Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Product Review: Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill

It is Spring time and across the country, hordes of people are in the market to replace that old rusted out grill that barely made it through last summer.  The first decision that most of them wrestle with is whether to buy a gas or coal fired grill.

This year, Char-Broil makes that decision a bit easier by introducing their new Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill that lets you cook with gas or coal in the same unit, a great combination.  I got to see a prototype of this gas and charcoal combo last year while touring the Char-Broil headquarters and now they have sent me this combination grill to review.

Char-broil gas to coal combination grill

Design, Features, and Claims

According to the HPBA, 61% of homes own a gas grill and 41% own a charcoal grill (visit www.hpba.org for more information).  Twenty six percent of homes have two grills.  So it’s clear that the general grill consumer likes the convenience of gas but also the flavor of charcoal.  The Gas2Coal gives you the combination of gas and coal in a single, normal sized grill.  

Honestly, I just don’t think it’s a big deal to light up a chimney  of coal but I am in the grilling minority.  The most important feature to shoppers after budget and space considerations is an easy ignition system (49% according to HPBA in 2014). And that is where the Gas2Coal combination grill shines with its most striking feature.  You can use gas to quickly and easily light your coals and be ready to cook in 10-15 minutes over the glowing coals – gas convenience, charcoal flavor.  

Here are some of the other features of this gas and charcoal hybrid.
·         Dual fuel – can cook using gas OR coal
·         Converts from gas to coal in seconds with no tools required
·         Sleek, stylish design with straight forward controls
·         Sturdy tubular metal construction
·         Side burner for warming sauces or creating side dishes
·         Professional grade cooking temperature thermometer
·         Cast iron cooking grates for great sear marks and even heat
·         Easy storage for the charcoal pan
·         550 square inches of grilling space
·         Five year warranty on the burners

Cast iron grates on Char-Broil combination grill leave great grill marks and are sturdy
The cast iron grates give better sear marks and will stay in good shape with frequent use.  They will rust if you leave them out in the weather or neglected but you can re-season them if this happens.  But as with every grill, using them often is the best way to keep them in good condition.

Thermometer on the Char-Broil Gas to Coal combination grill is durable and sturdy.
I have this same thermometer on 5 of my grills, some of them going on 3 years old, and none have failed or needed recalibrating yet.

Char-Broil’s Gas to Coal combination grill with sturdy tubular construction guarantees grill will last and grill design ensures room for storage under grill shelf.
The tubular construction feels sturdy.  I hate a wobbly grill.  You have just over 35 inches of clearance under this shelf which conveniently fits my deck trash can when the grill isn’t in use.

Char-Broil Gas to Coal hybrid grill with charcoal conversion tray showing charcoal channels
Shown with the charcoal conversion tray in and the grates not back on yet.  The coals line up along the 3 channels sticking up in the middle.

Burners on the Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill are standard burners.
The burners “under the hood” are your standard burners that you find on the Performance series.  When doing gas only, the drop off compared to my Char-Broil Commercial (now called Professional) with the TRU-Infrared grate systems is noticeable.  You can buy the TRU-Infrared grates but it’s not exactly the same as having them on a grill designed for them.  The performance is comparable to other grills in the same price point.

Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill contains space for storing of grilling tools
Storage area for the tray or other tools.

Char-Broil gas to coal hybrid grill with side burner
This is my first charcoal grill that comes standard with a side burner.

Performance and Testing

Assembly - I received my Gas2Coal combination grill this  month and couldn’t wait to put it together.  I’d rank the assembly process as “Moderate – basic tools required and an hour or less of time”.  The main cooking chamber is pre-assembled knocking out most of the work.  The hardware (nuts/bolts) is divided into clearly labeled blister packs, the instructions are straight forward, and the bolts are often pre-installed.  

Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill design ensures that blots and assembly parts are not visible
The only difficulty is there are a few places with tight clearance that make using power tools cumbersome.  Not a big deal and that is only because it is designed to hide unsightly bolts and such. 

