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Homelabs smokeless grill uses a pretty common design for the smokeless grills. Actually, it looks like the same model as other brands have on offer as well. In terms of pricing, it sits in the middle. It’s a good product for indoor grilling with great build quality, easy controls, and a nice design. On the other side, an average performance and cleaning effort required after cooking sessions take few points from the perfect score. Good value for the price but investing more might get you a better performing device.
homeLabs grill promises to make grilling at home hassle-free, without worries about smoke or long setup times. We have put that to the test and the experience has been mostly positive.
The grill comes in a simple carton box with homelabs logo and a description of what’s inside. The box is fairly robust but there was a small damage on one side.
Inside the grill is protected with 2 foam inserts which are rather weak but still managed to protect the product.
All parts are neatly packed and most of them are wrapped in individual plastic bags. It seems a little excessive and we would appreciate less plastic use in this case.
Inside the box you will find:
- Grill base
- Heating element
- Grill plate
- Griddle plate
- Grease tray
- Water tray
- Glass lid
- Power cord
All parts fit inside the base like a sandwich except the extra grill/griddle plate which you will have to store separately.
The manual is simple and easy to understand but comes only in English.
Design and build quality 8/10
The whole unit is quite bulky. Measuring 19.7” x 11.8” x 7.7” (50 x 30 x 19.5 cm) with a lid on. One benefit of that is a rather large cooking area measuring at about 13.8” x 8.3” (35 x 21 cm). The obvious downside is the space required to store the electric grill. The unit has some weight to it but certainly not to the point where it can’t be moved to another place.
Griddle and grill plates are made of aluminum and covered in a nonstick coating which has held up nicely during our tests. Both of them are 0.126” (3.2 mm) in thickness which is good but aluminum doesn’t have great heat retention properties so the thicker plates would benefit when searing meats like steaks or burgers.
The grease catcher is just a stainless steel tray that has holes in the middle to direct grease to the water tank. The same can be said about the water tray. It’s just a plastic container designed to hold some water. The plastic on the water tray is thick and feels nice.
The glass lid feels very nice and robust. It has a thick glass enclosed in a shiny metal rim. Rubber edges help seal the grill when cooking so the heat and smoke strays trapped inside.
There is also a fan inside the case and it is removable. To remove it you just turn the housing of the grill upside down and slide out the fan cover. You only need to remove the fan when cleaning the housing.
The housing is made out of black plastic which looks and feels nice. However, the plastic used on the heating element with controls doesn’t feel the same way. It looks cheap and doesn’t look all that nice but once again that doesn’t impact the operation of the device in any way.
Controls and ease of use 8/10
Assembling the grill is very easy. There is a quite annoying routine that you have to do before each cooking session. You need to fill the water tray with some water (there are markings for MIN and MAX) and for that, you need to disassemble the whole grill.
There are only 4 buttons on the homeLabs grill which are pretty self-explanatory:
- Power on/off switch
- Lower temperature
- Higher temperature
- Fan on/off
The only information displayed on the LCD screen is the temperature. It’s possible to configure between Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature measurements. The temperature controls are somewhat limited. Minimum is 200 F and you can heat the grill up to 450 F but only in 50 F intervals.
After pressing the power on the button you just set the temperature, wait a couple of seconds and the grill will start heating up. The fan will turn on automatically. It takes about 7 minutes to reach 450 F
You can also turn on the fan without turning on the heat. This is useful after you are done cooking and want to avoid smoke from burning leftover grease.
As we have mentioned the homeLabs grill heats up in 7 minutes to the maximum of 450 F and the displayed temperature is accurate. However, that’s true only to the temperature around the area of the heating element. The sides and especially corners are much colder. We have measured up to 150 F temperature difference between corners and the center. In order to cook evenly, we recommend giving it additional 2-3 minutes so the sides can get hotter.
After each cooking session, you should also leave the grill or griddle plate to heat up before adding food.
When the grill is heated properly you can get a very nice sear on the meat. We have cooked burger patties and marinated pork. Meat has seared beautifully and had nice grill marks.
Homelabs advertise this grill as smokeless and we have managed to achieve that result. It wasn’t completely smoke-free but there was so little smoke that you could barely notice. Another advantage of this technology is that the lid doesn’t get clouded and you can always see the food inside. This is due to the fan that collects all smoke and steam and redirects it to the bottom chamber of the grill.
We had one cooking session that was full of smoke. We think the reason for that was not enough water in the tray. We have filled it up to the MIN label. That probably wasn’t enough to cool down smoke and dripping fat and resulted in an ever-increasing smoke cloud. Thus we recommend filling the tray up to the MAX label and use the coldest water you can get.
The lid handle has remained only warm even after longer cooking sessions. At least for our cooking needs, we have never used any protection for the heat. Of course, the handle would eventually get too hot to touch if you cook something with a lid on for an extended time.
After the cooking is done it’s time for the least liked task – cleaning everything up. There are good and bad things about cleaning homeLabs smokeless grill. The good is that most parts are dishwasher safe (griddle and grill plates, drip tray and water tray). Griddle and grill pans are nonstick so they are easy to clean by hand. We like the clever design which protects the heating element from the dripping fat so you won’t have to clean it at all.
However, there are few problems as well. The bottom side of the grill plate was a real pain to clean by hand. It has lots of indentations and reaching every surface area is very difficult. Using a dishwasher solves this problem.
Another problem is the sheer amount of parts you have to clean. In addition to that when the lid is off the fat gets on the housing as well. It’s not much but still needs to be cleaned otherwise the fat will build up all over the grill.
When disassembling the grill for cleaning you need to have separate space for the lid and heating element in order to access other parts for cleaning.
HomeLabs Smokeless Indoor Grill
GoWISE USA GW88000
For much lower price you can get similar design and capability indoor grill. However, you don’t get a glass lid and get only manual controls without an LCD screen.
Power XL Smokeless Electric Grill
Power XL is basically the same device. Exactly the same looks, controls and even the price is very similar. I haven’t tried this in the test kitchen so I can’t guarantee the same performance but given the similarities it should work just as fine. I would probably recommend choosing whichever is cheaper at the moment.
Ninja Foodi AG301
Ninja grill elavates the grilling experience to another level. You get 5 cooking modes, higher temperatures and less cleaning. It comes at double the cost compared to the Homelabs model but you can get a renewed model which is slightly cheaper.