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An introduction to the benefits of Ceramics vs Gas Grills Why you should be considering one instead of gas.

#1 User is offline   bluesin 

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 02:29 PM

This is a post to outline what I think are the benefits of going ceramic over gas these days. Recently we have had a lot of owners of various gas grills posting about problems with customer service and having to get replacement parts within a couple of years. Additionally, these days it seems that the price most of our members are paying are in the $800-$1300 dollar range, this price range puts these grills in direct competition with even the largest Ceramics out there.

I have had the pleasure of owning a medium Big Green Egg for over three years now, I also own a 2004 4-burner Jenn-Air so I have the benefit of being able to compare the two over a 3 year period.

Right off the bat I want to inform everyone that a Ceramic grill/smoker is nothing like a Kettle type charcoal grill. Ceramics use real wood charcoal, wood charcoal lights much faster, burns much hotter and produces very little ash, so put that out of your mind right now and lets take a look at a real comparison starting with firing each one up.

Lighting a Ceramic vs Lighting a Gas Grill.

Ok, when it comes to time, the gas grill wins here, but really how much does it win by? Lighting a gas gill is done by turning on the gas and turning the knobs, a 10 second process at the most. Lighting a ceramic is done by opening the air chambers, opening the lid, adding in some charcoal, making a small cavity and lighting a fire-starter(these are available at all grocery stores these days) and dropping it into the cavity. All in all this process takes about 50-90 seconds and even less if you already have charcoal in it, which is usually how you'll find it as you hardly ever use all the charcoal when cooking.

Size of the grilling surface in a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

I'll compare a 4 burner here to a x-large Primo Oval

Again the gas grill does have a larger primary cooking surface, 540 square inches vs 400 square inches, but really now, when considering a grill of any sort ask yourself if you really need all that cooking space? You can easily cook for 15 or more on 400 inches of grill space and if you need more you can get to a total of 680 square inches of cooking space with accessory racks.

Cost of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Most of the brand name 4-burner gas grills out there are running $900-$1300 bucks, a quick check on the web shows you can get an XL Primo delivered to your door for around $1100 bucks, add in an extra $175 for the cradle and your at $1,275 bucks for the absolute largest ceramic grill available.

Internals of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Here's where it gets interesting folks, because inside the ceramic is nothing but a ceramic firebox and grates, there are no flame tamers, no burners, no grease pans, no regulators, no hoses, there is simply nothing inside that will wear out, you can use a Ceramic your entire lifetime and not have to replace a single thing ever.

Warranty of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

The two biggies, the Big Green Egg and the Primo have what they call lifetime warranties, here is Primos from the Owners Manual.

  • Twenty (20) years for all ceramic parts
  • Five (5) years for all metal parts (excluding cast-iron parts)
  • One (1) year for all cast-iron parts
  • Thirty (30) days on thermometers and felt gaskets



20 years, well that is pretty much a lifetime I'd say, everything else is pretty much an accessory anyway. The Big Green Egg has a lifetime warranty on all the ceramic parts.

Oh and the Primo is made in the USA. The Egg is assembled in the USA here in the Atlanta Area and the parts are made in Mexico and have been for years.

Cleaning a Ceramic vs Cleaning a Gas Grill

Here again the Ceramic has the Gas Grill beat. The ceramic will have an ash door at the bottom that has to be scooped out every now and then, again the wood charcoal does not produce very much ash, I can usually cook 20 or more times without scooping the ash out. But the true benefit is cleaning the inside, here all you do is every once and a while, instead of closing her down after cooking to conserve charcoal open her all the way up and it'll burn to about 1000 degrees and instantly burn everything inside to a white ash, in the morning your ceramic will be totally cleaned without a hint of grease anywhere that has not been turned to ash.

Cooking on a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill


Ok so we have already covered the fact that it'll take a little longer to start it up, but as far as preheat, your ceramic will be up to temperature much faster that your gas grill, you can easily expect that the ceramic will be to 750 degrees within 12-15 minutes, which is less than the 20 minute pre-heat time many folks report for their gas grills. Additionally the ceramic retains heat much better than the gas grill does, if you open it up to baste some ribs or apply some cheese to those burgers the ceramic will return to the set temperature in less than 30 seconds as there has been no loss whatsoever in the temperature of the ceramic, plus you have a direct heavy gas convection flow that provides a much better source of heat.

The ceramics give you everything you want in one unit when it comes to cooking, you get radiant heat from the coals, you get instant vaporization of juices and other liquids you cook with. some others benefits of cooking on a ceramic vs gas grill are:

  • You don't get any flareups in a ceramic
  • You can sear steaks or any other meat at incredibly high temperatures
  • You can cook pizzas and many breads
  • You can smoke directly in a ceramic, as a matter of fact ceramics are considered the best smokers available, used by many competition teams across the USA and have won in many a competition cook-off. Big Green Egg and Primo are huge sponsors of many bbq cook-offs across the country and have a loyal following amongst the people who cook on them.
  • You get that fire roasted taste in everything you cook.


