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May 11, 2009 03:37 PM

Infrared main burner vs. side burner add-on

Hey folks.
Looking at a Napoleon Propane grill (PT 450RB or PT 450RBI), and I'm trying to figure out how much of a performance difference there is if we get the 450 RBI, which has the Infrared as a main burner, or the 450 RB, where you can get the infrared as an add-on as a side burner (i.e. not in the part of the BBQ where you close the lid). Doing the add-on method is about 400 bucks cheaper, because that model doesn't come with the rotisserie (which is something i really don't see myself using all that much). Dealer (who's someone I've known for a long time) says it may be slightly cooler without the lid on (i.e. as a side burner), but i figure if i'm only using it to sear, i probably won't care if it's 1650 degrees vs. 1800. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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  1. i always keep the lid down when searing with my infrared burner (lynx). I can't imagine not, since I'm usually going for the highest heat and shortest cooking time possible.

    and without a lid, how will you melt the cheese on the burgers?

    1. While the infrared outside will be much more useful than a conventional side burner, you will be giving up flexibility.

      For example, if you are grilling a thick steak, you sear it on both sides at maximum heat. Then you either turn down the infrared or slide the steak over a conventional burner - and close the cover. With the side burner, this requires more work - and the opportunity to drop your food.

      Also, how would you melt that cheese?

      Note that Napoleon puts the grill rack very high above the infrared within the casting. Infrared is extremely distance sensitive. To get the advertised heat intensity, you need to lower the grill. This isn't the safest thing to do, but it works.

      Perhaps the external grill surface is closer to the burner. If it isn't you can't really do anything about it. With no cover, you will be cooking only the surface exposed to the infrared rays. I suspect there is no meaningful convection.

      Only you can assess which trade offs are best for your cooking style.

      1. Hi,
        I'm wondering what option you went with? I am deciding between the exact same thing myself with the very same grill, and wondering if you are happy with your selection. I am leaning towards the side burner option, as I understand that infrared is really good for searing things, but more difficult to use for everything else. I think I can accomplish that with the side burner option, and don't need to lose one of my main burners for that purpose. You're also not supposed to keep the lid closed while using the infrared, according to the manufacturer's disclaimer. Thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: badelmo

          I'm looking at a Napoleon with an infrared burner. Originally I wanted the infrared on the inside and was comfortable with only two main burners and an infrared. upon doing more research, I leaning towards the infrared on the side. Here is my reasoning:

          1. I have read that with the lid down, the internal temp gets too hot and eventually warps the lid.
          2. The lowest temp for the infrared is 500 degrees F. Harder to slow cook.

          I'm curious why Napoleon uses a cast iron grill for the side infrared burner?