Natural gas is an excellent fuel source for grilling, especially if the grill is built in or the grill is a static location. The advantages of natural gas are that it is typically cheaper and for many, it is already plumbed to the house.
If you are a person who loves to cook outdoors, Natural Gas, is a great way to have the convenience of gas and still enjoy the grilling experience. The important aspect, however, is to get the connection right so as not to cause higher costs due to a loss of gas from leaks but to also offer protection from flash fires and other problems associated with improperly connected gas grills.
Understanding the Gas
Natural gas is a mixture of methane and smaller amounts of other gasses such as propane and more. It has a slightly less BTU content than propane but it does not require pressure regulation to use and the difference in actual use is not noticeable. During combustion, there are not by-products released, making it a clean burning fuel and it won’t leave your food with a chemical taste that some other fuels will. Additionally, in many respects, it is safer to use than propane because the gas is lighter than air and thus can easily be removed by the wind. In its natural state, natural gas has no odor but a chemical additive called mercaptan is added to produce the rotten egg odor for easy detection.
Check Local Codes
Before attempting to connect the NG line to your grill, make sure to check with your local authorities about any permitting, or other requirements. In most cases, natural gas has to be plumbed to the standing structure or grill using a blackened, galvanized pipe designed for natural gas. At the end of the pipe leading to the grill, a cut-off valve must be installed. Even in locations where one is not required by law, it is still a good idea to install one, thus allowing you to shut off the gas as needed or when the grill is not in use.
Make Sure The Grill is NG Ready
Importantly, you must make sure the grill is ready for natural gas. If the grill is a conversion from propane, you must make sure to have all the right equipment in place and the conversion completed successfully. Natural gas grills do not have to be pressure tested in most cases and the most significant alteration in a conversion is the control valves must accommodate the gas. Most grills have a conversion kit available and if your grill is already designed for natural gas, conversion is unnecessary.
What You Will Need
You will need a natural gas rated, metal flex hose and a pair of pliers. Additionally, a small spray bottle with water and soap inside. Furthermore, you will need a natural gas rated plumbing tape or thread sealer. Again, if there is not a shut off valve installed, be sure to install one before connecting the grill.
Making The Connection
Making the actual connection is easy. Apply thread sealer or plumbing tape to the male threads on the shut off valve and screw the end of the hose to the valve. Using the pliers, tighten the connection firmly but do not over tighten as this can actually cause leaks to occur by cracking the flange on the hose. Once the gas side connection is made, repeat the process with the grill side. Be sure to apply the thread sealer or tape before tightening the connection. In situations where the valve connection is larger than the flex hose connector, you can use a reducing connector. However, all fittings must be made of brass and rated for natural gas usage. Under no circumstances should ABS or PVC plastic piping or hoses be used.
Once the connections are made and are solid, turn on the gas, slowly at first. Do not open the valve to the maximum. You only want to allow enough gas to check for leaks. Using the spray bottle, spray the connections on the gas side and grill side and look for bubbling. If you see any bubbles or detect a strong odor of gas, turn off the gas and redo the connections. A slight smell of gas is normal and if you suspect it is not, sniff around the connections. If the smell is stronger near the connections, turn off the gas and redo the connections.
Hooking up a natural gas grill is easy, and as long as you take precautions it is safe as well. Don’t allow the delivery flex hose to kink and keep it out of the way so it can not be tripped over or disturbed in any way. If you have any doubt as to your ability to connect the gas to your grill, contact your local gas supplier and they will be happy to have someone come out to complete the connection.
If you smell a large amount of gas, remove yourself from the area and call the gas company. Do not use your cellphone, just exit the area and call the company from a safe location. When dealing with any type of gas, safety is the prime importance and it is always better to be safe than sorry.