If other ceramic owners have more then please chime in.


Fuel Consumption of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Ok we just had a member report cooking for 36 hours on about 1.5 loads of charcoal in his large Big Green Egg, this is about what you would expect when keeping it lit for that long, this would roughly equal 5 pounds of charcoal, which would cost about 3 dollars or less. The 4-burner gas grills will all be in the 44-48k BTU range and you get about 420k btu's out of a 20lb tank, so that is about 9 hours of cooking time on high on a gas grill and about 18 hours at medium heat, I normally get about 12-15 hours out of a 20lb tank of propane, propane is currently selling for about $20 bucks for an exchange.

You wont get that level of efficiency when lighting and re-lighting so the reality is it'll cost you about half of what it costs to cook with propane. Speaking of lighting and re-lighting. With the ceramics, you light the charcoal and get your grill to temp and then start cooking, there is none of this waiting until all the charcoal is lit to start cooking like there is with the kettle style charcoal grills. Additionally, once you finish cooking you simply close down the top and bottom air vents and the fire will extinguish itself and the wood charcoal will be there available to use the next time, this is huge difference between these type of charcoal grills and other charcoal grills because you cannot just shut it down and re-light it the next time. As noted the ceramics use far less charcoal and produce far far less ash than the kettle style charcoal grills.

Summary

There are probably other things to compare but those are the biggies, after comparing the two the only real benefit the gas grill has over the Ceramic is the amount of time it takes to light it and even then we are talking about a difference of 50-80 seconds at most. In every other category the Ceramic beats the gas grill hands down in my experience.

Lets review and summarize.

Primo XL Oval vs Big Box 4 Burner Gas Grill

Lighting a Ceramic vs Lighting a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill 10 seconds
  • Primo 60-90 Seconds


Size of the grilling surface in a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill 540 square inches
  • Primo 400 square inches expandable to 680


Cost of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill $900-$1,300 Bucks
  • Primo $1,275



Internals of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill, numerous parts to wear out and have to replace.
  • Primo, no parts to wear out or replace aside from items like a felt gasket.


Warranty of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill, usually limited to 3-5 years.
  • Primo, 20 years on all ceramic parts, 5 years on metal parts.
  • BGE, lifetime on ceramic parts, 5 years on metal bands.


Cleaning a Ceramic vs Cleaning a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, continuous cleaning of the inside and outside to remove grease and grime, cleaning out of the grease tray at regular intervals, scraping of grates and flame tamers, removal and cleaning of burners to remove built up debris.
  • Primo, intermittent scooping of ash from ash door, high temperature burn off to clean everything else



Cooking on a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, limited to grilling meats and vegetables with the occasional pizza. Not very useful as a smoker, flareups are a problem in most gas grills.
  • Primo, can cook a variety of items from meats to vegetables to breads and even desserts, ceramics in general are known throughout the world as the best smokers available, no flareups.


Fuel Consumption of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, $20 bucks per 12-15 hours of cooking time
  • Primo, $10 bucks per 12-15 hours cooking time.


All in all I think that this certainly should give anyone considering a grill purchase enough information about ceramics to at least put them on your short list when considering dropping $900-$1,300 bucks on a large gas grill from the Big Box stores. One upon a time the ceramics were far far more expensive in comparison and had limited availability, both issues that don't exist anymore. As member Ronald pointed out, the trend in gas grills is for less and less quality parts for more and more cost each year, often requiring replacement parts within two years of the original purchase and for some brands those replacement parts are hard to come by, making a mockery of the limited warranty.

Additionally, the two largest brands in ceramics, the Big Green Egg and Primo are American companies with Americans either making all the parts and assembling them in America as with the Primo or using parts imported from Mexico and assembled in America as with the Big Green Egg, with customer service provided directly from them. But the fact is, because there is nothing in a ceramic to wear out, you won't ever have to call customer service, you get it and it'll be with you for an entire lifetime of grilling and smoking pleasure, that is just a fact that you will never find in any gas grill no matter what price.

Also, let me also say this, it is a known fact that many people throughout the world consider ceramics to be the absolute best grill/smoker in the world, period, once you learn how to cook on one you will become as loyal to them as I have become. I challenge any single member on this forum that has evolved from a gas grill to a ceramic to not echo that sentiment. As I said, I have both, but over the past three years I have used the gas grill less and less to the point that it rarely is used anymore outside of me throwing a big big party and I'm cooking burgers and hot dogs.

