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Jacque Applegate's Blog

Jacque

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It's that time of year for one of the largest shows in the Southeast the Annual Wings and Wheels show that is held at the Museum of Aviation. If you have never been then I would encourage you to visit this great show. There are so many impressive cars to see and in talking to owners of the cars you can tell with so many of them that this is a labor of love. I have to say I am so happy my husband has never had the funds nor the desire to follow that little train. 

If you have some free time this weekend you might want to stop by it is only on Saturday and it is free to the public. Hours are 9-5 hope we see you there.

The 2014 Wings and Wheels Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show Will be Held on Saturday, October 11

 

To Download the 2014 Flyer, CLICK HERE

To Download the 2014 Registration Form, CLICK HERE

The 22nd Annual Wings and Wheels Car Truck and Motorcycle Show -- one of the largest shows in the Southeast each fall -- will be held at the Museum of Aviation on Saturday, October 11. The show will again welcome more than 250 show-quality vehicles competing for more than 100 awards in 50 different year-group and type-vehicle classes. .

Each vehicle is judged on its appearance and appeal with scores given for interior, exterior, paint and engine. The top winners in each class receive Best in Class awards and five vehicles are picked to receive Best of Show Trophies. Awards are also given for Best Interior (Stock and Custom), Best Engine (Stock and Modified), Best Paint, Best ”Rat” Rod and Best Young Gun (18 and younger). A commander from Robins Air Force Base will also select a vehicle for the “Commander’s Choice” Trophy. The show benefits the Museum of Aviation which provides science technology, engineering and math education classes for more 50,000 students each year.

Wings and Wheels is a family-oriented show with no alcoholic beverages allowed. Registration on show day is held from 8:00 am to 11:00 a.m. and awards are presented at 3:45 pm. “We’re trying to have the awards ceremony earlier this year so everyone can get home sooner,” said Dubiel, who has chaired every show since 1995. The Registration fee is $25 if postmarked by October 3 and $30 thereafter and on show day. The judging classes and registration form can be found at www.museumofaviation.org.

Attractions will include monster truck rides around the Museum grounds, kiddie car races in the picnic area, “Cruizin’ to the Oldies” with DJ Tommy Landrum, a silent auction, food and car-related vendors and a cars-for-sale “Corral.” There will also be a large 50/50 drawing, a raffle of a battery operated kiddie car and several door prizes.

Wings and Wheels Schedule for Saturday, October 11

8:00 am-11:00 am
Competition vehicle registration-Pavilion #1

9:00 am-5:00 pm
Gates open to the public – Free admission

10:00 am-3:30 pm
Silent Auction and T-Shirt sales - Pavilion #2

10:00 am-12 noon
Kiddie Car Races-Freedom Park Picnic Area

10:45 am
Judges Meeting-Eagle Building

11:45 am – 2:45 pm
Vehicle judging

3:45 pm
Awards ceremony-Freedom Park Picnic Area
 

 

2014 Georgia Invitational Golf Tournament

by Jacque

Are you a golfer or married to one? I am it appears that I somehow passed that gene to all the males in my family, (Not that I could pass it to my husband but you get what I mean) The boys in my life adore the game of golf, to play to watch, to judge. I on the other hand do not have an athletic bone in my body. But if you are unlike me and love the game of golf then you might be interested to know that the Museum of Aviation is hosting the 25th Annual  Georgia Invitational Golf Tournament, on September 18 & 19, This wonderful event attracts a huge amount of community support. Great companies like L3, Boeing, Lockheed, Kroger, Flint Energies are just a few of the proud sponsors 

I am sharing with you the page from the museum of aviation website. 

September 18 & 19, 2014
Houston Lake Country Club, Perry, Georgia

You can view the 2014 GA Invitational Golf Tournament Brochure here.

You can view the 2014 GA Invitational Golf Tournament Volunteer Form, here.

