Dynamic Cooking Systems — often referred to as DCS — started revolutionizing the outdoor grill over 30 years ago. Today there are a lot of grill manufacturers who have adopted the original DCS design ethic using American made materials, 304 outdoor stainless steel with life time warranty coverage and adding new technologies for both better cooking and convenient use of the appliances. Among “high-end” barbecue grills today it is fairly common for grills to have infrared burners, smokers with dedicated burners, internal and external lighting and ignition systems capable of igniting gas in the wettest hurricane. All the advancements we see among the super-grills of today started with design innovations started by DCS.
The original DCS models came to be referred to as the “A” model as new changes came about is shown below. In retrospect the control panel is a mess. Each control valve has a aluminum gas line extending from the end of the valve to a hard piped regulator which then extends another aluminum gas line to the venturi tube of the burner.
The original DCS shown here did not even have a stainless steel cart. Today a stainless steel cart for a DCS 48 inch model like this one would cost upwards of two thousand dollars — only for the cart. The carts of today have sliding drawers for LP cylinders with access doors and sealed drawers and some of the stainless carts even have built-in condensers so the stainless steel drawers are refrigerated with outdoor-rated refrigeration.
The first DCS changed what we the residential backyard cook accepted as a barbecue worthy of our love of being with our families in the backyard of our own private castle. Most barbecues back then were completely manufactured for cast iron or cast aluminum and there were still a lot of models back then that were solely post-mounted grills which is a design left over from the original gas broilers that were the very first outdoor gas appliances.
After several years of broiler evolution a couple of oven and stove manufacturers designed the DCS barbecue as a gas barbecue grill capable of broiling, of smoking, of grilling and containing a range-top for saute and boiling water. The grill alone was practically an outdoor kitchen all by itself.
The design, materials used in fabrication and the features were revolutionary for the time and the reverberations are still felt in the grill designs of today, several decades later and long after DCS has been a real competitive grill company. The internal design was less important so long as the grill worked reliably since the warranty would never really run out. As time went on the internal controls became simpler and more efficient but these original “A” models were convoluted regarding the controls. The main gas line attaches to a manifold pipe and all the control valves are attached to this main gas pipe. The valves pull gas from the manifold to deliver gas to the burners but this original DCS has several steps between the valve and the burner.
The DCS model that came after the “A” model was the “B” model. The way the model number would be listed is: DCS48B-BQARSL with the “R” meaning this model has a rotisserie, the “S” that there is a smoker and the “L” standing for Propane.
The image here is not a “B” model which had cast iron burners and lava rock radiant shields but is a “D” model. The “D” model changed mid-course but the controls inside the control panel exposed here were the same in the B model and the early D model. We can see DCS cleaned up the internal controls considerably in this next iteration.
Instead of the control valve leading into other types of regulation and various connections for the gas line the “B” model put a gas orifice on the tip of the B model control valve and the placement of the gas manifold allowed the valve to slide directly into the end of the burner. The gas manifold in this image is being repaired so it is drooping a bit but if we look closely we can see the control valves attached to the manifold and we can see the venturi tube front of the gas burners where the valves will mount when ready to be put back together.
The B model was a huge advancement because of the changes in the controls. However, all we would notice as a backyard chef is that the push-button piezo module was replaced with a rotary module installed for each burner. By the end of the “D” model production DCS will have started using battery controlled modules but in the early D models the main difference was the porcelain rod radiants and stainless steel U shaped burners as seen in this image.
The “D” model was really where DCS became very famous and popular worldwide, breaking free of the famous reputation only within the grill manufacturer industry. The D models had all the main features of the later BGB models which persist today. After the “D” model was a short lived model called the “E” model. The letter not only fell in line with the alphabetical order of the models but the “E” model plugged into a 110v electrical outlet and was the first gas grill to use and to need this kind of power. The reason for the power was that the rotisserie motor had a mounted plug to plug-into and the rotisserie had a small halogen light that could be used to illuminate the grilling grates regardless of whether we used the rotisserie as a motor.
The real reason for the 110v power was the new DCS ignition system. The new igniters were called glow-plugs because the tip of the electrode inside the grill glowed like a light bulb as it quickly became hot enough to ignite gas emitting from the burner any time — no matter the weather a glowing hot electrode would ignite the gas.
The “E” electronic models have a small black ignition button next to each control knob so each of the DCS burners had a control switch to activate its own glow-plug electrode. The original glow plugs worked off a transformer plugged into the wall outlet and the transformer box mounted in the bottom of the grill. As we see in this image this led to a lot — a lot! — of wiring inside the control panel.
Every once in awhile a breeze blows from behind the grill. With the hood down and heating food inside the barbecue there is a vent at the top back of the grill hood where hot air is able to escape as the grill heats and heat circulates inside the closed lid. When wind blows from behind the grill the heat is able to roll forward to the control panel and damage electrical wires and sometimes can get hot enough to even damage modules, valves and melt control knobs. With so many controls in the grill a simple problem will have a very expensive solution.
What I guess is interesting is that the very first DCS had a very busy control system but was followed up quickly by a model with a very simple control system. This efficient control design lasted over a decade before the E series models again became very confusing inside the control panel. After the “E” models which only lasted a year or two the nest grill was the BG model followed by the BGA and then the BGB models by DCS.
The BG models by DCS became the pinnacle of the achievement. This is the control panel of a BGB48-BQASRL model gas barbecue grill. The manifold pipe is not encumbered by a dozen wires. In the foreground at the far left of this image is a 9 volt module which is controlled by one single ignition button. All the igniter electrodes in the DCS are controlled from this one 9v module so every electrode in the grill sparks when the one, single button is pressed. The controls are very simple and effective in this model and the BGB model by DCS has out lasted all the other DCS models and all other barbecue models because it has not changed now in over 10 years.
Today grill manufacturers that are getting a lot more of the sales than DCS have caught up and surpassed DCS in terms of customer service, manufacturing material quality, cooking technology and grill design. Mostly this is because just after revealing the BGB model, the original owners of DCS sold the company. A few owners have had DCS since then with the most recent being a Chinese fabrication company.
The BGB models are still the best grill DCS makes although they have attempted some new ideas like the Liberty series which is a series of appliances meant to be bolted together in a long row of cooking equipment in an attempt to supplant the growing custom outdoor kitchen industry. This did not work.
When the original owners of DCS sold the company the new grill that was revolutionizing outdoor cooking was Thermal Engineering Corporation, or TEC. TEC did not begin life as barbecue grill fabricators but they invented a burner that pressurized gas to create over one-thousand degrees of direct heat within 60 seconds of ignition. No one could compete with this and the high-end grill companies who have prospered have done so by not fighting the improvement but by integrating the infrared technology in their own grills. Today Firemagic, Solaire, Alfresco, AOG, OCI and even a handful of chinese imported models have all integrated infrared burners in their barbecue grill models.
DCS never did integrate this technology. DCS has sold a few barbecues here and there mostly because of their incredible reputation but as customers become more savvy to what is working and reliable DCS falls further and further from the number one spot they held for so long.
Fortunately from the original “A” model to the final BGB models DCS gas grills were always made to last a very, very long time in even the worst climate. We, alone have thousands of customers with DCS grills here in south Florida and we provide service and repairs as necessary. Although I would not sell a new DCS to a customer today the customers who have DCS grill models in their backyard should never have to buy another high-end barbecue because as long as the DCS barbecue is nominally taken care of, it will continue to function well and keep on grilling forever.
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