The Elements of a Charcoal Barbecue
The beauty of a charcoal bbq is its simplicity. At the core of a good charcoal barbecue is a charcoal grate to place the fuel on. Above that is a cooking grate. A lid with air vents tops it off. Simple and uncomplicated.
A good, well-built barbecue will feel solid and sturdy; a poorly made bbq will wiggle. If a barbecue isn't solid on the sales floor, chances are it will fall apart rather quickly on the patio or deck. Choose a bbq made of high grade U.S. steel. Also opt for a baked-on, porcelain-enamel finish. The legs should be sturdy, wheels should roll easily, and the barbecue should display a good fit and finish.
Cooking grates are generally made from heavy-duty plated steel or chrome-plated aluminum. A thicker, heavier-gauge cooking grate will last longer and distribute and retain heat better. Grates coated with porcelain enamel are a common step-up feature. The best grates are made of cast iron, stainless steel, or porcelain-coated aluminum or cast iron.
When you buy a barbecue you want to grill, not drill, so fast, easy assembly is a priority. Some barbecues require hours (and an engineering degree) to assemble. Better brands reduce or eliminate the amount of assembly required by the consumer.
Service & Maintenance
Top-notch after-market service supports any quality made bbq, including thorough, easy-to-read information about the product, and a toll-free service line. A good barbecue is easy to clean and to maintain, and long-life is assured by easy access to replacement parts and service through a well-established servicing dealer network.
A good bbq controls heat easily, has handles that stay cool to the touch, and has added safety features.
It makes sense: the best manufacturers can afford to stand behind their products
Next, read the Gas BBQ Buying Guide or the
Charcoal vs. Gas BBQ Guide.