Are you shopping for a new gas grill? Infrared grills have grown in popularity since 1980, and for a good reason. These infrared units offer a wide range of benefits, the most prominent being their ability to retain your food’s fluid content and flavor.
Infrared grills are a significant investment, and there are so many models to choose from that you might feel a little overwhelmed. But if you don’t gather enough information before you buy, you run the risk of getting the wrong unit and wasting your hard-earned money. Cheap models from knock-off brands can also be downright dangerous for you and your family.
If you are looking for absolute value, it is only a matter of time before you will come across the Thermal Engineering Corporation (TEC) Patio FR Grills. At first glance, these grills offer everything you need in a patio grill, from a durable stainless-steel construction to high-quality glass infrared panels.
Will you get your money’s worth if you buy the TEC Patio FR Grill? In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at TEC as a brand, how infrared grillers work, and the benefits and features of this series.
Keep reading to make a calculated buying decision and get the best value for money.
Before diving into the review, it might be a good idea to take a look at TEC and find out why this company is worth considering when you want to buy an infrared grill.
When shopping for a grill, consider only established and reputable brands. TECis the ultimate authority when it comes to infrared grills. The company manufactures its grills in the United States, and it uses only the finest grade materials, including 304-grade stainless steel.
That’s not all, though. TEC also invented the world’s first infrared grill, back in 1980.
Even during its infancy stages, TEC’s first infrared grill was the product of choice for professionals and hardcore backyard enthusiasts throughout the United States. Many people who purchased those first TEC infrareds still use them today. The first models that TEC produced could reach higher temperatures than any other grill on the market, and they were built to last.
Still, while those first models were great for grilling, they weren’t really suitable for versatile cooking. With continuous improvements, TEC’s engineers developed grills today that use 100% infrared energy and retain your food’s natural juices.
The TEC brand infrared grills available today can be turned down to an ultra-low 200˚, which is ideal for food-preparation methods like slow cooking, searing, barbecuing, and smoking. TEC’s patented radiant glass panels also play an integral role in heating the cooking surface evenly. More on this later.
The secret to TEC’s burner success is moisture retention. It infrared energy cooks your food without compromising the molecular layer of air and moisture that protects your food from drying elements. As a result, your food doesn’t dry out during the cooking process.
Each TEC grill model carries a unique warranty. The warranties typically cover manufacturing defects but not wear and tear. As far as the TEC Patio FR series is concerned, TEC warrants the cooking grates will be free of defects for up to 10 years from the original date of purchase.
TEC also guarantees that components such as the ignition system and radiant glass panels will be free from defects for one year from the original date of purchase. Meanwhile, the stainless-steel housing and burners are warranted to be free from defects for the lifetime of the product.
To file a warranty claim, you have to send TEC an email with your name, contact details, photos of the defective parts, and the grill’s serial number. TEC then will send you an email within 48 hours to let you know if your claim is approved.
How Do Infrared Grills Work?
Before discussing the features of the TEC Patio FR Grill series, let’s take a look at how infrared grills work.
Infrared grills use electromagnetic energy waves called infrared radiation to heat food. These waves are emitted from a heated surface and travel at the speed of light in any direction.
This heated surface is also called an infrared plate and fits above the gas flame. The infrared plate can comprise metal, ceramic, or glass. Its primary function is to absorb the heat from the gas flame and convert the heat into infrared energy before transferring it to your food.
Infrared radiation is not the only form of heat transfer in a cooking chamber. The metal cooking grill absorbs the heat from the infrared plate. The heat then is transferred to your food where it is in contact with the metal grills.
What’s more, the heat generated by the infrared plate moves around in the cooking chamber and reflects off the dome, ensuring even heat distribution and a consistently seared surface. As the surface of your food absorbs the heat, it transfers to the center via conduction.
What are the Benefits of Using an Infrared Grill?
Speedy Cooking Time
The first benefit of using an infrared grill is speed. These units get far hotter than conventional gas grillers, and it only takes an infrared burner a few minutes to heat to 700°F. So, you spend less time waiting next to the grill.