When you have friends over and you have a ceramic, expect them to say wow, you have a Big Green Egg or wow, you have a Primo, I've heard those are the best grills/smokers in the world and the reason they have heard that is because in fact they are the best grills/smokers in the world hands down.

So you can either pay $900-$1,300 bucks for a typical gas grill from a big box retailer that will wear out within 5 or so years replacing parts every 2-3 years, or you can own one of the best grills/smokers in the world for about the same price knowing full well that nothing will ever wear out and need to be replaced.

You decide, but if it were me, knowing what I know now and having owned both, I can certainly say that the ceramic would be my choice over any gas grill on the market.

Please chime in with comments, especially owners of ceramics and those of you who might be intrigued by a ceramic feel free to throw out any questions and I'll answer them as best I can...

Bluesin

Update:

I should add in low and slow cooking, this might be obvious to those who smoke already, but you can cook on a Ceramic at below 200 if needed, something that is not possible on a gas grill.
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#2 User is offline   Bacardi 

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 03:15 PM

After my CB TEC, fiesta and crossray disappointments, I was ready to buy a BGE. The only reason I didn't, walmart had a clearanced a freshly assembled grill. I couldn't resist the price. I had actually considered selling the grill this year on craigslist and put whatever I get for it towards a BGE. But gas prices completely changed everything. With all the mini-vacations and holiday visits home I plan on, I will now unexpectedly pay another $1000 in gas.

I have always been a huge advocate for the $80 Ultra Sear (US) IR portable grill. My plan had I got the BGE to use the US to cook something fast. It has a 3min pre-heat time. I think the combo would meet everyone's expectations!
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#3 User is online   cuskit 

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 03:32 PM

Bluesin,

That is one of the most informative, concise, well spoken and interesting posts I've seen! I thank you very much of the time and effort you put into the text body, I'm sure this wealth of comparison information will prove vital to many happy readers!

I had contemplated an egg time back, life got hectic, inexpensive smoker appeared next to my gas grill and priorities have changed. But I'm once again considering acquiring one, based in no small part to your post. I do like toys, this one looks to be a serious toy, so some thought will go into it.

Thanks for once again showing your valuable experiences and dedication to these forums, and the offering of such important data. So glad to have you as one of the "main" boys around here!

Mike
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#4 User is offline   Huckleberry 

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 09:00 PM

View Postbluesin, on Jul 18 2008, 02:29 PM, said:

You decide, but if it were me, knowing what I know now and having owned both, I can certainly say that the ceramic would be my choice over any gas grill on the market.

Please chime in with comments, especially owners of ceramics and those of you who might be intrigued by a ceramic feel free to throw out any questions and I'll answer them as best I can...


Very informative and compelling post! As a ceramic owner myself, I would echo the comments above and add just a couple more: the thickness of the ceramic means that the outside of the cooker is considerably cooler than the firebox of a metal cooker, either gas or charcoal. This is especially important to those with kids and/or pets. Additionally, I always have the nagging thoughts of a potential gas leak with my gas grill, or even the possibility of the grill going out during a low temp cook and the gas building up in the firebox. Obviously this is a very improbable scenario, but with two young kids and their friends running around the patio it still sneaks into my head from time to time.

Now the potential downside, if you do have kids or pets running around, make sure the ceramic cooker is in a VERY stable platform. Since they're similar to a big ole coffee cup sitting on your patio, there's always the potential it could get knocked over and shattered.

Unless there is a drastic change in the industry, I don't see myself purchasing another gas grill other than potentially an Ultra Sear for the times I want a steak and the rest of the family has already eaten, or for when I want to tailgate or something. However, I can see adding another BGE or two along the way as the need (or want) arises.

For me, if I had to have only one cooker, it would be a ceramic.

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#5 User is offline   bluesin 

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:55 AM

Quote

Bluesin,

That is one of the most informative, concise, well spoken and interesting posts I've seen! I thank you very much of the time and effort you put into the text body, I'm sure this wealth of comparison information will prove vital to many happy readers!

I had contemplated an egg time back, life got hectic, inexpensive smoker appeared next to my gas grill and priorities have changed. But I'm once again considering acquiring one, based in no small part to your post. I do like toys, this one looks to be a serious toy, so some thought will go into it.

Thanks for once again showing your valuable experiences and dedication to these forums, and the offering of such important data. So glad to have you as one of the "main" boys around here!

Mike


Thanks for the comments Mike, if you are considering one and this goes to Huck also as he has been itching for a second one then you might want to contact Primo and find out about getting on the list to pick up one of their used ones. Primo sponsored the Jack last year and part of this sponsorship means that they provide cookers to all the international teams that come in and afterwards, per a friend who has a Primo they sold them off for nice discounts. Thats second hand info, I'll try to verify it in the next couple of days...

