5.0 out of 5 stars
By J. Tant - Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2016
Infrared For The Masses
It’s a good grill, and I like it. But as I’m not sure where the customer will be in terms of knowing what infrared is and all of that, please bear with me while I get a little Alton Brown here. There are three kinds of cooking methods: convection, conduction, and radiant. When you’re roasting something, or boiling/braising something, you’re cooking by convection, or indirect heat. It’s characterized by the heat flowing around the item via air, water, or whatever (and yes, technically this means deep frying is convection...). In contrast, conduction is direct heat. You put the item in a frying pan over a burner…that’s conduction. And it works, but it’s also inefficient. Think of all the fuel being burned to achieve the rocket-hot temperatures required to properly cook a steak, for instance. So in contrast to all of that, we have radiant heat, and that’s what infrared is. In contrast to convection and conduction, radiant heat does not require a medium…it will travel, for instance, through a vacuum. It’s the reason we exist, being that the sun gives off all that radiant heat. In fact, this characteristic makes infrared pretty popular for grilling in colder areas, since infrared doesn’t have to fight colder ambient temperatures. In other words, while conduction will need to overcome a cold pan, infrared will not have that need. So what’s the benefit? I like infrared because it creates a much higher temperature at the grate than any other grill. Period. Moreover, it heats fast. Wicked fast. In my testing, I had a 750 degree temperature at the grate on this grill in under ten minutes. High heat means you can, for instance, get near-steakhouse quality on those chops you toss on there. And it’s at this point I have to quell what I think is overpromising by CharBroil on this grill. They will tell you that their Tru-Infrared will cook quickly, sear fast, and “lock in” juices. But that’s hyperbole. Searing creates a crust, true, but that’s the carmelization of proteins and such that are at the surface of the meat (aka the Maillard reaction). It creates great taste, true, but the real juiciness isn’t preserved by the searing. Instead it’s preserved by proper cooking and resting of the meat. This all said, this kind of brutal thermal assault can be a downside if you want to cook comparatively more delicate things like fish. Some grills offer a separate infrared burner coupled with a regular conductive side. This is not that grill…it’s all infrared. So consider that as you think about this grill. Indeed, with this grill you will very likely have a hard time doing low temperature until you get zen with it. This is a two burner configuration, so it doesn’t offer acres of cooking space. I found it ideal for an apartment or for a weeknight grill if you just want to do up something quick and easy. The first thing you’ll notice when assembling this grill (and assembly is straightforward but a little time consuming...don't rush) is that it uses a kind of odd burner/emitter/grate system. There’s a waffle-like stainless steel layer between the burner and the grate. This is your infrared emitter. The perforations are designed to only allow the infrared wavelength energy through (wavelength of under 1mm). From a practical standpoint, since it’s between your food and the burner, you will not get flareups. You will also not lose vegetables if they happen to fall through the grate. However, please know that the emitter can be a bit of a bear to clean…grease does have a tendency to clog the holes, and it’s those holes that must be clear in order to enable the infrared cooking in the first place. So tip: When cleaning, use a grill brush on both sides to dislodge any gunk, then run a toothpick along the perforations to clean them up, followed by another run with the grill brush. You can also clean the emitter by putting it in the self-cleaning mode of an oven. I appreciate that the grate is cast iron with a porcelain coating, although the grate is not strictly necessary. By that I mean the use of a cast iron grate is intended to enable conduction…and you know how we feel about conduction. Cast iron, being so dense, holds onto heat, but again, we’re cooking infrared so we couldn’t care less about conduction. The main utility of the grate is to keep food off the emitter. So what about use? Well, it works like crazy is what. Once you get into the zen of infrared, and it’s not a steep learning curve, you’ll enjoy it. Nothing does beef, chicken, or pork better. What’s more, because of the temperatures involved, you will get those grill marks on the food that makes everyone say Oooh, grilled food! I am not a fan of the top mounted thermometer (I don’t care about the interior temperature of the closed grill because I’m cooking with radiant, not convective heat) and would prefer a reading at grill level, but whatever. Theoretically I guess you could do indirect heat with this grill, just by turning on one burner, but to me that seems like using a Ferrari to go to the 7-11 (more on that in a minute when I talk about the cabinet) Same with the warming rack. I use it as a resting place for stuff just coming off the grill, but that’s really it. The cabinet is nice – stainless steel dominates, but don’t expect a quality grade of stainless. No, this is 400 series stainless and you really need to be careful with it. The cabinet, emitters, and burners all appear to be made with the same quality stainless. Well, after using this a few times the burners and emitters WILL discolor. At the temperatures we're talking about here, it's inevitable. Moreover, if you keep this thing on high heat with the lid closed, you run the risk of the lid discoloring as well (and the next step from discoloration is rust). It's a factor of using a lower grade stainless to meet the price point. Therefore, only run this thing with the lid open (it's infrared, you don't have to worry about colder air temperatures to get a good grilling temperature), If you want to do indirect heating, use your oven. For the shelving, regular old laminated steel is used. I like that it folds up compactly for storage…another point for this being an apartment grill…and it has the GearTrax system for hanging grill tools. Not a ton of space in the cabinet for storage, as it’s dominated by the propane tank. For care of this thing, well…listen. You’re going to keep this outside. The experience of humanity has been one in which we deal with water. The air has moisture. It rains. It snows. All of that. If you keep this thing outside, only protected by a canvas cover, you WILL SEE RUST in a couple of years. It’s inevitable. I keep my grills in a covered patio during grilling season, but when I winterize I remove all the guts out of the grill and keep them inside – remember, burning propane creates moisture that will rust out your burners if you aren’t maintaining them. You don’t have to go overboard, but you do have to pay attention to it. So verdict time. This is probably the best dollar-to-value ratio for a two burner infrared grill in the Char Broil line. Having the casters on the cabinet of course makes it easier to move around, and since this thing is made to store easy you’ll probably be moving it around more often than you think. Provided you do your part, this grill will have a lot of life in it. The technology here heats fast and cooks fast, with quite a bit of upside. It’s a good grill and I like it a lot.
