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Grilling Product Reviews: GrillBot – Did it Push Our Hot Buttons?

Grillbot review

Grilling Product Review : GrillBot – Did it Push Our Buttons?

On a consistent basis the team here at GrillJunkie™ sets time aside to evaluate and communicate our formal rating on either a Grilling, BBQ or Burger related product. We do this via our Grilling Product Reviews process. As you certainly can imagine these products run the gamut from: Gotta Have It!CoolUsefulUtilitarianRidiculous and the, well, Just Plain Asinine! The spectrum of grilling related products is wide.

Today’s Grilling Product Reviews candidate:

GrillBot

 

GrillBot_Grilling_Product_Review

The GrillJunkie™ Grilling Product Reviews (GPR) Scale

Based on our extensive field research, the GrillJunkie Product Review team assigns a formal rating to every product that we test. This rating is based on a 1-5 Firepot structure as depicted through our Grilling Product Review (GPR) scale illustrated below. The number of Firepots given to the grilling product indicates its final rating. The higher the number of Firepots, the more positive the review.  

GrillJunkie Grilling Product Review GPR Firepot key with logo

  GrillJunkie GPR Four FirePot rating Quick Product Reviews Rating: For the more impatient reader who needs to get the rating right away, we gave the GrillBot4.3 out of 5 GrillJunkie™ GPR Firepots. This rating equates to a Hot product but not quite Searing.  The product brilliantly addresses and solves the problem for which it was designed in an attractive, energy efficient, rechargeable, durable and well engineered robotic grill cleaning product. In fact, the GrillBot may be one of the best ideas to arrive on the grilling scene in years as it directly addresses one of the main challenges of grilling; clean up by minimizing, if not eliminating the chore of manually scraping your grilling surface leaving more time for you to enjoy precious time with family and friends. For more detail on this Product Review, including an overview of the present array of grilling surface and cleaning tool choices, as well as the many upcoming Grilling Product Reviews on our schedule, read on!

Here’s a quick overview YouTube Video of the GrillBot Product Review:

[embedyt]http://youtu.be/8OH6ogCzGds[/embedyt]

First Up: 7 Types of Grilling Surfaces

Type 1: Stainless Steel – Stainless steel can be made from thin or thick rods. Stainless steel grates are not to be confused with chrome or nickel plated grates which are not as beneficial. The real advantage to stainless steel is that it has the potential to have a long life span and is easy to clean. Good quality and/or true stainless steel grates will never rust or corrode while cheap stainless eventually ceases to be truly “stainless”, and eventually will require replacement. Stainess_Steel_Grill_Grates_GrillJunkieThe last thing you want on your grates is rust or other oxides that can make their way onto your food. Some prefer thinner stainless steel grates that allow more radiant heat through, especially for charcoal grills. There are those that believe that the challenge with thick rods is that they block radiant heat and, although they make large dark grill marks, some find them less adequate in creating all over and even browning.

Type 2: Enamel-Coated Porcelain – A sturdy porcelain enamel coating is applied to a variety of metals Enamel_coated_porcelain_grill_grates_GrillJunkieof different weights. Some grill manufacturers put it on rods or on upside down V or U-shaped rails. It can be coated on cast iron or tempered steel. Some prefer the thin rods so they don’t block the radiant heat needed to brown the surfaces of foods. Porcelain is easy to clean. It is hard to crack the surface, but dropping them can create a fissure in the coating allowing for the creation of rust. Vigorous scrubbing and scraping can scratch them and eventually wear off the coating. However, with proper care they work just fine, should last for years, and are much less expensive than stainless.

Type 3: Chrome or Nickel Plated WireInexpensive and easily replaceable, these types of grates warp under extremely high heat. After a year or two they pit and the plating begins to chip off. Once this occurs the exposed metal is susceptible to rust. But they’re so cheap that replacing them is not a budget-breaker. Their main advantage is that they allow radiant heat from below to find the food on the grate by leaving the heating surface of the grill open for real searing. They’re the next best thing to no grates at all and as close to open fire cooking that you can get. An example is what you will find as standard equipment with the Weber Hinged Cooking Grate.  

