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Barbecues and BTUs

If you're in the market for a new barbecue, there's a lot to consider and BTU's is a subject that comes up often. But have you ever stopped to consider BTUs? Do you even know what a BTU is? If you don't, no problem! We're here to help.
By Grill Spot

Barbecues and BTUs

What is a BTU?

BTU stands for "British Thermal Units". Technically, a BTU is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. For grilling purposes, think of it as a measure of heat output from all your burners in a given hour.

In theory, the higher the BTUs, the more gas you are going to burn and the more propane tank refills you will require, but ultimately how much gas you burn will depend on how many burners are running at a given time and at what level (e.g. low, medium, or high). For this reason, it's good to consider BTUs when you purchase a grill, but don't get hung up on them because there are other factors to consider.

Are More BTUs Better?

People often look at BTUs like they look at horsepower, with more being better. This is not always the case and there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration, including the size of the grill, the materials it is constructed from, and the overall design, all of which will affect cooking performance.

A Rule of Thumb

When you shop for a barbecue, consider the amount of BTUs in relation to the size of the cooking surface. A generally accepted rule of thumb is 80 to 100 BTUs for every square inch of cooking surface. By that definition, a grill with 500 square inches of cooking surface should have between 40,000 and 50,000 BTUs.

Don't Get Hung Up on BTU's

It's certainly helpful to understand what BTUs are when you purchase a grill, but don't get hung up on it. In reality most grills these days come with sufficient BTU's. There are a number of other items which are more important to consider including, the overall fit and finish of the grill, the materials it is constructed from, the warranty and the size of the grill relative to your grilling needs and space considerations.


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