The Museum of Aviation Foundation is gearing up for its 25th Annual Georgia Invitational Golf Tournament to be held September 18-19 at Houston Lake Country Club, Perry, Georgia. Last year’s event was a great success and Foundation officials are looking forward to another grand event started by former Senator Sam Nunn who still serves as Honorary National Chairman. To date, the tournaments have raised over $5 million to help build and develop the second largest aviation museum in the U.S. Air Force. United States Senator Saxby Chambliss will again serve as the Honorary Chairman of this year's tournament with Honorary Co-Chairmen Senator Johnny Isakson and United States Congressman Austin Scott and Tournament Chairman Eddie Wiggins.

The two-day tournament is the largest golf outing in Middle Georgia and is made up of three separate rounds with separate prizes for each round. Foursomes will compete in a “scramble” handicapped format. Tee times are noon on Thursday and 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Golfers receive a commemorative golf shirt, a Thursday night traditional “Plantation Supper” (Century of Flight, Museum of Aviation), breakfast and luncheon buffets. Friday evenings awards dinner will be at Houston Lake Country Club.

Over 60 businesses and individuals annually sign up as sponsors for this large annual Museum of Aviation Foundation fundraiser. “The overwhelming support for this tournament from all over America is outstanding,” said Pat Bartness, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation. “These efforts assure that the Museum of Aviation will continue to be one of the best aviation Museums in America to honor the men and women of our armed forces.”

Zombie Run is Almost Here!!!

by Teamworks

Are you a runner or a Walking Dead fan, do you love Halloween? Well so does Laura in our office she is the only person I know who post count down to Halloween. 

One of Laura's favorite fall activities is the Zombie Run that is held in Perry Georgia. It is coming our way in October and I can honestly say that the excitement we are experiencing because of Laura is nothing short of amazing. So I wanted to share with all of you the official post from the zombierun.com.

 

Zombie Run Escape at The Guardian Center, Perry GA

Register to be a Runner-Perry, GAguardian-centers3

Register to be a Zombie-Perry, GA 

Register to be a Spectator-Perry,GA

Register to be a Volunteer-Perry, GA

Sponsorship Opportunities-Perry, Ga

Located in the epicenter of the Walking Dead story line and built on the bones of a cold-war era nuclear missile plant lies an incredible 840 acre disaster preparedness training facility.  This facility boasts a multi-story 75 acre urban cityscape, over 300 vehicles, a dual rail subway system and a built-to-DOT-specification interstate highway.  And this is the location of Zombie Run Escape on October 25, 2014.

The minimum age to be a runner is 11, and the minimum age to be a Zombie is 14.  At Zombie Run our runners are given a flag belt and three flags. They attempt to navigate the course and avoid having their flags taken by the zombies.  Runners who survive with at least one flag receive the “survivor” medal and those that don’t receive the “infected” medal.

At Zombie Run Escape, we utilize the unique features of the venue to create challenges and obstacles for the participants.  The Guardian Center is a 330 million dollar disaster preparedness facility and we intend to use the unique elements to create the most apocalyptic run in the world.  Forget the usual OCR obstacles; we intend to utilize the vehicles, rubble, buildings, tunnels and roadways for this event.

Runners may form teams of up to 5 people. If any one member of a team survives with a flag intact, the entire team receives the “survivor” medals.  A group of people may form multiple teams (myteamname 1, myteamname2, etc), but each team is evaluated individually for survivor/infected status.

This venue has a mandatory $10/per person facility and insurance charge. There will be a $10 per vehicle parking fee.  Active Duty Military use code “MILITARY” at registration for discount; ID required.

Olympic Fever

by Teamworks

Are you as addicted to the Olympics as I am? It is almost like a disease. I follow it in the news and as a family we sit and watch it every evening.

When those young girls do the balance beam I am clenched tight when they finish I let out a huge breath. In the swimming we cheer out loud. In the water polo which I know exactly nothing about I even watch. The Olympics really does strange things to a body.

My biggest thrill today has to be the Women's soccer team advancing to semi finals. So excited for the win. I have great memories of the Women winning a gold in soccer. We were visiting my folks in Kansas City and we literally jumped out of the car commandeered control of the TV after all my Dad was not a soccer fan. And sat glued and tense for that entire game. Good times.

I think I love soccer so much because all 4 of our kids played and it is actually a sport I understand with a child like understanding, but an understanding non the less.

