In a lot of respects, converting a natural gas grill to propane is a difficult endeavor. It is not impossible nor is it difficult from a mechanical perspective but you do have to take care to understand the different properties of the gas and to use the correct parts, as a mistake can be potentially hazardous.
To undertake a conversion from natural gas to propane, you will need a conversion kit. Often, manufacturer’s will include additional parts in the packaging for making the conversion or they will sell an optional kit to make the conversion. In some cases, an aftermarket kit from the third party is needed.
Using a kit makes things a lot easier and faster to make the conversion and even after market kits are fine to use. You don’t have to use the kit from the manufacturer but you do have to use a kit that is made for your grill. When selecting a conversion kit, it is best to use one that applies specifically to your grill.
Some kits will cover a range of grills and these can work but you should have one specific kit for your model. This way you are pretty confident that the parts will be correct. However, before using a kit make sure all parts are present and in good working order.
Universal or Regular
Occasionally, the conversion kit will have all the parts necessary but the regulator and hose. Propane must have a regulator to function properly. Do not hook up propane to a grill without a regulator installed.
Additionally, before beginning the conversion process make sure the propane tank is off and disconnected. Concerning the regulator, often the regulator can be purchased with the hose already attached. If this is the case, then it is necessary to make sure that the proper fittings are in place to ensure a good fit between the hose and the control assembly. This includes using any necessary, gas rated thread material or tape to coat the threads.
If you have a universal regulator, you will need to set the regulator to propane usage. This entails removing the center screw body and making sure the center protrusion is set to propane.
The instructions included with the regulator should provide you with the necessary information to determine the correct orientation.
Your conversion kit should include a burner jet for each burner. In some cases, such as tube burners, the jets many not need to be replaced or changed as the diameter of the gas inlet is sufficient for propane. There are, however, some situations where the gas inlet to the burner is too large and thus, the burner would need to be replaced to work with propane.
Importantly, all gas inlets for propane are smaller in diameter, (ID not OD) for propane. Because propane is under higher pressure it requires a smaller inlet port than natural gas. The burner jet on each burner should be replaced or inspected to ensure it is of the correct diameter. If the kit has the jets, then it is usually very simple to unscrew the old jet and replace it with a new one.
The gas should exit the tank, flow through a regulator, into a control module where the knobs control the gas flow and then into the burner.
When converting from a natural gas to a propane fuel, in the majority of cases the control module does not require replacement. However, in a few situations, a conversion may require the replacement of the control module.
Typically in larger grills that have specialized control features such as digital, a replacement might be required. For the most part, the larger inlets and outlets on control module will have no serious effect on the grill.
However, you will have to get used to adjusting your flames differently as now more gas will flow through the valves at the knobs.
Check The Connections
Once you have hooked up the hose and regulator, replaced the burner jets and made sure there are no issues with the control module, now is the time to double check everything. Be sure that you have secured each connection and that it is properly sealed.
Make sure you have not over tightened any connections and you can check by blowing air into the grill for any leaks. Once you have made your checks it is now time to hook the tank to the regulator and give your grill a try.
You will smell a very minute amount of propane. However, it if the smell is strong and does not disperse quickly, turn off the gas and check all your connections again. Do not attempt to light the grill while you smell a strong smell of propane.
Also, do not have the lid closed while the tank is connected, on and you are checking your grill. When lighting a propane or gas grill, never have the lid closed for any reason as this can potentially cause burns or worse.
Converting from natural gas to propane is not that difficult as long as you take every precaution. Using a conversion kit is the best means of making the change and with the included instructions, they are easy to use.
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If you are concerned or require more information about making the conversion, there are numerous videos online that can take you step by step through the process. Also, your manual may have instructions for making the conversion. Be sure to check your manual before attempting any conversion project on your grill.