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lanning to buy a new grill? You have a lot of choices to make. No two grills are the same and each model has distinct pros and cons.
Household grills use one of four fuel sources:

  • Propane
  • Natural gas
  • Charcoal
  • Electricity

The right grill for you depends on what you’ll use it for. Charcoal grills excel at smoking meats, for example.

Propane and natural gas grills are widely popular in the United States. Amazon sells hundreds of unique models, suitable for various patios, balconies, and backyards. The question is: which one is right for you?
If you’re shopping for a new grill, a propane or natural gas option can be a great choice. They’re easy-to-use and there are possibilities for every budget.
The question is, what is the difference between propane and natural gas grills?

In this article, we’ll talk about what sets propane and natural gas grills apart. By learning their key differences, you can shop with knowledge and choose the type that’s best for you.

What are the Differences Between Propane and Natural Gas Grills?

When it comes to grills, the type of fuel you use matters. Propane and natural gas have different chemical makeups that impact your cooking experience. If you want your dream outdoor kitchen, it’s crucial to choose the right kind.

Cooking with Propane vs. Natural Gas​

Propane and natural gas don’t burn at the same temperature, but the difference is negligible. It won’t make a noticeable change when you’re cooking.
Unlike charcoal grills, propane and natural gas grills have precise temperature controls. The ways you control propane and natural gas grills are similar. Most include electric igniters and external temperature gauges, too. The basic cooking experiences with propane and natural gas grills are similar. When you choose between the two, cost, convenience, and safety will be the deciding factors.

Comparing the Costs

When you buy a new grill, remember there’s more to your investment than the price you pay up-front. You have to pay for fuel, tools, and other accessories to use it.
Consider the costs of propane and natural gas when you buy a new grill. Depending on how much you use it (and during which seasons), you can save a lot of money by choosing the right kind. In general, propane costs more than natural gas. The prices vary with the seasons, so there’s no way to say for sure which is cheaper unless you know your local rates. Expect propane to be more expensive than natural gas, but to use twice as much natural gas to cook the same food. You may need to hire a professional to hook your natural gas grill up to a mainline, too. If you’re using your grill on a consistent basis, natural gas may be cheaper in the long run. Talk to your local natural gas suppliers to learn more about their pricing to compare.

On-the-Go Grilling

Want to take your new grill camping? With the right propane grill, you can pack it up and take it with you anywhere.
This is a clear advantage of propane-fueled grills. Natural gas grills need a mainline hookup to function, unlike propane grills.
Tanks of propane are detachable, perfect for on-the-go grilling. Store them alongside your other belongings and you’re ready to grill wherever!
Portable gas grills are cost-effective and convenient. They feature folding shelves and sturdy casters, perfect for picnics and camping.
If you need your grill to go with you on-the-go, propane is a clear choice. Natural gas grills are more suitable for stationary outdoor kitchens.



The Best Built-in Barbecue

Propane grills shine for their portability. They’re great for small spaces and grilling away from home.
Natural gas grills excel as built-in cooking stations. If you’re building a permanent outdoor kitchen, natural gas grills are a great option.
You don’t need to buy a natural gas grill if you’re building an outdoor kitchen. Stationary propane grills are available, although changing the fuel tank can be cumbersome.
If you want a built-in grill for your backyard, the right choice depends on how much you’ll use it. Propane grills are great light-to-moderate use, while natural gas is a good option if you grill a lot.
You can cut down on maintenance by choosing a natural gas grill. Since it requires a mainline hook-up, you don’t need to replace tanks or refuel. You’ll have consistent power, giving you a reliable cooking experience every time.
Be aware that natural gas grills should stay in place after you connect them. Some pitmasters will use extended gas lines to create more mobility, but we don’t recommend this for beginners.

Convenience and Consistency

Convenience is another key area when you buy a new grill. Depending on where you live, you may need certain features to accommodate your space.
Propane and natural gas grills have respective conveniences. For example, propane grills are mobile but natural gas options have consistent fueling. It’s up to you to determine which features are more important to you.
If you have limited space, a propane grill may work well. Manufacturers sell propane grills in various sizes, perfect for different yards and patios.
Small propane grills are popular for people living in apartments. You can move them inside when you’re not using them, and they don’t take up much room on your patio.
On the other hand, most natural gas grills are large. They’re intended for permanent outdoor kitchens, not for patios and balconies.
If you live in an apartment, there’s no guarantee you’ll get access to a mainline for natural gas. Plus, natural gas grills are usually bigger than propane models. They’re designed for stationary use so larger sizes are more popular.
Depending on your preferences, refueling natural gas is more convenient than exchanging propane. You need to hire a professional to hook up the mainline, but once he or she connects it, your grill has consistent fuel.
If there’s an issue with your natural gas line, you need to wait until a professional fixes it to grill. While rare, there’s no convenient fix when something goes wrong with natural gas.
Exchanging heavy propane tanks can be a hassle, but it’s a quick way to refuel your grill. You don’t need professional help and it only takes a few minutes to unhook one tank and attach another.

