The is a large, imposing grill
The was very quick to heat up, taking 7 minutes and 17 seconds to reach our low fire temperature, and 11 minutes and 35 seconds to reach our high fire temperature setting (625°F / 330°C).
We test the low temperature performance of grills by cooking a number of hamburger patties and monitoring the temperature to see how well they are cooked after 10 minutes (5 minutes on either side). We then use this temperature to calculate how quickly the center of the patties will reach the minimum recommended cooking temperature of 164.5 °F). We found that this grill would take just under 11 minutes to fully cook the patties on the low fire setting, with very little variation between the patties across the cooking surface. That's a good thing, as it means you are unlikely to overcook some, or undercook others.
We also measure the uniformity of the temperature of the cooking area with 9 thermocouples, looking for any variations that might cause problems while cooking. We did find one issue here: the cooking grate is significantly hotter at the back than it is at the front, which could cause issues.
We also measure the consistency of the grill over time, and we found that there was some considerable variation here: the temperature varied by up to18 per cent.
For our high temperature test, we cook the same hamburger patties with the grill cranked up, checking the temperature of the patties after 10 minutes of cooking. Here, we found that the patties were cooked in an average of 8.5 minutes, with only small variations between them. So, if you are cooking a big pile of burgers, they should all be done at about the same time.
In our uniformity test, we found that the problem that we found at low temperature was more evident here: the back of the cooking grate was over 100°F hotter than the front. While this may not be an issue for some foods (it did not seem to adversely affect our hamburger test, for instance), it could be a problem for foods that are more sensitive to the temperature of the grate.
The consistency of the temperature over time was also a concern: we found while the general pattern was the same, the temperature did vary somewhat over time, as the graph below shows.
While a grill has to get your food hot, it should keep the handle and case as cool as possible. To check this, we test the temperature of the handle after 20 minutes and 1 hour of continuous operation. In both cases, the handle of this grill remained relatively cool, reaching a maximum of 96°F, which is cool enough to grip comfortably. The top lid does get pretty hot, though: after 20 minutes use, we measured this at an average 295°F, so keep the fingers away. The Infra-Red camera shot below shows that there are significant hot spots around the edges of the case as well as around the logo on the front.
The image below was taken with an infrared camera to show the heat levels of the lid. The numbers at the bottom indicate the temperature scale.
Char-Broil claims that the heat output of the main burners of this grill is about 42,000 BTU/Hr. However, we measured it as being some way below this, at 39,679 BTU/Hr. That is for the grill at the high flame setting, and we also measured the output at the low flame setting at 20,056 BTU/Hr. This means that a typical bottle of propane should last about 21.5 hours on the low flame setting, and just under 11 hours on the high flame.
The controls for the are located on the front panel, with individual dials for each of the burners, plus an auto clean control on the right side. This sets the grill to maximum output for 15 minutes, then turns the burners off to automatically burn off any food left on the grilling surface.
Char-Broil promotes the as being a dual-fuel model, but what this means is that you can convert it from the Propane it runs from by default to Natural Gas with an optional kit. This really isn't that unusual: many other grills can do the same.
The burners are lit by pressing the button on the bottom of the control panel, which triggers the electric lighter on all of the burners. This approach makes it easier to relight if one of the burners goes out, but also means that you could accidentally start the flow of gas and not light the burner. We found that the lighter was reliable in our tests, with no issues with burners not starting.
The cooking area on this grill measures 30.5 by 16 inches, for a total cooking area of 488 inches. This is pretty large, but it is not the largest on offer (the Kenmore is bigger). The cooking grate is made of stainless steel, and is divided into 4 sections. Below the grate are the heat shields that make this an "Infra-Red" grill. The idea is that, rather than the heat coming directly from the burners, the burners heat the heat shields, which radiate this heat to cook the food. If required, these heat shields can be removed for a more conventional cooking experience.
Above the main cooking area is the warming rack, which measures 29 by 7 inches for a total of 203 square inches. This is located a little higher than on other grills, which makes it a little cooler.
On the right side of the grill is a large food preparation area, while the left side offers an additional burner that can be used to heat up a pan of beans or other food. This area can't double as a food preparation area, though: the raised lid over the burner means that you can't place anything there without it probably falling off. That's a pity; the flat lid of the side burner of other grills like the Weber Summit S-420 makes them more flexible.
The is fairly easy to clean up: the auto clean feature makes doing a post-cookout clean simple, and the 4 sections of the cooking grate are small enough that they can be easily removed for a good scrape or wash.
Auto Clean - The auto clean feature is unusual: when activated by the dial on the right side, it sets all of the burners to maximum for 15 minutes, then turns the grill off. This would definitely make cleaning up easier, but it should be used with caution: you should never leave a grill running unattended.
Individual Thermometers - Rather than the usual single thermometer on the lid, this grill has four thermometers above the control dials. These show the temperature just below the grate, so they are more accurate than the lid thermometers.
The Char-Broil dethroned the Broil King, offering subjects even temperatures, better build quality and a much easier assembly process. The Char-Broil couldn't compete on features, though, since the Broil King came with a rotisserie kit.
Both grills had excellent performance, with even heating and temperature performance. The Char-Broil took less time to reach a high temperature, though the Weber felt much more substantially built and was easier to assemble. Price may be the deciding factor here: the Char-Broil can be found for nearly half the cost of the Weber, and Weber grills traditionally don't go on sale.
These similarly-priced grills also offer similar performance, though the Char-Broil just slightly edges out the Kenmore. The Char-Broil reaches a high temperature faster, though both grills have decidedly different temperature troubles. The Char-Broil's temperature varied a lot over time, though it stayed consistent across the grilling surface. The Kenmore, on the other hand, was nearly 100 degrees warmer towards the back of the grill, but stayed at an even temperature over time. While the Kenmore had some design gimmicks like a bottle opener and interior lights, the Char-Broil's design was more straightforward.
We found decent performance from this grill, but we did find somewhat inconsistent cooking times and temperatures that would require close attention from the cook to make sure that food was not over or undercooked.
The was easy to use overall, but we found it rather difficult to assemble, and there were some design quirks that made it less flexible, such as the cover to the side burner that can't be used as an additional preparation area. But overall, this is a very flexible grill.
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