When it comes to backyard barbecue grills, you'll find three basic types to choose from: charcoal, electric and gas. Charcoal grills, which started the craze, are generally the least expensive and are preferred by purists who insist on the smoky flavor that only charcoal can impart.
Electric grills capture only a tiny share of the market, but they're convenient and reliable. Sizes range from cart models to table-top units. Aside from eliminating the fuel hassle, electric grills allow precise and consistent heat control with very little flare-up. And, if your landlord won't allow open-fire grilling on your patio, electric cooking may be the answer. The most common complaint is that they aren't as hot as gas or charcoal grills.
Not surprisingly, gas grills are preferred by those who barbecue often and want more of their meal cooked on the grill. Gas provides quick heat and allows more special features, such as side burners, rotisseries, multilevel cooking and food warmers.
While most gas grills burn LP gas, natural gas is frequently an option.
Conventional gas grills in more familiar shapes and sizes range between $130 and $600. At the high end, you get a very good gas grill, no matter who makes it, but the real culinary cachet starts a couple of hundred dollars above that. In the end, there's something for everyone, top to bottom.