Most home appliances that use gas as a fuel source either run on natural gas or propane. Propane is a liquified gas that comes in metal tanks. For grills, people use medium-sized 20 lb. tanks that are easy to connect and set up.
Natural gas is different from propane and can’t be liquified. Usually, people have to install natural gas pipelines that come from a nearby main. The installation is expensive, but natural gas is cheaper and more convenient than propane once you have the pipes.
You can convert a propane grill to natural gas on your own, but whenever gas is involved in home projects, it’s better to be safe by contacting an expert.
Main Differences Between Propane and Natural Gas
After natural gas is extracted from the earth, there’s minimal refining done, and it comes directly to your pipes. Propane is made from the same raw gas extracted from the earth, but it’s a lot more refined.
The number one difference that makes many people switch from propane grills to natural gas grills is it is a lot cheaper than propane. To be exact, natural gas is one-third cheaper than propane. However, if you don’t have natural gas pipes in your home, you should consider the installation’s initial cost before making the switch. A local natural gas company can estimate the cost for you.
Convenience and Safety
The second reason why people use natural gas is convenience. You simply have an endless supply of gas through your pipelines and you can forget about buying, carrying and connecting propane tanks. Natural gas is also slightly safer than propane since it’s a lighter kind of gas that rises and doesn’t get stuck inside small places in a grill.
Effect on the Environment
Because natural gas is less refined, it’s considered a cleaner gas than propane. And when it comes to the environment, it’s usually the first choice in terms of eco-friendliness. Compared to charcoal grills, propane isn’t bad either, but it still pollutes more than natural gas.
Some grilling experts consider propane grills are better for cooking on high heat. The reason is propane stores more energy per unit of fuel since it’s a more refined type of gas. However, most modern gas grills deliver excellent results on either kind of gas.
Things to Consider Before Converting the Grill
Make sure that your grill is compatible with natural gas. You can do this by looking up the information on your grill’s website or checking your grill’s manual. Many grills have a sticker on some markings stating whether you can convert the grill to natural gas or not. These types of grills are called dual fuel grills. Check behind the doors of the small cabinet for the propane tank.
The second thing you should check is if your grill’s brand sells conversion kits. A conversion kit is the easiest and safest way of converting a propane grill to natural gas because you have all the pieces and instructions ready inside the kit. Conversion kits aren’t very expensive and usually cost less than $100.
If you choose to do this on your own without a conversion kit, keep in mind this project isn’t for beginners. If done incorrectly, you could cause a serious accident. If you can’t find a conversion kit that works on your grill, consider buying a new natural gas grill. There are plenty of offers today at various price ranges, and you are sure to find one you like.
How to Use a Conversion Kit in Simple Steps
The main thing to do is to remove the orifice on the burner valves. Right before propane enters a burner, it goes through a valve that regulates the flow of gas. In the middle of the valve, there’s a small orifice the gas goes through.
Propane uses a very small orifice and natural gas uses much larger orifices. You should remove the burners from the grill, remove the small propane orifices, and reconnect the burners.
Step 1: Disconnect the tank
First, make sure the tank’s valve is turned off and disconnect the tank.
Step 2: Remove the grates
Once you have removed the tank, remove all the grates, flavorizer bars, or flame tamers. Clear everything so you can reach the burners.
Step 3: Remove the burners
Most burners are tied to the grill by cotter pins, either on one end or both ends. These are easy to remove with your hands or some pliers. If your grill has carrier tubes that connect the burners between them, remove them as well.
Finally, remove the burners. You don’t have to remove them completely if you don’t want to. You might not be able to if the burners have independent ignition. In this case, the ignition is right underneath the burner and there’s a wire connecting to it. You don’t have to remove the wiring. Simply move the burner a bit to the side and clear the hole through which gas enters the burner on the front of the grill.
Step 4: Remove the orifices
Your kit should have the necessary tools for this step. By removing the burners, you should have cleared a hole for each burner on the front of the grill. That’s where gas flows through to reach each burner. Inside the kit, there should be a tool similar to a socket wrench. Use the tool to take out the orifices from the holes.
After removing the orifices, put everything you took out back in place. Now that the orifices are out, there’s more space for natural gas to come through.
Step 5: Connect the pipes
The conversion kit should have the necessary material for connecting the pipes, including a gas hose. Connect the hose to your natural gas main and then connect it to the grill. For a grill that’s convertible, there should be a small hole on the side of the grill to put the hose through. Finally, connect the gas hose to the grill.
Enjoy Cooking on Your Natural Gas Grill
Now you can enjoy cooking on your natural gas grill. Converting a propane grill to a natural gas grill is simple and straightforward. Make sure you use a kit produced by your grill’s manufacturer. If you can’t find a grill conversion kit, you are better off buying a new natural gas grill for safety reasons.