Type 4: Cast Iron Grates – Unlike cast iron fry pans and griddles that can become non-stick with use, many people believe that the same is true for cast iron grill grates. Untrue! Pans and griddles become non-stick due to their design. The metal is slightly porous and the surface is textured so oil becomes embedded in the surface pores forming a slippery polymer that can last for years.  The key to the longevity of these types of surfaces is to not allow them to become overheated or scrubbed with abrasives. Therein lies the problem with cast-iron grill grates. They become a lot hotter than most frying pans and that intense heat burns off the embedded surface oil and/or turns it to carbon. This eliminates the intended advantage of a non-stick surface. When finished cooking on a grill, excessively scrubbing and scraping the grease and food residue off actually removes those non-stick properties.

Cast_iron_grill_grate_GrillJunkie_product_reviewAdditionally, because cast iron grates are so heavy and therefore highly efficient at holding and transmitting heat to meat, they make definitive grill marks. You might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” The answer lies in the fact that it’s not the grill marks in and of themselves but the intensity of and quickness at which the grill marks were created! What is produced at too high of a surface temperature is a very significant contrast between those marks and the rest of the meat, leaving much of the meat surface under cooked and underdeveloped, never mind the potential of unsafely under heating the inner portions of the meat. What is desired is an even browning of the meat across the entire surface leaving dark mahogany tones of brown caramelized stripes slightly contrasted by medium mahogany surface colors between the stripes. Not only does the food being grilled look richer and more attractive, the taste tones are more satisfying and complex!

Furthermore, cast iron grates need extra and immediate TLC. You have to scrape them immediately after cooking, then oil them while they are still warm. The oil will fill the pores that have opened during cooking and prevent rust. To perform this maintenance ritual constantly and consistently is a hassle as you will find yourself on a frantic time scheduled obstacle course of leaving the fire on in order to burn off residue, running the food into the house, and while everyone is waiting for you, running back out to scrape and re-oil. If you forget to do this, you will notice that within days the cast-iron grates can start rusting. If you don’t use cast iron grates for months, they will rust even if you oiled them after the last use.

Type 5: Tempered Steel – Common on large barbecue pits, tempered steel grates often come in expanded metal diamond grids. Their main advantages are that they are lightweight, inexpensive, and make diamond shaped grill marks without having to rotate the meat. Their disadvantages are that they rust, warp easily and they are extremely hard to clean. Similar to cast iron, they must be oiled.

Type 6: Teflon and Non-Stick Coatings – These surfaces are typically found on electric “grills” and a few portable gas grills. As with non-stick pans, the surface is easily scratched, must be treated gingerly and the use of a metal spatula, tongs, or fork, never mind a grill cleaning brush is verboten. Also, some are known to put out dangerous gases if they get very hot. Depending on the specific coating, “very hot” is usually 500° F, which is the range of a good direct grill surface. Their top feature is that they clean up easily, usually with mild soap and water, and some can even go through the dishwasher.

Type 7: Hard-Anodized Cast Aluminum – Made from aircraft quality aluminum into various shapes, (either as a pure flat plate, aerated and shaped for strength and air-flow, or raised railed wide rectangles), this light weight material is well suited for grilling as it allows if not epitomizes the infrared cooking method. Not GrillGrate_Product_Review_GrillJunkie_GPR4typically used as standard grilling surface material direct from the original equipment manufacturer – OEM, they are available as an after market product either as complete replacement grates or designed to sit on top of existing grates. Dependent upon the surface shape and design, aluminum grates have been shown to amplify heat, reduce hot spots by evening out the heat transfer across the grilling surface, minimize flare-ups and are easier to clean. The GrillGrate is made of this material and is shaped to maximize the infrared grilling method. Click here for the GrillGrate Product Review.

Next Up: Traditional Grill Surface Cleaning Tools

There are many tools that can be used to scrape and clean your grilling surfaces. These tools run the gamut from the traditional brass grill brush to cleaning stones to steam cleaners and even using an onion. Here are a few of the most frequently used grill surface cleaning tools:

Traditional Grill Surface Cleaning Brush – The utilitarian brass-bristled brush with handle canthLRZBGUZS typically last a whole season, does a respectable job of cleaning grilling surfaces but usually needs to be replaced or repaired after one season.

thJ74N6XE5Triangular Grill Brush – A bit different than the traditional handled brush, this design is more flexible to avoid scratching sensitive surfaces, covers more surface area, yet is capable of getting into nook and crannies.