Our friends have a son at Florida State who did time trials for the Olympics in Omaha but he did not make the team but we feel like we know someone famous just for knowing Mark, I am sure he will be in the next summer games.  Keep your eyes out for Mark Webber. Speaking of swimming how about Phelps? Amazing swimmer huh and a world record medal holder. I know his Mother is very proud of him. Congratulations Michael!

Well once more Women's water polo is on and I must go cheer on the American not sure what I am cheering for other then a win but cheer I must.

Have a great weekend

Teamworks

Air Conditioning Equipment: Repair or Replace?

by Teamworks

 

By: Oliver Marks

Published: December 4, 2009

If you're deciding whether to repair or replace central air conditioning equipment, assess the quality of your house's ductwork and insulation first.

 

If your air conditioner is more than eight years old, repair is probably not worth the expense, unless it's a simple problem like debris clogging the condenser unit or a worn fan belt. Still, to best weigh your repair-or-replace decision, ask your contractor to assess not just the condition of your existing equipment, but also the ducts that deliver the cool air and the overall quality of the insulation in your house. Improving those elements might increase the effectiveness of the system as much or more than installing new machinery.

Assess the efficiency of your current system

Even if your central air conditioner is just eight to 10 years old, it could suck up to twice the electricity that even a low-end new one would use. That's because it operates at or below 10 SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is the amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Until 2006, 10 SEER was standard, but these days, the minimum allowed by federal law is 13 SEER. That translates to 30% less electrical consumption and 30% lower cooling bills than equipment installed just a few years ago.

For an 1,800 square foot house, a new 13 SEER unit will cost $3,000 to $4,000. You can double your energy savings by jumping up to 16 SEER, which will reduce cooling expenses by 60% over a 10 SEER unit. At $5,000 to $6,000, these super-efficient units are more expensive, but they qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 and possibly local incentives, too.

"Your installer can run the numbers for you to see whether it's worth the additional cost," says Ellis Guiles of TAG Mechanical in Syracuse, New York. "If you're south of the Mason Dixon line, certainly, you can make up those dollars pretty quickly."

Inspect the condition of the ductwork

You could upgrade to the highest efficiency gear available and still not feel comfortably cool on hot days. That's because the mechanicals are only part of the central air system. The average house's ductwork leaks 10% to 30% of its air before it can reach your living space, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. Before deciding whether to repair or replace your condenser and blower units, your technician should run a duct-leakage test, by sealing the vents and measuring how much air escapes the system. 

If the ducts are inefficient, he can locate and seal the gaps, typically for $25 to $35 per vent (per "run" in industry jargon), or replace the ductwork entirely with new, insulated pipe for around $100 per run, according to Guiles. Your technician may recommend doing the duct improvements in conjunction with replacement of the mechanicals or may recommend only one or the other job.

Consider the building envelope itself

If your house is poorly insulated, it's putting a strain on your aging air conditioner. Resolving the house's flaws may mean that your old system will have enough cooling power to continue to do the job for a few more years. Or it may enable you to buy a smaller replacement system, lowering your upfront and ongoing energy costs significantly. 

Your heating and cooling contractor should assess and, if necessary, upgrade the building envelope. For example, he might seal gaps and cracks in the outer walls and attic floor, or he might blow insulation into the walls, either of which could knock as much as 30% off your heating and cooling costs. Insulation also may get you a $500 federal tax credit, and in some cases, it may be a more effective solution to your cooling problems than replacing your equipment.

Make sure a new system is sized right

If you decide to replace, make sure the contractor's bid includes a load calculation, which is a computer printout showing how big a system you need and why. 

Air conditioning is measured by the ton, which is the cooling power of a one-ton block of ice melting in 24 hours. Some old-school installers use a ballpark estimate for sizing equipment—say, one ton for every 400 or 600 square feet of living space. But that typically leads to systems that are too big, according to Greg Gill of Action Air Conditioning and Heating in San Marcos, Calif. Not only do oversized systems cost more, but they also do their cooling work too quickly, which means more frequent on/off cycles, wearing out components and gobbling electricity. Plus, they don't have a chance to effectively dehumidify the air. 

