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Converting a propane grill to natural gas

by Mark Bower

Are you tired of always needing to refill the gas bottle on your propane BBQ grill? Then why not connect your grill directly to your home's gas line!

If your house is connected to a propane tank then you probably wouldn't be reading this article as connecting your grill would be fairly elementary. However, most of you probably have natural gas piped to your home which complicates connecting your gas grill. The rest of this article will assume that you wish to connect a propane gas (lp) grill to your house's natural gas (ng) line.

Do you want to?

If you are not comfortable working with gas, you probably don't want to attempt this project by yourself. Please realize that you will void any warranties that your grill may still have. Also remember that this information is just a guide and in no way do we claim fault or liability if it doesn't work for you. If you attempt this project, you are attempting it at your own risk. Having said all that -- let's move on!

Inspect your grill

gas grill If you have a grill that's a few years old, check to be sure it's still worthy of converting to natural gas. Take a good look at the burner -- is it in good shape and not rusted or burnt out? Are your racks in good condition? Is the housing OK and not rusted through? Does the igniter work properly? If too many areas are "iffy" then perhaps you will want to start with a new grill. That was the case for me.

Since I needed a new grill I figured why not just buy a natural gas grill. Except the cheapest grill I could find was $260 and it was bigger then I wanted. So I bought a new propane grill for around $100.

Tee into gas pipe...

First decide where to tee into your gas line. Do not tee by the meter. With the gas shut off at the meter, disconnect the gas line and add a tee with a shut-off. When assembling, seal all pipe threads with a sealant that's approved for use with gas.

Continue to run gas pipe to where your grill will be sitting and install another shut off at the far end. In my project I ran 1/2" flexible gas line underneath my home and rigid 1/2" black pipe through the skirting and anyplace outside my home. Flexible gas pipe is more expensive but can be a huge time saver.

With the shut-off at the far end turned off, turn the gas back on at the meter and check for leaks by pouring a small amount of soapy water at each connection. If a leak is detected bubble will flow or pop-up as pictured. Next relight any gas appliances you have in the home.

Convert grill to NG

gas grill Remove Regulator
The regulator, which controls the pressure of the propane to the grill, must be removed. The natural gas regulator on the house will now control your pressure. Locate the regulator and follow the hose back to the grill. If you have a side burner you may come to a tee with one hose going to the main burner and the other going to the side burner. At the tee or burner, either unscrew the ends or cut the hose several inches below the tee or burner. If your line is crimped and not screwed into any fillings, then you will have to cut it.

gas grill Remove Control Knob Assembly
Next you will need to make the orifices slightly bigger. The orifices are found in the control know assembly. The control knob assembly simply slips inside the two tubes sticking out of the burner. Depending upon your grill, possibly the easiest way to reach the orifices is to remove the control knob assembly by unscrewing it from the panel on the grill. Actually, you might find it easier to simply remove the whole front panel taking the control knob assembly with it (which is what I did).

gas grill Drill out burner orifices
With the orifices now exposed, drill them out slightly bigger. I used a 1/16" drill bit on mine. On a bigger drill you may first wan to try a 1/16". If you don't think the flame is high enough then try a 3/32". If you drill the orifices too big, then you will have to start over with a new set of orifices so step-up slowly.

Drill out control knob orifices
Most of the time I tend to operate my grill on high. If you frequently use your grill on low then you may need to drill out the orifices inside the control knobs. On most grills the orifice on each knob has 2 holes. The bigger hole will probably be fine and won't need drilling out. The smaller hole is used on the lower burner settings and will probably need to be drilled out. Be careful taking apart the handles because if they are not reassembled correctly you will have problems. Since I operate my grill on high most of the time, I skipped this step.

gas grill

Connect grill to NG.

The last step is to connect the grill to the natural gas line. For my project I used a 5' dryer gas line. A long black rubber gas line would be longer and more weather resistant. Screw one end of the gas line into the shutoff. Screw the other end into the grill. If you had to cut the line, insert a barbed fitting into the hose and security with a hose clamp. On many grills you will need a 5/16" barbed fitting, but double check as the size is usually printed right on the hose. Adapt to your gas line.

gas grill

Time for pork chops!

On my smaller grill I discovered that with the lid closed not enough air seemed to be getting to the burner. Sometimes the flame would go out. So I rigged my grill so that the lid didn't close all the way and that appeared to have solved the problem.

Since hooking the BBQ up to natural gas, my family enjoys our grill more than ever. No more frustration over finding an empty propane bottle. Plus if you grill a lot you'll safe money as those small bottles of propane are expensive compared to the natural gas you'll use.

For more information on converting your propane grill to natural gas, visit this website.

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