As the popularity of propane BBQ units rises, due in no small part to propane’s affordability and wide availability, many families are not only buying new propane units, but also converting their old ones.
The latter has led to the popular query among BBQ fans: How do you convert a natural gas BBQ to propane?
PropaneXpress is committed to providing every facet of service to its loyal customer base, and among those services is its advice to existing and future customers on how to safely covert their BBQ grills to run on propane.
Simply following the requisite instructions accurately and in order will accomplish the desired end result – a propane-burning BBQ. However, PropaneXpress strongly believes D-I-Yers who attempt to understand the rationale behind each step as explained will find the process simpler and the finished product more satisfying.
The main difference to the BBQ fan between natural gas and propane will be the relative ‘energy potential’, the ability of a set amount of a substance to do work (in this case, to cook). Propane has the higher energy – this means a lesser volume of it will do the same amount of cooking as a larger volume of natural gas.
This is relevant because natural gas grills will have larger valve orifices than propane ones. There is no way to ‘fill up’ a valve orifice to accommodate the lower flow of propane required; the only solution is to get a ‘blank’ valve and drill the required diameter of orifice in. The valve orifice change is the first of two major steps in this conversion.
Firstly, measure the original orifice. A natural gas conversion chart will show how much energy is produced by natural gas flowing at that diameter in units called BTUs. Call that amount ‘x’.
A propane gas conversion chart will show what diameter is required to produce ‘x’ amount of BTUs. That is the diameter of the hole required to be drilled in the blank valve.
The second major step is to adjust the top burner valves. The settings for ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’ applied to natural gas – the burners have to be adjusted to ‘LP’ (Liquid Propane) by rotating them with a wrench. Refer to the grill’s manual. In some cases, adjustment is not possible and the entire burner assembly must be replaced.
Besides these two major steps, a change is required of the regulator and thermostat knobs. Some regulators and thermostats can adapt to multiple gas sources – change the setting on it to ‘LP’. Otherwise, purchase a suitable regulator and/or thermostat.
PropaneXpress provides this as a general guide to ‘How do you convert a natural gas BBQ to propane?’ If in doubt at any stage of the process, please refer to a professional.