There are tons of reasons to be excited about moving into a new place (especially if Bellhops is doing the heavy lifting for you). If it has a patio, for example, you’ll be able to spend a lot more time outside relaxing with a good book, catching some rays, or entertaining. And if you’re going to have people over to hang out to celebrate your new home, you’ll probably want to do some grilling out, too. But how do you make the choice between a charcoal versus gas grill?

When it comes to shopping for a grill, there are a couple of main things to consider and the main differences between charcoal and gas grills:

  1. Do you own your home or do you rent?

If you own your new place, you can pretty much buy any kind of grill you want, so there are no real barriers to you picking between a charcoal versus gas grill. While you need to be mindful of any nearby neighbors and try to keep smoke from blowing into their yards, in most cases, you’ll be able to grill whenever, whatever, and however you want to.

As a homeowner, you can also consider connecting your grill to a natural gas line. Most gas grills run on propane tanks which typically last for 25 hours or so. Grilling with propane is more expensive than grilling with natural gas, however, and converting your propane grill to a natural gas grill—which most stores or manufacturers will do for free—will not only save you some money, but it will also help ensure that you won’t run out of gas in the middle of your cookout.

If you are renting, there is a good chance that your patio is much closer to neighbors. (You might even have to share it with them.) Not only will it be a bit more tricky to keep smoke from blowing in their yards and/or windows—opt for a gas grill over a charcoal one if that’s going to be a problem—but your landlord might also have rules regarding when you can grill, what kind of grill you are allowed to use, or if you are even allowed to grill at all. Be sure to double check the rules before you go shopping.

  1. Which kind of grill you prefer: Charcoal or gas?

While 66 percent of American outdoor grillers have gas grills, most serious barbecuing aficionados swear by charcoal grills.

Here the main differences separating a charcoal versus gas grill:

Charcoal Grills

One of the main advantages of using a charcoal versus gas grill is temperature. Charcoal grills can cook at a higher heat than standard gas grills, which is helpful when you are trying to get steak or lamb crisp on the outside and red or pink on the inside.

Charcoal does create a bit more smoke than gas, but when used properly, that smoke typically doesn’t affect the taste of the food you’re cooking—especially if you use strong sauces, rubs, or marinades before grilling. However, you can harm the flavor of your charcoal-grilled food if you use self-igniting charcoal or charcoal fluid to start the fire, so use it sparingly or avoid it altogether.

If you want to know which charcoal grill you should buy, Wired magazine has put together a list of the best charcoal grills on the market.

Gas Grills

More people buy gas grills than charcoal grills because grilling with gas is more convenient and less messy than grilling with charcoal. Gas grills heat up quickly, are easy to control, can be adjusted for cooking different kinds of food, and are quick to clean. Many also come with a wide range of accessories like side burners, side tables, spice racks, storage drawers, and even night lights.

One drawback to using a gas grill, however, is the fact that most models—except the really high-end ones—don’t get hot enough to make a steak crunchy on the outside without overcooking it on the inside. This is fine if you like your steak well done, but not so great if you like it crunchy on the outside and rare or medium rare on the inside. (Some high-end grills come with infrared side burners that can help grill your steak closer to your liking.) Gas grills can also be affected the weather, as a hot day can actually cause the grill to cook hotter than the temperature gauge indicates, while a cold day can drop the cooking temp by 50 degrees or more.

Want to know which gas grill is right for you. Consumer Reports has compiled a list of the most reliable gas grill brands.

Another option—if you have the space and budget to do it, of course—is to buy one of each to use for different kinds of foods. For example, the Huffington Post suggests using a charcoal grill to cook your red meats, and a gas grill to cook poultry, fish, veggies, pizza, and breads. They also suggest trying to grill with wood or wood pellets, or perhaps picking up an electric grill if your patio is especially tiny.

Whatever your grilling needs are, there is definitely a grill out there just for you. So, make your “charcoal versus gas grill” decision, and grill away, friends!

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