Burners: Up Close and Personal
There's been a bunch of smoke blown about in the grill industry lately about burners and burner materials. One manufacturer says this, and another says that, one sales rep tells you there's not much difference, the next tells you it's the heart and soul of your grill. So much is said, but little is shown or demonstrated, and it's hard to know just what is the best material for a grill burner. If you pardon our pun here, it's easy to get burned. In another article, we graphically explained what happens to a sheet metal burner after time and use. We explained how burn-through happens, and what materials are less succeptible.
How do you avoid burn-through? Well, you could keep the burner clean. This is a messy and time-consuming process, as you have to get in there with a small, pointed tool and carefully poke each little hole in the burner. Some manufacturers actually require this, else you void the warranty.
If this sounds like a lot of work, well, it is. It's a ton of work, and it isn't the cleanest job on the planet.
There's an easier way: know what you are getting into when you look at a particular grill. Obviously, there is no way to know the thickness or quality of a burner - that is, unless you actually cut a few of them in half! Now, no person in their right mind would even think about doing this, right? Think of the expense, the mess...
Well, we did. In fact, We cut open the burners from several of today's favorite high-end grills: Alfresco, DCS, Fire Magic and Lynx. Looking for thicknesses, we also examined how these burners are constructed to see if the orifices are drilled, molded or punched. We looked at other features as well, including nickel content.
(At the time of this article, we were able to review a Star grill, a relative newcomer to the consumer grill market, which has been producing professional cooking equipment for almost 80 years. Their new entries in the consumer market use essentially the identical burner as DCS: a 14-gauge Stainless Steel Sheet Metal burner. The only difference we noted was the burner's feeder tube: the DCS is ramped up to the burner tube, while the Star's feeder tube is level with the burner tube. For this comparison, use the DCS burner as Star's performance. Where there are differences, we will note them.)
Here's what we found: