You can’t shop for a new gas grill without carefully considering the type of burner it has. Burners are primarily responsible for the amount of heat generated by a grill when they're cranked up to full-blast. This is measured using British Thermal Units or BTUs for short.
Granted, no one can cook this way – with the burners running on max – but it’s the benchmark applied to grills. The idea behind it is that a grill with a lower BTU rating would take longer to achieve the same temperature as that with a higher BTU.
In reality, however, whether you have four primary stainless steel burners with 40,000 BTUs, 60,000 BTUs, or even 1 million BTUs, these figures don't mean anything if you don’t consider the size of the primary cooking surface. Here are some of the most popular gas grill burners you’ll find in the market today.
Cast Stainless Steel Burners
Out of all the stainless steel burners, these offer the best protection against rust. Cast burners are generally thicker than standard stainless burners, so they are better able to absorb and distribute heat evenly across the cooking surface. A popular brand is the Barbeques Galore range of stainless steel burners for Kenmore and Captain Cook grills.
Stainless tube burners are usually made from 304-gauge stainless steel, which is the highest quality steel there is. Stainless steel tube burners offer solid protection against rust, making them more durable in the long run. They usually come as straight tube burners, although some manufacturers bend them into a U-shape to increase the surface area of the heat output for better coverage of the cooking area.
Stamped stainless steel burners are generally considered to be very low quality. They are made from low-grade light-gauge stainless steel and are therefore not as durable as those made with 304-gauge steel. Because of this, they don't exist as one solid piece of metal. Instead, two pieces are “stamped” together at the top and bottom. They tend to break apart after a while of use. So unless you intend to keep replacing them every so often, it’s generally better to opt for more durable options.
Cast iron burners are not new to the grilling scene. These heavy-duty burners have been around for many years. However, many have since been replaced by the newer range of cast and stainless steel burners since these offer better protection against rust. A popular brand is the Barbeques Galore series of cast iron burners for Kenmore Grills.
These make for excellent burners. They have excellent heat distribution properties and can last for a long time if they’re properly maintained. The downside to them, however, is that they tend to be more fragile than metallic burners.
These have set a new standard in burner technology. They are known to achieve extremely high temperatures in a very short time to give steakhouse-quality sears to steaks in a couple of minutes. This makes them the most energy-efficient burners in the market today. A popular brand is the American Muscle Grill range of infrared burners.
The Overall Performance of the Grill Matters
To get a true picture of the actual performance of grill, you have to consider many other factors besides the BTUs of the infrared, ceramic, or stainless steel burners. You also need to ask questions like: How tightly does the lid close? What construction material has been used to make the grill? Can it retain heat? Choosing a great gas burner is only part of the story.
Is your gas draining faster than usual? Check out our blog to find out how long a propane tank should last.