Safety and Precautions

Safety is a key point of contention between propane and natural gas grills. When you hear “natural gas,” the term refers to a mixture of propane, methane, butane, and ethane. During processing, most facilities separate the propane from other gas components and sell it to other vendors.
Propane is heavier than natural gas, so it dissipates more slowly into the air. If any propane leaks, you’re risking a serious fire or explosion. It takes longer to dissipate into the air, making it more hazardous.

Regardless of relative safety, any type of gas leak is dangerous. Natural gas is safer than propane if it leaks, but by a small margin. There’s still a huge risk if you don’t catch it and stop it fast Inspect your grill’s fuel lines and connections often to prevent safety concerns. A gas leak can spell disaster for your barbecue, so take the proper precautions to prevent it.

Pros and Cons: Propane vs. Natural Gas Grills

Propane Grills

  • Propane grills are portable. You can buy compact models for road trips, picnics, and grilling on-the-go. They don’t need a mainline connection, so you can move them around your backyard without any restrictions.

 

  • It’s easy to re-fuel a propane grill. You can exchange the tanks in a few minutes, like changing the battery in a television remote. When you’re out of fuel, you don’t need to wait once you connect a full tank.

 

  • You don’t need professional help to fuel a propane grill. Propane tanks are easy to remove and attach, unlike main lines for natural gas. When you buy a natural gas grill, you’ll need professional help to connect it to the city or county’s fuel source.
  • Propane costs more per gallon/cubic foot than natural gas in most regions. Depending on how often you grill, replacing the propane tanks can be expensive. If you’re grilling several times per week, natural gas may be a more affordable option.

  • If there’s a leak, propane is more likely to start a fire than natural gas. Propane is denser than natural gas, so there’s a higher chance it’ll ignite if it escapes from the fuel tank.

 

  • Replacing propane tanks is time-consuming. They aren’t a consistent source of fuel like natural gas. Once you connect a grill to a natural gas line, it’ll have fuel until you disconnect it. Taking time to buy new tanks when your propane runs out can add up if you grill often enough.

Natural Gas Grills

  • If there’s a leak in your fuel line, you’re less likely to start a fire with natural gas. It’s still a risk, but propane has a (slightly) higher chance of causing a problem.

 

  • Natural gas is more affordable than propane in many regions. You’ll need almost twice as much to produce the same amount of heat, but if you grill often enough, natural gas may be cheaper

 

  • If you don’t like exchanging propane tanks, natural gas grills are more convenient. Once you connect it to your mainline, you don’t need to refuel it by hand.
  • You can’t take a natural gas grill anywhere once you connect it to a fuel line. It needs to stay in place (unless you use an extended gas line). Even then, natural gas grills aren’t suitable for picnics, road trips, and camping.

 

  • You need professional help to hook up a natural gas grill. Attaching a propane tank is quick and easy, but you need to budget for the costs of connecting a new natural gas grill.

 

  • Natural gas grills are less suitable if you live in an apartment. There’s no guarantee you can connect it to the property’s mainline, and you may not find one small enough to fit your balcony or patio.

To Convert or Not to Convert?

Already have a propane grill, but you wish it uses natural gas? You’re in luck: with the right tools and budget, it’s possible to convert a propane grill to natural gas.
Converting a propane grill isn’t right for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with using propane to fuel your grill. It’s the most popular choice in America for many reasons.
If you want a natural gas grill, converting your current propane-fueled model may be more sensible than buying a new one.
Before you buy a conversion kit, make sure your grill will accommodate a dual fuel connection. Some propane grills aren’t compatible with natural gas, so check your owner’s manual.
When you know your grill is eligible to use natural gas, buy a conversion kit. Be aware that conversion kits aren’t universal; check your model’s rating label to see which kit you need.
To install the conversion kit, turn off your natural gas line. If you want help converting your grill, check out this video. It walks through the basic steps of converting a grill, helping you get it right.
If you’re going to convert your propane grill to natural gas, do it carefully. It’s important to avoid leaks or you could face disaster.

If you’re unsure about converting your grill, it’s a good idea to hire professional help. Making mistakes during the conversion can damage your grill and other property, so it’s worth investing in help if you need it.

Final Thoughts

When you buy a new grill, you have a lot of options. Between charcoal, propane, natural gas, and electric-powered grills, how do you know which one is right for you?
Gas-powered grills are popular for many reasons. They’re convenient, easy-to-use, and come in various sizes. Propane and natural gas grills share many similarities, but there are a few key differences that set them apart.
The right option for you depends on your priorities. Do you take your grill on-the-go? Are you worried about fuel costs?
If you want a permanent, stationary fixture for your outdoor kitchen, a natural gas grill could be ideal. Natural gas creates a consistent source of fuel, eliminating the need for replacing propane tanks.
On the other hand, natural gas grills aren’t portable. If you want to grill when you go camping, propane is a better option.
When you compare grills, write down what you want from your experience. Do you want a permanent outdoor kitchen or do you want maximum portability?
Once you know what you want from your grill, it’ll be easier to make the right choice. There’s a spectrum of options available, but with the right knowledge, you can choose the right grill for your next backyard barbecue.

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