Char-Broil gas to charcoal hybrid grill assembled in less than one hour
It took me less than an hour and I wasn't rushing at all.  I might have even had a beer while doing this.

I couldn’t wait to see about this gas assist charcoal deal so I loaded it up with a single layer of standard charcoal briquettes, hit the burners on, closed the lid and waited for 15 minutes per the manual.  Holy smokes, the temp gauge was pegged over 650°f – this thing can crank out the heat.  After several uses, I have found it’s better to go 10-12 minutes, kill the gas and then wait 5 minutes like the video suggests. 

Char-Broil gas and charcoal combination grill with lid open
Rocket hot! Be careful opening the lid after the gas lighting period because it’s really hot in there.

If I light a chimney of coal, it’s ready in about the same time, BUT then I have to wait for the grill grates to heat up too.  This gas and charcoal combination  is  truly ready for food at 15 minutes.

Char-Broil gas to coal hybrid great for spring grilling
Flowers are blooming and smoke in the air - I love Spring - it's one of my 4 favorite grilling seasons.

Marinated portabello mushrooms and Manhattan filets grilling on Char-Broil gas to charcoal combination grill
Manhattan filets and marinated portobello mushrooms.

Burgers grilling on Char-Broil charcoal to gas combination grill using the charcoal grilling feature
Hard to beat burgers over hot coals.

Boneless pork chops with rub and butter  on Char-Broil gas to coal grill
Boneless pork chops with my NMT Basic BBQ Rub and then spritzed with butter.

Burgers and buns grilled on Char-Broil gas to charcoal combination grill
Juicy burgers and toasted buns - a match made in heaven.

Burger grilled on Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill
Burgers and buns grilled on Char-Broil gas to charcoal combination grill

Cleaning on the Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill with cool coals which are best for cleaning
For clean up, I wait until the next day to make sure the coals are dead and then sweep the tray off into the trash.  Always be 100% sure the coals are out.  Trash fires aren’t fun.  The best ash disposal tool is a metal bin with an air tight lid.

How do you control the cooking temperature once the coals are lit and the gas is off?  There are no vents like on the Kettleman  and 780 Charcoal Grill .  There isn’t an adjustable coal tray like on the 780 Charcoal Grill and CB500X .  Temperature is going to be controlled by the quantity of coals that you use.  A full load is going to get you searing temperatures.  That’s part of the simplicity designed into this combination  grill.  

With the grates fixed so close to the coals, it makes this gas and charcoal combination grill  perfect for your everyday grilling of things like steaks, chops, and burgers – what most people do.  I haven’t timed it repeatedly, but it seems like a single tray of coal will get you about 35-45 minutes of heat.  If you have things that are going to take longer or require indirect grilling, I’d use the upper rack or gas only option.   For example, I cook bone in chicken pieces on the upper rack for about 25 minutes and then finish them on the lower rack for 1-2 minutes just to get that nice color.  

One design issue for me is access to the gas tank.  I like to shut mine off at the tank when not in use and to do that with the Gas2Coal , you have to reach around the back as there is no front access to the tank storage area.  

What are the best briquettes to use?  I used the basic “blue bag” and got plenty of heat.  You could use the all-natural briquettes but keep in mind they will burn hotter.  Another way to take full advantage of this grill is to use the wood flavored briquettes that are available. 

Final Thoughts

The Char-Broil Gas to charcoal combination grill  is ideal for those who want the ease of gas but don’t want to sacrifice the flavor of coal. When set up for coal, it is best suited for the most popular cuts – hot dogs, steaks, chops, and burgers.  It gives you a gas and coal combo grill in the footprint of a normal grill, instead of the 5-6 feet of those duo-fuel side by side units.  It is a quick and easy combination  grill that is excellent for the needs of most grillers. 


Product:   Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill
Price Point:  $299
Where Sold:  Lowe’s, online
Design:  3.5/5
Performance:  3.5/5
Value:  4/5
Overall:  3.6/5
Alt tag: alt=”Char-Broil gas to coal combination grill with side burner and side shelf”