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How to choose a barbecue

There’s plenty to consider when buying a barbecue but the biggest decision is between charcoal and gas

The first step to buying the right barbecue for your backyard is deciding whether you want to use charcoal or gas as a fuel source.
 
Each option has pros and cons, so do the research and base your choice on your budget, lifestyle and the size of your outdoor area.
 

Before you buy 

 
Take the time to think about how many mouths you'll regularly be feeding and what size and type of barbie best suits your space. 
 
Be realistic about how often the barbecue will be used and what styles of food you'll be cooking. 
 
If you're still undecided, check out what your friends and neighbours have chosen, try them out by cooking on them if you can, and spend time reading reviews online. 
 

Going for gas

Gas barbecues have convenience on their side. They're easy to start and the temperature can be accurately controlled for a long period of time. 
 
Gas enthusiasts believe that with the right techniques you can still create a smoky flavour.
 
Cleaning gas barbecues is much easier than charcoal and there's no need to dispose of hot ashes. 
 
Gas burners heat up different sections of the barbecue. The bigger the model the more burners it has. 
 
For a small family a two or four burner model will be fine but for large crowds, consider six or more burners.
 
Prices start in the low hundreds but for options that will last the long haul you're best off investing in something more expensive. 
 
There's more design versatility when it comes to gas barbecues and there are add-on features like side burners and hot plates that aren't available in charcoal models.
 

Choosing charcoal


Choose charcoal for an authentic grilling experience
 
Barbecue purists swear up and down that charcoal barbecues are the best because they cook with smoke, giving food a unique flavour. 
 
The live fire and intense smells are said to create a more authentic barbecuing experience. 
 
You can also wood smoke foods easily with a charcoal barbie, but most gas options need a special attachment. 
 
Charcoal barbecues vary in size and have different features like domed lids, extra sideboards, flat tops and wheels. Most models are very portable. 
 
You can pay under $100 or over $2000 for a charcoal barbie. Cheap charcoal options are perfect for those on a budget who don't plan on barbecuing too often. 
 
Cooking with charcoal takes longer than using gas and requires more hands-on attention to maintain temperature. Using charcoal is also a lot messier, making the post-cooking clean up more of a chore.
 

Safety essentials

 
  • To stay safe while cooking outdoors check out these tips from Fire and Rescue NSW (fire.nsw.gov.au). 
  • Choose natural gas over LPG as it?s a safer and cheaper option. 
  • Check all gas hoses and connections for damage before use.
  • Test the pressure of gas cylinders and look for leaks. 
  • Turn off gas bottles before burners to avoid leaving gas in 
  • the hose and regulator.
  • Have a garden hose and fire extinguisher available at all times.
  • Keep an eye on hot coals and let them cool for 48 hours after use. 
  • Ensure the BBQ area is well ventilated and there are no combustible substances nearby.
 
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