Are you looking for a grill for your backyard that can cater for a large family gathering with great build quality and features at a great price? If you are then a Char Broil Tru Infrared grill would be perfect for anybody who is serious about grilling and has a budget of less than $400 as all of their grills are in the sub $400 range. If Weber grills are a bit beyond your price range then Char Broil Tru Infrared grills could be the next best thing.
You can click the item in the table below to jump to your most pressing question, or continue to read the whole review.
- 1 What is Infrared Grilling Technology?
- 2 What are the Advantages of Infrared Grills?
- 3 What are the Disadvantages of Infrared Grills?
- 4 Char Broil Tru Infrared 3 Burner Grill Review
- 5 Which Model Grill Should I Buy?
- 6 What are the Best Features?
- 7 What are the Bad Points?
- 8 Where Can I Buy a Char Broil Grill?
- 9 Char Broil Performance Series Comparison Table
- 10 Char Broil Professional Series Comparison Table
- 11 What’s the Verdict?
What is Infrared Grilling Technology?
The first thing I get asked when people ask me about Char-Broil grills is what is infrared grilling technology as most of the grills Char-Broil grills have it. The main thing you need to know is that an infrared burner isolates the flame from the cooking area. The burner is kept completely encased behind several layers of stainless steel. This prevents convection as there is no airflow. As a result an infrared burner only emits radiant heat. This means that the food is never exposed to a naked flame which means you will never get flare-ups. This is because any juices that run off the food as it is being grilled aren’t able to drip into the flame.
What are the Advantages of Infrared Grills?
The main advantage to an infrared grill is that the burners heat up much more quickly and they reach much higher temperatures than normal grills. As a result these grills are able to sear meat more quickly and to cook faster than normal grills. Some manufactures claim that this locks in the flavor of the juices but what it is really doing is causing caramelization and browning of the surface layer of the meat.
If you are concerned about the health risks associated with eating grilled food then an infrared burner can help to minimize some of those risks. When a normal grill causes a flare up potentially carcinogenic chemicals are released onto the food. This does not completely remove the risk as you can still end up blackening your food by over grilling it. But with some practice you will get better at grilling and you minimize this risk too.
What are the Disadvantages of Infrared Grills?
The main disadvantage of grilling with an infrared grill is the problems associated with the increased intensity of the heat. This is not so much of a problem for meat but it makes grilling fish and vegetables much harder to cook because the heat is so intense.
The other problem with infrared grills is that they are much harder to cook with so don’t expect perfect results the first time you use one. They take some practice and getting used to as they heat up so quickly and grilling the perfect steak is an entirely different skill on an infrared grill. You typically only need to grill a steak for about one minute on each side before turning it over and grilling the other side. You will then need to turn the temperature down to finish it off. This is where having both types of burner on a grill is useful as you can finish the grilling off on a normal gas burner.
There are pro and cons to choosing an infrared grill over a normal grill. Some grill manufactures have addressed this by incorporating an additional infrared burner into their normal grills so that you have both types of burners available. Despite the cons of an infrared grill they are excellent with practice and when you have mastered the art of grilling with one you won’t be looking back.
Now that I have explained the pros and cons of using an infrared grill let’s start taking a look the Char Broil infrared grills starting with the Performance Series. Within each range of grills there are several different models with main difference between them being the number of burners. You get a choice of models with either four, three or two burners. I will be reviewing the three burner Performance grill and I will be pointing out the differences as I go and will provide a comparison table so that you can easily see the differences.
Char Broil Tru Infrared 3 Burner Grill Review
The most important feature of any gas grill are the burners and each burner in the Char Broil grill has a temperature output of 10,000 BTU per burner. Three burners give a combined output of 30,000 BTU.
In addition to the three main burners the grill also features a 10,000 BTU side burner. Side burners are a great for heating up sauces on the side or a pan full of beans or chili. It saves me having to be the chef out on the patio whilst the wife is indoors in the kitchen cooking away on the hob. I can multitask and do it all at once out on the patio.
Having plenty of power is one thing, but how do the burners perform when cooking at both high and low temperatures? As you might expect from an infrared grill they perform better at a higher temperatures as that is a feature of the technology. They simply do a great job at high temperatures and they distribute the heat evenly. At low temperatures the performance is not so good and this is where a Char Broil infrared gas grill would benefit from having both normal burners and infrared burners.
The 3 burner model grill has a primary cooking area of 450 square inches and you also get a 150 square inches of warming rack space. So that is a decent amount of grilling space with enough warming area to free up the main grill for even more food.
As with most grill manufacturers, Char Broil give you liquid propane power out of the box with the optional extra of a natural gas conversion kit. This will allow you to connect your grill up to your home gas supply.
The Char Broil grills all have battery operated electric ignitions so there is no need for matches or lighters. Previous versions of this grill had the unusual feature of a separate temperature gauge for each burner. I’m pleased to say these grills now incorporate a single thermometer dial in the lid of the grill which makes far more sense.
Which Model Grill Should I Buy?
There are several different grills in the Performance range and they are given a model number which denotes the size of the main grilling area. The 450 model has a main grilling area of 450 square inches. There is a choice of 2 or 3 burners with the two burner model being quite a bit smaller with only 300 squares inches of main grilling area, hence the 300 model number. As a result the only real decision you need to make if you are going to buy a Char Broil grill is the size and whether you the want the grill mounted on a cabinet or a cart.
