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Do You Know The Difference Between A (Liquid) Propane VS Natural Gas Grill?

When you think about grilling and that backyard barbeque, do you want the convenience of a gas grill? Most people, today, like the easy cleanup of a gas grill over charcoal. A gas grill is also safer because the charcoals can retain heat for a long time after the flame goes out. Hot coals on a grill that no one is supervising or attending presents a fire hazard. Yet, when you go shopping for a gas grill, you will find that it is not that simple anymore. Also, which one is right for you when there’s two types of gas grills, propane vs natural gas grill?

Nowadays, there is a 65/35 split between propane and natural grills. While the differences may seem negligible, there is actually a big debate over which is the better choice. For many, natural gas may be preferable but not practical. Yet, many people out there don’t even give the choices a second thought unless they have done some research on the subject. Let’s consider the debate in greater detail, below.

Propane

Propane is the old standby in the grilling race. People have relied upon propane to fuel their grills since they started making those shiny metal portable units. Propane is an excellent fuel for smaller portable grills because it burns hotter than natural gas.

In fact, you will find that Propane has 2.5 times as much energy (per cubic foot) as natural gas, 2,500 BTUs compared to 1,000 BTUs. This is excellent if you need to boil a pot of water fast but may not make a huge difference when you are grilling some steaks. However, propane tanks must be refueled and cost more per cubic foot than natural gas.

But, when it comes to refueling, there are usually propane refill services that will deliver a new tank or fill up your old propane tank without an inconvenience. If you plan on doing a lot of grilling, and you are located in a remote area, you can always stockpile a few extra tanks of propane. Propane is safe to store and is easy to find in any region of the country or world for that matter.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is methane, swamp gas that can be found out in the bayou. Natural gas burns cleaner and is pumped into homes across the country using underground gas lines. Natural gas is what you use to power your gas stove, gas dryer, and maybe your gas boiler and heating system.

Natural gas is about one-third the price of propane but can cost some money up front to install the gas line in your backyard for a grill. Also, once that gas line is installed, you won’t be moving that grill to the patio when it rains. Although both fuels burn very clean and are safe for the environment, natural gas burns cleaner than propane and is preferred among cooking purists.

Natural gas is about one-third the price of propane but can cost some money up front to install the gas line in your backyard for a grill. Also, once that gas line is installed, you won’t be moving that grill to the patio when it rains. Although both fuels burn very clean and are safe for the environment, natural gas burns cleaner than propane and is preferred among cooking purists.

What is the Difference Between Propane and Liquid Propane Gas?

There are no differences. The term “liquid propane gas” (LPG) expresses that the propane gas is condensed into a liquid form in the portable propane tank. When you open the valve, the liquid hits the warm air and becomes gaseous once again.

You can feel how the pressure of the liquid propane moves around inside of a partially used tank. You may also feel the coldness of the LPG permeating through the tank and see the tank building up condensation on the outside in humid weather. Most propane is sold in LPG form but may be referred to as propane or LPG interchangeably. 

Differences in Propane and Natural Gas Grills

Not all grills are created equal. But what is the difference in propane versus (vs) natural gas grill? A natural gas grill tends to have larger jets in the burner valve nozzles. This is how grills are calibrated to operate in the same temperature ranges for different types of gas. If you are swapping a grill over to natural gas, you likely need a retrofit upgrade kit to modify it for the different valve jets. These usually screw right in and should not be hard to swap out with some basic tools. 

The gas line also has a different connection for natural gas than a propane grill. A propane grill requires a regulator to control the flow of natural gas coming out of the tank. Regulators are not universally adaptable to every tank, however.

But, most regulators have a gauge to see how much propane remains and a shut-off valve to close it. You can get very sick indoors from even a small propane leak because your body will build up a level of toxicity. Because gas burns cleaner, it is easier to cook with it indoors without as much ventilation.

The biggest difference that is driving sales appears to be the impulsive manner in which consumers buy new grills. They see something that is on sale or all decked out when they have an event in mind. They may not know when a gas plumber can come to their homes to install a new line or if they have access to a nearby gas line at all. Failing to hire a licensed professional may even result in criminal penalties in some areas if an accident occurs because gas lines can be dangerous. 

In many places, you have to apply for permits and follow various city ordinances and regulations to install a gas line. Unless you have done your homework, you are likely going to go out there and buy something that is easy to install and operate that same day. Gas grills are becoming more popular when people make major renovations to build backyard patios, gazebos, and other custom renovations. A gas plumber adds to the expense of natural gas but will lower your overall fuel bills if you get enough use.

What is the Cost Difference in Grills?

A natural gas grill may be cheaper if you count the propane tank and regulator as a part of the propane grill. However, the gas grill may be more expensive if you count the gas line installation as part of the grill. Because there are very few differences between the two types of grills other than the gas line connection and the jet valve hole diameters, it is easy to convert either grill to run on either fuel. 

Many people also believe that natural gas leaves less fuel residues on the foods. Because it burns cleaner, it is also less pungent on the nose. When you consider that most gourmet chefs prefer to cook with natural gas, it is easy to see why some might prefer it for their grills. Of course, propane is much more versatile because you can use it to cook on a portable camping grill when natural gas is not accessible. 

Conclusion

It appears that natural gas is preferable if you are cooking a lot at home and can fix it in one place that works well. Propane is going to be the obvious choice if you don’t use your gas grill a lot, or you require the portability. Because propane has a lower upfront cost investment, nearly twice as many people are cooking with propane grills today. For most people, it is a question of convenience in propane grill versus (vs) an accessible home gas line for the natural gas grill. Propane seems to be winning the race because people buy grills impulsively and don’t have time to wait for a gas line plumber.

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