Propane grills makes up a sizeable chunk of the grilling market. This is due to the versatility of the fuel, the easy storage and finally, the excellent heat production. It is also clean burning and doesn’t produce combustion by-products that can inhibit the flavor of the food.
However, some people are still leery about purchasing or using a propane grill and more are uncertain when it comes to hooking up the tank. Hooking up a propane tank to your grill is a simple process and it only takes a little amount of understanding the propane and how it works to get you started.
Propane Is A Natural Gas But Is Not Natural Gas
That might seem confusing, however, propane is a gas that is formed by natural underground processes and makes up a portion of unprocessed Natural Gas. When Natural Gas is removed from the ground, it must undergo processing to remove the various hydrates such as propene, propane, benzene and more from the methane. Also, propane is produced as a by-product of the petroleum refining process. This by-product, propane, is then compressed and transported as liquefied petroleum gas to suppliers.
Great For Grilling
Propane is stored as a liquid under pressure and the liquid propane returns to a gas state under normal atmospheric pressure. This makes it safe and highly portable. It also means you get more energy or heat output for your buck as more propane can be stored than charcoal in a comparable space. The heat content of propane is significantly higher than charcoal and there is no heat curve with propane as with charcoal. This means you don’t have to wait for the grill to heat before cooking like you do with charcoal.
Note About Conversions
Before describing how to hook up the propane, it is important to note that some grills are conversions of others. Some natural gas grills can be converted to propane and propane to natural gas. Many of these grills are done by using a manufacturer’s kit but others can be manually converted. If you are using an older grill, perhaps bought used, before hooking up the propane it is best to inspect the grill to make sure the conversion was done properly.
Propane tanks and bottles are essentially small pressure vessels designed to maintain a specific pressure. This is one of the reasons why propane grills require the use of a pressure regulator at the connection. Some grills that the pressure regulator located close to the connection with the tank and some have them further down the line. What is important is you should never use a propane grill that is not equipped with a regulator. Additionally, never attach a propane tank to a grill in which the lid is closed. The reason is, if there is a leak in the valve during the connection process, the gas can accumulate in the grill area and cause a flash fire when lite.
Making the Connection
To actually make the connection, be sure to have on hand a wrench of pair of pliers, thread tape and make sure the regulator is working. Place the tank near the grill and screw the regulator hose into the valve opening. Make sure to apply the thread tape to the threads to the male end of the connection. Some valves will have a male connection and some do not, so it depends on your specific connection. While thread tape is not mandatory, it will reduce the chance of gas leaking from around the screw threads. However, make sure the thread tape is rated for gas usage. Also, be sure to not over-tighten the connections to prevent cracking or leaks.
Turn on the Gas
After you have made the physical connection and all connections are tight. Slowly open the valve to allow sufficient gas to flow through to light the grill. Do not open the valve to full just yet. One important note is that if the temperature is lower than 40 degrees, the pressure in the tank might be low and thus the gas will not flow correctly. Do not attempt to warm the tank, set the tank indoors until the tank warms to room temperature and try again. Once the gas is flowing and the burners are lit, then you can open the valve to its full extent. Some grill manufacturers will suggest opening the valve to full after connection, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in all regards for best results.
Propane is a great fuel for grills and making the connections required for your grill is a safe and easy processes. As long as you follow all safety precautions and instructions that came with your grill, everything should be fine. If you are concerned, in many cases there are professionals who are willing to help you make the connection. Once you have completed grilling, turn off the gas at the tank valve to both conserve gas and prevent flare ups.
Propane grills are an excellent way to grill delicious food for family and friends and if you are concerned about no smoke flavor, add a small bowl of water and wood chips to the grate and this will add that great flavor without adding harsh chemicals.