Electric vs Propane Grill: Which One Should You Get?

Electric vs Propane Grill

When it comes to grilling, gas grills are at the top of the food chain. Back in the day, we were all at the mercy of charcoal grills, but not anymore. The creation of the different types of gas grills led to many wondering: which is better, electric vs propane grills?

While both these grills offer more convenience as compared to traditional charcoal grills, there are a few differences between them too. More often than not, these difference are seen in their features and functions as well as their cost, size, and outcome.

Electric vs Propane Grill

The main difference between the two is their source of heating. Electric grills, of course, run on electricity whereas propane grills run on natural gas from a propane tank or the gas line in your home. For electric grills, you just need to plug them into an electrical outlet. Gas grills need to be connected to a gas line.

In most homes, there are more electrical outlets than there are gas connections, so there is your first advantage in going electric. There are even more types within these two kinds of grills.

When it comes to electric grills, there are two kinds: open grills and clamshell contact grills. The former has a single-sided heating element and its surface may self-contain the heating element.

Gas grills are more or less the same, but there can be distinguishing features like rotisseries, side burners, etc. Propane grills resemble gas stoves as they have an open flame. However, there is a kind called flattop that has a griddle surface and does not expose the meat to the flames directly.

  • Size

Size varies for both the types of grills. You can find small, medium, as well as large sizes for electric grills. For propane grills, you will mostly find large-sized grills, but there are some smaller portable models too. If you are looking for a grill for commercial purposes, you will most likely find a gas grill to meet your needs. Industrial size grills usually run on gas and can grill food for up to 15 people in one go.

  • Temperature Controls

On electric grills, you will mostly find three temperature controls: low, medium, and high. Each of these has a corresponding range of temperature. Electric grills are known for producing intense and radiant heat quickly. However, they shut off and re-energize when the timer ticks off or when the temperature goes down.

Propane grills may have the same type of temperature controls or ones with calibrated temperature degrees. The latter option is obviously better as you can set the temperature to the exact setting that you want.

  • Maintenance

When it comes to choosing a grill, maintenance should be an important consideration. Grills require proper maintenance and cleaning for it to last long. That said, there is no significant advantage of one type over another in this aspect.

Electric grills require maintenance of casings and wires. Gas grills, on the other hand, require regular inspection of gas connections and ignition. Gas grill parts like heating trays, grease trays, and grates need to be cleaned regularly.

You have to be extra careful when it comes to washing electric grills as electric components, especially the heating elements, should not be sunk in water. Same is the case with propane tanks, which should regularly be inspected before every use.

  • Cost

Electric grills are usually more expensive than propane grills. However, that does not mean you cannot find a cheap electric grill. Small electric grills for indoor/outdoor use are quite affordable. The low price of gas grills leads to more choices.

The running costs are insubstantial in both the cases.  You will not be using a lot of electricity when running an electric grill. Similarly, gas is very cheap so you can easily refill your propane tanks many times.

  • Portability

When cooking outdoors, you want to know if the grill you are getting is portable or not. Electric grills are essentially more portable as you just have to plug them in anywhere there is an electric outlet. However, propane grills are equally great because you can connect them to your propane tank anywhere you like.

Portability basically comes down to their sizes and model. Compared to industrial-size grills, smaller grills are obviously more portable because of their light weight. Some electric grills are designed for indoor use too, as they can be placed on a countertop.

  • Flavor

For those who absolutely love grilling meat, the flavor is what helps make their decision. Gas grills have a slight advantage over electric grills when it comes to flavor. They are known to produce flavorsome meat than electric grills, which is why many people still use gas grills. With electric grills, it can be hard to get that charcoal grill flavor.

There are electric smokers in electric grills and wood chips and pellets smokers on propane grills. They can help elevate the flavors and give the meat a smoky taste.

The Pros and Cons of Using Electric and Propane Grills

To make it even simpler for you, let’s sum up the pros and cons of each grill:

Electric Grills

Pros

  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Comes in all sizes
  • Low running costs

Cons

  • Pricier than gas grills
  • Not suited for searing
  • May require a longer time to cook

Propane Grills

Pros

  • Great flavor
  • High temperatures
  • Easy controls
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Tank needs to be refilled
  • Propane tank is risky

The Verdict

Grilling is mostly done outdoors, which is why in an electric vs propane grill battle, the latter would always come out the better choice than the former. You can take it anywhere you want and light it up by connecting it with the propane tank.

With electric grills, you have the ease of plugging it in an electric outlet. However, if you are a real outdoorsy person who likes to barbecue near lakes or in parks, an electric grill might not be the best option for you.

Gas grills, in general, produce better flavors and high heat temperatures, which are necessary for grilling meat. That does not mean electric grills are no better, though. When it comes to convenience and cleaning, electric grills are better than gas grills.

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