Do Electric Barbecues Work and What Are the Benefits?

This is a question frequently asked by people new to barbecuing, but also by those died in the wool charcoal and gas burners. There was a time – well in the past now – that the answer would have been negative, but not now. Over the last ten years the electric barbecue grill has grown up. From data from my own website I can reveal that up to 75% of the enquiries received ask to be directed to our electric grill page.

The reason for this huge interest is mainly down to improvements made by the major manufacturers. The wattage of the electric elements is higher than earlier models, allowing a faster heat up and recovery time. This makes the grills good for the initial searing of food, the thermostat then takes care of the cooking.

In common with Weber grills and the Cobb grill, amongst others, electric barbeques tend to have a domed top. The top traps heat and hastens cooking. However, just like its gas and charcoal competitors, the electric barbecue will always benefit from a cooking spot sheltered from the wind. The average small domestic barbecue of the ‘kettle’ type has no insulation in the lid, so heat can be carried away with the breeze.

In terms of the benefits of owning an electric barbecue, there are many:

  • Electric barbeques do not produce the carbon monoxide that charcoal and gas burners do. This makes them safe to use indoors or in an enclosed area outside.
  • There are no open flames. This makes cooking much more controllable. With just a little care your sausage or steak will be perfectly done without the oily soot typical of an out of control charcoal or gas BBQ.
  • Running costs are lower than a comparable gas barbecue and you will never run out of fuel while your house or campsite has an electrical supply.
  • Electricity is more convenient, and much cleaner than charcoal.
  • Whether a Newbie or a seasoned barbecue expert you will find the electric barbecue to be an easy going (and relaxing) friend.

One thing to be aware of with electrical equipment of this type, is the supply voltage to which you are connecting. Domestic supplies in the UK are 230 Volts AC (VAC) and this makes it simple and safe to connect a 2400 watt device because 2400W @ 230VAC is only about 10.5 Amps, whereas 2400 Watts @ 120VAC is 20 Amps – Right on the upper limit if you have a 20 Amps supply, and way above what is possible if your supply is a standard 15 Amps. This is why you will find lower wattage barbecues and grills on United States sales sites. To avoid overloads, United States users should check to ensure that the grill they buy is manufactured to North American Electrical Standards.

Wherever you live, you will find that using an electric barbeque is an easy going experience that will produce your stress free barbecue food heaven. Quick and easy to get to temperature and easy to clean afterwards.

Reasons Why Electric Grills, Barbecues and Griddles Are So Popular

This year has been a real surprise to me, a bit of a record breaker really. This year’s sales of electric barbecues, grills and griddles, have beaten sales of charcoal and gas barbecues by a huge amount, a factor of x3+. These are my own figures, based on sales in the UK that may be different in other countries. Also, my figures are based on my own online figures, so do not include retail sales from supermarkets or other offline suppliers.

Regardless of all that, here in the UK we make our own choices, but our thought processes and decisions are very often swayed by the one thing that we cannot change – Our weather!

In spite of the weather, a whole lot of people are buying electric grills, barbecues and griddles, and there are many benefits. One benefit that most UK residents won’t realise we have, is the fact that our standard mains voltage is 230 volts. In the USA the standard mains voltage is 120 volts AC. If you plug in a 2000 watt electric griddle in the USA, it will use just over 16.6 amps, which is quite a lot. In the UK the same griddle (rated at 230volts) would use about 8.7 amps. This occurs because when you double the voltage you halve the amperage.

Higher mains voltage, as in the UK, Australia and many other countries, has many benefits. An electric barbecue grill will recover lost heat more quickly at higher voltage. Additionally, because higher voltage reduces the amperage a household grill or barbecue requires, cables can be thinner. If you look at large electric pylons, you’ll notice how thin the cables appear to be. This is partly because you are seeing them at a safe distance, and partly because the voltage in these power lines is well over 120,000 volts. This high voltage allows a massive amount of current to flow.

There are other absolutely excellent reasons for having an electric barbecue, grill or griddle. One reason, though not the most important, is that they are so cheap to buy! Here are a few more good reasons for owning one:

  • As already mentioned, the price
  • They can be used indoors regardless of the weather
  • They do not emit clouds of poisonous carbon monoxide gas
  • You will not suddenly find that you have no charcoal, or that the gas bottle is empty
  • Completely acceptable to be used on a balcony or patio where open flames may be banned

As well as standard grills, like for instance, the brilliantly functional George Foreman range, they also come in far more exciting designs and types. Andrew James has some fantastic electric grills, griddles and BBQ’s. Andrew James’ Red barbecue grill is a modern design masterpiece. Another fabulous electric grill that Andrew James has made incredibly popular is the Teppanyaki style grill / griddles. These grills are made mostly for indoor use, though they can be taken outside weather permitting. Teppanyaki style grills have extremely large cooking areas that would lose a lot of heat in windy conditions. Clearly, this is not an issue in still conditions or when used indoors.

What To Look For When Purchasing An Electric Barbecue Grill

16.7 million were shipped in 2008. Over 77% of Americans own one. 58% of owners do it year round. The Fourth of July is the most popular day to do it, followed by Memorial Day and Labor Day. Only 42% of those that do it are have safety on their mind.

We are talking of course about grilling, or barbecuing.

Even though gas, propane and charcoal barbecues are the most popular with many Americans – quietly from behind the pack electric barbecue grills are becoming popular. Though they only garner a small part of the multi-billion dollar industry (roughly 2%) people in multi-unit residences such as townhouses, condominiums and apartments are starting to look to electric barbecue grills instead of gas, propane or charcoal.

There are several reasons for this – the biggest is safety. Charcoal can be dangerous since you need to use some type of accellerant to start the grill and few people keep fire extinguishers handy in case a fire starts to get out-of-hand. The other reason is that many multi-family dwellings have prohibited residents from using charcoal barbecues (or any barbecue that produces an open flame) on their patios and decks. While there are risks even with gas or propane barbecue grills there are fewer with electric barbecues – provided you keep the grill clean, and clear of grease.

There are several manufacturers of electric barbecues: Weber, Meco, Char-Broil, Sanyo (electric, indoor barbecue grill), and Dimplex.

You want to buy a grill that has a large cooking surface, why buy something small where you will only be able to grill a few burgers at a time? Most grills have at minimum 180 square inches of total cooking area.

Next important aspect to consider is the watts of the grill. A good grill will have a high watt count – typically around 1500 watts or greater. Most electric barbecue grills are standard 120 volts with at least a 5 foot grounded cord – any less and you may need to use an extension cord with it.

Some manufacturers even produce electric barbecues that look just like their gas and propane counterparts and many of the space saving BBQ grills also come with stands or you can purchase a stand separately if you don’t have a table to place it on.

Today where safety is a great concern for those living in apartments or other multi-family dwellings where open flames are not permitted, the only option left to enjoy a barbecue is to purchase an electric barbecue grill. As the technology improves, manufacturers are producing electric grills that are comparable to gas, propane and charcoal barbecue grills.