Grill Lighters

Published July 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

Overview:

Grill lighters have long necks to keep your fingers at a safe distance from the flames. We fired up five models priced from $5 to $38, testing wind resistance and fuel efficiency (measuring the number of lights per tank), the distance between flame and fingers, and flame length. Flexible necks were a plus—-especially when lighting chimney starters from underneath—as were refillable chambers with large, easy-to-read fuel windows. In the end, our moderately-priced winner ignited easily, stayed lit even in windy gusts, and sported a comfortable grip, while its unique adjustable flame could flare from 1/3 inch to 2 inches.

Grill lighters have long necks to keep your fingers at a safe distance from the flames. We fired up five models priced from $5 to $38, testing wind resistance and fuel efficiency (measuring the number of lights per tank), the distance between flame and fingers, and flame length. Flexible necks were a plus—-especially when lighting chimney starters from underneath—as were refillable chambers with large, easy-to-read fuel windows. In the end, our moderately-priced winner ignited easily, stayed lit even in windy gusts, and sported a comfortable grip, while its unique adjustable flame could flare from 1/3 inch to 2 inches.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Zippo Flexible Neck Utility Lighter

    Both the easiest to light and the most comfortable to handle, this model offered a unique length-adjustable flame that stayed lit even in the face of gusty wind. One complaint: While fuel consumption was comparable to other models on the lowest setting, it became a gas guzzler when turned up high.

    • Wind resistance ★★★
    • Comfort/Ease of use ★★★

    $18.35

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  • Recommended

    BIC Multi-Purpose Lighter

    This simple, disposable bargain model boasted excellent fuel efficiency and moderate comfort. It came up short in a few areas: The flame was not adjustable; the fuel window was opaque and made it hard to see when fuel was almost out, and the flame couldn’t resist anything stronger than a light breeze.

    • Wind resistance ★★
    • Comfort/Ease of use ★★★

    $4.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    Bernzomatic Flexible Utility Lighter

    Once lit, the flexible neck; large, clear fuel window; and wind-resistant flame worked well. Unfortunately, any flame size adjustment was negligible, and general operation—simply trying to spark a light—was a hassle.

    • Wind resistance ★★★
    • Comfort/Ease of use

    $19.99 for pack of 3 (including “premium” lighter)

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Bernzomatic Premium Flexible Utility Lighter

    A dead ringer for the Bernzomatic Flexible Lighter, save for “premium” features like an LED light and a bottle opener. This lighter demonstrated better fuel efficiency than its simpler sibling, but only because of its wimpy, wind-whipped flame—at full blast, it was just half the size of the standard Bernzomatic’s low setting.

    • Wind resistance ★★
    • Comfort/Ease of use

    $19.99 (included in pack of three Bernzomatic lighters)

  • Not Recommended

    Rösle Universal Lighter

    Besides its non-ergonomic ignition button, tiny, hidden flame adjustment knob, lack of a fuel window, and weak flame, this most expensive model didn’t even come with fuel.

    • Wind resistance
    • Comfort/Ease of use

    $38

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