Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
Live in a flat and want to grill on the balcony? Stay on good terms with your neighbours and go for an electric barbecue. You can even take it indoors if need be!
Have a garden or patio and love wood-smoking meat with fruity flavours like grape vine? Go for a charcoal barbecue and add on a lid to create your own smoker – but bear in mind that cleaning up can be a hassle!
Consider yourself a top chef? Do you prefer healthier food and more control over your grills? Choose a gas barbecue but bear in mind that these tend to be pricier and they do take up more room.
No matter how your barbecue is powered, there are a few points to keep in mind:
Any barbecue can be used to cook up a feast to enjoy with friends. But the various models all range in terms of upkeep, prep time and cooking methods.
Barbecues are categorised according to their fuel source with the three main types being charcoal (or wood-burning), electric and gas barbecues.
A classic and timeless option, these rustic-style barbecues offer authentic flavours and tempting aromas. Charcoal barbecues may come on trolleys, rolling wheels or be fixed in place, and are available in a range of sizes. But before you start grilling, you will need to fire up and wait for embers to appear – which gives you time to get the drinks in!
Gas barbecues are perfect for healthy cooking and are more convenient to use. Usually mounted on trolleys, these barbecues feature one or several burners for even heat distribution and accurate cooking. Gas barbecues also offer a fast heat-up time. They are typically fuelled by propane or butane gas, spare canisters of which can easily be stored on the barbecue trolley. The body of these barbecues can be filled with lava rocks for better heat distribution.
Mounted on legs or placed on a table, electric barbecues are easy to use and better suited to city dwellers or anyone who doesn’t have the room for a bulkier gas or charcoal model. Powered by an heating element, these barbecues offer precise temperature adjustments. They are practical, compact, lightweight and provide quick cooking times.
Gas barbecues are more complex than other models, but they do have several important advantages:
In order to choose the right gas barbecue, you should consider the following factors:
The vast majority of gas barbecues are equipped with a thermocouple which cuts off the gas supply when there's no flame. Many barbecues also have grease traps, particularly combi models. Each burner is controlled by a gas knob and is ignited using a piezo ignition system.
Gas barbecues are great for outdoor use. Propane is the best gas option as it is much more resistant to lower temperatures as butane tends to freeze when temperatures hit zero.
Electric barbecues are much simpler machines. They operate by means of a heating element which produces an even temperature under the cooking grid. The difference in quality between two electric barbecues will come down to the materials used and type of finish offered.
All electric barbecues are equipped with thermostats for improved temperature control and also usually have a removable aluminium tray for collecting grease. Stability is an important factor with electric barbecues due to their lightweight construction; a broad, heavy base is preferable.
The biggest advantage of electric barbecues is that they are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Depending on the model, they may have removable feet which makes them easy to move about. Some models can even be placed on top of a table!
Charcoal barbecues come in many different styles and offer the most authentic barbecue experience. Their level of quality depends on the materials used to build them, their size and how easy they are to use.
You can also use charcoal barbecues as smokers. In this case, they're equipped with a lid and a vent for smoke extraction (mainly featured on larger models).
Barbecues with the option for smoking food mainly come in the form of two half-cylinders (measuring about 50 cm each) with the cooking surface placed in the middle. Grease traps are usually provided and can be found in the centre of the barbecue base. These barbecues offer traditional grilling and allow you to add a variety of smoky flavours to your food, depending on the type of wood you use. A thermometer on the lid of your barbecue will help you keep an eye on the temperature.
Of course, materials and cooking methods are the most important factors to consider. Nonetheless, you should also pay special attention to the overall size and cooking capacity of your barbecue. After all, if you want to cook for ten and your barbecue can only get through four sausages at a time, your guests might overdo it on the snacks and end up ruining their appetite!
Solid and heavyweight, stone barbecues will require their own dedicated space in the garden since they have to be fixed to a sturdy foundation (e.g. a concrete slab).
Traditionally, stone barbecues are used with wood or charcoal; however, the fixed stone frame can accommodate any type of barbecue. These structures can be made of:
Stone barbecues come in various forms and may contain:
Stone barbecues usually come without grids and can still easily weigh over 400 kg!
Whether you end up selecting a wood, gas or electric barbecue, your choice should be based on the four following criteria:
Whether you want a fixed or portable barbecue and aim to feed five people or ten, your choice will ultimately come down to your style preferences and various other personal requirements. But if you're looking for a barbecue that will last, don't skimp on cost: there's no point buying a new one year on year only for the burners to break down at the end of each summer…A barbecue is a cooking appliance in its own right, so choose it as carefully as you would any other cooker. And if you decide you'd rather have a plancha grill you have a range of gas or electric models to choose from!
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 235 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!