This is a great concept, a capacious gas and charcoal grill in one unit, and you can add an optional offset charcoal firebox to make it a smoker, too. Unfortunately the quality is reflected in their price. Cheap.
The gas side on the left produces 40,800 BTU with 3 burners. A side burner puts out 12,000 BTU. There is no natural gas optional hookup. We recently tested the stand alone version of the gas side called "Grillin' Pro" and were pleasantly surprised by its searing performance. Click here for our Grillin" Pro Review.
The barrel on the right is a charcoal grill. Each barrel has a primary cooking surface of 438 square inches for a total of 876 square inches. It has an adjustable charcoal grate, though it’s not well-designed: the grate, which is of narrow-gauge steel, has a handle on left and right that is connected by eye-hooks. That means that when you raise or lower it, it can swing left and right; it also means that to do that, you have to lean over the grill somewhat.
There is a single, battery powered ignitor, porcelain-enameled cast iron grates, a 5-year burner warranty, and a 1-year warranty on all other parts. On the left of the grill is a shelf with a trap door, under which is the electronic ignition for the gas grill. The shelf converts into a side gas burner, too. It has hooks for utensils on the side shelf, which is handy.
But the metal is thin, the lids don’t seal, the thermometers are cheap and useless, some handles are plastic, the side shelves are small, and the warming racks can't be removed. One buyer on Amazon wrote "When the lids are open, the warming racks go up/back right over the lid. Anything that drips off the warming rack goes right down the lid and onto the ground behind the grill. I found this out the hard way after an afternoon of cooking burgers. What a mess! There are no bumpers around the grilling perimeter. One bad spatula or tong move and your meat will slide right off in any direction! They should have at least put a bumper in the back. The joints aren't tight. Any grease that drips down on the propane side in the corners between the bottom and side pieces of the grill goes right between the two pieces of metal and drips on the propane tank." There are complaints about the grates themselves: it’s been reported that the porcelain coating pops off. Char-Griller replaced the gates in that case.
The price is right for do-it-yourselfers who like to modify their cookers. One popular mod is to use the charcoal tray from the optional firebox as a heat diffuser on the left gas grill, where some have used other means such as a soapstone slab or “tuning plates” that can be moved from right to left a couple inches each to distribute the heat more toward one area or another. Some people have inserted gaskets to improve the seals to produce more even airflow, or have added a metal duct hose inside to bring the exhaust pipe closer to the grates, important on a windy day when it would ordinarily lose a lot of heat. Others have put water heater blankets on them for insulation, which is not expensive.
For the tinker with a tight budget, the Char-Griller Duo can be a BBQ bounty of weekend projects. But for the cook who strives for great outdoor meals, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Special thanks to Scot Murphy for his input on this review.
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
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.
Char-Griller makes some of the cheapest cookers on the planet. Almost all of their models are round, horizontal charcoal grills and smokers. They also offer charcoal and gas combo cookers. Char-Griller epitomizes the old saying that you get what you pay for. Budget conscious buyers often can't pass up the Char-Griller price tag and many models are very popular. Hence they have wide distribution coast to coast in all the big box stores and online. Unfortunately, many novice cooks aspiring to slow smoke are drawn to Char-Griller's super cheap offset smokers. Offsets are already difficult to work with and Char-Griller's tin can, drafty construction has been a source of consternation for generations of first time smokers. That said, their Grillin' Pro gas grill and Akorn kamados, offer a lot of bang for very low bucks.