Bluesin
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#6 User is online   cuskit 

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 08:52 AM

View Postbluesin, on Jul 20 2008, 08:55 AM, said:

Thanks for the comments Mike, if you are considering one and this goes to Huck also as he has been itching for a second one then you might want to contact Primo and find out about getting on the list to pick up one of their used ones. Primo sponsored the Jack last year and part of this sponsorship means that they provide cookers to all the international teams that come in and afterwards, per a friend who has a Primo they sold them off for nice discounts. Thats second hand info, I'll try to verify it in the next couple of days...

Bluesin

Bluesin,

Thanks for the tip! I'll look into it! That means it would already be broken in. Plus - maybe have "celebrity" status should the prior user be a winner at the competition! :P

Mike
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--------------------------------------------------------------------
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--------------------------------------------------------------------
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#7 User is offline   Huckleberry 

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 11:16 AM

View Postbluesin, on Jul 20 2008, 07:55 AM, said:

Thanks for the comments Mike, if you are considering one and this goes to Huck also as he has been itching for a second one then you might want to contact Primo and find out about getting on the list to pick up one of their used ones. Primo sponsored the Jack last year and part of this sponsorship means that they provide cookers to all the international teams that come in and afterwards, per a friend who has a Primo they sold them off for nice discounts. Thats second hand info, I'll try to verify it in the next couple of days...

Bluesin


Fantastic, I'll check into it too! I've been curious about the oval jr's and this might make them even more interesting. I'll have to work to sell the wife on the idea, but...... :P

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#8 User is offline   Huckleberry 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:51 AM

View Postbluesin, on Jul 20 2008, 07:55 AM, said:

Thanks for the comments Mike, if you are considering one and this goes to Huck also as he has been itching for a second one then you might want to contact Primo and find out about getting on the list to pick up one of their used ones. Primo sponsored the Jack last year and part of this sponsorship means that they provide cookers to all the international teams that come in and afterwards, per a friend who has a Primo they sold them off for nice discounts. Thats second hand info, I'll try to verify it in the next couple of days...

Bluesin


Got a response from Primo today, the promotion with the Jack was only for last year and there are not current discounts. Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future though, and it sure would have been cool to have work something like that out! For now, I'll go back to scanning the ads for used small or mini BGE. ;)

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:52 AM

There are a lot of other ceramics showing up as their popularity grows. The dragonfire saves you a few bucks, has a little larger grate, comes with nest & sidetables, and has a lot of stainless. Here's a link.

http://www.fredsmusi...egory_s/262.htm

You have to weigh the savings against warranty differences, accessories, support etc.

The other, which was almost my choice over the BGE, was the Grill Dome. Here's a link.

http://www.grilldome.com/

I didn't personally have the customer attention that they speak so highly of, but I was probably the exception. They look very nice, and if I do go with a smaller ceramic, I may give them a try.

I love my BGE but I still wouldn't give up my JennAir. It's too convenient to cook up sides or grill on the JA while something else is cooking on the egg. Sometimes when I get home late I just like to turn the knob. But if you have no grill, the ceramics are about the most versatile and easy to use, IMHO.
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#10 User is offline   Ronald 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:23 AM

View Postbluesin, on Jul 18 2008, 03:29 PM, said:

This is a post to outline what I think are the benefits of going ceramic over gas these days. Recently we have had a lot of owners of various gas grills posting about problems with customer service and having to get replacement parts within a couple of years. Additionally, these days it seems that the price most of our members are paying are in the $800-$1300 dollar range, this price range puts these grills in direct competition with even the largest Ceramics out there.

I have had the pleasure of owning a medium Big Green Egg for over three years now, I also own a 2004 4-burner Jenn-Air so I have the benefit of being able to compare the two over a 3 year period.

Right off the bat I want to inform everyone that a Ceramic grill/smoker is nothing like a Kettle type charcoal grill. Ceramics use real wood charcoal, wood charcoal lights much faster, burns much hotter and produces very little ash, so put that out of your mind right now and lets take a look at a real comparison starting with firing each one up.

Lighting a Ceramic vs Lighting a Gas Grill.

Ok, when it comes to time, the gas grill wins here, but really how much does it win by? Lighting a gas gill is done by turning on the gas and turning the knobs, a 10 second process at the most. Lighting a ceramic is done by opening the air chambers, opening the lid, adding in some charcoal, making a small cavity and lighting a fire-starter(these are available at all grocery stores these days) and dropping it into the cavity. All in all this process takes about 50-90 seconds and even less if you already have charcoal in it, which is usually how you'll find it as you hardly ever use all the charcoal when cooking.