Good contractors use load-calculating software that factors in such data as the number of windows in your house, the thickness of insulation, the configuration of the attic, and the building's orientation to the sun. It produces not only an exact tonnage requirement, but determines how much cool air each room needs. All bids (get at least three, from licensed, well-regarded companies) should include this one-page printout.

 

10 Foolproof Vegetables for Container Gardening

by Teamworks

 

By: Danielle Beurteaux

Published: May 11, 2012

Want fresh veggies but don’t have a back 40, the time, or the know-how for a full-size vegetable plot? Container vegetable gardening is the answer.

 

Top reasons to grow veggies in containers

  • minimal space needed
  • hardly any weeds
  • no back strain
  • watering is easy
  • growing your own food saves money

Mary Moss-Sprague, master gardener and author of Stand Up and Garden (Countryman Press, 2012), grows all her vegetables in containers after a disease ran rampant through her garden soil and decimated her tomato plants -- a non-problem with containers because they don’t share soil. 

“I’m never going back to growing things in the ground,” she says.

Tips for container gardening 

Containers: Any container will do, as long as it’s deep enough for the plant (check the seed packet). Just drill ½-inch drainage holes in the bottom. 

Moss-Sprague suggests snagging 5-gallon food buckets from your grocery store or deli, or asking your neighborhood garden center for 5- to 7-gallon grower’s pots — both are free. Before using, wash out the container with a gallon of water mixed with a cup of chlorine bleach to kill off any lingering bacteria. 

Soil: All-purpose soil is pretty goof-proof. But don’t use topsoil -- it won’t work because it doesn’t have the required nutrients. 

Plants: Read instructions on the seedling or seed packet first. The same rules for sun, watering, space, and hardiness zones apply to container vegetables. 

Gardening in GeorgiaTop 10 container vegetables

1. Tomatoes: All kinds do well in pots. Try grape and cherry varieties for easy growing -- their small size makes them easy to handle. Put up a trellis because they love to climb.

  • Pros: Growing them in containers makes them a snap to water because it’s easier to get under their leaves; cherry tomatoes produce quickly.
  • Cons: Don’t seed directly in container -- young tomato plants need specific growing conditions to get started, which can be tricky; buy seedlings instead.

2. Peppers: Bell and chili peppers are good container contenders. Peppers can be picky when starting out, so plant seedlings instead of seeds.

  • Pros: Red mini bell peppers are quick producers -- about 2 months until they’re ready to eat.
  • Cons: You’ll need some patience -- regular peppers take up to 3 months to mature.

3. Lettuce: Any kind of lettuce will grow in pots. You can seed directly in the pot.

  • Pros: Huge selection to choose from, and you can plant different varieties in the same container — a beautiful look.
  • Cons: They need full sun — you might have to move your containers around to ensure good exposure.

4. Spinach: All different varieties really thrive in containers. Scatter the seeds and thin them out as they grow.

  • Pros: You can trim off the leaves when you want them and they’ll just keep growing more.
  • Cons: Good drainage is really important for spinach; it prefers sunny days and cool nights.

5. Radishes: French Breakfast, White Icicle, and Short Cherry Bell are three varieties to try. Plant 1 to 2 inches between, and thin as they grow.

  • Pros: Super quick! About 25 days and they’re ready to crunch.
  • Cons: They don’t like heat -- if you live in a hot zone, look for varieties that are heat-resistant, or grow in the spring and fall.

6. Green onions: Very pretty and very easy to grow.

  • Pros: They don’t take much room and are easy to manage -- they like sun, but be sure to wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting.
  • Cons: They take a couple of months until they’re ready.

7. Carrots: Any type of carrot will work in containers -- when they’re ready to harvest, soak the container with water first to making pulling easier.

  • Pros: There are many types to choose from; “kaleidoscope” mixes come with a variety of flavors and beautiful colors.
  • Cons: Some will take up to 80 days until they’re ready; if you’re an impatient gardener, look for quick-maturing types, such as Touchon and Little Finger.

8. Swiss chard: Seed directly in your container and trim leaves as needed — they’ll continue to produce. Chard is tastiest when it’s young.

