It is not uncommon to find a gas BBQ in an Australian household. Outdoor cooking is extremely popular and is strongly linked to the country’s culture. However, there are different types of gas BBQ, therefore, selecting the best option is not always an easy task.

What are the advantages of a gas BBQ?

Unlike a charcoal BBQ or other smokers, a gas BBQ is quick to heat up. This means less time waiting around for the grill to be ready so that you can start cooking. Additionally, a gas BBQ offers instant temperature control, and you can easily adjust the heat level.

Gas BBQs offer a wide range of options. They can be portable, freestanding or built-in. They come in a variety of sizes to suit space and cooking needs. Furthermore, they can be made of different materials and have varying features. They also span a wide range of prices so that you can find one that fits your needs while being affordable.

A quick look at the best-rated brands in Australia

BeefEater, Ziegler & Brown and Weber are the top-rated BBQ brands in Australia, according to Canstar Blue’s 2021 review. This ranking results from customer reviews based on value for money, durability, ease of cleaning and cooking performance. Ease of use, design, extra features and overall satisfaction are also considered.

What types of BBQ does Weber offer?

Weber has four main categories of BBQ: electric, charcoal, premium gas and a wood pellet range. On the other hand, BeefEater and Ziegler & Brown primarily offer gas-powered BBQs.

It makes sense that Weber categorises its BBQs by fuel type, given that many people take this into account when deciding what BBQ to purchase. This is due to certain BBQ types impacting the flavour of food or some types being more environmentally friendly than others. For instance, those that prefer a smoky flavour might prefer a charcoal or wood pellet BBQ to one that is gas-powered.

Gas BBQs can be found in almost every park or beach in Australia. In fact, as Canstar Blue’s 2021 review shows, they are among the most popular types of BBQ in the country. Yet, the fuel that powers a gas BBQ can differ. For example, for outdoor cooking, Australians may use a bottle or connect it to their home gas system.

What is the best gas for BBQs?

Gas from a bottle differs from gas from the mains pipe that connects to your home. In Australia, the gas that comes in a bottle is propane. It is known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Conversely, the gas from the mains pipe is natural gas, which is largely made up of methane.

To generate propane, it is necessary to process other fossil fuels, such as crude oil or natural gas. The fossil fuel used is generally determined by the resources available in the specific region. For example, the increase in shale gas extraction in the United States has resulted in a reduction in propane from crude oil refinement. Therefore, the compound can vary from country to country. For instance, liquefied petroleum gas bottles in New Zealand can be propane but also butane or a mix of both.

What is the difference between natural gas and LPG bottles?

Natural gas is a fixed system, whereas you can easily transport LPG bottles. As a result, natural gas is the more reliable option, as you cannot easily run out of fuel. If you are a frequent outdoor cook, you will have to regularly replace your LPG bottle, and it is not always easy to tell when the gas inside the bottle is running low.

Generally, natural gas has cheaper running costs than LPG bottles. This is also true when companies provide natural gas at a fixed rate. Furthermore, as natural gas can be used for both heating and indoor cooking, generally, the higher the usage, the cheaper the gas.

Also, the flame temperature of propane is higher than that of natural gas. Burned in air at 20ºC, propane reaches 1,980°C. On the other hand, methane flames only reach 1,957°C. Although the difference is not extensive, some people prefer a higher flame temperature, as they believe it provides better cooking results.

Which gas BBQ fuel is better for the environment?

Even though LPG is considered a “clean” fuel, 99.5 per cent of the carbon in it is converted into CO2 during the combustion process. Other powerful greenhouse gases that can be released from it are methane and nitrous oxide. Furthermore, LPG can contribute to air pollution, releasing nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides and particulate matter.

Natural gas emits slightly less CO2 than LPG, however, it is no secret that the burning of fossil fuels is harmful to the environment. Indeed, coal, oil and gas are the main drivers of CO2 emissions. So, electric BBQs are an ideal option for those who prefer environmentally-friendly options. However, if your electricity provider uses fossil fuels to produce the power that runs your BBQ, your outdoor cooking still contributes to CO2 emissions. In fact, in Australia, 71 per cent of electricity comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

Is it important for your gas BBQ to be made of stainless steel?

What your gas BBQ is made of is important in terms of durability. BBQ exterior finishes include painted surfaces, vitreous enamel and stainless steel. While painted surfaces can scratch or peel off over time, vitreous enamel is tougher and more durable. However, stainless steel is the ideal metal for outdoor use, even with the varying types of quality that exist.

Stainless steel BBQs are better because they offer high heat retention properties. Additionally, they can withstand intense weather conditions, from extremely hot weather to harsh rain and wind. Also, as its name suggests, a stainless-steel BBQ prevents stains and rust. Some parts, such as the grate, can darken over time, but it only requires a quick wipe to restore it to its original state.

How should you store your gas BBQ?

Naturally, ‘barbies’ occur more often in summer than in winter. In fact, many people do not use their BBQ at all during the cold season. Therefore, how should you store your BBQ and should it influence your purchase decision?

Storing a gas BBQ requires a thorough cleaning process beforehand. Ensure that you remove all cooking grids, burners and other removable parts. Then, scrub and soak them in warm, soapy water to remove all residue from cooking. This also helps to avoid any mould building up while in storage.

The most important thing to remember when storing your gas BBQ is to never store your LPG bottle indoors. Propane should always be stored in a cool, well-ventilated outdoor location. The reason for this is that propane gas is heavier than air. As a result, if it leaks, it will settle at an ankle height, where it can build up and create a potentially dangerous scenario.

Overall, clean and keep your BBQ inside if it is not going to be used for an extended period, but leave your LPG bottle outside.

What size BBQ is best?

The ideal BBQ size depends on the size of the space it will be kept in. For example, if it will be placed on a small balcony, you might want to consider a small freestanding gas BBQ. Some even offer the features of larger style BBQs, such as a hood, a char-grill plate and foldable side tables.

On the other hand, if you have a bigger balcony or a garden, a large, freestanding gas BBQ might be the most suitable option. Although these BBQs are more expensive and require additional cleaning, it will be quicker to produce large batches of food.

Safety measures to consider

BBQ-related accidents are more likely to occur if you live in an apartment. Therefore, it is important to ensure that certain safety precautions are taken:

  1. Check that you are allowed to use a gas BBQ on your balcony
  2. Confirm that you can store an LPG bottle on your balcony
  3. Avoid storing more than one gas cylinder on the balcony
  4. Do not cook in an enclosed space
  5. Ensure that your balcony is well-ventilated

However, in terms of safety and being more environmentally conscious, consider purchasing an electric BBQ instead of a gas BBQ.

What to consider when buying a gas BBQ

There are a few additional points to consider when deciding which gas BBQ is the best option for you. According to Bunnings, try and purchase a BBQ with:

  1. Grills that direct grease away from the burners to ease flare-ups
  2. Adequate bench space for food preparation
  3. A built-in thermometer
  4. A side burner or a rotisserie

Moreover, hooded BBQs are a great choice, considering their versatility. Not only can you use the grill and hotplate, but you can also turn your BBQ into an outdoor oven. This is useful for roasting, baking, steaming or smoking, since the hood traps in heat, giving your food additional flavour.

Overall, there are plenty of options for purchasing a gas BBQ in Australia. However, it is important to choose one that satisfies your bespoke needs and ideally one that is environmentally friendly and safe.