but in the end, it’ll give you better flavor.

How Much Space Do You Have?

You would be surprised how many people overlook this critical necessity when owning a grill; the space! If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, you might want to steer clear of wood grills as these tend to be more of a bulky style and with the option of adding accessories may take up even more space. Our advice; take time to look at the space you’re using and determine how many people you’re cooking for. Like Jim mentioned before, if you’re going to be cooking for a lot of people or you host parties, gas grills will be your best friend. On the other hand, if you like making a brisket (or any dish that requires a long cooking time of 15 or more hours), it’s nice to have a pellet grill since these can do all of the calculating for you.

How Much Maintenance Will be Required?

Lastly, we mustn’t forget how much time you want to spend cleaning and maintaining your grill. After all, you purchased it to enjoy all the delicious food, not to focus on how long it will take to clean it. If you’re looking for the lowest possible maintenance, gas grills will be the way to go as you really only need to clean out the grill grates.

Charcoal and wood pellet grills, on the other hand, take a little more time because you will need to regularly clean out the fire box area while also keeping your fuel source dry. Despite a good cover, moisture can still occur. As Washingtonians, we are familiar of the wet weather and the humidity in the air. That humidity will be absorbed by these very porous charcoal and wood pellets over an extended period of time. Rest assured, this will not damage your grill but may clog your auger. In other words, you won’t be able to fully ignite your grill or the temperature just might not get as hot as you’d like.

So the bottom line according to Jim is that all grills serve a purpose but wood pellet grills hold a special place in his heart. While all of the options are great in their own ways, it’s important to know which style is best for you.