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Buying Built-in Gas Grills

A built-in gas grill can elevate your grilling experience in several ways.

They’re an attractive addition to any outdoor space, can boost your home’s value, expand your entertaining options, and even serve as the starting point for your perfect outdoor kitchen.

But with so many built-in gas grills on the market today, how do you know what to look for?

A few key considerations set an average built-in gas grill apart from your ideal built-in gas grill. From construction quality and features to price and warranty, it can be a lot to think about.

That’s why we’re covering them all in this guide! We’ve taken an in-depth look into countless built-in gas grills over the years, giving us insights into what makes a grill a solid investment vs. one you should avoid.

In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits of built-in gas grills and all of the different features and functions you’ll want to consider as part of your research and buying guide.

Benefits of Built-In Grills

Built-in gas grills offer several benefits, including increasing the resale value of your home, as we mentioned previously.

A built-in grill also provides a more seamless, upscale design and helps create a convenient outdoor cooking space that — with enough investment into features like refrigerators, sinks, beverage centers, and pizza ovens — could even rival your indoor kitchen.

Built-In Gas Grills vs. Freestanding Models

Perhaps the most significant choice you’ll make when shopping for a gas grill is the type of model you pick: freestanding or built-in?

Freestanding grills are the most common type of gas grills and typically come on a cart with wheels and storage cabinets for your propane tank and tools. The grill’s cart means you can move it just about anywhere, whether it’s to the other side of your patio, into the garage for winter, or even to a new house or apartment.

Built-in grills, on the other hand, are a more permanent option that’s built into a counter or island, typically as part of an outdoor kitchen. If you know you’re going to be living at your current place for a while and want to increase the value of your home, a built-in grill is the way to go.

Fuel Type

Once you’ve picked between freestanding and built-in gas grills, you’ll also have to consider the fuel type that works best for your home and lifestyle. With gas grills, you get your choice of propane or natural gas — and not many grills offer the chance to switch the two after the fact without the help of a professional, so choose wisely.

Propane gas doesn’t require your home to have a gas line ready, and propane tanks can be purchased and exchanged just about anywhere. You can also get them refilled easily at a local propane distributor. So while you do need to keep an eye on your fuel levels and be prepared to purchase more, propane allows your grill to be more mobile.

On the other hand, natural gas requires your home to install an exterior gas line (or requires you to be ready to put one in). Natural gas is much cheaper than propane, however, and doesn’t require you to purchase more or run the risk of running out of fuel.

If you’re not worried about being able to move your grill around at some point, and you have a natural gas line available, natural gas is a smart and affordable choice.

BTU 101

When shopping for your built-in gas grill, you’ll see BTUs listed among the key stats for each model. But what are they?

BTUs measure the heat output the burners produce each hour, measured by the amount of thermal energy needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree. You’ll usually see this listed as the combined total BTUs of all of the primary burners under the grilling surface.

Knowing the total BTUs of a particular grill doesn’t matter as much as understanding BTUs related to the size of your cooking surface. Alone, BTUs won’t indicate much about a grill’s performance. But when you look at the BTUs per square inch, you should get a good idea of the grill’s heating ability and consistency.

The standard industry recommendation is between 75 and 100 BTUs per square inch of primary grilling surface. Lower than 70 BTUs per square inch can leave you with low temperatures and longer cooking times, while higher than 100 BTUs per square inch can mean the grill runs too hot and can burn your food.

Long story short? Don’t let high BTUs by themselves sway your purchasing decision — do the math to see how many BTUs you’ll get per square inch and go from there.

For more information on BTUs, check out this guide here: Gas grill BTU 101

Burners for Built-in Gas Grills Explained

Burners are an essential part of shopping for your built-in gas grill — after all, you wouldn’t be able to cook anything without them. But there are a lot of choices out there you should be aware of before you start shopping.

Many built-in gas grills will offer cast stainless steel burners. These are high-quality since they’re cast from solid pieces of metal and will provide excellent rust resistance.

Speaking of rust resistance, ceramic burners are another great choice since they’ll never rust, and they’re phenomenal at holding and radiating high temperatures. Just be careful not to drop anything on them since they are more delicate.

Another common burner type you’ll find is stainless tube, made from straight or bent stainless steel pipe. You’ll want to look for tubes made from 304-grade stainless steel to provide the best quality and rust resistance.

A classic burner option is cast iron — these burners are heavy-duty and provide good heat retention, but they will rust over time. You may find cast iron burners with a porcelain coating, which helps give some extra protection and rust resistance.

One burner type we advise against is stamped stainless steel. These burners use low-grade (not 304) stainless steel stamped together and don’t provide as much heat retention and rust resistance as their cast or tube counterparts.

