Gas grills are very popular in the United States. With popularity comes variety. Other than the brands, models, and features, the main difference between gas grills is the type of fuel used. Most of the Americans will use either a propane gas or a natural gas grill. For that, there is always a propane vs. natural gas grills debate, with reference to the most efficient and reliable unit.
What Are The Differences Between Propane Gas And Natural Gas?
Your local utility company will supply the natural gas, like how boilers and indoor cookers are supplied. With the natural gas grill, it will have to be installed by a professional, and it tends to be permanent once it is fully installed. LPG comes in a tank from the supplier, and it is more flexible. So if you want to reorganize your grill, it can be easy when you have a propane gas grill.Natural gas is made up of methane and ethane, while Liquid Propane Gas, LPG, is made up of butane and propane. One top difference between the two is that natural gas come directly from the utility company through a pipe into the grill. Conversely, LPG, which is the most commonly used, comes in a tank or cylinder.
Since natural gas comes through a pipe that is linked directly to the utility company, it means that it’s more reliable than LPG. You will not have to worry about your gas running out when you have the natural gas grill. Conversely, the propane gas grill tends to be less reliable, especially when the gas runs out. Nonetheless, some grills come with a gauge to indicate how low the gas is in the tank.
What Is The Chemical Makeup?
For an average grill user, they would not realize the chemical difference between the two, which is where the major difference lies.
Methane has a hydrocarbon count of CH4, while ethane has C2H6. Conversely, propane has a hydrocarbon value of C3H8, while butane has C4H10. In simpler terms, natural gas has a lower carbon count than propane gas.
Also, it means that methane and ethane have smaller molecules compared to propane and butane. For that, natural gas tends to have higher pressure than propane gas, because the molecules move around at a higher rate.
The low pressure of propane makes it easy for it to be compressed into liquid form and stored in cylinders.
Another chemical difference is the calorific value, British Thermal Units; propane has a higher BTU count than natural gas. This means that propane gas delivers more heat.
Are They Compatible?
Natural gas and propane gas are not compatible. Therefore, you cannot interchange one for the other. Since they have a different chemical makeup, it implies that the energy content is also different. LPG requires more oxygen to deliver the excess heat. Specifically, LPG needs oxygen to gas ratio of about 25:1, while natural gas only needs a 10:1 oxygen to gas ratio.
However, you can link your propane grill to natural gas by converting it. Some grills come with a dual line to allow you to use either of the gasses.
How To Convert A Propane Grill To Natural Gas
Converting a propane grill to natural gas has many advantages, one of which is that you have a wider range of grills to choose from, since most of the popular grills on the market are propane. Handling a propane grill-to-natural-gas conversion can be challenging. However, here is a quick guide to help you.
1. Check for dual-fuel feature on the grill
You cannot use a propane grill with a natural grill if it was specifically designed for propane gas only. So if the grill is designed for dual fuel, you can easily convert it without any dangers involved.
2. Get the right conversion kit
You will have to purchase the perfect conversion kit that will turn your propane gas grill to natural gas. Before you purchase any conversion kit, ensure that you refer to the rating label of your grill for the compatible kit.
3. Install the kit
Before installing the conversion kit, always ensure that the natural gas line is turned off. Once you turn off the line, you can then install the kit accordingly. Ideally, hire a professional to install the conversion kit for you.
Char-Broil has a wonderful how-to video on the subject:
Natural gas tends to be cheaper than propane gas. However, you will only incur huge initial costs when you are installing it.
For instance, if you do not have a natural gas line in your home, you would spend anywhere between $200 and $330. This is the cost you’d expect to pay a gas professional to install a new natural gas line in your home. The difference in price will be affected by the length of the gas line.
With the propane gas, it will cost you about $30 to $40 for a full tank, and around $15 to refill it. Though it seems cheaper to acquire, it can be expensive when you sum up the bills throughout the year. If you were to link the propane grill to your gas line, you’d expect to add almost $10 to your monthly natural gas bill.
Why Would You Pick One Over The Other? What Is The Advantage To Either Type?
Both gasses have their benefits and drawbacks, so it is advised to understand what each gas delivers, and relate it to your needs. To summarize the two here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two;
• You will not run out of fuel since it flows directly from the utility company.
• It is a clean gas since it has a lower carbon count. That is why natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas.
• It is cheaper to use.
• It is safer since it entails limited accidents and leaks.
• Natural gas grills tend to be more expensive than propane grills.
• Initial costs are high, especially if you do not have a gas line running in your home.
• Natural gas delivers less heat than propane.
• It requires a professional to install it, and they tend to be permanent once installed.
• They are portable, making them more convenient when you need to move the grills.
• They have higher BTUs than natural gas, meaning that they deliver more heat than natural gas
• Propane has a higher hydrocarbon count than natural gas, though it is still considered a greenhouse gas.
• They tend to be more expensive than natural gas.
• Propane can be more dangerous in the case of an explosion since it is heavier than air and challenging to put off.
• You can run out of gas when you are preparing your BBQ, though you should purchase a unit with a gauge to alert you whenever the gas level is low.
More people in America are using propane gas than natural gas, though each can be dependable at some point. However, natural gas tends to be more reliable, especially regarding cost-effectiveness and availability.
What Types Of Grills Use Either Gas More Often Than Not?
Like mentioned, propane grills are the most popular in America, though more people are gradually switching to natural gas. If you want to enjoy both gasses at your disposal, it is advised to purchase a dual fuel unit. Such a unit will support both gasses with ease. However, you will need to hire a professional to handle the conversion.
In most cases, one will convert their propane gas into natural gas, since it is easier to switch from propane to gas. Conversely, it is somewhat challenging to change from natural gas to propane gas, because the initial installation tends to be more permanent and delicate to dismantle. Keep in mind that a dedicated propane grill cannot work with natural gas.
The Popularity Of Natural Gas Built-in Grills
The fact that natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than propane makes many people have gas lines installed in their homes. Also, the world is looking for ways to limit the global warming, and boost the use of clean fuels for the sake of a healthy surrounding air. Users are also interested in a fuel option that is reliable enough. Natural gas perfectly fulfills that need, because it will never run out, even when you have a huge BBQ party.
That is why in-built grills that are powered by natural gas are becoming more popular. They can be built into stone or brick structures that match your house’s style, and provide a beautiful aesthetic to your backyard. Also, natural gas is less likely to cause a fire or other lethal accidents. They are less likely to experience a leakage, unlike the regular propane gas tanks. However, you still need to conduct a routine checkup to ensure that there is no any leak or flaw with your natural gas grill.
However, stand-alone natural gas grills are getting more and more popular, as they do not require building a structure for them to be integrated into, and are easy to roll-away to maximize space on your porch. We call these “roll-away” natural gas grills.
What If You Want To Dispose of Your Old Gas Range?
If you decide to change your gas grill to natural gas, you will have to get rid of the old gas range. Since your gas unit might have leaks or other flaws, it is advised to handle it with utmost care.
• First off, you can decide to recycle the unit, as recommended by the state. The best way to do this is by contacting the waste disposal company in your area and hand over the old gas unit.
• You can also work with your delivery company to pick your old gas unit as they install the new range. This way, you can be sure of safety, and you will also earn some money when the delivery company takes the old gas range.
Always ensure that the gas unit is handled with care, which should be done by involving a professional party.
When it comes to cooking performance of propane vs. natural gas, there is usually no difference. Each grill is optimized to use the right amount of gas for peak performance with each gas type. While propane is the by far the most popular fuel type for grills, natural gas is steadily rising in popularity, and is most commonly used for outdoor kitchens and gas grills that will be set in a more permanent location.