In the early 1980s, a company known as TEC (Thermal Engineering Corp) invented and patented the infrared grill. But what is so special about the IR grill?

The infrared burner in an infrared grill focuses the flame of a traditional gas burner onto a ceramic tile. This mosaic is made up of thousands of microscopic holes and is capable of transforming the heat of the gas burner flame into infrared radiant energy. Infrared heat is much higher in temperature and more direct than the usual grill, which works by convection heating. While convective heat is conducted through the air during grilling, radiant heat grills directly on the grill surface with direct heat.

Grilling reproduces the oldest cooking method in the world: an open fire. Whatever fuel is used to produce the flames of a natural fire, a large amount of infrared energy is always being created, according to the science of physics. We know from physics that any given heat source emits light at some wavelength that is closest to the wavelength of the dominant energy output. Simply put, the redder a flame is, the more infrared energy is produced within it. Wood flames are orange-yellow and charcoal flames are dull red. However, the gas grill has a blue flame – there isn’t much infrared energy there, and this makes cooking meat thoroughly and efficiently a real problem.

A typical barbecue uses blue flame burners that need a closed lid to trap air within the barbecue area. Those flames slowly heat the air trapped in the hood until the air conducts enough heat to cook food. Most barbecues work like an oven that can be used outdoors.

Infrared grills also provide moisture retention. Convection heats by heating the surrounding air and then simply pushing that air onto the food. But look what happens when you use a hair dryer: the hot air dries your hair. Convection grills dry out meats or whatever else you’re grilling, allowing food juices to rise and become airborne as condensation or drippings from the food and popping. But infrared energy does the exact opposite: it actually drives moisture from the surface of the food down deeper into the food, enhancing flavor and texture for simply a deeper pleasure in the eating experience.

When you use infrared grilling, you get the benefits of shorter grilling times, more convenient grilling, and so much versatility that you can grill with confidence even in sub-zero temperatures. Grilling also becomes safer because at very high temperatures any drippings simply vaporize. This even adds a more natural flavor to the meat; In short, it has no flare-ups, due to the concave design of the infrared designed cooking grate. But infrared grilling shouldn’t be considered limited to meats, as like convection grilling, you can grill anything including seafood, grilled vegetables, and chicken. No matter what you’re grilling, with infrared grilling technology you get the unmatched flavor enhancement of wood or charcoal grilling perfectly combined with the pinpoint control and consistency of gas grilling convenience and, at the same time, enjoy more succulent (and therefore more nutrient-dense foods).

Thermal Engineering Corporation, or TEC, introduced the first infrared grill in 1961. Eventually, its research, development, and engineering progress led to thirty patents issued or pending in the United States and abroad. In the 1980s, TEC grills were advancing as commercial cooking equipment, as they could make grills that heated faster and more evenly across cooking surfaces while being more fuel efficient at the same time. It was in 1980 that TEC brought the world’s first low fire infrared gas grill to the market and that’s when professional chefs and restaurateurs really started taking notice and using infrared grills, so the technology became more mainstream than ever.

However, TEC’s main patent on infrared grill technology expired in 2000, and the patents expired to allow for innovation. A new competitor in infrared grill manufacturing called Altima came up with interchangeable burner units that allow someone to use a standard burner, an infrared burner, and a charcoal firebox all at the same time. Meanwhile, TEC saw two spinoffs form from its former employees and managers who had their own ideas: Alfresco and Solaire.

The real goal of all of TEC’s infrared grill competitors is to create grills that are easier to use (and sometimes more cost effective), as TEC’s original infrared grills were necessarily more about getting the science and engineering the right infrared grills. than in considerations of customer comfort zones and end user convenience. The infrared gas grill manufacturer’s competitors have been very successful here.

Alfresco came up with their patented “SearZone,” which is made up of an infrared burner located on the side of a traditional gas burner. The idea here is that one can use the infrared burner to sear meats, then move the seared meat to the traditional gas burner to finish cooking, thereby saving energy costs, saving your infrared unit costs, and theoretically allowing for more controlled control. , refined final flavor of the meat. Alfresco designed and released the first 9-volt ignition module, vented firebox, and internal rotisserie motor. However, Alfresco (hybrid) infrared convection grills use briquettes to conduct heat on the non-infrared convection side of the barbecue. The briquettes need to be cleaned or changed frequently, or the stainless steel under the ceramic briquettes will quickly corrode.

In the meantime, Solaire has patented its own InfraVection concept intended to allow a simple and user-friendly transition for the grill master who doesn’t want to leave their “comfort zone” of the traditional convection burner but would still love to enjoy the benefits of the infrared. intense questioning. As with Alfresco’s “SearZone” technology, Solaire InfraVection’s design allows for easy conversion from one type of burner to another, once again offering the greatest possible control over the final taste and texture of the food. Solaire also boasts that the convection portion of an InfraVection grill consists of an “efficient dual lance stainless steel U-burner with stainless steel steaming plate” (and no briquettes). The valve design on the Solaire infrared and infrared grill models allows for easy removal and installation of the infrared and blue flame burners, but also allows an infrared burner to be rotated from a low position to a high position without losing its flame.

What this all means for you is that while TEC is still a great brand of infrared grills, you may want to look at other more user-friendly brands as well, without fear of not being able to get the one developed by TEC. benefits of the IR grill. But surely, for any professional or hobby grill master who can afford it, an infrared grill can’t be beat. More than once, customers and guests have expressed surprise that the steaks we grill taste so much better than the $100 ones. Grilled steaks from the best restaurants in town.

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