Steam Cleaners – Exemplified by the GrillDaddy steamer, this type of grill surface cleaning tool combines hot water vapor with the traditional brush design.

Grill Cleaning Stones – Either mounted on a handle or as a standalone, grill cleaning stones are designed to conform to the grill grate surface to do its part in cleaning your grill.thVLQ2ZWIC

Aluminum Foil – By rolling aluminum foil into a loose ball and gripping the ball with grilling tongs you can make a decent make-shift grill cleaning tool.

An Onion? – By cutting an onion in half and grasping it with tongs to slide across the grilling surface you can not only clean the surface but lubricate it as well as the onion contains oils that prevent food from sticking to the hot surface.  


Now let’s see how the GrillBot stood up to cleaning these surfaces and it’s competition:

GrillBot logoGrillBot Product Review – New BBQ Cleaning King or Elitist Toy?

The GrillJunkie Grilling Product Reviews follow a comprehensive structure which includes the:

  • Problem that needs to be solved or addressed
  • Solution to that problem
  • Good, Bad and Ugly elements of the product
  • Verdict – the official GrillJunkie™ GPR (Grilling Product Reviews Rating)

So let’s dig in to the GrillBot product review.

Official Product Review and GPR

  • Problem – The way we view it, although the options for cleaning your grill are vast, mostly we all wish we had only one option; to NOT do it!  There are some chores we simply all despise doing. From backyard weekend warriors to grill pros everywhere, the last thing we look forward to is having to clean the grill after an enjoyable and successful grill gathering. The GrillJunkie team adamantly agrees as we have up to 15 grills in our outdoor test kitchen all of which need to be constantly cleaned in preparation for our next product review session.

Product’s Solution Pitch – The GrillBot team’s approach to addressing the problem was to develop, market and distribute the GrillBot™ lineup of grill cleaning robots. According to the company’s marketing material and ad copy:

“The GrillBot, which was invented by Ethan Woods, is the world’s first automatic grill cleaning robot. Launched January 13, 2014 GrillBot is here to make your life easier. Our mission is to enrich your life by simplifying it. We believe that by taking the grunt work out of cleaning your grill it will leave more time to enjoy your friends, family and grillbot brushesthe party! Simply place the GrillBot on your grill, press a button and you’re done. The GrillBot does all the work for you. No more scrubbing the grill. The GrillBot is the easy-to-use, fun-to-watch, fully automated device that easily cleans your grill with just the push of a button.”

The Genesis of GrillBot

Ethan Woods didn’t like cleaning his grill either. Woods had his “a-ha” moment while attempting to scrub and clean his grill with a wire wheel brush. An inventive minded guy, he attached the wire wheeled brush to a power drill and the impetus for the Grillbot was afoot.

“For most of my adult life, it’s been a dream to invent a product and bring it to market,” says Woods. “After some research it was clear there was a very large market for something like this. I certainly was not the only person who did not look forward to scraping my grill with a poorly made grill brush. So I started by contacting engineers and prototype development companies and, surprisingly, they all said it couldn’t be done. It was just too difficult with the heat issue on a grill and you can’t make anything move around well enough to cover this type of surface.Not one to take no for an answer, I finally found some very sharp German engineers in California who said they could do it. They develop high tech medical equipment, among other things such as pool robots so I decided to give them a chance.”

GrillBot on grillEnd Result: The GrillBot

What Woods developed is the heat-resistant plastic Grillbot that features three independent motors, in addition to three rotary brass or stainless steel brushes that spin as it maneuvers itself in a repetitive, random pattern across your grill’s surface. The Grillbot will clean your grill in about 30 minutes or less and all you have to do is put it on the grate, push a button and close the grill’s lid. And if the grill gets hotter than 250 degrees, the device has a sensor that will set off an alarm. It also has a smart computer brain to regulate speed and direction and can be recharged with an AC adapter.