What are the Best Features?
Infrared grills heat up quickly and reach high temperatures by design and as result you have to compare infrared grills by how well they maintain an even temperature and distribute the heat.
This grill heats exceptionally quickly and I was able to preheat it in just 7 minutes. The grill can reach highs of 700 ° F. Typically I would expect a normal grill such as a Weber to preheat in about 10 minutes.
Once high temperatures are reached it does a good job of maintaining them even in cold windy weather. I could see from the temperatures gauges in the lid that it was able to maintain a constant steady temperature.
I found the grill very easy to clean up afterwards thanks to the cast iron grill grates having a porcelain coating that also protects them from corrosion.
There’s not a great deal that can go wrong with a grill other than wear and tear and you are covered by a warranty. The most likely problem you will have is during assembly if you get stuck.
In the event that you need any assistance Char Broil provide excellent customer service. But you probably won’t need that as their website has a great FAQ that answers pretty much all your likely questions.
What are the Bad Points?
Considering the most expensive Char Broil grills cost around the same as the low end Weber grills I was expecting to find a few issues, most especially with the build quality. Not surprisingly it is made in China to keep profits down and it really shows if you have ever used a Weber Genesis grill which are still made in the US.
The main issue is that it is constructed from low grade painted 430 stainless steel which is used throughout the construction including the burners. Despite that it looks good enough and is fairly sturdy. It just looks and feels a little cheap, but it’s functional. Even at the relatively low price range I was hoping for something that was a bit sturdier seeing as they are designed to be left outside exposed to the elements. If you demand something a bit more special then I would looks at the Weber Spirit or Genesis range.
The other main area where the grill fails to excel is in its operation at low temperatures where it lacks consistency in maintaining an even temperature. The grill starts to struggle with consistency when operating at temperatures below 500 F. That’s not so much a fault with the grill, as this tends to be the case with infrared burners. This is the reason why some grill manufactures incorporate both types of burners into their grills to give you the best of both worlds. This is the main reason why people can get frustrated with infrared grills.
Another big issue with this grill is that beneath each of the three grill grates is a perforated steel sheet. These perforations can easily become clogged up which degrades the performance of the grill. However the grill comes with a special grate cleaning tool that tucks ways behind the right door. If cleaned regularly this should not become an issue. But it does mean that this grill needs a bit more loving care than some other grills.
Where Can I Buy a Char Broil Grill?
You can buy a Char Broil Performance grill on Amazon where they stock both the 2 and the 3 burner models. You also get a choice of buying the grill with a cabinet or a cart. The cart model makes the grill more portable as it is mounted on two locking casters so you can easily wheel it back into the shed after use. If you are planning on leaving the grill outside then the cabinet model may suit you better. If you choose this option then make sure you purchase it with a cover.
I would recommend doing further research on Amazon as many customers have written Char Broil grill reviews that could help you in your buying decision. At the time of writing this article there are 42 customer reviews on Amazon for this grill with an average rating of 4.3 stars out 5 with 59% of customers giving it the maximum rating of 5 stars.
Char Broil Performance Series Comparison Table
Model: IR 300 Cabinet
Model: IR 450 Cart
Model: IR 450 Cabinet
Model: IR 500 Cabinet
|Number of Burners||2||3||3||3|
|Main Cooking Area||300 Square Inches||450 Square Inches||450 Square Inches||500 Square Inches|
|Main Burners BTU||18,000 BTU||24,000 BTU||24,000 BTU||27,000 BTU|
|Side Burner BTU||N/A||10,000 BTU||10,000 BTU||10,000 BTU|
Char Broil Professional Series Comparison Table
Char Broil also manufacture a slightly higher end range of similar specification grills called the Professional series. These have a slightly bigger cooking are, higher performing burners and better build quality. The better build quality is reflected in the longer warranties.
Model: Professional IR 325
Model: Professional IR 420
Model: Professional IR 525
|Number of Burners||2||3||4|
|Main Cooking Area:||325 Square Inches||420 Square Inches||525 Square Inches|
|Main Burners BTU||18,000 BTU||25,500 BTU||32,000 BTU|
|Side Burner BTU||N/A||13,000 BTU||13,000 BTU|
What’s the Verdict?
I found the Char Broil to be a well-made and well-performing grill once I got past the initial disappointment of the low grade steel construction. I get the feeling this is a grill that most owners would be very happy for the first few seasons of use. Beyond that I can see the lower quality construction beginning to deteriorate with rust if you neglect to take extra good care of the grill after use. As a result I would advise you to put the grill away in the garage or shed after use or at least get a good quality cover to protect it from the elements.
The ignition system operates well but I got the impression that the manufacturer doesn’t expect it to last as they provide a built-in match holder. This hangs from a chain beneath the grill. Is this a useful additional feature or was this added so you can still light the grill when the ignition inevitably fails due to wear and tear?
The Char Broil is a good grill, however these are as good as Char Broils grills get and you need to see them as a budget purchase as there are no high end alternatives. If you have a little more money to spend and want something that has better construction and more likely to last much longer then I would check out the Weber Spirit range of grills or even the more expensive Weber Genesis range. The Weber Genesis grills are a big step up in build quality and are made in the US from a higher grade of steel.
When it comes to performance the Char Broil is pretty standard for an infrared grill so you will have to weigh up the pros and cons of infrared burners as already discussed.