5.0 out of 5 stars
By I Do The Speed Limit - Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2016
Way different--much improved--concept than Char-Boil's older infrareds
I've got a 2 1/2 year old Char-Broil 2-burner infrared grill: We are still using it, and it is in good condition, as we keep it covered and spend a huge amount of time keeping it clean. It is this one: Char-Broil Performance TRU-Infrared 340 2-Burner Gas Grill , and I wrote a review for it back in early 2014. This 2016 Char-Broil Professional Infrared grill is a WAY DIFFERENT grill. It is obvious that Char-Broil engineers revamped the concept. It is also interesting that the re-vamp makes total sense and--while it is WAY different--it only adds one major change. It's a basic change: I'm not trying to talk in riddles here, but my writing is coming out kind of the way I learned of the differences while assembling this new grill. This new grill has the same gas burners as the old grill. This new grill has the same V-shaped covers on the burners. This grill has the same (for lack of a better word/description) saw-tooth patterned steel plates with pierced holes, that sets a few inches above the burner covers. (Now they are called "infrared emitter" grates.) Here is what's different: This new grill has rough enamel-coated, sturdy, grilling grates an inch or two above the saw-tooth steel plates. I said, "Huh?" "Huh...." Then I wondered if I might have been shortchanged the grilling grates on our older grill. Because that surely would have made a world of difference in how foods cooked, and how the grill cleaned up. But no, there is no room, no ledge on the older Char-Broil for these nice grill grates. So, with this 2016 grill you are looking at on this product page, food will sit on real grill racks/grates, where food sat on the steel saw-tooth plates on the older models. There is way better "release" on the enameled grill racks/grates than there ever could be with the older models. So, If you have/had an older Char-Broil infrared grill, dump your opinions. If you heard it from a friend, acquaintance, unknown reviewer, dump your opinions! The 2016 Char-Broil Infrareds--whether 2-burner, 3-burner, professional or the regular model--are DIFFERENT and BETTER. Adding the cast iron grilling bars has made all the difference. It is much easier to cook on the grill grates, than on the "emitter bars" of the older model. The coating on them is a rough enamel. And they clean up like the grill bars on a "regular" gas grill, (like a Weber), clean up. You will get grill marks, too, with these 2016 models. (The zig-zags on the top plates of older Char-Broils gave weird grill marks.) Okay, so onto a basic comparison of infrared vs. "regular" gas grills: Even though I've been a dedicated Weber Genesis owner since the mid 80's, I found myself very interested in the Char-Broil Infrared grills. I love the infrared process and what it does to a very thick steak: It gives a big char and keeps the insides red. That is also the case for thick tuna steaks or fillets. So, we use this grill to augment our Weber grills. Infrared works better for some foods. I like what infrared does for very thin cuts of meat: It will put a grill mark on thin cuts and keep the inside of the meat moist. Be aware that Char-Broil infrared grills need more TLC than "regular" gas grills: Char-Broil suggests that you leave the grill on high for about 7-10 minutes after you remove your food. This creates a LOT of smoke. It also means that someone has to possibly leave the dinner table to go turn the grill off. Char-Broil suggests that you season the "emitter" grill grates, then clean those emitter plates after each use. You also need to clean the top grill grates each time. Lots, lots of work. More work than a Weber grill for sure. What's the difference between this "Professional" model and the less expensive (about a $100 less for the 2-burner model) regular model? Definitely--this professional grill is way better made: More sturdy,thicker metal panels, heavier-duty all around. If you have the bucks to spend, and if you get disgusted by flimsy metal parts, this "Professional" model is the way to go. I tried real hard writing this review. It took me a long time to think it through and put it to paper. Choosing to go with an infrared grill is not an easy decision. There are very many pros and cons, seriously. If you do have questions, you can contact me via the email address that's listed on my Profile Page, or leave a comment below--I keep close tabs on my reviews. I will try to help.
5.0 out of 5 stars
By D33PZ3R0 - Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2017
Nice little grill, IR has a learning curve
I like it, it is very heavy so I expected that the mail service would beat it up pretty bad however, it was packaged well and had no damage. Assembly takes about 30-45mins. I will say that I do not like two things about the grill first, the arms are very easy to accidentally drop on you if you are interacting with them; second as others have stated this thing gets cherry hot.. I would advise that you start the grill on lowest settings don't do the traditional set to high to warm up trust me. I like it alot overall, the IR plates are just a different aspect to me so cooking with them is a learning experience. Hopefully it will withstand the weather. I'd recommend it