Propane vs Natural Gas Grill: Which Is Better?

When you buy a grill for barbecuing, there are a couple of choices to choose from. You can choose between those that are powered by propane and others that will use natural gas. It may seem to be a subtle difference. In reality, there is actually quite a bit of difference in regard to the final results in the performance of each of these units. So, propane vs natural gas grill - which one should you choose?

The high heat potential and convenience of liquid propane is the main reason why many Americans use it as their preferable grill fuel. But natural gas has started to gain popularity once again. Consumer reports indicate that natural gas used for grills now makes up 36% of the overall gas grill use within the U.S. 

So, what is the difference between propane and natural gas, and which option is better?

Which Should You Choose?

The decision to choose propane or natural gas comes down to personal preferences.

If you prefer convenience, and char and spark with minimal fuss, then natural gas will probably suit you best. Since you won't have to worry about purchasing, returning, or running out. You can light up your grill whenever you need it.

However, if you like to move around your yard or chasing the sunshine, and you prefer a really hot grill to sear the perfect steak, then the anchor-free propane gas grills allow you to do this along with so much more.

When it comes to costs, a natural gas barbecue is usually the cheaper option, especially when you are on the main supply. Propane gas is still cheaper than natural gas, so it will usually depend on your current circumstances.

What You Need To Know About Propane Gas Grills?

Propane grills differ slightly from natural gas grills. They use liquefied gas that is stored in a portable cylinder or canister, rather than connecting to your gas line. Propane gas is a processed and refined byproduct of petroleum refining and natural gas.

It is first refined into a gas. Then it is compressed into a liquid, which is then used as a fuel type for a range of things. Many grill masters choose propane since it has an extremely low boiling point. It means it will vaporize as it releases from the container it is stored in.

Propane also burns cleaner when compared to gasoline or coal. Its carbon emission rates are very similar to natural gas. This is why it is chosen over more traditional fuels like diesel fuel or coal.

What You Need To Know About Natural Gas Grills?

A gas-powered grill burner running off the main gas supply is similar to how a hob and oven are set up in a home. Natural gas contains mainly methane combined with other gas types such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and low levels of helium.

Natural gas is extracted from deep underground and produces when animals and plants die. This leaves behind bio-matter as they start to decompose.  This bio-matter then was exposed  to  to high heat that comes from the Earth's core and extreme pressure from the rock layers. It releases the energy that the decaying organisms gained directly from the heat of the sun. When they turn into a gaseous state, the gas remains trapped until released from under the ground.

The Benefits of Grilling With Propane

More Energy-Efficient

Natural gas may produce less CO2 per unit, but propane produces more energy and heat per unit when compared to natural gas. This ultimately means that a propane grill burns hotter. It provides a more traditional grill experience and taste when compared to natural gas.

Natural gas grills also feature wider ports that allow a faster flow of gas since more gas is needed to create a similar heat to that of propane.

On the other hand, if you happen to be grilling outside, and it is exceedingly cold, the performance can be dramatically hindered. That is because propane does not vaporize very well in colder temperatures, which is why some people prefer using natural gas. It is also important to have a spare propane tank with you as you may not realize how much propane you are using.

Portability

Just about everyone loves a barbecue since it connects people to the outdoors and a feeling of cooking out in the wild. This is why many people love to barbecue in their gardens, on beaches, and at parks.

While charcoal may be the standard go-to when it comes to portables, the propane gas grill is also extremely popular due to its quick-fire cooking and ease of use. Natural gas doesn't provide the portability convenience of propane tanks.

You cannot take a mains supply with when you visit a lake or a lodge, which means that the beautiful grill that you spent a lot of money on is tied down to your home. Propane gas provides you with more options when it comes to the setting you would like to use it in.

No Upfront Cost for Installation

Propane gas, unlike natural gas, can easily be installed in any location since it comes in a bottle. This also means that you won't have to pay any connection fees to install the product if your property is far away from the closest mains supply. So the decision to use propane gas may even up saving you hundreds of dollars, which means more beers and meat to go around.

