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Char Broil Urban Gas Grill Review – Infrared Grill for $300 or a Marketing Gimmick?
Char Broil’s ‘Urban’ infrared grills have just been unveiled and have become very popular, especially among young owners. After years of dominance by Weber, Char Broil has reached its peak and is racing towards the top spot in the small grill market with the ‘Urban’ grill.
Char Broil Urban Gas Grill – Infrared, Meet Flame
Infrared grills are the leader in the BBQ world. At over 1600 degrees, your regular charcoal or gas grill is like an infrared grill candle. Infrared grills are widely used in restaurants because the high heat allows chefs to grill meat to perfection in just a few minutes. Besides, infrared grills can be very expensive, usually costing 2-3 times more than a grill or charcoal.
The Char Broil Urban grill is called an ‘infrared’ gas grill. What is going on here? How can an infrared grill be classified as a gas grill, and vice versa? Is this just another marketing gimmick, meant to entice consumers with an ‘infrared’ tag?
Yes and No.
There’s no way Char Broil would include true infrared technology in a grill that starts at $300. Therefore, Char Broil developed a unique technology that combines infrared radiation with long-term heating. Hence the combination of ‘infrared’ and ‘gas’ in its moniker.
To achieve this, Urban grills use a very thin cast iron. Heat – both through infrared radiation, as well as traditional open flames – passes through the holes, cooking the food. Technically, it’s infrared. Actually, it’s not.
Not True Infrared
Before I can give you the answer to the above question, you must first understand how infrared (IR) grills work. ‘Infra-Red’ actually means ‘below-red’. Infrared is electromagnetic radiation that lies below the spectrum of red light (hence, ‘low-red’). It has a wavelength longer than visible light and thus, cannot be seen with the naked eye. Infrared radiation is a normal part of light and mainly causes heat. About 49% of the sun’s heat is absorbed by visible light.
If that scientific mumbo-jumbo has left your head spinning, what you need to know is that infrared radiation can get very hot very quickly. A true infrared grill can heat up to over 1200 degrees within seconds.
This grill, however, uses a lower type of radiation called ‘mid-wave’ infrared. This is less powerful than true IR. In fact, in Char Broil’s Urban gas grills, most of the cooking is done with convection only. Infrared only works as an afterthought, meaning the grill will be appealing to the average consumer.
So yes, Char Broil Urban grills use infrared as a marketing gimmick. It is not true infrared, and as such, does not add anything to the performance of the grill. In fact, the design can deteriorate over time if food debris clogs the holes in the metal.
A solid performer, however
Despite its shortcomings mentioned above, the Char Broil Urban grill is still a great exerciser that provides good heat and cooking space (320 square inches and 125 sq. inches of additional cooking space) in a compact design. I have made this grill before, and I will stick my neck out and make it again. Yes, it uses IR as a marketing strategy, but BBQ manufacturers have been very guilty. Ultimately, the Char Broil Urban gas grill is a well-rounded grill, which is perfect for younger buyers. However, experienced professionals may want to look elsewhere.
Kitchen area: 445 sq. inches (320 + 125)
Heat Output: 20,000 BTUs/h.
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