Char-broil has been in business since 1948 and gave America one of it’s first charcoal grills. In 1984 their CB940 was recognized as the World’s Best BBQ Grill by the Book of Bests. Over time Char-Broil has introduced some technological breakthroughs for backyard cooking. In the last ten years or so, they’ve attempted to solve the problem of inconsistent heat across the cooking surface. They call this technology TRU-Infrared and have added it to some of their gas grills. However, be aware that there are actually 2 TRU-Infrared systems put out by Char-Broil. Char-Broil grill reviews are easy to find but we’ve outlined the differences between the systems in our infrared gas grill review.
Char-Broil TRU-infrared technology
Char-Broil product lines
Because there are 4 different TRU-Infrared product lines, choosing which grill to buy can get pretty confusing.
The lower end Performance Series Grills use TRU-Infrared cooking grates made of stainless steel or porcelain. This is a one piece design that combines the emitter and the grate and many users have difficulty keeping them clean. These are the cheapo models you can find at Home Depot and Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. Although we’ve never tested on ourselves, just check out the online reviews of the Char-Broil TRU-infrared performance series grills and you’ll quickly get cold feet. At least I hope so. All the Char-broil TRU-infrared grills require a special tool to clean the grates, but the reviews for this particular series are pretty negative. IN short, if you’re only going to spend $200 on a gas grill, the TRU-infrared performance series is not what you want to buy. Just buy the standard technology in a cheap Char-broil and call it a day. You won’t get anything fantastic in this price range but it’ll be decent – and certainly better than the Char-broil TRU-infrared performance line of gas grills.
The higher end Commercial and Signature Series Grills utilize infrared stainless steel emitters with porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates. The porcelain coated cast iron grate sits on top of the stainless steel infrared emitter. This makes maintaining them a bit easier, but some folks still take issue with the amount of effort a thorough cleaning after each use requires. So, this is the level where the TRU-infrared technology starts to make some sense. A much more robust TRU-infrared system makes the Char-broil commercial and signature lines worth investigating. You’re spending enough money to get beyond the gimmick element of the performance series. So what’s the difference between Commercial and Signature series grills? It’s kinda funny.
The only physical difference between the Commercial and Signature Series Grills is the slant on the lid. The Commercial Series is exclusive to Lowe’s and lists for a bit less money. However the Signature series can be found online for the same price or less. So if you remember that there’s really only two series to consider, the Commercial and Signature series – and they are basically the same grill, things get quite a bit easier for you.
We said in the beginning there were actually 4 Char-broil TRU-infrared gas grill product lines so what happened to it? Well, the 4th product line is the Smartchef TRU-infrared 3-burner gas grill. Yes, just a single model comprises the entire product line. How is it different from the rest? It’s painted black and has a WiFi app that connects to your smartphone. It’s about $250 more than a comparably equipped stainless steel version of the same thing sans WiFi gimmickry. If you want remote access to grill temp and meat temp, just go with a WiFi thermometer rather than a solution that’s built into the grill.
Which series to buy
Based on my personal observations and reading through hundreds of user reviews, the Performance series under-performs the Signature/Commercial series due to the one-piece emitter/grate design. Although it’s tough to expect much from a gas grill under $200, the question remains: Is the Char-Broil TRU-infrared performance series the best gas grill under $200? The answer is no, a standard convection grill may serve you better. For just $200 the best gas grill is going to light, heat relatively evenly, and last a couple of years. TRU-infrared isn’t going to add any value at this price point. Finding the best gas grill under $200 isn’t difficult if you know what to look for. Lazy-Q Life has done the homework and laid it all out for you here.
When stepping up in price to $300 and above, the performance of the TRU-infrared system improves drastically. Here you may find one of the best grills under $300. But it’s still a completely different grilling experience than you’re used to. The main complaint regardless of model is the need to clean the grates and emitters after each use. I for one make a habit of pulling the food off and cleaning the grill with a steel brush while the grill is still hot. These grills require a nylon brush and warm soapy water. That kind of defeats one of the main attractions of grilling in the first place – easy clean-up. Again, if you’re looking for the best gas grill under $300 we don’t think the Char-broil TRU-infrared models are really in the mix. For the breakdown of what to look for and what it costs, take a look at our research here.
With those negatives out of the way, the TRU-Infrared technology undoubtedly produce more heat per BTU enabling a nice sear on these rather low-powered grills. If you’re interested in in this technology and want to try them out, check out my reviews on the various models Char-Broil has available. The Char-Broil TRU-infrared 2 burner grills; the performance TRU-infrared 2 burner, and the commercial series TRU-infrared 2 burner. Then check out the the Char-Broil TRU-infrared 3 burner grills. Again you can check out the performance series TRU-infrared 3 burner and the commercial series TRU-infrared 3 burner grills. It all seems needlessly confusing, and it is. Just remember, performance is the economy line that uses a special grate to provide infra-red heating. Signature and Commercial use the full-blown 2-piece TRU-infrared technology and are the same thing except for lid design and where to buy.
Thanks for reading!