I did a search online for a portable RV grill to replace my little propane one that I find to be inadequate. The propane grill, which used the small propane camping tanks, never seemed to get hot enough to really sear anything that was being cooked and took a long time for meat to cook giving it that beautiful gray look. So I was looking for something that got hot, but also didn’t take forever to heat up like charcoal does. There are a lot of options based on product descriptions, but it is hard to tell which one fits the bill. Sometimes its difficult to tell from the online reviews, as standard among folks vary and what is acceptable to me may not be to others and vice versa. Anyway, I found the Cook Air that seemed to combine high heat, quick starting, a smoker capability and easy cleanup. Too much to be true right? Well, I decided to give it a try despite the somewhat high price tag of $149.00 from Amazon with no shipping charge as a Prime member.
The grill functions using hard wood chunks that you can buy at any of the Big Box stores and uses a fan to “fan the flames” and get the grill to a reported 1100 degrees F. The fan is powered by D Cell batteries, a cigarette lighter adapter or a 120V plug in converter. I use the cigarette lighter adapter plugged into my jump start battery pack as pictured on the left of the page. You are to use a piece of paper or small fire starter to get things going. I was a little skeptical as the reviews were somewhat mixed, but there were enough positive comments to make me want to try it.
Ok, I’ve now tried the grill twice. The first time was in my driveway (cooking no food) before our current three week trip and the second was on our trip at our campsite in Tupelo, MS. I didn’t have any of the fire starters so I used paper and a small piece of cardboard to start the fire. I put a “chunk” of hardwood from the bag in the grill and then followed the instructions which said to turn the fan to position #1 to get things going. It sputtered a little and I had to light the fire a couple of times, but it did get going and did start the piece of wood burning. I used a camping fire starter on the second use and it worked better. The fire was easier to get going, plus the paper created some ash that was blown around by the fan and worked its way through the grill slats and into the cooking area. Consequently, I would recommend some type of starter other than paper. Charcoal lighter fluid in NOT recommended.
Once the grill is going the fan has five positions. Position #5 is like a blow torch and the fan does make some noise and would probably garner the attention of a passerby. This baby will fan the flames and so far #5 seems like a little too much. I used #3 for the most part with an occasional move to #4. My first try at cooking was a 7 oz. burger and a piece of boneless chicken. There did seem to be a couple of hot spots on the grill maybe due to a slight breeze. I cooked with the top off as the instructions say not to cook with it on (the top can go on for some quick smoking). I did have to add a couple of additional pieces of wood during the cooking, but that was easy to do and they immediately took off and began providing fire and heat. All in all not much wood was used. A small bag will last a very long time. I was pleased with the results. It definitely gets hotter than my old propane grill and it seared the meat without cooking too quickly on the outside. I was afraid of overcooking the chicken because of the heat, but I could have let it on the grill a little longer.
Finally, when I was finished grilling, I turned the fan back to position #1 and let the coals burn out. It did so rather quickly and cooled to the touch in a reasonable amount of time. The grill comes with a cover that has a drawstring on the bottom that pulls tight so you can use the handle on the top to carry it. It works fine, but we will see how sturdy it is over time. Overall, my first impressions are that this grill is a keeper.
As I get more experience with the grill, I will update the review.
On April 23rd the fan quit working on the grill. This is only the fourth time using it. I was using the cigarette lighter plugin to my battery jumper box. It had plenty of charge, but just in case I used the AC adapter and the fan would still not run. It would just start then immediately quit. I sent a message to Cook Air and am waiting a response.
UPDATE: I received an email on April 24th apologizing for the fan failure, and advising me that the company has been experiencing problems with circuit board failure which they are attributing to rough handling during shipping. They said that they would send me a new board that is easy to install and that should solve my problem. Will advise on how all this goes.
UPDATE: We returned home from our trip on May 4th and the new board was waiting for me. I opened the package and there were no installation instructions so I needed to figure out how to take the grill apart. It basically involved removing 4 screws on the bottom, unscrewing three “feet” and taking off a rubber grommet. The board then could be snapped out of its place and the two power connections removed. One connection came from the power source and the other came out of the board on the opposite end and went to the fan motor. Unfortunately, upon inspection of the new board, I noticed that one of the plug in connections was loose. I was worried that the board was not going to work because of it. My suspicions were affirmed. I installed the board, but no matter what I did, it would not work. Ughhhh!
I again contacted the mfg. and received another quick response with another apology. This time they told me that they were going to send me a new grill and that customer service was important to them. I said great, but was disappointed with the quality control.
Three days later a new grill arrived via FedEx. I set it up and it woks great. The fan motor on this one sounds much smoother than the first one. So, we will see if this one lasts a while. I still like the grill as it really seers the meat and is easy and quick to get going, plus gives you that smoky flavor. If this one continues to work, I would say that it was worth the effort.