Size of the grilling surface in a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

I'll compare a 4 burner here to a x-large Primo Oval

Again the gas grill does have a larger primary cooking surface, 540 square inches vs 400 square inches, but really now, when considering a grill of any sort ask yourself if you really need all that cooking space? You can easily cook for 15 or more on 400 inches of grill space and if you need more you can get to a total of 680 square inches of cooking space with accessory racks.

Cost of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Most of the brand name 4-burner gas grills out there are running $900-$1300 bucks, a quick check on the web shows you can get an XL Primo delivered to your door for around $1100 bucks, add in an extra $175 for the cradle and your at $1,275 bucks for the absolute largest ceramic grill available.

Internals of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Here's where it gets interesting folks, because inside the ceramic is nothing but a ceramic firebox and grates, there are no flame tamers, no burners, no grease pans, no regulators, no hoses, there is simply nothing inside that will wear out, you can use a Ceramic your entire lifetime and not have to replace a single thing ever.

Warranty of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

The two biggies, the Big Green Egg and the Primo have what they call lifetime warranties, here is Primos from the Owners Manual.

  • Twenty (20) years for all ceramic parts
  • Five (5) years for all metal parts (excluding cast-iron parts)
  • One (1) year for all cast-iron parts
  • Thirty (30) days on thermometers and felt gaskets



20 years, well that is pretty much a lifetime I'd say, everything else is pretty much an accessory anyway. The Big Green Egg has a lifetime warranty on all the ceramic parts.

Oh and the Primo is made in the USA. The Egg is assembled in the USA here in the Atlanta Area and the parts are made in Mexico and have been for years.

Cleaning a Ceramic vs Cleaning a Gas Grill

Here again the Ceramic has the Gas Grill beat. The ceramic will have an ash door at the bottom that has to be scooped out every now and then, again the wood charcoal does not produce very much ash, I can usually cook 20 or more times without scooping the ash out. But the true benefit is cleaning the inside, here all you do is every once and a while, instead of closing her down after cooking to conserve charcoal open her all the way up and it'll burn to about 1000 degrees and instantly burn everything inside to a white ash, in the morning your ceramic will be totally cleaned without a hint of grease anywhere that has not been turned to ash.

Cooking on a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill


Ok so we have already covered the fact that it'll take a little longer to start it up, but as far as preheat, your ceramic will be up to temperature much faster that your gas grill, you can easily expect that the ceramic will be to 750 degrees within 12-15 minutes, which is less than the 20 minute pre-heat time many folks report for their gas grills. Additionally the ceramic retains heat much better than the gas grill does, if you open it up to baste some ribs or apply some cheese to those burgers the ceramic will return to the set temperature in less than 30 seconds as there has been no loss whatsoever in the temperature of the ceramic, plus you have a direct heavy gas convection flow that provides a much better source of heat.

The ceramics give you everything you want in one unit when it comes to cooking, you get radiant heat from the coals, you get instant vaporization of juices and other liquids you cook with. some others benefits of cooking on a ceramic vs gas grill are:

  • You don't get any flareups in a ceramic
  • You can sear steaks or any other meat at incredibly high temperatures
  • You can cook pizzas and many breads
  • You can smoke directly in a ceramic, as a matter of fact ceramics are considered the best smokers available, used by many competition teams across the USA and have won in many a competition cook-off. Big Green Egg and Primo are huge sponsors of many bbq cook-offs across the country and have a loyal following amongst the people who cook on them.
  • You get that fire roasted taste in everything you cook.


If other ceramic owners have more then please chime in.


Fuel Consumption of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

Ok we just had a member report cooking for 36 hours on about 1.5 loads of charcoal in his large Big Green Egg, this is about what you would expect when keeping it lit for that long, this would roughly equal 5 pounds of charcoal, which would cost about 3 dollars or less. The 4-burner gas grills will all be in the 44-48k BTU range and you get about 420k btu's out of a 20lb tank, so that is about 9 hours of cooking time on high on a gas grill and about 18 hours at medium heat, I normally get about 12-15 hours out of a 20lb tank of propane, propane is currently selling for about $20 bucks for an exchange.

You wont get that level of efficiency when lighting and re-lighting so the reality is it'll cost you about half of what it costs to cook with propane. Speaking of lighting and re-lighting. With the ceramics, you light the charcoal and get your grill to temp and then start cooking, there is none of this waiting until all the charcoal is lit to start cooking like there is with the kettle style charcoal grills. Additionally, once you finish cooking you simply close down the top and bottom air vents and the fire will extinguish itself and the wood charcoal will be there available to use the next time, this is huge difference between these type of charcoal grills and other charcoal grills because you cannot just shut it down and re-light it the next time. As noted the ceramics use far less charcoal and produce far far less ash than the kettle style charcoal grills.

Summary

There are probably other things to compare but those are the biggies, after comparing the two the only real benefit the gas grill has over the Ceramic is the amount of time it takes to light it and even then we are talking about a difference of 50-80 seconds at most. In every other category the Ceramic beats the gas grill hands down in my experience.