Grillbot features:

  • Push button operation
  • Three electric motors
  • Three replaceable brushes WIN_20140422_095041
  • Built in LCD alarm and timer
  • Smart CPU or computer brain to regulate speed and direction
  • Rechargeable battery with AC adaptor
  • Four colors

The Good – The product has a few important positive attributes. First of all, the GrillBot product team did indeed address the problem head on with an attractive, well designed, well constructed, automated, materially strong and versatile product. Under extensive product testing using various sized grills and a myriad of food and burnt-on messes, the hard to impress GrillJunkie team found that this grilling product:

    • Arrived in an attractive, appropriately hefty and see through packaging
    • Comes with an informational DVD
    • Is easy to charge and re-charge
    • Is powered by three strong electronic motors
    • Has a built in, easy to read LCD timer and audible alarm
    • Is easy to clean with removable brass cleaning wheels
    • Can be upgraded to use stainless steel brushes (optional)
    • Performed well on all sized surfaces: rectangular, square and round
    • Can be time adjusted for various sized grills and messes
    • Shuts off automatically if it overheats

05_21_grillbot_product_reviewThe Bad – There are, however, four main negative attributes to the GrillBot.

  • Price – Presently, the GrillBot retails for $129.95. This may be a bit steep for the budget conscious casual griller who may opt to simply stick with his or her utilitarian brass scraping tool. However, the laws of supply and demand may be in your favor as the GrillJunkie team believes that there are plans to get the price below the $99 point. With that said, we look forward to not only cleaning our grills more easily but maybe buying a few and entering a modified GrillBot into MIT’s annual Robot Wars.  Don’t try this at home kids!
  • Carrying Case Please – This product screams for a carrying case in order to store the device, its AC adapter and DVD safely between grilling sessions. In fact, it appears that one may be in the works as you can see by the dedicated spot on the GrillBot website.
  • Keep the Lid Closed – (For those without a substantial front or surrounding lip edge) – Although it is fun to watch the GrillBot in action, it is so powerful and grime hungry that the lid must be closed while in use as without a substantial front lip on your grill the device may pull itself off the grill surface before the electronic sensor realizes that it needs to make a critical turnaround.
  • Teflon Averse – Cannot be used on Teflon grilling surfaces – Similar to all grill cleaning products, the GrillBot cannot be used to clean Teflon surfaces. Not a big deal as these sensitive surfaces are designed to be cleaned easily with a simple wipe.

The Ugly – We did not believe that this variable directly applied to this product. In fact, the GrillBot has a clean and enticing package design and the product itself is very attractive, well designed and extremely effective. The only ugliness is that the product cannot clean the entire underbody, heat chamber, grease canister while also shining up the exterior stainless steel! We’ll get Ethan Woods on that right way. Stay tuned.

Verdict – We give the GrillBot a 4.3 out of 5 GrillJunkie™ GPR Firepots. This rating equates to a Hot product but not quite Searing.  The product brilliantly addresses and solves the problem for which it was designed in an uncomplicated, attractive, energy efficient, durable, and well engineered product. In fact, the GrillBot may be one of the best ideas to arrive on the grilling scene in years as it directly addresses one of the main challenges of grilling; clean up by minimizing, if not eliminating the chore of manually scraping your grilling surface leaving more time for you to enjoy precious time with family and friends. We look forward to any new product developments that will come from the GrillBot team.

GrillJunkie 4 Firepots

    GrillJunkie Rating of GrillBot = 4.3 / 5.0


 

Fire_and_Flavor _grilling_planks

Next Review: Fire & Flavor Cedar Grilling Planks

What do you think? What Fires You Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Replyjoe

    How lazy can one person be! The people I know just light the grill and let the flame burn off and steralize the grill , common sense goes a long way , of course common sense is not common.

  2. Replydan

    Wast of money,just burn it clean.

  3. Replyjoe

    How true , I barbecue twice a week for many years just light up the grill and let the flame burn and steralize the grill , how much more simpler can it be to clean your grill a little common sense goes along way.

  4. Replydan

    Save your money, burn it off.

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