Grill Review: Charbroil® Portable Electric TRU-Infrared™
Electric Infrared Grill Review
Grilling meat, fish, vegetables and poultry is a favorite activity of many snowbirds, including my husband. Our first season, we tried the community charcoal grill and it wasn't a good fit for us. So the second year, my husband had a new portable infrared electric grill delivered to our snowbird home. At the end of our stay we shipped it home. We liked the grill so much, the next year he did the same thing. And then we bought a large enough vehicle to haul the grill back and forth with us. Our infrared grill is so amazing, we use it all year round more often than the gas grill. Here's why we love it.
Why We Love our Char-Broil® Portable Patio Bistro® TRU-Infrared Electric Grill™
Flavor, flavor, flavor! Because infrared heat sears food quicker at a higher temperature, the flavor of the food is noticeably enhanced. Juices are retained within the meat, fish and poultry for the best possible result. I must admit, I was a little skeptical about an electric grill until I tried the food cooked on our Char-Broil® TRU-infrared™ grill and now I'm a believer.
The tabletop style grill is compact and easily moves.
Easy to Use
The grill preheats in about ten minutes, has an easy to adjust dial with five temperature settings, is reliable and never requires refilling the fuel source as gas or charcoal grills do.
Easy to Clean
Just burn off the excess grease or food debris and let the grill cool down. Use a nylon brush to scrape any remaining particles.
The cost of approximately $129 is not that much considering the value of having a quality infrared electric grill
Considerations of a Snowbird Grill
Snowbirds who live in a community with fire code regulations are most affected by the type of grill they can have. Some considerations include:
Check your local fire code, lease contract and HOA rules
First, check with your local officials regarding fire code. There's no point in considering a grill if it won't meet code. It's almost 100% certain every community is going to prohibit gas or charcoal grills on multi-unit balconies or patios, but electric grills / cooking appliances may be exempt.
Upon request prior to our arrival, the county fire inspector for our community sent the specific code regarding "cooking equipment." My goal is to always be ready with a copy of the specific fire code in case of any complaints from neighbors. However, there is something to be said about not drawing a lot of attention either. Just because you know you're within the rules, doesn't mean your neighbors in the building next door can see from afar that your red domed table top grill is electric and not gas.
Check your lease contract and Homeowner's Association (HOA) rules to see if there's any language prohibiting electric cooking appliances. HOA restrictions are generally public information and can be researched online prior to arrival.
A snowbird's grill must be portable. Sure, you can use the community grills, but they are not right outside your door and usually require messy charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. With no garage or shed, storing these items is problematic.
A portable grill can be transported to and from your snowbird home every season. If you own your place, a portable grill is small enough to store indoors when away for the off-season.
Because fire code prohibits hibachi, gas or charcoal grills anywhere near a balcony or patio, electric grills solve safety issues related to open flames. An electric grill never needs refueled like charcoal or gas grills. The biggest disadvantage to an electric grill is not being able to use it outdoors in inclement, rainy weather.
Cooking surface size does matter. Electric grills on a balcony or patio must be adhere to the acceptable range of surface area or they likely will not meet fire code, as stated above. Of course, the smaller cooking surface will require cooking in batches if you are serving a crowd of more than 2 or 3 people. Because of the smaller surface size, proper heating zones are not possible as with a larger grill.
We chose a table-top model. Not only will it fit into our SUV, but it is the only style that meets fire code in our snowbird community.
By far, the secret to obtaining great flavor with an electric grill is infrared heat. An infrared grill uses electromagnetic radiation infrared technology as the heat source, similar to how a microwave works. An infrared element is located between the grates and the flame.
Because infrared heat penetrates and agitates food molecules instead of heating the surrounding area, food sears and cooks hotter, quicker and more evenly for maximum flavor. Infrared heat is also more energy efficient due to less time to preheat and less cooking time.
Keep your pets and any children away from your hot grill. Infrared heat can reach very high temperatures, so forewarn your guests who may be unaware. We do not ever allow our large dog unattended with the grill. It's too tempting for most pets unless you are very confident they cannot possibly reach the grill.
Keep a glass of water nearby in case of flare ups. Avoid pouring water on the heating element.
Use a surge protector with your electric grill.
Quality, Ease of Use, Price, Value
Additional considerations include quality, ease of use in comparison to the price for an overall value. Typical pricing for an electric infrared grill is less than $150. Shipping will add to the cost. If you need to ship your grill to/from your snowbird home, estimate about $50 each way and don't forget to save the box.
Note: this grill review is based on personal experience with the product. No paid endorsements of any kind were made by the manufacturer.
There's something about standing over a grill or outside with the family that inspires us.
--Guy Fieri, American Restaurateur, Author, and an Emmy Award Winning Television Presenter