The Benefits of Grilling With Natural Gas

Environmentally Friendly

Natural gas is often touted as a stepping stone for larger economies, such as America, to utilize while lowering their overall reliance on coal and oil in order to find a suitable renewable energy source.

Natural gas is a fuel source that burns cleaner while producing far fewer carbon emissions when compared to coal. Many BBQ fans have made the decision to change over to a fuel source such as natural gas due to this very reason. In this way, you are able to enjoy more barbecues without having to worry about increasing your carbon footprint. Natural gas also has a relatively lower carbon-output when compared to propane.

Convenience

Natural gas is typically delivered through a mains supply, making it a more convenient option when compared to bottled propane. To begin with, you won't have to move your propane bottle around before you are able to start grilling. You also won't have to disconnect or connect when the gas runs out. You also won't need to try and guess or monitor your usage to work out how much propane you have left.

Mains gas provides an unending supply, which will usually never run out or cut out while you are having a barbeque as propane gas bottles do. You will also know that if this has happened before and you do not have a spare bottle, you would either need to scrap your barbeque or head out to buy another one.

Easier On Your Pocket

Natural gas is the cheapest when compared to other fuels. When you compare this to bottled propane, natural gas costs around one 3rd per unit. So if your home is already running off mains gas, then it will cost you a lot less to run a grill on natural gas rather than propane. Just keep in mind, that if you are not connected, and your closest main is very far away, this could end up costing you thousands in order to connect the supply.

Dry Heat

Some grillers have made the decision to convert to natural gas from propane, since the gas is extracted from a liquefied form. It presents a "wet heat" element that may change the consistency and texture of your food. With these considerations, some people think that using natural gas is the better option when it comes to flame grilling. It gives a better smoky flavor and char when compared to a propane gas grill.

How to Light Propane Grill Automatically

Most propane gas grills have an automatic igniter and separate regulator knobs for each burner. First, open the propane gas canister. Then turn the regulator for the burner nearest the igniter switch to the highest setting and push it in. The igniter should automatically send a spark to the burner. If not, use the igniter switch (usually a knob that needs to be pushed in) to start the grill. The other burners can then be turned on as needed and should ignite from the burner that is already alight.

If the automatic igniter fails, you can light the propane grill manually.

How to Light Propane Grill Manually

The process for lighting a propane gas manually is similar to using an automatic igniter. First open the propane gas canister. Turn the regulator for the burner that you want to light to its lowest setting. Use a long match or grill lighter to light the propane on the burner that has been turned on. You may need to turn the regulator to the highest setting to light the other burners.

Some propane grills have an opening through which a match or lighter can be placed to light the burner for safety purposes. Turn the regulator on for the burner closest to the opening.

The process for lighting propane vs. gas grill either automatically or manually is similar.

Why Buy a Propane-Natural Gas Conversion Kit?

Do you have a propane grill but want to run it on natural gas? There is no denying that propane grills remain the most popular choice. However, the increasing availability of natural gas has led people to start searching for propane-natural gas conversion kits. This conversion kit can be used to turn your propane grill into a natural gas grill. Before ordering one, you need to make sure that your propane grill can be converted into natural gas. Not all propane grills are compatible with conversion kits.

You should be able to find this information on the manufacturer’s website or in the owner’s manual. Once you have ensured that your grill is compatible, just order a conversion kit and install it as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Installation is usually pretty straightforward but if you have any doubts, get in touch with customer service to clear any doubts. There are also hundreds of videos available online that can help you with the installation process.

You should know that not all the conversion kits made by a brand are compatible with all the grills made by that brand. Usually, they will mention compatibility with particular model numbers but if you have any doubts, don't hesitate to check with the customer service to avoid a lengthy return and reordering process.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing between a natural gas grill and a propane gas grill, it basically comes down to your situation and your preferences. We hope that the information mentioned above will guide you in the right direction to find the correct fuel to accommodate your needs.


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