Lets review and summarize.

Primo XL Oval vs Big Box 4 Burner Gas Grill

Lighting a Ceramic vs Lighting a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill 10 seconds
  • Primo 60-90 Seconds


Size of the grilling surface in a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill 540 square inches
  • Primo 400 square inches expandable to 680


Cost of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill $900-$1,300 Bucks
  • Primo $1,275



Internals of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill, numerous parts to wear out and have to replace.
  • Primo, no parts to wear out or replace aside from items like a felt gasket.


Warranty of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

  • Gas grill, usually limited to 3-5 years.
  • Primo, 20 years on all ceramic parts, 5 years on metal parts.
  • BGE, lifetime on ceramic parts, 5 years on metal bands.


Cleaning a Ceramic vs Cleaning a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, continuous cleaning of the inside and outside to remove grease and grime, cleaning out of the grease tray at regular intervals, scraping of grates and flame tamers, removal and cleaning of burners to remove built up debris.
  • Primo, intermittent scooping of ash from ash door, high temperature burn off to clean everything else



Cooking on a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, limited to grilling meats and vegetables with the occasional pizza. Not very useful as a smoker, flareups are a problem in most gas grills.
  • Primo, can cook a variety of items from meats to vegetables to breads and even desserts, ceramics in general are known throughout the world as the best smokers available, no flareups.


Fuel Consumption of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill
  • Gas grill, $20 bucks per 12-15 hours of cooking time
  • Primo, $10 bucks per 12-15 hours cooking time.


All in all I think that this certainly should give anyone considering a grill purchase enough information about ceramics to at least put them on your short list when considering dropping $900-$1,300 bucks on a large gas grill from the Big Box stores. One upon a time the ceramics were far far more expensive in comparison and had limited availability, both issues that don't exist anymore. As member Ronald pointed out, the trend in gas grills is for less and less quality parts for more and more cost each year, often requiring replacement parts within two years of the original purchase and for some brands those replacement parts are hard to come by, making a mockery of the limited warranty.

Additionally, the two largest brands in ceramics, the Big Green Egg and Primo are American companies with Americans either making all the parts and assembling them in America as with the Primo or using parts imported from Mexico and assembled in America as with the Big Green Egg, with customer service provided directly from them. But the fact is, because there is nothing in a ceramic to wear out, you won't ever have to call customer service, you get it and it'll be with you for an entire lifetime of grilling and smoking pleasure, that is just a fact that you will never find in any gas grill no matter what price.

Also, let me also say this, it is a known fact that many people throughout the world consider ceramics to be the absolute best grill/smoker in the world, period, once you learn how to cook on one you will become as loyal to them as I have become. I challenge any single member on this forum that has evolved from a gas grill to a ceramic to not echo that sentiment. As I said, I have both, but over the past three years I have used the gas grill less and less to the point that it rarely is used anymore outside of me throwing a big big party and I'm cooking burgers and hot dogs.

When you have friends over and you have a ceramic, expect them to say wow, you have a Big Green Egg or wow, you have a Primo, I've heard those are the best grills/smokers in the world and the reason they have heard that is because in fact they are the best grills/smokers in the world hands down.

So you can either pay $900-$1,300 bucks for a typical gas grill from a big box retailer that will wear out within 5 or so years replacing parts every 2-3 years, or you can own one of the best grills/smokers in the world for about the same price knowing full well that nothing will ever wear out and need to be replaced.

You decide, but if it were me, knowing what I know now and having owned both, I can certainly say that the ceramic would be my choice over any gas grill on the market.

Please chime in with comments, especially owners of ceramics and those of you who might be intrigued by a ceramic feel free to throw out any questions and I'll answer them as best I can...

Bluesin

Update:

I should add in low and slow cooking, this might be obvious to those who smoke already, but you can cook on a Ceramic at below 200 if needed, something that is not possible on a gas grill.

Bluesin
Thanks for all the information.
Now comes the questions.
Are the knock off Ceramic grill grills on par with the big three you mentioned.
I am calling them knockoffs because i figured you talked about the best ceramics out there.

I am intrigued by the smoking ability and I am looking at a small ceramic to use in place of a smoker
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#11 User is offline   Huckleberry 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 12:38 PM

View PostRonald, on Jul 22 2008, 11:23 AM, said:

Bluesin
Thanks for all the information.
Now comes the questions.
Are the knock off Ceramic grill grills on par with the big three you mentioned.
I am calling them knockoffs because i figured you talked about the best ceramics out there.