  • Pros: Very durable plant that tolerates warmth.
  • Cons: Getting your kids to eat it (unusual flavors).

9. Cucumbers: Another good plant for impatient gardeners, cukes add crunch to summer salads and sandwiches.

  • Pros: Quick to germinate and quick to grow.
  • Cons: They need sturdy support posts or a trellis so the plants have somewhere to climb. Or try smaller, less-heavy bush cucumbers.

10. Green beans: So easy to grow, you can put your kids in charge.

  • Pros: Quick growers and you’ll have a bumper crop if you pick regularly — they’ll just keep growing more.
  • Cons: Climbing beans — called pole beans — grow 5 to 6 feet, so stick to bush beans, which hit 1-2 feet on sturdy, self-supporting stems.

 

Outdoor Appliance Buying Guide: Specialty Items

by Teamworks

 

By: Douglas Trattner

Published: May 12, 2010

Specialty appliances for outdoor kitchens are hot items but you'll spend thousands of dollars for the added convenience.

 

Note that with outdoor appliances, you will likely encounter the following additional costs for installation:

  • $125 to $300 to add an outdoor electrical outlet.
  • $400 to $800 to run a cold water supply line, or a combination hot-and-cold water supply.
  • $1,500 to $3,000 to install hot-and-cold water supply lines plus a drain system.

Ice makers

Cost range: $180-$2,000
Likely additional costs: 110 outlet, water line hook-up, cover
Average life span: 3-10 years

With a built-in ice maker, there will be no more trips to the corner store for 25-pound bags of ice. These sleek, stainless steel-clad units blend seamlessly with outdoor kitchen cabinetry and produce about 25 pounds of ice per day.

Because these models get tied into the home's water line, they require a plumber for installation. They also require an electrical outlet. Expect to pay $900 to $2,000 for an outdoor-approved appliance with a warranty that covers parts and labor for one year and the compressor for five. Homeowners in cold climes must shut off the water supply and drain the lines before winter to prevent the freezing and bursting of pipes.

Portable or countertop ice makers are less expensive--ranging from $180 to $300—and don't require a connection to a water line. An interior reservoir is filled with tap or bottled water, allowing the units to produce about 35 cubes per hour. Refilling the tank may be necessary for large amounts of ice, and the appliance requires an electrical outlet.

Because most less-expensive machines are not UL rated for outdoor use, they should not be left out in the weather. Expect shorter warranties (90-day to one year) as well.

Pizza ovens

Cost range: $700-$6,000 and up
Likely additional costs: gas line hook-up, sturdy base, firewood
Average life span: 5-20 years

"Gas or wood-fired pizza ovens are getting very popular," explains Danver's Mitch Slater. Attracted by the romance of a Tuscan-style pizza-making experience, more and more homeowners are installing these hefty gourmet appliances. Constructed of masonry or thick steel, these units all feature a stone hearth floor and gently sloping domed roof.

Wood-fired stoves, the purist's choice, come in two basic models: those heated from a fire built inside the firebox and those heated from a separate firebox below the oven. Both require a sizeable time commitment to reach desired temps, not to mention a steady supply of hardwood. A word of caution, notes Slater: "These units are heavy, 500 pounds or more, and require a sturdy base that can be very expensive to build."

Countertop pizza ovens are fueled by propane or a home's natural gas supply and can reach cooking temps in as little as 30 minutes. Prices range from $700 for a freestanding wood-fired oven to $6,000 for elaborate wood- or gas-fired units. Expect warranties ranging from five years to limited lifetime.

Beer dispenser

Cost range: $400 to $1,500
Likely additional costs: 110 outlet, CO2, cover
Average life span: 5-10 years

For serious entertainers, there may be no greater luxury than an endless supply of ice-cold draft beer. Often referred to as kegerators, beer dispensers simultaneously chill and dispense beer from a keg.

Though models are available for as little as $400, the less-costly versions typically are not designed for outdoor use and must be protected from the weather. Expect to pay between $900 and $1,500 for an outdoor-approved model with a warranty that covers parts and labor for one year and the compressor for five.

