Choosing the Best Electric BBQ - A Complete Guide
So, you’re thinking of going electric. Or maybe you’ve heard about electric BBQs, and you’re wondering whether it’s the right thing for you… and indeed which one to choose. The good news is that you are about to be enlightened!
Each year, we at Grillo Outdoor Kitchens talk with thousands of homeowners, designers, architects and landscaping professionals in the UK regarding their outdoor kitchens and BBQ choices. And the question about electric BBQs is being asked more and more.
Before we look at the different choices and brands available in the UK market, here’s what we’ll be covering:
The 'Why' of Electric BBQs
Why are electric BBQs even being talked about? I mean, the debate about charcoal-powered versus gas-powered rages on enough as it is, and many BBQ ‘purists’ would probably turn up their noses and scorn at the concept.
The answer lies mainly in three key points: electric BBQs are safe, convenient and eco-friendly. Let’s explore that a bit further.
At Grillo, we reckon that there has been a shift in thinking in the last 5 years, for two key reasons.
Firstly, there has been a massive trend in cities across the UK with regards to roof terraces. Property developers are used to maximising every square inch of space and let’s face it, a roof terrace experience is a great way to create a unique experience and social/party zone for residents and commercial clients. Enter the concept of roof terrace BBQs.
However, there is quite a large perceived danger about having a ‘naked flame’ BBQ on a roof terrace, and understandably so. That brings me on to my next point:
Grenfell Tower Tragedy
You will remember the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017, where a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, West London. Tragically over 70 people died, and many more were injured.
Since that, there has been a dramatic change in approach to fire safety across the whole construction industry. Whilst the Grenfell disaster had nothing to do with BBQs, as a result of the changes in legislation, gas or charcoal BBQs on roof terraces and balconies are as good as outlawed in any architect’s mind.
So how do you get around the safety issues and still enable a BBQ party to happen up in the skies? The answer lies in going electric, which enables people to enjoy their outside, sky-high dining experience by providing deliciously cooked food without the combustion risks of a naked flame.
Does the simplicity of ‘plug and grill’ appeal to you? In this instant gratification, minimum-hassle age that we find ourselves in, many people are looking for an easier way.
The thought of never again having the embarrassment of running out of gas or charcoal halfway through a juicy steak sear – in front of friends – is tempting. And what about trying to find a gas canister that fits your BBQ in the height of summer? It can be tricky – we’ve all been there! By comparison, electric BBQs run on a standard three-pin plug. It simply plugs into an outdoor socket, so that at the flick of a switch your BBQ can be pre-heating and getting ready for the action.
And for some people, tinkering around with charcoal, fire and air-vents just doesn’t turn them on. With electric BBQs, typically, the controls are very straightforward, with a familiar rotating knob that is hob-like in its simplicity.
For many people, sustainability is higher on their agendas than ever before. Climate change, global warming and protecting the environment is absolutely at the front of people’s minds.
And when it comes to BBQs, charcoal and natural gas both come from sources that cannot be replenished over time and are thus referred to as non-renewable resources. By comparison, electric BBQs that use electricity from clean, renewable sources produces no greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.
And if you live in London or certain other areas of the UK, you are probably aware of the “Smoke control areas” legislation that has been in place for the past 50+ years. Whilst the rules state that “you can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens” in these zones, many people are unsure of the rules. They are conscious of the impact they might be having on neighbours and residents around, so play on the safe side and avoid producing smoke.
What are Common Problems with Electric BBQs?
If electric BBQs are this good, why aren’t all BBQs electric, and why haven’t they been around for longer? we hear you ask. Well, there are some potential compromises, and we’re never ones to shy away from being blatantly honest – we simply want our customers to be as informed as possible. So, here’s what some people would regard as the drawbacks of electric grills:
- Less smoky flavour
If you are wanting to smoke a lump of brisket-in-bone for the 10+ hours that it needs, then using a charcoal BBQ is great for achieving the deep smoky flavours and pull-apart tender results. However, if this is really important to you, smoking chips can be used very effectively on an electric grill to introduce a gentle sweet smoky aroma under the hood.
- They don’t get as hot
It’s true that you’re not going to achieve the roaring heat that you would with red hot charcoal, or the searing temperatures from the 60,000 BTUs found on decent quality gas BBQs. But a well-designed electric BBQ will sear a steak perfectly, which makes choosing the right electric BBQ important.
- They take longer to preheat
Typically, an electric grill will take around 20-30 minutes to properly preheat before you start cooking compared to a gas BBQ which will take around 10-15 minutes. In the main though, barbecuing is a relaxed affair, free of time pressure – some people joke that a BBQ that takes a bit longer to preheat is just an excuse for another “aperitif hors d’oeuvres”.
It’s a question of getting to know your tools and their intricacies, allowing you to master them and use them to your advantage.
Choosing the Best Electric BBQ
If an electric BBQ is the right one for you, the next step is finding the right product for your needs and project. Considering we’ve spoken to a load of BBQ manufacturers over the years, as well as the fact that we discuss BBQs with our clients all day every day, we’re happy to give our thoughts on some of the options out there.
Let’s start by looking at the best electric BBQ comparison, all of which are available to buy in the UK right now:
1. Morsø Balcone Review
The Balcone is primarily designed for people who choose to live in multi-storey buildings with limited balcony space. With a grilling space of 300mm x 200mm, a weight of just 9kg, it clips onto a balcony railing nicely. We guess as the BBQ is small, it is probably pretty efficient.
