Barbecue
Buyers Guide

Keep calm
& BBQ on!

At The Warehouse, we’ve understood for over 20 years what Kiwis love in a BBQ and our Gascraft BBQ brand is now one of the most respected and recognised BBQ brands in New Zealand. Each year we strive to bring Kiwis the latest trends and features – and make the desirable, affordable.

But when considering the purchase of a new BBQ, there are several important factors to consider and questions to ask. There are a great number of options out there and we're here to help you work out which is the best kind of BBQ for your needs and work through some of the important features you’ll see in modern BBQs.

You’ll also want to consider your budget - we believe we’ve got that covered - and you may need to consider the size of your entertaining area, so we offer options from small portables through to the big, fully featured 6 burners.

Firstly, how many people are you cooking for?

If you’re only likely to cook for 2-4 people, you’re unlikely to need a big 6 burner giant. But if you do a lot of entertaining or often cook for a crowd then a larger BBQ is going to serve you well. So consider your size requirements. Many smaller grills will feature the same types of specifications as larger, more expensive units.

What sort of features to look out for?

When checking through the range of BBQs in The Warehouse you’ll find plenty of functional design features and levels of specification. What should you look for?

Finishes

Exterior finishes in trolleys, grill bodies and hoods include painted, powder coated, enamel and stainless steel surfaces.

Paint is the cheapest finish and can fade and scratch in time.

Powder coating is a thick heavy-duty coating that is bonded on to the metal with heat and has superior finish and strength over standard paint. It is durable and is easily cleaned and able to be kept looking as new. But it too can be scratched over time through lack of care, exposing the metal to the elements.

Enamel finishes come from a glass-like powder being sprayed on the metal and melted. It is very durable under heat and has a fine finish but can be brittle if bent or dropped and can chip or craze.

Stainless steel looks fantastic when new but, despite common perception, it is not a maintenance-free material and does require regular cleaning and protection to keep its appearance and avoid corrosion.

The key point here is that all BBQ finishes do require regular cleaning and a degree of care by the owner to maintain good looks and overall reliability.

Cooking Surfaces

Grills allow foods to be cooked over the most direct heat and make use of flame tamers below which will vaporise dripping cooking juices imparting that smokey BBQ flavour and enhancing taste. Flare-ups can result and this is one reason that your BBQ should never be left unattended when in operation. Food cooked this way is the healthiest option with reduced fat content.

Hot-plates allow the cooking of smaller cuts and items that may normally fall through the grill such as shellfish, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms. Hotplate use will not result in flare up, but it does return some of the cooked fats back into the food. This will also enhance flavour, however.

Most hooded BBQs will also feature a warming rack which can be used to keep cooked foods warm or even to cook finer foods more gently. If roasting (cooking with the hood down), the warming rack can be used to hold vegetables for roasting.

In terms of materials of cooking surfaces, cast iron is the most popular. It naturally conducts, retains and distributes heat very well. Cast iron can rust, so it is important to always regularly clean and maintain the surface by oiling it, even from brand new.

In higher end models, enamelled cast iron is featured. This is also cast iron, which has been coated with an enamel coating that prevents rusting. Enamel cookware looks and cooks the same as standard cast iron cookware, but will ultimately last a lot longer. It does require careful handling, though, as rough treatment can result in the enamel chipping which can expose the raw cast iron. This will then require oiling to prevent rusting.

Hoods

Modern popular BBQs are hooded, which adds greatly to their versatility and flexibility. They allow the consumer to grill, but also roast, bake, steam, and use food smoking accessories or rotisseries. Closed hood cooking creates convection and enhances flavour. Hooded BBQs offer you the flexibility of direct heat or indirect heat cooking.

When purchasing a BBQ with a stainless-steel hood or stainless steel hood liner, a double skin is an advantage, reducing external hood temperature and preventing heat tarnish that can happen with directly heating stainless steel.

Many hoods will also feature temperature gauges to indicate internal temperatures when the hood is closed, and assist chefs in calculating cooking times.

Some hooded BBQs are also rotisserie ready, with the necessary mounting holes and rod spacers that allow optional rotisserie accessories to be used when the hood is in the closed position. If planning on using a rotisserie kit with your hooded BBQ, it is prudent to consider a BBQ with a higher hood allowing larger joints of meat or larger poultry to be fitted to the rotisserie spit rod.

Ignition Systems

Most BBQs will be fitted with automatic ignition systems. These ignition systems are usually Piezo or Electric systems. A piezo starter has become very common for use in all gas-fired appliances as it uses no outside power source to work. A spark generator uses the voltage from a battery to generate a spark. These have also become a common source of igniting a grill. If there is no battery pack on your grill, you have a piezo electric starter. Alternatively, if there is a battery pack on your grill, you have a spark generator.