Before investing in one of these appliances, it's wise to know that kegs are heavy and not readily available in all areas. A full-size keg holds approximately 160 pints of beer, or roughly seven cases. And once the keg is tapped, the beer will remain fresh only for about three weeks under consistent refrigeration.

In addition to an electrical source, kegerators also require a CO2 supply. Each five-pound cylinder of gas will dispense about six kegs of beer before it needs refilling from a local gas supplier ($10).

Patio heaters

Cost range: $150-$800
Likely additional costs: 110 outlet, natural gas hook-up or propane tank, cover for freestanding units
Average life span: 5-10 years

Patio heaters don't cook the food or chill the beer, but they do increase the amount of time a family gets to enjoy the outdoors. There are three main categories of outdoor heaters, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. None, however, will transform an arctic evening into a tropical oasis: most work best when the thermometer reads between 50 and 60 degrees. Patio heaters add approximately 10 degrees to the ambient outdoor temperature.

Tabletop models stand just 3 feet tall, making them easy to move from site to site. Putting out about 10,000 BTUs, these units heat a 10-foot-diameter circle, or about 80 square feet. They will run approximately two hours on a one-pound propane tank. At about $5 per tank, the operating cost is $2.50 per hour. Prices for tabletop propane heaters range from $150 to $250, including a one-year manufacturer's warranty.

Freestanding--or post-style--heaters stand about 8 feet tall and heat an area more than four times the size of tabletop varieties. Producing over 40,000 BTUs, these models warm a 20-foot-diameter circle, or 314 square feet.

Fuel choices for post-style heaters include propane or natural gas. Using natural gas eliminates the need to refill propane tanks and costs less than half to run, but requires a gas line hook-up and a stationary location. Post-style heaters range from $200 to $500 and come with a one-year manufacturer's warranty.

Electric heaters simply plug into a standard outlet, making them the greenest and cheapest options when it comes to operating costs. Powerful bulbs emit steady infrared heat that is unaffected by wind like models that utilize flames.

Units costing $300 will heat 75 to 100 square feet and cost as little as $0.15 per hour to run. Models that heat 300 square feet cost upwards of $800 and consume about three times the energy.

Some electric heaters are rated for outdoor use and may be exposed to the elements, as long as the outlet itself is weatherproof. Some electric heating units are designated for outside use but must be covered, meaning they can be used only under a roof structure, awning, or eave, limiting their applications. Also, heating elements last only two to four years depending on use and cost $100 to replace. One-year manufacturer's warranties are standard.

 

Now Accepting Payments Online for Rental Houses

by Teamworks

Now at Elite Realtors of Georgia TeamWorks Property Management! Pay Your Rent, Security Deposit, Pet Deposit, and Rent Application Fees online. FREE for e-checks! We are accepting electronic checks, Visa and MasterCard payments. 

Got a Visa or a MasterCard? You are now able to pay your rent online using a Credit Card or an e-check. Electronic checks are completely FREE of charge – it’s just like writing a check for your monthly rent. Please note that Credit Card payments are subject to service fees. Of course, we still accept your rent payments at our office in forms of cash, personal check, or money order.

PayYourRent.com, a leader in the residential housing payment industry, along with TeamWorks Property Management, your premiere Property Management Company in Warner Robins, GA,  is pleased to offer you the convenience of paying rent with your credit card and electronic checks online.

Paying your rent online is quick, easy, and hassle-free. And there are two convenient ways to use RentPayment – online or by phone. To pay online, simply click on this Pay Online link. This link will take you to PayYourRent.com where you will log in with your personal account and then identify the credit card or check you want to use to make your rent payment.

How To Buy a Gas Grill

by Teamworks

 

By: Douglas Trattner

Published: April 27, 2010

With models priced from $29 to $5000 and up outdoor gas grills offer convenience and ease-of-use to fit any budget.

 

Cost range: $29-$5,000 and up

Likely additional costs: Assembly, natural gas hookup or propane tank, cover

Average life span: 2-16 years

Sub-$50 range

Grills in the sub-$50 range are often of the tabletop propane variety. These units are constructed of thin painted sheet metal and cheaply fabricated components, all but guaranteeing a short lifespan. Brief 90-day warranties don't offer much of a safety net.

