Char-Broil is an innovator in the popular gas grill arena with clever designs, low to midrange prices, and great customer service. For several years they have focused on infrared cooking. Starting in 2012 all new IR models were dubbed "Tru-Infrared". These grills are made with stainless steel tube burners that work in conjunction with a radiant surface to bring heat close to the food. The radiant surface shields food from direct flame and reduces hot dry convection heat rising from the burners.
As one of the biggest BBQ manufacturers in the world, Char-Broil offers a clear, low cost alternative to Weber and surpasses many other price driven manufacturers with their infrared gas grill design innovation and focused marketing. Also in 2012, Char-Broil introduced Saber, a new, very high quality line of gas grills that goes head to head with Weber's Summit series in the premium grill space. They offer charcoal grills, smokers, fryers and a variety of accessories and tools.
Char-Broil is owned by The W.C. Bradley Company headquartered in Columbus, GA. Roots of W.C. Bradley go back before the Civil War to The Columbus Iron Works. The first Char-Broil grill was made and sold in the USA in 1948. Now all Char-Broil grills are manufactured in China and distributed around the globe.
Char-Broil Gas Grills
Char-Broil produces a wide variety of gas grills, but their low cost infrared models are unique in the mass market. Starting in 2012 many models were dubbed "Tru-Infrared". These grills are made with stainless steel tube burners that work in conjunction with a radiant surface to bring heat close to the food. The radiant surface shields food from direct flame and reduces hot dry convection heat rising from the burners.
These radiant cookers present a clear alternative to standard gas grills. Most gas grills produce a significant amount of convection heat and usually need a sear burner to reach steak house temps. Some other brands of infrared grills can sear, but lack a low temperature range. Char-Broil feels their Tru-Infrared grills are versatile and easy to use because they are designed to produce juicy meats, prevent flare-ups, reduce fuel consumption, and offer wide temperature ranges (they claim between 250F to 700F). They are also designed and manufactured to sell for a price that's hard to pass up. For example, the new Tru-Infrared models are about $100 less than Weber's entry level Spirit line. But take note of Char-Broil's warranty which should help gauge a buyer's expectation: limited lifetime on the burners, 2 years on the lid and fire box (some newer models are only 1 year), and 1 year on everything else. Not even close to Weber's. Of course the big box retailers would love to sell you an extended warranty. Based on comments we have read, Char-Broil owners seem to be divided in two distinct camps: They either love them or hate them. Be that as it may, we appreciate Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared full size gas grills for economy, unique design, ease of use and solid customer service.
The new Tru-Infrared grills are offered in three full-size lines: Commercial, Gourmet, and Performance. All have battery powered ignition, heat indicators, and can convert to natural gas with an optional dual fuel kit. Burners line up from side to side which we prefer for indirect cooking. 430 grade stainless steel construction with side tables and casters. That's a good, but not great grade of SS. Tools, smoke boxes and a variety of rotisserie kits are available. Char-Broil also sells some compact gas and electric grills in the Patio Bistro line as well as a small a line of portable propane grills called GRILL2GO.
Char-Broil Commercial Grills (formerly Quantum)
Formerly sold as Quantum Grills. Coated cast iron grates lay directly on top of the radiant surface which consists of thin stainless steel plates. The grate configuration has changed over the years and many older models, including Quantum models, are still being sold. Whatever version grates you encounter, they get very hot and radiate evenly across the surface. The plates have several small holes per square inch allowing combustion gases up and some drippings down, both good for flavor. Most drippings hit the plates and incinerate, adding more flavor to the meat. On past models, the stainless grates corroded easily and the holes needed regular cleaning or they clogged. We have not yet had a chance to test these new models.
Char-Broil packs a special cleaner/scraper into every box that works specifically with the Commercial grills. Meathead, our founder, bought a Quantum Commercial 4-burner in 2008. After one year the factory grates corroded and clogged so he replaced them with another company's product, GrillGrates, which operate on the same principle, only better. Every year Char-Broil tries to tweak these grates so you may run into older models with slightly different specs.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Commercial 3-Burner
The Char-Broil Commercial 3-Burner is a decent, basic grill. The lid has an inner double layer to help keep in heat. It is capable of high enough heat for searing, and low enough for smoking. Furthermore you can create smoke easily by tossing food grade wood chips, sawdust, or pellets between the grates, right below the food or off to the side: all assets of Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared designs. Commercial grills have stainless steel burners and battery powered ignition. The 3-Burner also features a 13,000 BTU flush mounted side burner with a hinged lid.
Coated cast iron grates lay directly on top of a radiant surface which consists of thin stainless steel plates. They get very hot and radiate evenly across the surface. The plates have several small holes per square inch allowing combustion gases up and some drippings down, both good for flavor. Most drippings hit the plates and incinerate, adding more flavor to the meat. Older version grates made of stainless grates corroded easily and the emiter plate holes needed regular cleaning or they clogged. Char-Broil claims to have improved their grates. We have not yet had a chance to test these new cast iron models.
Char-Broil packs a special cleaner/scraper into every box that works specifically with the Commercial grills. Meathead, our founder, bought a 4-burner version of this line back in 2008 when they were called Quantum Grills. After one year the factory grates corroded and clogged so he replaced them with another company's product, GrillGrates, which operate on the same principle, only better.
Char-Broil Commercial Grills feature a bi-metallic temperature gauge located above each control knob purportedly measuring the temp of the cooking surface above each burner. Alas, we don't have much faith in the accuracy of bi-metal gauges so we still recommend you consider purchasing a high quality digital thermometer to check them.
Meathead feels the optional rotisserie was an afterthought on his 4-burner model. The left bracket of his rotisserie kit scraped against the lid of the side burner. He had to mount it to the inside of the cooking chamber. That was easy because the mounting holes go through, but he also had to mount the motor upside down or when the lid went down it wouldn't close. The rod came in two parts and needed to be screwed together. They kept coming loose so he had a local auto body shop weld the two parts together. Char-Broil says this is an unusual occurrence, but we have seen many complaints about the mounting brackets on the internet.
The cookbox and single door cart are a combo of stainless and painted steel. Construction is lightweight and rather flimsy, but Meathead's 2008 model held up fine in the harsh weather of Chicago. He never covered it so the stainless looked more like aluminum, but other than the grates, it was a decent grill for the money and worked reliably for several years.
Looked Closely At It
We have seen this product up close and we have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners, and other reliable sources.