Finally, we’ve got infrared burners. These are a true workhorse if you want to create restaurant-quality results since they can reach 800°F or more. Those temperatures are great for cooking steaks but not for foods that call for low and slow cooking, so we suggest looking for a grill that provides a mix of infrared and traditional burners so you have more flexibility.

Cooking Grates

Another feature of your built-in gas grill you’ll want to choose wisely is its cooking grates (or grids) — after all, this is where you’ll do the actual grilling!

There are three main types you’ll find when shopping: stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain- or enamel-coated steel.

Stainless steel is incredibly long-lasting, resistant to rust, doesn’t need much maintenance, and is available in a variety of thicknesses. We suggest thicker grids for better heat retention.

Cast iron grates are heavy-duty, hold in heat well, and create some serious grill marks. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to do a lot of maintenance to keep them in good shape and avoid rust, especially if they don’t have a porcelain coating.

Porcelain-coated steel cooking grates are non-stick, but they’re typically lower quality than other grate types. Their coating can also chip away, exposing the metal inside and allowing it to rust. If you have porcelain-coated steel grates, you’ll want to keep scrapers and other hard metal tools away from them to avoid chipping.

You may also find some specialty cooking grids while researching built-in gas grills, including cast stainless steel; these grates are completely solid, often reversible, and made from 304-grade stainless steel so they won’t rust.

There are also aluminum grates, which are reversible and won’t rust; expanded stainless which is a fairly thin material but won’t allow food to fall through; and chrome rod, which is low quality and is almost certain to rust once its chrome coating wears off.

Ignition Systems

Your grill’s ignition system is what fires it up and gets you ready to cook — without a reliable one, your barbecue is over before it even starts.

When shopping for a built-in gas grill, it’s essential to consider the reliability and usability of the ignition system. There are several different types of ignition that you’ll find on the market.

There is a lot to discuss here so let’s break it down into sections.

Ignition Types

  • Hot surface ignitors heat up a small element using electricity, similar to the heating element of an electric stove. That red-hot element provides the heat needed to ignite the fuel.
  • Continuous spark ignitor – Another ignition method that uses electricity (either an electrical connection or batteries) is a continuous spark ignitor, which creates sparks near a flow of gas to light the burner.
  • Flame thrower ignitions – don’t need electricity to function — instead, they use a piezoelectric lighter that utilizes the grill’s fuel and friction to light a small tube directed toward the burner. As the name suggests, flame-thrower ignitions create a long flame that can light the burner from a distance, keeping the heat away from the grill’s sensitive components.
  • Single spark ignition – There’s also the single spark ignition system, which is similar to a continuous spark but uses a piezoelectric lighter (and the grill’s fuel) to emit a single spark that lights the grill — no external power is needed.
  • Match light burner – The most straightforward type of ignition system is a match light burner, which takes the old-school route and requires you to use a match to manually light the burner fuel source.

Some grills will allow you to light each burner individually, while others use crossover ignition, which lights one burner and allows the flame to spread across the other burners. Individual ignition systems for each burner are a great feature to look for in your built-in gas grill, but these are typically found on more expensive models and are costly to repair.

No matter what ignition system you choose, you should pick a grill that has a manual ignition option for use with matches or a lighter in case your ignitor malfunctions.

Flame Tamers

Flame tamers, the barrier that sits between your grill’s cooking grates and burners, are another thing to consider when shopping for a built-in gas grill.

When a grill has a great flame-taming system, the risk of flare-ups is greatly minimized, and the burners are protected from any drippings or debris that might cause damage. Flame tamers also help create a more even heat across the surface area and infuse your food with flavor by vaporizing drippings into delicious smoke.

One common type of flame tamer is ceramic briquettes. These provide excellent heat distribution but are less durable and can be hard to keep clean.

Metal flame tamers don’t distribute heat as evenly as ceramic does, but they are much easier to clean and more durable. You can find these in burner-width variations, of full-width, which span the entire grilling surface and offer more flavor, even heating, and burner protection.

Cooking Surface Area

Here comes another incredibly important choice in your grill-buying experience: cooking surface area. Think about the foods you’ll be grilling and how many people you typically cook for at a time.

Remember, you’ll never want to crowd the food on your grill. And if you plan on using zone cooking methods, which we highly endorse, you’ll want even more room than you might be thinking.

A small gas grill is typically considered one that has a cooking surface of less than 469 square inches and can comfortably fit 15 burgers at a time, perfect for individuals or small families.

Medium grills have a cooking surface of anywhere between 469 and 639 square inches, have multiple burners, and can cook between 16 to 20 burgers. This size will be ideal for most households of three to six people or those who just grill casually.