When it comes to power, these grills are positively entry level, says Marguerite. The single, 12,000 BTU burner is satisfactory for grilling hamburgers and hot dogs but will be far less successful at charring a thick porterhouse. Still, when it comes to portability, these grills have no equal. If you are looking for a highly mobile tailgating grill, look to this sector of the market.

$50-$150 range

The biggest differences between a $50 gas grill and a $150 grill will be size and fuel source. Boasting cooking areas over twice that of their less expensive counterparts, these grills are the most economical options for families.

Models in this price range run on liquid propane stored in large refillable tanks (as opposed to the small disposable cylinders). Construction quality is moderate, featuring lightweight steel or aluminum bodies. However, the boost in price over the cheapest gas grill models yields an extra burner (albeit a low-powered one). Most are furnished with thin, steel-rod cooking grates that may warp from exposure to high temperatures, such as those from flare-ups.

$150-$350 range

Marguerite says buyers in this price range can expect to get "middle of the road" power, with burners putting out around 20,000 BTUs. Shoppers should expect a three- or four-burner grill, a roomy cooking surface, and perhaps even a storage cabinet and side burner—a separate burner used for boiling water or other independent cooking chores.

With widths of 20 to 24 inches and boasting around 400 square inches of grill surface, these units can simultaneously cook about two dozen burgers. Homeowners in cool climes who grill year round likely will lament the thin-body construction, says Marguerite. "These grills do a poor job of retaining heat in cold weather," he says. At this price range, expect less-expensive porcelain-coated steel cooking grates that tend to chip, rust and need replacing at a cost of $30 to $60.

$350-$600 range

Constructed of heavy cast-aluminum or thick-gauge steel, and utilizing high-quality stainless steel burners, these units are built to last. Parts that do fail will be covered by five- to 10-year warranties.

Averaging between 400 and 500 square inches of cook surface, these units are not substantially larger than those in the $150-$350 category. But they are constructed of heavy cast aluminum or thick-gauge steel and utilize multiple high-quality stainless steel burners. Heavy-duty castors and solid-built carts make it easy to move these grills from spot to spot.

Grills in this category can handle enough food for 15 to 18 people. Buyers are urged to select a burner configuration that appeals to them as some models arrange them front-to-back versus side-to-side, which can complicate indirect cooking.

$600-$1,500 range

Units starting around $600 feature burners that reach 40,000 BTUs, power that will make short work of even the largest barbecue payloads. Precision controls and even heat distribution give home cooks the ability to simultaneously sear, cook, and keep food warm. To step up to a 36-inch grill that approaches 900 square inches of cook space, a shopper should expect to spend at least $1,000.

Constructed of high-quality stainless steel throughout, these grills will weather years of use. These first-class rigs often include heavy cast-iron grates, side burners, under-grill storage, and even a rotisserie spit and motor. Buyers also get the peace of mind that comes with improved customer service and best-in-class warranties that range from 10 years on burners to 25 years on the body.

$1,500 to $5,000 range

When you spend upwards of $2,000 on a grill, you’ll get a host of features and quality construction. These appliances boast six or more top-of-the-line burners. Almost standard issue these days is an infrared sear burner that can reach temps topping 700 degrees.

Most include a rear-mounted rotisserie burner with motor, interior and exterior lighting, and even a spring-assisted lid for effortless opening. With the best grills also come the best warranties, typically covering most components for 10 to 25 years.

Propane vs. natural gas

Homeowners should decide before buying a grill whether they intend to fuel it with propane or natural gas, says Marguerite. While many grills can be converted for around $50, it is best to buy one factory engineered for one fuel type or the other.

Owners of built-in units typically choose natural gas as there are no tanks that need filling and the cost to operate is roughly half that of propane. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's most recent figures, propane costs $20.47 per million BTUs compared to natural gas's $12.18. Assuming a homeowner grilled once a week, he or she can expect to pay about $40 per year for propane and $24 for natural gas. Marguerite says that his company charges $150 plus $7 per foot to connect a grill to a natural gas line.