I am intrigued by the smoking ability and I am looking at a small ceramic to use in place of a smoker


I've seen a couple of knockoffs in person and they really vary in quality comparison. First is the composition of the cooker, some use a fired clay that should not be used for cooking in excess of 400 degrees or so, some are thinner and don't hold heat as well for longer cooks. If the composition, size, and density of the cooker are comparable, the cooking characteristic should generally be comparable as well.

Did you have a specific cooker in mind?

Huck
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#12 User is offline   Flomaster 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 12:49 PM

oh thanks now I am pissed I droped 800 on a JA when I could have gotten an Egg.

well hopefully this thread will help others who are thinking about purchasing a grill.

I was new to the whole scene and wasn't really sure what was best I knew I did NOT

want to deal with a kettle type charcoal bricket bbq but I did not know about BGE and Primos

I wonder if I can take my grill back to lowes some how and get my money back.

anyone have any ideas because i'd love to get my hands on one but unfortunately

I can not afford to buy another toy :blink:

-=Jason=-
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#13 User is offline   BaconLover 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:40 PM

I've had the pleasure of using an XL BGE a few times, both for high-heat grilling and for low-and-slow smoking. I agree with Bluesin and the other BGE owners here that these ceramics are indeed great, versatile cookers. I would get an XL Primo or BGE if I had $1500 lying around (I gotta accessorize you know :blink: ). That being said, allow me to pose a few thoughts...

View Postbluesin, on Jul 18 2008, 12:29 PM, said:

...
Here's where it gets interesting folks, because inside the ceramic is nothing but a ceramic firebox and grates, there are no flame tamers, no burners, no grease pans, no regulators, no hoses, there is simply nothing inside that will wear out, you can use a Ceramic your entire lifetime and not have to replace a single thing ever.
...

The ceramics give you everything you want in one unit when it comes to cooking, you get radiant heat from the coals, you get instant vaporization of juices and other liquids you cook with. some others benefits of cooking on a ceramic vs gas grill are:

  • You don't get any flareups in a ceramic



Fuel Consumption of a Ceramic vs a Gas Grill

You wont get that level of efficiency when lighting and re-lighting so the reality is it'll cost you about half of what it costs to cook with propane. Speaking of lighting and re-lighting. With the ceramics, you light the charcoal and get your grill to temp and then start cooking, there is none of this waiting until all the charcoal is lit to start cooking like there is with the kettle style charcoal grills. Additionally, once you finish cooking you simply close down the top and bottom air vents and the fire will extinguish itself and the wood charcoal will be there available to use the next time, this is huge difference between these type of charcoal grills and other charcoal grills because you cannot just shut it down and re-light it the next time. As noted the ceramics use far less charcoal and produce far far less ash than the kettle style charcoal grills.


Don't you have to replace gaskets on these? How often does that need to be done?

Don't flareups occur whenever fat or oil drips onto a lit coal? Regardless of the fact that the coal is in a ceramic cooker.

I use lump charcoal on my kettle charcoal grill and never wait for all coals to light up. You only have to do that with briquettes because of all the additives and binders used in making them AFAIK. And I too just shut off the top and bottom vents to kill the flame and use the leftover charcoal for the next cook. Because of how efficient the ceramics are in retaining heat in its walls, it does use less charcoal, and consequently, produces less ash.

I think there are two main reasons why there aren't more Ceramic cookers in backyards across the country: HIGH PRICE OF ENTRY and LACK OF INFORMATION about them.

Why are there way more $100-350 gas grills sold compared to the $800-2000 range? Because it's what most people can afford and their perception of value. Unfortunately, people are more likely to buy the $350 grill vs the $800 one even though the latter would probably cook better and last more than twice as long as the cheaper grill. Why pay $750 for a BGE when I can buy a $150 charcoal Weber? Because the BGE or Primo is superior and more versatile than the kettle. And as Bluesin stated in this very informative post, the ceramics come out on top of gassers in almost every category. But few people know that and not everyone that does can afford it. And let's face it, Americans love convenience. It is still easier to turn a knob when the heat is too high or low than it is to adjust air flow for charcoal grills (atleast in the minds of most people). Charcoal cooking (even on Ceramics) isn't for everyone. It takes a little bit of learning and understanding. But damn it tastes good! :angry: So if anyone finds a used XL Primo or BGE in the Seattle are, let me know.

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#14 User is offline   Ronald 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:43 PM

View PostHuckleberry, on Jul 22 2008, 01:38 PM, said:

I've seen a couple of knockoffs in person and they really vary in quality comparison. First is the composition of the cooker, some use a fired clay that should not be used for cooking in excess of 400 degrees or so, some are thinner and don't hold heat as well for longer cooks. If the composition, size, and density of the cooker are comparable, the cooking characteristic should generally be comparable as well.

Did you have a specific cooker in mind?