For larger households or those who like to cook for a crowd, look for a large cooking surface between 640 and 789 square inches. These grills have more than enough burners to achieve temperature zones and can fit 20 to 25 burgers or food for between six to nine people.

Need more space? Extra-large grills have you covered — their cooking surface is typically larger than 789 square inches and can fit more than 26 burgers at once, enough to feed a crowd of 12 or more!

Just keep in mind, the larger the grill, the more fuel will be needed to heat it.

With Built-in Grills, Size Matters

Since your grill will be built into your outdoor kitchen, it’s incredibly important that you pick the right size grill for your family and needs. After all, it’d be a major bummer to get your grill installed and fired up, only to realize it can’t handle the amount of food you need to cook.

If you have any concerns about the size of a grill you’re looking at, a good rule of thumb is to size up. It’s never a bad thing to have a little extra cooking space, but it’s absolutely no fun to have a grill that’s too small for your needs.

Build Materials Matter

Even if you cover it up when not in use, your built-in grill is still going to be outside and exposed to some harsh elements. That’s why it’s incredibly important you choose a grill made from materials that can stand up to Mother Nature.

Stainless steel is the most common material for built-in gas grills, but not all stainless steel is created equal. We highly recommend looking for 304, or commercial grade stainless steel, or its more affordable and newer equivalent, 443 — these will withstand rust and wear the best.

There is 316, or marine-grade, stainless steel that has even better corrosion resistance, but it’s usually a little more expensive.

A good rule of thumb? If a grill doesn’t say it’s made from 316 (marine), 304 (commercial), or 443-grade stainless steel, it’s probably an inferior type that won’t hold up against the elements.

If you live on a coast, look into cast aluminum grills — these won’t rust at all and can withstand the discoloration and structural damage that grills exposed to salty sea air typically get over time.

One material we suggest avoiding, if possible, is porcelain-coated steel. It’s the least expensive, but it’s also the lowest quality. And once that coating wears off, the steel underneath is prone to rusting quickly.

Features Matter

Grilling is all about the experience, and your new built-in gas grill’s features are an essential part of creating that experience.

There are the standard features you’ll find on just about every grill — burners, grates, ignition system, grease tray, control knobs — that you’ll want to do your diligence on to ensure they’ll work as intended for as long as possible. Many grills also incorporate non-essential features like warming racks, tool hooks, side burners, storage cabinets, and side shelves that can further enhance your experience.

Are you really looking to take your grilling experience to the next level? Look for luxury gas grill features like integrated rotisserie kits, built-in lights for nighttime grilling, LED-lit control knobs, heat zone separators, griddles, smoker boxes, and more to give you more cooking flexibility and convenience.

At the end of the day, the features you look for in a grill or choose to add on all come down to your preferences. If you’re new to the world of high-end grill features, we highly recommend rotisserie burners and searing capabilities to open up a whole new world of cooking options.

Price Matters

Oh yeah — the price of the grills you’re looking at matters as well, as much as we like to wish they didn’t. Consider your budget before you start shopping so you don’t get attached to a grill that’s outside your price range.

A built-in gas grill is an investment that will enhance the value of your home, so you shouldn’t cheap out. However, it is entirely possible to find a solid grill that still fits your budget; just do your research before clicking “buy.”

Your built-in gas grill research process isn’t done quite yet — here are two more critical things you’ll want to look for in a great grill:

Get to Know the Brand & Warranty

Your built-in gas grill research process isn’t done quite yet — the brand & warranty are two more critical things you’ll want to learn more about before making that purchase.

It’s not enough to just research the specific grill you’re interested in — you’ll want to do a bit of research into the manufacturer of that grill as well. How are their online reviews? Part replacement programs? Customer support options? All of these things can help clue you into the quality of the grill and the trust you can place in the company behind it.

Another huge indicator of a quality grill is the warranty a manufacturer is willing to pair with it. Typically the longer and more comprehensive the warranty, the most faith the company has in the quality and longevity of its product.

Final Thoughts on Our Buying Built-In Gas Grills Guide

A built-in gas grill is a fantastic addition to any home — it not only ramps up your home’s value but can enhance your grilling experience and start you on the journey of creating your perfect outdoor kitchen.

As you start the grill shopping process, we hope these considerations help you know what to look for — and what to avoid — in finding the grill that will be the best fit for your grilling preferences and provide a phenomenal experience for years to come.

Remember, it’s not just the price that matters here — a grill’s size and material quality will play a huge role in deciding whether it’s the best choice for you and your family.

If you have any questions about the considerations in this guide, feel free to send us an email or drop a comment below, and we’ll do what we can to get you an answer. Happy shopping!

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DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Patrick Ginise

A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!

I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!

I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.