With piezo ignitors, you press a button or turn the control knobs to create a spark to ignite a burner. Some electronic ignitions rely on a push button that fires the piezo electric starter. Others rely on a knob that is spring-loaded and turned all the way left or right to activate either the piezo starter or the spark generator. In the case of a piezo starter, a small hammer inside of the ignitor will forcefully contact a quartz crystal. This action causes a spark to jump off the ignition electrode rod onto a ground plate. When the rod is placed into a gas flow and sparks, the gas ignites. With a spark generator, the circuit is closed by either pushing a button or turning a knob. Electricity from the battery will flow through the wires and a spark or sparks will be generated between the electrode ignition rod and a ground plate.

Some piezo systems feature “sure-fire” technology where, on turning a control knob, a jet of flame is fired alongside the main burners - this superior system offering the quickest guaranteed ignition.

Electric ignition systems use a battery (AA or AAA) to generate the spark to ignite the burners.

All BBQs however will also have facility to be ignited manually, using a match or gas-match.

Side Burners

Some BBQs feature side burners, sometimes also known as wok burners. This additional feature is very useful if planning on stir frying or if steaming or boiling vegetables or using a frypan. Be aware that for safety reasons there are restrictions on the diameter of cooking pans or frypans, especially if the side burner is recessed into the side table. A recessed burner does have the benefit of protecting the flames on a windy day, however.

An additional benefit of having a side burner is that they can be very useful to a household in the event of power cuts and could be the home’s only source of energy for boiling water in these situations.

Trolleys and Cabinets

Trolleys allow BBQs to be moved from places of storage or to parts of the home that are less exposed to weather or to put away over the winter months. Some BBQ trolleys have screens which allow items such as BBQ covers to be stored out of sight when in use.

Some trolleys have full cabinets which allow for the storage of BBQ covers also but can be used to store cooking tools, cooking condiments and/or cleaning gear.

Some trolley cabinets even have capacity to store the gas cylinder, inside adding to the general aesthetic appeal of the BBQ. Note, though, that only those models certified as suitable for this may have the cylinder stored in the cabinet.

BBQ Covers

It is recommended that a BBQ cover should be fitted always when the BBQ is not in use, to protect your investment.

But a few words of caution first. It is vital to understand that in some cases, the use of a cover can in fact be detrimental.

A cover placed on a warm, wet, or unclean BBQ (or any mix of these factors) can in fact be a very efficient mould or even corrosion breeder.

A cover should only be used when the BBQ is COOL, CLEAN of any surface contaminants or dirt, and thoroughly DRY. This will be especially important before the BBQ is stored for any length of time i.e. when the BBQ gets infrequent use or when the BBQ is stored away over winter months.

Quality and Safety

Modern Gas BBQs are all built to comply with applicable international safety standards, and all gas BBQs sold on the New Zealand market must show evidence of this by featuring the NZ Gas Safety Compliance Mark prominently on the BBQ itself. It looks like this and is often shown on the data label, a mandatory label on the BBQ itself that features technical data.

Buy with confidence when shopping for gas BBQs at The Warehouse. All our gas BBQs are fully compliant with NZ Gas Regulations and we can assure you, the consumer, of the safety of our gas BBQ range.

Cleaning and Maintaining a BBQ

We’ve got a few simple ways to clean and maintain your BBQ to ensure you get years of enjoyment and good cooking out of it.

Step 1. Turn off and disconnect the gas
Before you start cleaning your barbecue, check that the gas hose isn’t cracked or has deteriorated. You’ll need to replace it if it is. Then turn off the gas bottle and disconnect the hose. It’s a good idea after each use to disconnect the gas bottle from the barbecue.



Step 2. Clean the tray
Remove the tray from the barbecue and scrape away the excess fat on it. Wash the tray in hot soapy water thoroughly. You should wear dishwashing gloves when doing this, as it will allow you to use very hot water, which will cut through the grease and fat.



Step 3. Clean the grills
Scrape away any excess fat and cooked scraps of food from the grills. Then thoroughly wash them in hot soapy water. Make sure you wash both sides of the grills to get rid of any fat that might have dripped underneath.



Step 4. Wash the barbecue
Before putting the grills back, give the barbecue itself a good clean with hot soapy water and a soft scouring pad.



Step 5. Apply oil to the grill plates
Wipe the grill plates dry with paper towel. Then spray both sides of the grill with canola oil to protect them. Put the grills and tray back in the barbecue



Step 6. Add fresh fat absorber to the drip tray
Line the drip tray with aluminium foil and put some fat absorber in the tray. The absorbers collect fat, preventing fat fires from occurring. Do not use kitty litter or sand for this because they create odours and encourage rust. Place the tray back under the grills. It’s a good idea to change the fat absorber after every 10 barbecues.



Step 7. Clean the outside of the barbecue
BBQ wipes are a great way to keep the barbecue looking good between big clean-ups. Remember the better you take care of your barbecue, the more years of great cooking you’ll get out of it.