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May 28, 2010 09:11 AM

Grill Questions: Infrared and BGE

New house, bigger deck. The fat lady is singing for my little city-life Weber Q.

When the weather is decent, we'll grill (chicken, steaks, burgers, vegetables, etc.) 4-5 times per week. Convenience is pretty important, so a gas grill is probably the direction we'll go.

Two gas grill questions:
1. Do I want one with an infrared "searing" burner? Am I really missing out if I simply go with a Weber Genesis 320-ish grill? I'm pretty comfortable technique-wise, so I was perfectly happy with "fire under grate" methods. But these infrared things are all over the place - are they really going to add to my enjoyment if I can find a sturdy, decent BTU-output grill?
2. What are the benefits of going from the Weber Genesis line to the Summit line? Is it just nicer gadgets for the purpose of price discrimination (like a slightly slicker igniter) or is it really an overall quality upgrade?

Secondly, we do love BBQ and at some point would love to do some smoking. Big Green Egg is very, very tempting, but between the charcoal and the small cooking grate (which has to be removed if I'm not mistaken), the convenience barrier might be too high for now. Question:
3. We have a raised wooden / composite deck, not a concrete patio. Is it still advisable to have a charcoal grill/device (e.g., BGE) that requires a chimney starter on a deck rather than a patio? Should I just suck it up, give up on the romance/authenticity factor and get an electric smoker?

Thanks in advance, grill hounds!

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  1. Check out

    Lots of good reviews on grills and smokers. Also there is a Big green egg available but made of steel. I just found out about it so I don't know details yet. look at and The bubbakeg is available at home depot for $299!

    15 Replies
    1. re: cajundave

      Just because it is shaped like a BGE doesn't make it one. The heat retention of the thick ceramic in the BGE is the main benefit. The 'steel BGE' is not even in the same ballpark!

      1. re: chipman

        From what I have read the heat retention on the Big Steel Keg is better than the BGE. But the BSK may not hold low temp as well.

        1. re: cajundave

          Holding low temp IS heat retention. LOL

          Getting a high heat is something most any grill can accomplish.

          1. re: JayL

            Wouldn't it just frost you if you could get BGE performance for half the price?

            1. re: MikeB3542

              OK Jaylo,

              Holding a low temp is dependent on heat retention and AIR SUPPLY. What I was referring to was the Bubba Keg had some problems with it's vents making it hard to maintain low temp without fluctuation. The new model the Big steel keg supposedly addresses those problems.

              Thanks Mike, it would be nice for the BGE to have some competition... in price and durability.

        2. re: chipman

          the steel is insulated. i have the big steel keg, and it retains heat like crazy. you can cook low and slow for many many hours. even after damping the coals fully out, it takes hours for the temp to drop.

          i was looking at the egg for quite a while, but i never pulled the trigger. when i saw the BSK i bought it right away.

          The learning curve is a bit steep (but no steeper than for the egg), i've only had mine for a short while, but i'm getting there -
          so far i love it.

          1. re: thew

            That's good to hear. I was looking at the Bubba Keg and then the Big Steel Keg came out but not to many reviews yet.

            How long can you smoke before having to add coals?

            Where did you buy it at?

            Have fun with your new BSK.

            1. re: cajundave

              i havent gone super long yet, but reading on the keg forums people have gone 19 hours and more on a single burn

              i bought it from ace hardware

              1. re: cajundave

                here are 2 shots , i have some pics from i made fajitas too, if anyone cares

                1. re: thew

                  19 hours is damn good. I am going to buy one.

                  Looks like you have a diffuser under the drip pan. Is that a BGE diffuser?

                  We have them at ACE here too, best price I found is at Menards for $499.

                  1. re: cajundave


                    If you want to smoke you really need to go charcoal, gas is not going to cut it. They make mats to go under the grill to protect your deck. I have seen them at Ace and Home Depot.

                    The chimney starters have a lot of paper ash flying around when you pick them up. You could get an electric element starter if you have an outlet on your deck.