Enhanced Energy Efficiency
Because preheating times virtually don't exist, and cooking time is shorter, infrared grillers use less fuel than do traditional grills. Over the long run, you’ll spend less money to get better results. If you are an avid backyard griller, this benefit may be significant.
Prepare Food to Perfection
Many people prefer infrared grillers most for their ability to cook your food to perfection. Infrared heat cooks your food directly, penetrating the moisture barrier without compromising it. As a result, your food doesn’t lose moisture and retains nutrients and fluid content.
Enhanced Heat Distribution
When cooking with traditional units, you’ve found that inconsistencies, flare-ups, and hot and cold spots are inevitable. With infrared grillers, however, the heat is distributed evenly with multiple heat transfer methods. The result is a consistently seared surface.
Infrared grillers can produce higher temperatures that most conventional grills. But if you want to cook a large piece of meat, high temperatures are not ideal. You can overcook the surface before the center cooks at all.
Infrared grillers like those from TEC have low-temperature settings for cooking delicate or large pieces of meat throughout.
"My grill is probably the best grill on the market. It has even flames for a better cooking experience. It’s easy to clean and move around. The food is usually well cooked. My grill has very big grill for cooking. It’s always fires up. " Tyrone
TEC Patio FR Grill Series
Now that you know a little more about infrared grills, let’s take a closer look at the TEC Patio FR Grill Series.
High-end Infrared Cooking System
The TEC Patio FR Grill Series features a state-of-the-art infrared cooking system. It comprises two heavy-duty 304-grade stainless-steel burners, patented radiant-glass panels, and patented cooking grids that sit directly on the glass surface.
Each of the two high-quality stainless-steel burners that heat the glass surface uses 30,000 BTU’s per hour, which is less fuel than other grills in this category. Despite their fuel efficiency, these burners perform is on par with the ones fitted to TEC’s high-end units.
Evenly Heated Grilling Surface
The entire grilling surface is suitable for grilling, and you won’t have to rotate food to ensure that it cooks evenly. The grilling surface measures 592 square inches, which is large enough to cook about 30 hamburgers at a time.
The electronic ignition provides a quick and safe way to start the grill. This ignition is similar to the ones fitted to gas grills.
Patented Radiant Glass Panels
The patented radiant-glass panel is one of the distinguishing features of the TEC Patio FR Grill Series. These panels create an even temperature and are some of the components that promote even heat distribution and consistent searing.
Where most other infrared grills can reach temperatures of up to 700°F, the TEC Patio FR Grill Series boasts a temperature range from 200°F to 900°F. This wide range renders the model suitable for every cooking application you can fathom, including smoking, grilling, slow-cooking, barbecuing, and searing.
After ignition, it can take as little as 10 minutes for the TEC grill to reach its maximum temperature. If you are in a hurry to get the food on the table, you’ll love this rapid-preheat function.
100% 304-Grade Stainless Steel Construction
The TEC Patio FR Grillers are well-known for their durability. The bodies, cabinetries, and hoods of the grills comprise 304-grade stainless steel to protect the grill’s components and ensure optimal longevity.
Made in the United States
The TEC Patio FR Grill and all its components are made in the United States and manufactured in line with the highest quality standards.
TEC Grill Accessories
When it comes to versatile cooking, the TEC Patio FR Grill can stand on its own. If this grill’s features are not enough for you, however, you can beef it up with a wide range of accessories. Add-on components for this series include:
An infrared smoker/roaster with chip corrals that include a slotted roasting rack and a 12-gauge drip tray.
A pizza-oven rack that allows optimal infrared heat to reach the crust.
A gator rack that is compatible with the 44-inch patio grill.
A fryer/steamer with perforated insert for steaming vegetables and seafood.
A grate-rake cleaning tool that you can use to scrape your grates clean.
Meatloaf pans that rest on a slotted spatula to drain melted fat. Pan sizes are 4” x 6” and 4” x 8”.
A fryer basket that is compatible with the fryer/steamer. This accessory is ideal for preparing seafood and meat.
