Dec 3rd 2020

Charcoal vs. a Built-In Propane Grill: A Comparison

If you’re looking at options in built-in grills, sooner or later you’re going to come across fuel type, and the fact of the matter is that this is largely a matter of personal preference. We here at Embers Living recognize that there are people who would never grill on anything besides propane, but that there are charcoal proselytes who are as supportive of their preferences as anyone else.

Personal preferences notwithstanding, here are some selling points and detractors from each of these fuels. Whether you’re looking for a built-in propane grill or a charcoal model, keep some of these in mind while you shop.

Charcoal Grills - Advantages

-They get hotter - One thing that a lot of people may not realize about charcoal grills is that with the right amount of fuel and the proper oxygen intake, charcoal can be coaxed to higher temperatures than propane. This is helpful not only for cleaning the cooking grates when you’re done (or before you start) but also for getting those awesome sear marks on your food.

-They’re more traditional - Some people just like the fact that with charcoal you need to slow down and grill. There’s no mistaking that much, because charcoal is a slower and more ritualistic process. One way or the other, it will force you to slow down, take your time, and concentrate on what you’re doing.

-They give better flavor (on their own) and can be used to slow smoke meats and foods - Some would argue that with the right experience and attachments and accessories, there’s no innate difference between the flavor provided by either charcoal or propane.

However, if you don’t take anything else into account, you’ll still get that delicious smoky flavor with charcoal, even if you're not intentionally smoking your meats. To get that with a propane grill, you need to use a smoker box or attachment and wood chips. In other words, holding everything else equal, you get better flavor with less effort from charcoal.

Charcoal Grill - Drawbacks

-They take more skill to use - Now that you have an impression of some of the advantages of charcoal, it’s time to admit that it takes more time to get one pre heated and lit, and a lot more skill to use. There are no control knobs on a charcoal grill, which means that you need to moderate the oxygen intake and the concentration of the coals and heat all on your own, manually, with no other helper than your own experience. Skilled charcoal grillmasters are amazingly proficient, but it takes a lot of time and experience to get there.

-They’re dirtier and smokier - We already mentioned that charcoal grills give you that smoky flavor. Well, they also produce a lot of smoke, which some people don't like, and on top of that, they are a lot dirtier, too. Gas grills don’t produce ash.

-They need to be cleaned out more frequently - Because charcoal grills produce a mess even when you’re not cooking anything on them, they need to be cleaned more frequently.

Gas Grills - Advantages

-Convenience and precision - All gas grills, not just built-in gas grills, offer an amazing degree of precision and control over cooking temperatures and times. First off, you can preheat a built-in propane grill in a matter of minutes, after which point you can exhibit a great degree of control over the cooking temperatures. Some even have high-powered infrared burners that are great for searing foods.

-They’re cleaner - Gas grills are also a lot cleaner than charcoal grills, and you can use the burners themselves to clean off the grates after you’re done cooking.

Gas Grill - Drawbacks

-They’re generally more expensive - One potential drawback of a built-in gas BBQ grill is that gas models tend to be more expensive, at least up front, than charcoal models. However, unless you consider the strengths of the charcoal mentioned above to be drawbacks of a gas grill, then this is really the only drawback to gas.

Obviously more could be said on the matter, but this is just a quick place to start, especially if you have no experience with either and really want to add a built-in grill to your outdoor kitchen.

If you’re still out to buy a built-in propane grill, remember that you can find many in our collection of built-in grills. It’s equally important to remember that there are relative virtues of both fuel types, and if you’re looking for a balance between the two, you can always get a model that takes both propane (or natural gas) and charcoal. That way you won’t have to choose.

If you still have questions after looking through our product listings, make sure you get in touch with a member of our customer service team. Give us a call anytime you have any questions at 303-800-5659 and we’d be more than happy to help you out.