Maybe you like your existing grill and have moved from an area where. In fact, converting from propane to natural gas is relatively easy and must easier to accomplish than converting a natural gas grill to propane because of the unique properties of each gas.
Use A Kit
By far, the easiest way to convert a grill is with a manufacturer’s conversion kit. Getting a manufacturer’s kit, especially if your grill is a new model is by far the most effective means and these kits are usually packed with everything you need to get the job done. For some manufacturers, there isn’t a kit or one is no longer available, in which case, you can explore purchasing an after market kit. After market kits are fine but are usually designed to fit multiple grills in a series or model run and thus can be somewhat confusing. As long as you are sure of your specific model and find a kit that will work with your model, then it should be fine.
If there is no kit, from the manufacturer or otherwise, a grill can be converted from propane to natural gas but you will require some parts. Since natural gas does not use a pressure regulator, it is simple enough to use a natural gas rated hose to make the connection to the valve system. However, other items must be in place before making the connection. For starters, where the gas leaves the residential supply line, you should install a cutoff valve that will allow you to shut off the gas to the grill. Here are some of the things you will need:
- New burner jets
- NG rated thread tape
- drill bits
- wrench or pliers
Some grills will require the burners to be replaced as well but this is generally uncommon.
Propane uses smaller orifices in the control valve stem as it is under more pressure. To convert to natural gas, you must first widen these orifices out. Often, you only need to go about 1/8th or 1/6th larger than the current size. Because natural gas has less energy content than propane, more gas is required to mix with air to get the right burn going. Something to consider is that the valve stem will no longer be calibrated for the right gas flow so the readings on the knobs will not be accurate.
Change the Jets
For the same reason why you have to change the diameter of the orifice in the valve stem, the jets should be replaced as well. It is possible to drill out the existing jets but this should not be undertaken unless you are mechanically capable or have some knowledge of this type of procedure. However, if you can’t find the right jets it might be the only alternative. In which case, only make the jets slightly larger and do not compromise the integrity of the brass jet by over drilling.
Making the Connection
Once you have widened the orifices and replaced or widened the jets and replaced them back into the grill, now it is time to make the connection. Be sure to use thread tape rated for natural gas and apply to all male threads to prevent leakage. Then connect the hose from the cutoff valve to the grill, making sure to not over-tighten the connections to prevent cracks or faults in the fitting. After the connection has been made, open the valve slightly to allow the gas to flow. At this point, using a spray bottle with a little bit of soap and water, spray the connections to check for leaks. With no leaks, open the valve a little more and test the burners. Make sure the lid has been open during the connection and testing process to make sure no gas as accumulated in the grill.
Once the burners are lit and functioning properly, test the control valves to make sure they are able to control the gas flow. Should the situation occur where they do not control the gas, replace the control valve stem as you might have widened it too much. If the burners seem low, even on the high setting, you can widen the control stem orifices more. Be sure to disconnect the gas before attempting.
Converting a propane grill to natural gas is not a complicated procedure and with a kit, it can even be enjoyable. As long as all safety precautions are observed, the conversion process is also a safe one. It is normal to smell a small amount of gas during the lighting process.
However, if the smell is strong, turn off the gas and leave the area to allow the gas to dissipate. If you are concerned, contact your local gas company for assistance. Should you smell a strong smell of gas, do not use your phone near the grill as a precaution.