Written by adam on Aug 6, 2007
Char-Broil TEC Infrared Grill
Filed Under: Gear
Char-Broil has partnered with TEC to manufacture and brand a line of gas grills that include a high-performance infrared burner. It is a special style of burner that is completely enclosed, creating a "combustion chamber" and topped with tempered glass that facilitates radiant energy cooking, associated with infrared devices. This IR burner is capable of reaching temperatures of 800+ degrees.
But don't be frightened. Radiation is not bad (so the government might tell you). Radiant energy is present in so many things, including the rays of our beloved sun. Have you ever been near a bonfire? You know that you can feel the heat of a bonfire from far away. That's radiant energy you are feeling.
On this TEC grill, the grill grate sits directly on top of the glass, leaving only about a half-inch of space between the food and the glass. The cooking energy is radiation, which can reach higher temperatures in a gas grill than traditional convection burners. You get faster heating of the grill and a higher temperature grate. This translates to beautiful grill marks, minimal loss of juices, and no drying out of the food.
Char-Broil emphasizes the use of the infrared burner, but I think the other two traditional burners are equally fantastic. The two standard burners heat faster than my older Member's Mark gas grill, plus I feel like this grill gives me more fine-tuned control over the temperature.
The main problem with the IR burner is that you can't really get the temperature down to a simmer. I used an infrared laser thermometer to check the temperature of the TEC burner at its lowest setting, and I could not register it below 350 degrees.That's a little too high for a simmer setting, in my opinion. I would love to have a little more control, but maybe that just defeats the purpose of the infrared grill.
And that purpose is to blast your food with as much heat as possible. The result is beautiful grill marks and juicy meat.
After using the TEC grill for a few months now, the nagging problem that I see is that the thing is impossible to clean. Starting with the grill grates themselves, juices, blood, and any basting sauces tend to get trapped in the little channel between each metal rod. The actual space is very small, and here's why.
If you were to look at a cross section of the metal rods, you'd see a bell shape. Consequently, it has caused a clean-up nightmare. Not only does food get stuck the the gap, the shape of the grate makes it impossible to clean with a regular wire brush. Even with a lot of elbow grease and a lot of time, there is still charred stuff stuck in that hard to reach curve of the rods.
Some of my other complaints are a little more nit-picky, but valid. After a storm blew the grill off my patio, I found that the lids over the side burner and tool drawer are only spot-welded onto the frame. That little trip off of my patio caused one weld to pop loose, which means I can no longer keep the lid open with out propping it up. Granted, these grills are not designed to take a 90 degree fall over backwards, but the issue is clearly there.
One feature that I enjoy in the TEC grill is the pull-out grease trap right below the control panel. For ease of clean up, I lined my grease trap with aluminum foil.
The controls are really nice, with smooth dialing knobs and the easy-light clicker button. The propane set up is OK; I do like the fact that the propane tank is secured by a bolt and it sits in a sliding tray for easy change out.
Here's what I'd like to see Char-Broil do for the 2008 TEC models:
- Move the Propane tank tray to one side, allowing for easier equipment storage
- Replace the bell-shaped grates with circular ones.
- Make all four casters lockable.
- Attach side lids with bolts instead of spot welds
- Engineer the side wings to be attached with something more than a couple of flimsy screws.
People seem to be going crazy over these IR grills, and with good reason. Char-Broil has even launched a giant rolling tour to promote them. The TEC grills are good, but not without their flaws. I think that by addressing the above concerns and tightening up the design a little bit, this could be the ultimate gas grill.
Responses to "Char-Broil TEC Infrared Grill" ...
I have a Chargrill TEC gas grill with two TEC burners that I bought from Lowes for $999 just two months ago. Already the screws with nuts holding the burners together have corroded to the point that the heads separated leaving the threaded part with nut still attached to fall into the grease drawer. BEWARE! As a result an EXPLOSION WILL OCCUR! Unknowingly when I attempted to use the grill and lit both TEC burners, the most defective one of the two went out and let gas build up to the point that it was ignited from the other burner and BOOM! I have e-mailed both Lowes and the manufacturer about this but have not as yet received a reply.
Screws all broke in mine as well. Charbroil sent me replacement tec burners, however the mounting screws broke off and cannot be extracted. I would not recommend this grill. I have asked for a refund, but will not comply.
How much is scrap stainless steel worth on the open market?