Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Professional 500 IR Review

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Black 3-burner gas grill mounted on a double door cart with shelves on both sides.
Professional 500 IR

THIS MODEL IS DISCONTINUED.

The 500 IR is a 3-Burner grill in Char-Broil's Professional line. Available at Tru-Value and other independent retailers the 500 IR has heat indicators above each of the three stainless steel burners just like Char-Broil's Commercial grills. Professional and Commercial lines also have similar IR cooking grate designs, except Professionals are porcelain coated cast iron, whereas Commercials are stainless steel. The cast iron grates lay directly on top of the radiant surface which consists of thin porcelain coated 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 BBQ flavor to the meat. On older models, these radiant grate systems often corroded easily and had to be replaced. We have not tested the new Porcelain coated grates.

The 500 IR has battery powered ignition and a 13,000 BTUs flush lid side burner. Lightweight construction consisting of porcelain coated steel lid, black painted cart, double doors, control panel and facias and 430 stainless steel handles, side shelves and towel bar.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: 
$399
Primary Function: 
Grill
Fuel: 
Propane Gas
Natural Gas Capable
Primary Capacity: 
500 square inches
Secondary Capacity: 
180 square inches
Main Burners: 
3
Additional Burners: 
Side
Made in the USA: 
No
BTU: 
35,000
Heat Flux: 
70.00
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
Review Method:

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-Broil

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Char-Broil is an innovator in the popular gas grill arena with clever designs, low to midrange prices, and excellent 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.

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Max Good

As AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, Max Good is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max loves barbecue so much that he took his barbecue sauce recipes, had them bottled, and now sells them around the country.

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