Gone are the days where an outdoor kitchen would consist of just a grill, side burner and possibly a refrigerator. Customers are now requesting larger outdoor kitchens and placing more components in them. This is part of an overall trend of consumers investing more in the outside of their home, transforming their backyard into another living space. Aside from an increase in overall size, here are bunch of trends in outdoor kitchen plans that we see continuing in 2020.
1. Outdoor Kitchens Are Getting Larger
The size of outdoor kitchens is increasing and we have the proof to back it up. Prior to 2019, the average size of an outdoor island that Ring of Fire or Curto's was involved with was 8ft. The average grill size was 36". Since the Fall of 2018 that has changed as the kitchens have grown to an average of 12' and the average gas grill is now 42" wide.
As the outdoor kitchens increase in size we are seeing a greater number of components used to fill the island.
For example we are seeing more of the following:
Outdoor Refrigeratiors - in the past if customers used an outdoor refrigerator it was a standard 24" cutout with a stainless front. Now we are seeing an increase in icemakers (15"), drawer refrigerators (which are more energy efficient than single door fridges), kegerators and surprisingly we are now seeing customers installing glass door outdoor wine refrigerators.
Power Burners - one of the staples of the "old school" outdoor kitchen was a 15" side burner. The funny thing about these built-in burners (as well as the ones that ship on Weber grills) is that customers usually tell me they don't use them. I can understand why. Due to the narrow width you can only fit a small cooking vessel on top of them. So heating up beans or sauerkraut is within reach, but you certainly can't use them for a stock pot, wok or other large cooking vessel. So what are customers doing now? Enter the POWER BURNER.
These burners are larger than a side burner (usually 24" in width) and are much more powerful. Some, such as the Alfresco versapower burner use a dual-ring burner so there are 2 separate burners that can work in tandem to produce 65,000 BTUs of heat, or just use the inner ring at a gentle 400 btus for slow cooking.
2. Outdoor Kitchens are Getting Smokier
I mean this in a good way. What we are seeing is that due to the increased size of outdoor kitchens, customers need more product to fill them. So smokers are becoming staples in the layout. Most of our customers will use kamado-style cookers from the likes of Kamado Joe, Caliber, Primo and Blaze. Aside from being adept at maintaining low temperatures for extended periods of time thus being ideal for low 'n slow bbq, they double as grills due to the intense heat that charcoal or wood produce. We are also seeing customers request various types of grills that use live fire, not gas. These types of grills, such as Argentine asados, can accommodate larger cuts of meat and leverage the live fuel of wood and charcoal to create amazing flavors
3. Fire Pits Are All the Rage
We saw a dramatic uptick in fire pit sales last year. Most customers are using their fire pits for comfort rather than cooking, and for the most part they are powered by a gas connection. For the gas customer we are seeing great interest in the Warming Trends Crossfire burner.
The gas fire pits are also keeping up with technology that pervades our times, as they allow for remote start/shut down via BlueTooth. As for the media being used inside the fire pit most customers are opting for fire logs and lava rocks.
4. Comfort is Becoming a Bigger Factor
Fire pits can be considered an outdoor "comfort" item, but the most popular outdoor comfort item we sell are outdoor heating lamps. Infrared electric heat, from companies such as Infratech provide both freestanding and mounted solutions to warm your outdoor living space. These are becoming more popular as they allow for mounted flush installation where the heating lamp can almost be hidden from view. This is very different from prior generations of outdoor heating products which were tall and took up a lot space.
Another reason the outdoor heaters are becoming more popular is that they extend the outdoor season deep into the Fall, allowing homeowners to squeeze out more months of use, thus maximizing their investment in the outdoor kitchen.
Products that provide relief from insects are also increasing in popularity. There are fans that prevent mosquitoes from entering a space as well as water misters that will provide relief to guests on a humid day but will also ward off flying insects while its running.
We will monitor our outdoor kitchen customer requests /sales and if there are any other trends developing over the Spring and Summer we will make sure to add them to this list.
If you or any of your clients have questions about an outdoor kitchen project please call the Ring of Fire showroom at 914-361-1837 or email me.