                    1. re: cajundave

                      19 or 20 is the upper limit i've seen. but i heat of 12 and 14 hour burns often

                      it is the BGE diffuser. but there are cheaper alternatives - i've learned tons on the keg forums. some people are using cast iron woks and all sorts of cobbled together rigs.

                      check it all out here:

                      1. re: thew

                        just saw that one guy says he went 30 hours!!!!!!!!! holy moly!!!!!!!


                        1. re: thew

                          All good info, thanks, especially the long burn time.

                          And the small size compared to an offset is exactly what I was looking for.

                          Can't wait to do some ribs and brisket.

                          1. re: cajundave

                            if i get a chance to buy them tomorrow, i'm doing ribs on monday!!!!

          2. If you are into convenience and have never tried smoking, don't invest the money in a Big Green Egg until you try out a cheap electric smoker. The kind I am talking about are made of thin black metal, have a little door on the bottom, multiple round grates, and are essentially vertical barrels. You can try your hand at it and spend $50 max if you shop at a big box store.

            Why electric? Easy to use. No starting charcoal and adding it, tending the fire etc. Charcoal takes real dedication, as you have to get it to white before adding new charcoal. Electric can go for many hours, and you won't have to add new charcoal. You can have fun trying different woods to smoke, vertical rib racks, rubs, sauces, etc, and get a feel for your preferences. You can also use it on your deck, which you can't do with charcoal. About the only thing you can't do is use it in the rain. You can try ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, whatever you like. If you find you like it, you can take your time to pick out exactly the right smoker. It might be years before you feel the need to do it. I personally would be torn between the BGE and the horizontal oil drum types. I have to admit that I like the large cooking surface on those.

            1. We love our Big Green Eggs, absolutely love them. No you should not put it on a wood deck. Electric smoker? You're kidding right? Go over to the and have those guys help you make the right decision. It does not require a chimney starter, you can use a MAPP torch or even an electric starter with it.

              Can't help on the gas grill stuff, never owned one of those.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rasputina

                This is a really old thread that got bumped looks like, but maybe I'll throw this in for info now that it's at the top:

                BGE = Big Green Egg - Lots of devotees, great lifetime warranty, been around a long time and very popular. High heat or low and slow. Cons: breakable (don't knock over), need to make sure your bands stay tightened, can lose your top dome adjustments opening the grill, heavy, doesn't use stainless steel parts (those that are black are just painted, not powder-coated).

                Komodo Joe - BGE clone with thicker ceramic, stainless steel on all steel parts and powder-coated on the painted sections, spring tighten on top vent to prevent loss of settings when open grill. Cheaper than BGE. Diffuser doesn't cause hot spots like BGE one (because of legs on BGE design). CONS: warranty is less than BGE (20 yrs ceramic, 1 year iron top, 5 years rest? might be wrong, going off memory), haven't been around as long, heavy, ceramic is breakable, need to make sure bands stay tightened

                Komodo Kamado - NOT to be confused with the just KOMODO tiled cooker. Great customer service, tiled in your choice, all stainless, self-opening lid adjusted by springs, recessed gasket prevents it from burning, no bands to tighten (cast into body), top vent rotates on screw so don't lose settings when open top, only ceramic with a rotisserie option, temperature probe hole and built in port for bbq guru / stoker. Refractory material insulates far better than the ceramics/ less charcoal use, biggest cooking area any grill this type (3 levels on 23" included in that figure). CONS: expensive ($3600-$3800), one man show running company, can't use generic part replacements due to shape of grill,

                Big Steel Keg - recently sold to a grill company, steel (NOT stainless) body. Good insulation, lightweight (just over 100 lbs), trailer hitch adapter available for some models so can transport easily (unique), some come with cast iron grill, upper grill can swivel aside to access lower without being removed, large grill locks in place for transport cheaper than BGE. CONS: rivets under gasket cause gasket to wear out on those spots, not stainless, cheap weld on upper grill can break, nature of beast due to not being stainless won't last as long as a ceramic.