Morsø is well known for their Danish design cast-iron wood-burning stoves, and more recently their outdoor wood-fired ovens. This looks like an interesting addition to their range for those who aren’t looking to cater for a crowd.
2. Weber Pulse 1000 and 2000 Review
Weber has a large market share in the kettle BBQ and gas cart BBQ sector. They are a very well-known brand, and it’s interesting to see that they’ve also brought an electric grill to the table in the last couple of years. The Pulse 1000 is a one-element, 1800W grill, and the Pulse 2000 is a slightly more powerful two-element 2200W version.
It is a standalone table-top design and can be placed on top of most surfaces. You won’t achieve a built-in look for your outdoor kitchen with this grill, but for a balcony or small residential garden, it’s a well-built product that will cook well. If you are into gadgets, the Pulse comes with an integrated iGrill thermometer that connects to an app on your smartphone. The temperature controller should be removed from the barbecue and stored indoors when the barbecue is not in use.
3. Char-Broil Patio Bistro Review
This Electric grill comes on a lightweight stand with wheels, meaning you can move this around your garden or roof terrace. Again, you won’t be able to incorporate this into your built-in outdoor kitchen, but for the low price point, it seems quite good value for money. With a capacity for 6 steaks, its compact size probably means that the 1750W copes well enough.
4. George Foreman Indoor Outdoor BBQ Grill (Argos) Review
Available from Argos, this is an interesting looking grill that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. In terms of size, this grill cooks up to 15 portions of food at once. It can be easily removed from its collapsible stand and put onto the dining room table, so everyone can get involved.
Argos probably don’t promise that they are leading BBQ specialists but for those on a budget or looking for something that you could even take on a caravan camping trip, this could be a good option.
5. Kenyon Electric Grills Review
Kenyon makes lightweight electric BBQs, designed originally for use on yachts. They are super-safe, utilising trays of water within the grill to make a virtually smokeless cooking experience without any chance of flare-ups.
6. Grillo Voltiq Electric BBQ
Designed for use in outdoor kitchens, with an emphasis on style, safety, and durability. The Voltiq is the largest electric grill available, with a cooking grill size of 600mm x 400mm and a power of 3000W.
It was built to be robust enough to be used in shared roof terraces, student accommodation and BTR schemes, where the BBQ gets less care due to multiple users having access to it.
The Story of the Grillo Voltiq Electric BBQ
When we started getting asked for electric BBQs to go in our outdoor kitchen cabinets, we spent months and months searching for the perfect grill. So, if you’re finding it a real challenge to find one, don’t worry you’re not alone. It was this challenge that led us to develop the Grillo Voltiq!
Our clients were looking for a whole outdoor kitchen solution with everything built-in rather than a stand-alone electric BBQ. With nothing on the market really suitable for outdoor kitchens, we gave the challenge to our design team to build the perfect electric built-in BBQ.
The order to the design team was tall. The BBQ needed to be really well built, safe to be left outside all year round, have a beautiful looking sleek design, be easy to keep clean and must look and feel like a proper BBQ (and not a sandwich toaster). In terms of cooking capabilities, it needed to be able to do indirect cooking (i.e., have two cooking zones), and whilst we always knew that no electric BBQ would be the most powerful grill on the planet, it had to pass the ultimate test of being able to put some good sear marks on a steak.
And after 16 months of development, prototyping and perfecting, we were finally able to launch the Grillo Voltiq Electric barbecue!
Voltiq Prototype Version 1
How Does An Electric BBQ Work?
With the Grillo Voltiq Electric BBQ, a specially designed power element sits directly underneath the cast-iron cooking grates. In principle, it works the same as any other gas or charcoal BBQ – it’s just in this case, the heat source is an electric power element. The power output is managed by simple to operate control knobs to the side of the cooking hood, which makes the overall design very sleek and minimalist.
It sounds simple, but for a well-designed BBQ, it’s all about the technical ratios of heat output versus the amount of airflow through the grill. Heat deflectors also reflect radiant heat back up towards the food, which helps with the overall efficiency of the barbecue. The rest is down to the design of the power element.
Can You Get Fat Fires in an Electric BBQ?
As with all cooking appliances, there is a small risk of fat fires when there is a build-up of fat that gets too hot and then ignites. With the Grillo Voltiq BBQ though, this risk has been minimised with the use of our specially designed heat deflector technology, which forms a barrier between the fat tray and the heat source. That, together with not allowing fat to build up in the fat tray is the secret to a safe electric BBQ.
How Do You Keep The Voltiq Electric BBQ Clean?
The Voltiq BBQ is designed to be super easy to maintain. As with any cooking appliance, your BBQ will collect food and grease, so a simple wash with warm water and mild detergent is recommended every few uses to keep it looking in tip-top condition.
There is a large pull out drawer underneath the BBQ that houses the fat tray and heat deflectors. These are all easily removable parts and can be taken out to clean-by hand or dishwasher.
For cleaning the grates and BBQ interior, we recommend running the BBQs at a good hot temperature for 15-20 minutes to loosen and burn off any grease and residue. Cooking grates can then be brushed with a BBQ brush to remove any food debris.
Explore the Grillo Voltiq Electric BBQ
We designed the Grillo Voltiq Electric BBQ to be safe, clean, and green.
If you’re on a roof terrace, have environmental restrictions, or just want the simplicity of plug & grill, Voltiq is the answer. Built to last, the Voltiq grill has a neat streamlined design and is perfect for those looking for an easy-to-use, safe and green solution.
It has been designed to fit in seamlessly with Grillo Vantage outdoor kitchens, creating a stunning centrepiece on any roof terrace or garden space.