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We all love grilling in the summer time and everyone has their favorite grill at home whether it’s a ceramic model like the Big Green Egg, simple charcoal like a Weber Kettle, or wood pellet version.  However, getting a grill that will fit conveniently in an RV is a little more of a challenge.

Growing up, we had the basic Coleman two burner stove and used white gas from a gallon metal jug poured into a tank and “pumped” by hand into the burner tube.  Occasionally, we would build a campfire but mostly roasted marshmallows for s’mores.

Today, there are several models that can be easily packed flat in a storage compartment or smaller version of large residential models that will fit in some of the large storage compartments available with today’s RV.

The best grill for your RVing experience is a balance between personal taste versus storage availability.  The lump charcoal used in the Big Green Egg has become very popular for residential grilling, however most RVs don’t have a storage compartment large enough and most RVer’s don’t want to load and unload the heavy kettle.

In Part 1, we will look at the debate between the traditional charcoal grills and the new popular “lump coal” fuel option.


charcoal briquettes

Traditional briquette charcoal is by far the most popular as it is easy to use, inexpensive, and provides a unique flavor to food.  The grill does not have temperature controls, rather a two stage cooking feature with coals being able to reach much hotter temperatures close to the coals (700 deg F) and a lower temperature on a higher rack.  They are slower to heat up and typically require more cleanup.

Charcoal is made by burning wood in the absence of oxygen.  It is preferred to wood due to its high carbon content and lack of moisture.  It burns hotter, longer, more steadily, and cleaner than wood with less smoke.  Charcoal briquettes are made of sawdust combined with additives pressed into molds.  These additives make it easier for the briquette to come out, and even some have fire starting assistance.  As people strive to find a healthier alternative, there are natural briquettes made of whole wood and other natural additives like corn starch or corn husks. These are usually much more expensive. The first commercially manufactured briquettes were introduced by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and E.B. Kingsford in 1920.  The group loved to camp along with Harvey Firestone.

Briquette lovers claim the uniform size makes it easier to arrange for even heat.  Wood flavoring can be added by placing a small amount of actual wood chips in a smoker box on the grill.

Lump Coal

lump coalLump coal also is wood that is “charred” or burned down removing sap, moisture, and other chemicals present in wood but with little or no additives.  It can be used in the same grills as the briquettes, however it burns hotter (1400 deg F) but burns faster.  Since it gets hot faster, it’s good to use if you are needing to sear the meat first.  Lump coal also produces less ash after the burn. It has become popular with the Ceramic grills such as the Big Green Egg as it cooks faster and produces a smoke flavor. Ceramic grills also have less space for ash which means they fill up faster with the briquettes and why the lump is recommended.   Since lump coal burns hotter, it’s a better choice for cooler days to maintain a higher temperature, but will require more coal.  If you are looking for a longer burning, medium heat, the briquette charcoal is a better choice as it’s like a slow cooker versus the “InstaPot”!

Things to consider:

  • Meat is 75% moisture, so increasing cooking time at lower temperature is recommended.
  • Higher altitudes have less oxygen which means briquettes work better
  • Briquettes burn longer and with a more consistent heat
  • According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association, briquettes made up 94% of total charcoal shipped last year.
  • Lump is gaining momentum and currently there are more than 75 brands on the market.
  • Do not buy “easy to light” briquettes, they are presoaked in lighter fluid and give off a Butane taste.  Use a chimney starter instead.
  • Lump coal has uneven sizes which can mean uneven heat and sometimes wasted product.
  • And finally, whatever fuel you decide to use to provide the heat, make sure you check the temperature of your meat to make sure it’s cooked properly.
    • Pork: 145 degrees
    • Ground Beef: 160 degrees
    • Chicken: 165 degrees
    • Steak:
      • Rare 120-125 degrees
      • Med Rare 125-135 degrees
      • Med 135-145 degrees
      • Med Well 145-155 degrees
      • Well 155 degrees
      • My Father’s Steak – 175 degrees for 30 minutes!

(Temperatures provided by Weber Quick Tips)

About the author:

Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club

For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.

RV Repair ClubRV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.

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