Accessories for 44-inch and 26-inch grills include rack jacks with warming racks to keep finished food warm, at the same time freeing up space on the grates.
Cooking with TEC
Unlike traditional gas grills and other infrared grills, the TEC patented grilling system uses no hot air – only 100% infrared energy.
The glass panels prevent hot air from the burners from drying out your food. As a result, the food you prepare on this grill retains up to 35% of its fluid content. When the juices from the food drip on the panels, the hot glass incinerates the liquids, creating rich vapors for charbroil flavoring that would otherwise be lost. Yum!
The TEC Patio FR Grills allow for an endless range of cooking applications. You can cook at any temperature and even remove the cooking grid to cook directly on the glass like a cooktop.
Because of the glass panels, you can also pour your sauces and marinades on the food without worrying about flare-ups and grease fires. This grill eliminates the need for a smoker box, as you can put wood chips directly on the cooking grates.
When installing your TEC Patio FR Grill, consult your owner’s manual to ensure that you complete the installation safely and correctly.
The installation process is relatively straightforward, as the grill comes mostly assembled. Components like the ignition are pre-installed. All you have to do is install the glass panels and cooking grates and connect the gas line.
The first step is to decide precisely where you want to locate your grill. These grills are designed and certified for outdoor use only, and it’s best to install it on a level foundation to prevent it from shifting or tipping over. Before installing the radiant glass panel and cooking grates, engage the cabinet brake by turning the knob clockwise until it locks in place.
When you get the grill, the cooking grates and radiant glass panel are in the interior of the grill. First, take the glass panel out and remove its bubble wrap. Then, remove the cooking grate from the metal tray.
The tray should already be installed, but double-check that the clips on each side of the tray hold it firmly in place. If not, bend the clips inward with pliers until you can no longer move the tray back and forth or from side to side.
Next, place the radiant glass panel in the tray with the smooth side up. Then, place the cooking grates directly on top of the glass panel, with the open channels facing toward you. The taller end of the grates should face the back of the grill.
How to Clean Your Infrared Grill
Because the TEC Patio FR Grill Series features radiant glass panels, cleaning your unit is quick and easy. When cleaning a traditional gas grill, you have to scrub the grill grates with a wire brush, which can be quite time-consuming.
But guess what? The TEC Patio FR grill has a self-cleaning function. So, just turn your grill on high for about 15 minutes, keeping the hood closed while it warms. Because of the heat, the drippings on the cooking grates and radiant glass will incinerate and turn to ash. Then, turn off the grill and wait for it to cool before wiping the grates and glass panels clean.
A special grate rake is available as an accessory to scrape the cooking grates clean. And you can even use it without having to remove the glass panel. But the truth is, with the self-cleaning method, you won’t have to use this tool regularly.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The TEC Patio FR Grills have higher price tags than your average gas grill. When you consider the durability, the extensive range of features, and the versatility that these models have to offer, however, it is clear that you get what you pay for.
What’s more, these grills are made in the United States. TEC could have outsourced manufacturing to overseas companies, but the company decided to ensure quality by employing hard-working Americans like you. Sticking to local expertise and high-end materials, though, translates to higher input costs.
Some people also complain about these grills’ industrial appearance. This reviewer begs to differ. I love the way the grill looks – especially considering that it is a machine meant for heavy-duty, real-world use.
TEC Patio FR grills are not for everyone. But this grill is for you if you are serious about retaining the natural flavors of your dishes and if you are looking to buy your last grill. If you’re not passionate about outdoor cooking, though, the TEC grill probably is not for you.
We know TEC as a reputable brand that delivers the elite quality and longevity, and we cannot recommend the company and these grills enough. They’re simply the best. TEC won numerous awards, and folks love how quickly and evenly they can cook their meals on these grills, especially on busy weeknights.
The TEC Patio FR Grill delivers everything you could want in an outdoor cooker. If you're looking for a durable model with a wide temperature range for all forms of cooking, you can’t go wrong with the TEC BBQ grill!