Compact, portable barbeques are enormously popular amongst caravan and camper trailer owners, providing delicious grilled foods and keeping unnecessary cooking heat out of your mobile home. However, the fuel you choose for your barbeque can drastically affect its performance, especially while on the road, and it's important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each fuel type before you drop your hard-earned cash.
For many barbeque enthusiasts charcoal barbeques are the only game in town, and its easy to see why. A properly used, white hot charcoal barbeque provides what many consider to be incomparable taste - the tremendous heat generated by these coals is especially useful when it comes to searing meats such as beef and lamb, which benefit from high temperatures. Charcoal also makes it easier to achieve those coveted grill marks on your meats and vegetables.
As for charcoal barbeques themselves, they also have advantages over their gas-powered counterparts. They are generally considerably cheaper than gas models, and with no moving parts or delicate valves and knobs to worry about, they can take much more of a beating on the road.
Unfortunately, charcoal barbeques do come with some notable disadvantages. One problem is that the cheaper cost of charcoal barbeques is often offset by the costs of lighting them, as charcoal and firelighters are often more expensive than simple gas bottles. Charcoal is also a bulky and heavy material to carry and transport, and carrying enough charcoal for long holidays can often take up badly-needed space in your caravan.
Gas-powered barbeques tend to be more popular among casual cooks looking to quickly and easily grill some meals on the road, and they have many features that benefit the caravanner. They are generally much more compact than charcoal-fired equivalents, and gas bottles are also noticeably lighter and more efficient than charcoal bags. This is because natural gases, such as butane and propane, are much more energy efficient than charcoal, and they can be compressed into liquid form to pack even more power into a relatively small space.
Gas barbeques are also much more convenient to use, lighting and heating up quickly, especially compared to the often tiresome process of lighting coals and waiting for them to reach the proper temperature. They do not leave ash deposits behind after cooking, and cool down more quickly, making them very useful for cooking on short rest stops.
However, many people contend that gas barbeques do not provide the same taste and sear as charcoal pits, and you may find it more difficult to achieve the very high temperatures necessary for cooking foods such as steak and pizza. As previously mentioned, they can also be more fragile than charcoal models, especially at gas hose connection points -- you can compensate for this by using robust screw-type connections over clip-ons, but bear in mind that this will make swapping gas bottles more challenging.