Suggested extras

A good-fitting cover will extend the life of any outdoor appliance. Expect to pay between $30 and $50. Owners of propane powered grills should consider purchasing a $20 back-up tank so that a fully charged spare is always on hand. A $20 gas gauge will take the guesswork out of estimating a tank's contents.

 

Extend the Outdoor Living Season

by Teamworks

 

By: Jan Soults Walker

Published: October 3, 2011

Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor lighting, a patio heater, and a glowing firepit or portable fireplace.

 

Outdoor DeckWith both lighting types, you can:

  • Light deck railings and stairs
  • Define the patio perimeter
  • Illuminate the edges of paths and walkways
  • Draw attention to a planter or tree

Other fixtures light up dining tables, grill surfaces, and even underwater in swimmingpools. 

Low-voltage fixtures clip onto a safe, 12-volt cable connected to a transformer, which plugs into a GFCI-protected 120-volt electrical outlet. A timer or light-sensitive control automatically turns lights on and off. 

A low-voltage lighting kit with eight LED stainless steel fixtures, 50 feet of cable, and a transformer starts at $60. Individual low-voltage fixtures range in price from $7 for a simple poly-resin fixture up to about $150 for architectural-grade, cast-brass models.

Solar outdoor lighting fixtures don’t need cables and transformers. They simply turn themselves on automatically after dark. Each stand-alone fixture stakes into the ground or secures to a deck or exterior surface. You’ll save energy, as a sunlight-charged battery powers the bulb.

The downside to solar fixtures is a dimmer glow than low-voltage fixtures, and fewer lighting hours – many solar fixtures run out of stored energy after 4-5 hours on the job. Cloudy days also reduce power.

A four-pack of solar light fixtures that mount on top of deck posts starts at about $30. Or, check out a cast-aluminum solar lantern for about $60.

Get glowing with a firepit or portable fireplace

 

Bring a cozy glow and a stylish focal point to your outdoor living area with a firepit or portable fireplace. Irresistible for gathering, warming up, and roasting marshmallows, firepits and portable fireplaces come in a variety of materials, sizes, and styles. You’ll also find options for fueling your fire with wood, propane, gas, or gel cans.

Check local fire codes first to find out if your community allows the use of a firepit or portable fireplace on the patio or lawn. (Never use a fire feature on a wood deck.)

A firepit ($100-$500) is an open bowl, dish, or pan that varies in size from 24 inches across to about 40 inches. A firepit may come on a stand (some with wheels) or nestle into a tiled tabletop. Select a model with screening to contain flyaway sparks.

A portable fireplace ($100-$600) features a chimney to vent smoke up and away from people. Some portable fireplaces offer 360-degree views of the fire.

Warm up with a patio heater

Boost the warmth of your outdoor living area by as much as 15-25 degrees in the fall or spring with the addition of a portable patio heater. You’ll find three basic models:

  • Freestanding units resemble large floor lamps. Set them anywhere on your patio that will accommodates their 7-8 foot height. Some models include wheels for mobility. Expect to pay from $150 to $1,500, depending on heat output and fuel source.
  • A tabletop patio heater rests on a table, bench, or garden wall. These compact units typically produce less heat than tall, freestanding models. Prices range from $100 to $450.
  • Ceiling- or wall-mount patio heaters free up floor and table space, and typically emit heat via a halogen lamp. Prices vary from $175 to $1,500.

Make your selection based on how much outdoor living area you want to heat and whether you want a model powered by electricity or natural gas (each requiring a connection) or with a propane tank, which allows mobility.

As a rule of thumb, a 47,000 BTU propane-powered, floor-standing patio heater ($200) will heat an 18-foot diameter space. A 20-pound propane tank (about $36, plus $13 for fuel) offers about 10 hours of heating time.

Electric patio heaters use a quartz tube or halogen lamp that emits radiant heat. An infrared wall-mount electric patio heater ($450) equipped with a 1500-watt bulb heats a 9-foot area around the heater and uses about 14.4 kilowatts for a 10 hour period. At 8 cents per kilowatt for electricity, you spend about $1.15 to operate the unit for 10 hours.

 

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