The dark of night or even just the low light of dusk can pose a problem for even the most accomplished outdoor cook. Flames, metal, and meat are the sort of things you need to keep a close eye on. Especially barbecue pit masters who are often required to fire up the smoker in the wee hours of the night to have everything done in time the next day.
While an outside yard light might get the job done, there are plenty of times when it’s not enough, or the single point of powerful light casts incredibly inconvenient shadows. The old answer to this was to wear a headlamp. Though in recent years headlamps have sort of becoming the “New Fanny Pack.”
Instead you might want to consider investing in a few grill lights. You might be surprised to find that for something so seemingly simple, there actually are a few intriguing options.
Grill Light Terminology
There are a few important terms you might want to familiarize yourself with before choosing a specific grill light.
LED – Also known as Light Emitting Diode, this is a cutting edge type of light fixture that is prized for it’s amazing energy efficiency, as well as the fact that it produces almost no heat. The drawback here is that they tend to produce directional light.
Lumens – This is the standard unit of measure for things like flashlights and outdoor lightbulbs. In the case of a grill light, you are looking for something in the area of around 150 to 250 lumens. Not all manufacturers will state their lumen output in the title, so you might have to search in the fine print a little bit.
Waterproof Rating – If your grill light is going to live all summer long outside, then chances are it’s going to get rained on more than once. Some grill light manufacturers will just call a light “Waterproof” without any specifications. Most of these units can stand up to a little rain, but can’t handle something like accidental submersion. If you thing you grill lights might experience more than the occasional stray shower, then you’ll want to check the fine print. Ideally, you want to see an IPX rating of 5 or more.
Water Resistant Batteries – Again, if your grill lights are going to be living outdoor all summer long, then there’s a chance of a strong rainstorm causing a little water to invade the battery case. If there aren’t water-resistant batteries or the grill light doesn’t carry some sort of water-resistant rating, it could dramatically shorten the lifespan of the grill light.
Gravity Sensor – This is more common in handle-mounted grill lights. Basically, when you lift the lid a small sensor inside detects it and triggers the light to come on. It’s especially handy for times when you might have your hands full walking out to the grill, or you already have messy fingers and don’t want to fiddle around with a button.
Handle-Mounted Grill Lights
Handle-mounted grill lights are a popular option. To the point where some of the biggest grill manufacturers are installing them on some of their premier models. Some have easy to use switches or buttons to turn them on. Though there are a few that are triggered to turn on by the motion of lifting the grill lid.
Many of these lights use LED (Light Emitting Diode) light fixtures. They tend to have a direct beam, which can be a little bit limiting if you need to work with a large area. If your grill grates are more than say 500 square inches you might want to consider getting two handles mounted grill lights. Then try to position them so that the area they light overlaps.
The Best Handle-Mounted Grill Lights
Magnetic Mounting Grill Lights
Magnetic mounted grill lights are also increasingly popular with outdoor cooks who prize versatility. Most of the best units have strong magnets mounted into the base. They are sturdy enough to lock onto any steel. This lets you put them exactly where you want them, and you can easily move them around as you wish.
Just take a moment to think about what your grill is made out of. There are some grills that use aluminum components, which is not magnetic. Especially box-shaped grills with cast aluminum end caps or grills with aluminum dampers.
Some of the best magnetic mounting grills also have telescoping features or other ways to adjust the angle of the light.