Can this grill-cleaning robot save you stress this summer?
We tested the Grillbot to find out.
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There’s a lot of reasons to look forward to your next barbecue—you get to eat good food, pet cute dogs, play lawn games, and maybe get some long-awaited pool time. What’s less exciting? Having to clean up the mess when your sunburn sets in and all the guests have gone home. And if you like to barbecue on the regular, cleaning the sticky, charred mess of your grill each time gets old fast.
Because it’s 2019, there’s a robot that can you help you with that. An automatic grill cleaning device, dubbed the Grillbot, is designed to take the tedious work out of scraping your grill with the touch of a button. But here at Reviewed, we don’t like to take anything for granted. Having already tested the best grills and grill tools this summer, we took the Grillbot for a spin on some of our most charred grills to see if it actually works.
What does the Grillbot do?
First launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014, the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaning Robot has one very simple purpose—cleaning your dirty grill for you. The hand-sized device houses a rechargeable lithium ion battery and three independent motors inside of a heat-resistant plastic shell. Each motor powers a spinning brass brush, which can be detached and run through the dishwasher after use.
To use the Grillbot, you must initially charge the battery for at least two hours, place the device on a dirty grill grate, and click the single button on its shell to select a cleaning cycle of 10, 20, or 30 minutes. Then, close your grill’s lid and let the robot do its thing. The Grillbot manual specifies that the device can be safely used on cold or hot grills up to 250 degrees—so not while flames are present. It probably also goes without saying that the Grillbot works dry and is not compatible with water or other cleaning fluid.
Although it’s been around for over five years and has graduated from using regular batteries to rechargeable ones, the Grillbot hasn’t wavered from it’s initial price of around $100—substantially more than your average grill brush. We purchased a unit (with a case included) directly from Amazon to see for ourselves whether it’s actually worth the investment.
We tried the Grillbot—here’s how it worked
Because it’s summertime and the weather is fine, Reviewed has not one, but two charcoal grills in our outdoor test area. I made sure they had been properly dirtied through charcoal testing, and then did some additional grilling to replicate the conditions of a barbecue.
After charging the battery and assembling the device, I decided to run the Grillbot through one still-warm grill for 10 minutes, and through a completely cold grill for 30 minutes, beginning with the warm grill.
Once it’s programmed to start, the Grillbot quickly scuttles around, crab-like, all over the grill grates. As it moves it made a loud whizzing sound that’s not unexpected, but far from pleasant. While it’s fun and vaguely entrancing to watch the robot move, you can’t keep the grill lid open for long without risking the robot running off the side and out of the grill, so I had to close it and return when time was up.
After the 10-minute run, I lifted the grill lid and discovered that the Grillbot had given the grates a decent surface clean. There were still some burnt spots, and the underside of the grates were still dark and dirty, but it appears the device has picked up a lot of grime from the top of the grill. The brush bristles were partially blackened with soot and charred food.
The 30-minute run on the cold grill was much the same, with slightly cleaner results. There was no immediate visible difference between the two grills, except the cold grill had less food still stuck around its perimeter. It’s worth noting we were unable to test on a large gas grill, which typically have wider grates that may react differently to the Grillbot.
When testing was done, I picked the Grillbot back up and deposited it in its case for next time—cleaning the bristles could wait.
Is it worth it?
All in all, the Grillbot cleaned the surface of the grills enough to be safely used again, but wasn’t as thorough or precise as most people could be with a manual clean. Because the bristles on the device can’t truly reach around and under the grill grates, it can’t replicate a human being scrubbing with a strong angled brush.
The robot’s fast, erratic movement, which didn’t seem to track along specific grates lines, additionally kept it from achieving a deep clean. It’s also a far cry from proper seasonal grill cleaning, which involves removing the grill grates and scrubbing them with a combination of water and soap, baking soda, or salt.
The device’s time-saving element is dubious, but it depends on how you frame it. While the Grillbot is running, you can be off doing other things like enjoying your barbecue or taking a nap. But if you’re eager to have your grill clean and ready to go, the device will take longer to work than manual scrubbing will. The Grillbot is also never going to save you money in the long run—for $100, you could go through years and years of grill regular grill brushes, which are already quite durable.
Ultimately, we don’t think the Grillbot is worth the investment for most people. But if you have mobility or joint issues, zero time to spare when cooking, or just absolutely hate cleaning your grill, the Grillbot will certainly save you some stress and effort. People who grill multiple times a week might also find the “set it and forget it” nature of the device appealing. Think of it like an electric can opener—really helpful for some people, but extraneous for most.
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Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.