PK Grills PK360: Burn Test

PK Grills PK360

PK Grills PK360:

As you’re probably aware, a PK Grills PK360 was recently added to my growing collection of BBQs courtesy of my friends from Hazy Peak Barbecues. Once I finished assembling the PK Grills PK360, it was time to fire it up and give it a Test Burn. However, I wanted to be a little more thorough than just light some charcoal and watch it burn, as fun as that is. So strap yourself in as I get my scientific method on in this PK Grills PK360: Burn Test.

PK Grills PK360: Burn Test Objectives

When I started this experiment, I had some very clear objectives in mind:

  1. To burn in / season the PK Grills PK360
  2. To see how long the PK Grills PK360 takes to settle at a temperature after the charcoal has ashed over
  3. To see how responsive the PK Grills PK360 is to vent adjustments
  4. To see how efficient the PK Grills PK360 is
  5. To give me an idea of the potential of the PK Grills PK360 for use in Low’n’Slow Barbecue

You may be asking why I’d want to be so precise in my testing. Well, the PK Grills PK360 is marketed as a ‘Grill + Smoker’. A grill is very straight forward – you can build a grill with some bricks and a shopping trolley. Building a smoker is a lot more complex and requires a lot more thoughtful engineering. That, and I’m completely obsessed with Low’n’Slow Barbecue!

PK Grills PK360: Burn Test Materials

Despite the complex objectives of this field test, the materials were really simple. Of course, I had to have a PK Grills PK360. I also needed some charcoal. For this test, I used some Heat Beads Lump Charcoal. To measure the variations in temperatures I would need a thermometer of some kind. In other smokers I’d put in a remote thermometer, but in the PK Grills PK360 I didn’t need to. There is a built-in Tel-Tru thermometer right at grill level. With a long history of accuracy and performance, this the only thermometer I’d need.

PK Grills PK360: Burn Test Methods

In order to find out what I wanted to know about the performance of the PK Grills PK360, I needed to come up with a plan and make sure I did things in a particular sequence. This would make sure that the BBQ would produce the results that I wanted to measure. Specifically, I wanted to know how long it would take to throttle down to 275F and then back up to 350F. I chose these numbers because I like to do my BBQ at 275F and then I often like to bake desserts at 350F.

Here is the method that I used:

  1. Set the PK Grills PK 360 up for Indirect Cooking
  2. Light the charcoal and allow it to ash over
  3. Close the lid with all vents fully open and measure the time it takes for the temperature to level out
  4. Close the bottom left and top right vents and measure how long it takes to throttle down to 275F
  5. Open the vents back up a little and measure the time it takes to get back up to 350F
PK Grills PK360

PK Grills PK360: Burn Test Results

There were no significant differences from ‘normal’ when it came to lighting the charcoal. The time it took to light and ash over was comparable to other BBQs. Please note that I did not use a charcoal chimney as I was working on a wooden deck and try as I might, I never seen to be able to use a chimney without some little bits of charcoal falling out the bottom, which would have burned the deck. Once the charcoal was ashed over, it took just 2 minutes once the lid was closed for the Tel-Tru to level out at 400F. Upon closing the vents to throttle the BBQ down, it took 25 minutes to reach 275F. When the vents were partially opened back up, it took 7 minutes to reach 350F. The burn time on the original load of charcoal was approximately 6 hours, however it is estimated that there was enough charcoal left in the BBQ to keep burning another 2 hours. 

PK Grills PK360: Burn Test Discussion

The PK Grills PK360 lends itself to multiple forms of cooking: Dirrect, Indirect-Low (1 heat source) and Indirect-High (2 heat sources). This experiment only explored indirect-low. However, I have grilled some steaks and burgers on this BBQ and although I did not record the results, the food was delicious. 

Taking just 2 minutes for a BBQ to settle to a temperature is exceptional. A steel stick burner or a bullet smoker can take as long as 45 minutes to level out. I estimate that this is due to the thick aluminium construction of the PK Grills PK360. Aluminium has 6 times the heat conductivity of steel which explains why it doesn’t take a long time to heat up and settle the temperature. 

On the other hand, the time taken to throttle down from 400F to 275F was 25 minutes and seems like quite a long time. However, certain allowances have to be made. That is, I started the experiment with a full load of charcoal fully ablaze. Whilst this was necessary for this testing session, it is not typical of a low’n’slow cooking session. In a regular low’n’slow session I would start with a Minion or Matchstick method, so the starting point would be lower than 400F and therefore result in a quicker time to throttle down to 275F. 

In answer to this, the time taken to move from 275F to 350F was just 7 minutes and this was outstanding and a much ‘fairer’ indication of the responsiveness of the grill as both the charcoal and the vents were properly settled by that stage. This would be a great advantage to teams using a PK Grills PK360 in a BBQ competition where they need to switch proteins and temperatures quickly, or at home to quickly get to a baking temperature for a yummy dessert. Fried/Not Fried Chicken is also on the cards. This result indicates that this BBQ has a wide range of applications with a minimum of fuss. 

With regard to efficiency, while this experiment offers insight into how efficient the PK Grills PK360 could be, it does not offer reliable enough information to  say for sure. This is because of the methods used in the experiment – starting with all the charcoal lit and then playing with the temperatures. A far more reliable method would be to start the charcoal with a Minion Method or similar, settle the BBQ at 275F (or another single temperature) and wait to see how long it took for the fire to burn out. This could be a future experiment. 

The results of this experiment have clear implications for the use of the PK GrillsPK360 for Low’n’Slow Barbecue. Firstly, it’s ability to maintain low temperatures for long periods of time indicates that this unit would be good for Low’n’Slow. Secondly, the fact that specific air vents can be opened or closed to force air, heat and smoke across the meat on the grill also indicates that it would be good for Low’n’Slow.

PK Grills PK360: Conclusions

I’m very impressed with the results of this Burn Test in the PK Grills PK360. It settles into temperature very quickly, and holds a steady temperature for long periods of time. The implications are that this BBQ will be very efficient on charcoal. However, most impressive for me was just how responsive this BBQ is to vent adjustments, taking just 7 minutes to rise from a low’n’slow 275F to a baking temperature of 350F. Plus, it looks great on my balcony, keeping my wife happy too. What’s not to love?

The PKGrills PK360 is one of the most flexible and adaptable smoker grills on the market. It’s well built, with high quality construction, and can be used in so many ways. In this article, I’ve used it as a smoker, but I’ve also used it for grilling, roasting and baking. Even better, my wife likes the way it looks so it gets to live on the front deck of my house rather than hidden down the back yard.

Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a PK360 now!

N.b. U.S. Readers – you can grab yours over here

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