Outdoor barbecuing is one of the most enjoyable and popular ways to prepare a meal. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 homes in this country have barbecue grills. Most use charcoal, however grills fueled by bottled propane, natural gas piped to the home's gas supply, and electric grills are also available.

Charcoal grills are generally the least expensive to purchase, but require the inconvenience of loading charcoal briquettes, long warm-up periods and the unloading of ashes. Some health officials caution that chemicals produced using charcoal could be harmful. There are also safety concerns associated with storing and handling starter-fluids. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency states that outdoor charcoal grilling contributes to air pollution.

Grills using refillable tanks of bottled propane eliminate some of these disadvantages, but they are notorious for running out of gas mid-way through cooking a meal. Natural gas grills overcome this inconvenience. They have a continuous fuel supply, and offer a quick-disconnect option allowing the grill to be disengaged from the gas supply and moved into storage.

Electric grills powered by a standard household 110 volt outlet are gaining in popularity. Their advantages include 94 percent lower air emissions, which has the Environmental Protection Agency praising them as, "environmentally superior -- delivering the same or better grilling quality while producing less pollution."

The sleek, compact design of some newer electric grills makes them ideal for fitting neatly into the corner of a small deck or balcony. And because they simply plug in, some can be easily wheeled into the kitchen in the event of a surprise weather change or when a supplemental cooktop may be needed.

Some energy-efficient grills feature an insulated dome cover to keep in the smoke, heat and moisture giving food even more of a barbecue flavor. Such models use only 1500 watts, about the same energy as a blow dryer.