Huck

Huck
Im in virgin country here.
I no nothing about ceramic cookers. Im trying to learn.
I have been the water smoker route before and I hated it. I have been smoking using my gas grill with good results.
I have gotten so good at smoking that I am ready to have a dedicated smoker. It will probally see usage of about once a week as a pure smoker
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#15 User is offline   bluesin 

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:22 PM

Ronald,

Quote

Bluesin
Thanks for all the information.
Now comes the questions.
Are the knock off Ceramic grill grills on par with the big three you mentioned.
I am calling them knockoffs because i figured you talked about the best ceramics out there.

I am intrigued by the smoking ability and I am looking at a small ceramic to use in place of a smoker


I'm not really sure about the knockoffs, personally the expense in the Ceramics is the ceramic itself so it will be hard for someone to produce something comparable for significant differences in cost and if such a difference exists then I would be wary about the actual type and quality of the ceramic inside and whether or not it will hold up.

Chevelle,

Quote

I love my BGE but I still wouldn't give up my JennAir. It's too convenient to cook up sides or grill on the JA while something else is cooking on the egg. Sometimes when I get home late I just like to turn the knob. But if you have no grill, the ceramics are about the most versatile and easy to use, IMHO.


I note that you have a three burner smaller Jenn-Air and a Large Big Green Egg, I have the opposite setup, a medium BGE and a 4 burner Jenn-Air. I think that over time, because for the most part I am just cooking for the wife and I, I just got used to firing up the Egg as it was smaller and could get to temp faster, also, cooking is a shared affair for us with me usually doing the meats and whatnot outside and her doing the sides inside on our stove.

The other benefit for me is that I have gotten used to cooking at temps between 225 and 300 degrees which, outside of searing a steak, is pretty much the range in chich I cook everything and it is nearly impossible to cook at those ranges inside of a grill and have anywhere near the consistency of temperature inside of the gill as it is in my Egg, making the food cook quicker and much more flavorful, additionally, it is pretty likely you'll find me adding some smoke chips to just about everything I cook to add in some smoke flavor.

I always said that my 4 burner was too large of a grill for use outside of a very large party, I always thought it a waste to have to try to preheat the entire thing just to cook for the wife and I or of parties of 8 or less. I made some modifications to accommodate, with limited success and you would be hard pressed to find anyone on these forums that has modified their grill for cooking purposes more than I have. But for those modifications, what was the primary purpose? Here is the list of mods I made over time

Center Divider
Modification made in order to bake 1/2 of the grill useable for cooking for smaller groups without having to pre-heat the entire thing.

Cast Iron Griddle
Installed along with center divider to make 1/2 of the grill useable for cooking for smaller groups without having to pre-heat the entire thing, additionally this provided me a method for searing steaks and chops.

Smoking Jacket
Most folks closed in their top gap using metal or a piano hinge, my method was fireblanket material that I could hang on the grill when I wanted to smoke, enclosing the grill up to retain smoke.

Custom Made Smoker Boxes
Obviously made for smoking.

Raised Smoking Rack
My raised rack was made in order for me to smoke higher up in the chamber for better more consistent heat control.

Adjustable Regulator
Installed this primarily in order to be able to turn the temps down low enough to do low and slow cooking/smoking.

As you can see, had I gotten the Egg in the first place I would have not had to do any of those modifications as the Egg is easier to use for smalelr groups as is, can sear the hell out of meats, and is built for low and slow smoking out of the box.

I would also add to the above list that with an Egg you don't need a rotisserie, it'll cook anything that a rotiss can far far better out of the box.

FYI, my Jenn-Air was a gift, I wanted and Egg that year and would have bought one if left to my own devices for it, however the wife and daughter came home with a brand new 4-burner Jenn-Air, so I waited a year and got the medium Egg.

Jason,

Quote

oh thanks now I am pissed I droped 800 on a JA when I could have gotten an Egg.

well hopefully this thread will help others who are thinking about purchasing a grill.

I was new to the whole scene and wasn't really sure what was best I knew I did NOT

want to deal with a kettle type charcoal bricket bbq but I did not know about BGE and Primos

I wonder if I can take my grill back to lowes some how and get my money back.

anyone have any ideas because i'd love to get my hands on one but unfortunately

I can not afford to buy another toy


Sorry man, find a friend tha sell it to them and go get a Ceramic...

Huck,

Quote

Got a response from Primo today, the promotion with the Jack was only for last year and there are not current discounts. Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future though, and it sure would have been cool to have work something like that out! For now, I'll go back to scanning the ads for used small or mini BGE.

Huck


Watch to see if they sponsor the Jack again, as I mentioned they provided the cookers for the international teams that could not bring in smokers and sold them off afterwards, if they do the same thing this year I am certain that they will want to get rid of them, you might want to arrange to visit the Jack if so.

Bluesin
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