When you decide to use a gas grill, you have another two options to think about: propane gas and natural gas. Although propane gas seems like the default gas source for many, more manufacturers now are offering excellent natural gas grills. You probably wonder if natural gas is a better alternative to propane.
Is there a difference between propane and natural gas? For those of you who are confused between these two subjects, this article will help draw the line.
Take a look at this clear comparison between the natural gas and propane grills, and their pros and cons. This concise guide aims to help you make an informed decision on which will be better for your cooking needs and activity.
What to Consider Before Buying a Propane or Natural Gas Grill
Gas grills are considered the cheapest eco-friendly grills because they emit less smoke and burn cleaner than the other types of grills.
The natural gas comes from underground and is composed few other gases such as propane, methane, and propane. It comes in three forms: compressed, uncompressed, and liquid.
The propane gas also called the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), is processed at a facility to separate it from natural gas. It is then stored in a tank that is connected to the grill through a valve and regulator.
Natural gas and propane gas differ in several aspects. To help you understand more, we have summarized their comparison in the table with further explanations below:
|Natural Gas||Propane Gas|
|Energy amount||2,500 BTU||1,000 BTU|
|Cost||Cost-efficient in the long term||20-30% more expensive|
|Availability||Readily available at home once installed||When you ran out of propane gas, you buy it at convenience stores and supermarkets|
|Mobility||Cannot be transported||Portable|
1. Amount of energy
The main reason why most people prefer propane over natural gas is the amount of energy it provides. The propane grills have 2,500 BTUs as compared to the natural gas with only 1,000 BTUs. (BTU stands for British thermal unit that corresponds to the amount of heat)
One BTU is the equivalent energy required to increase the temperature of one pound of water to one degree Fahrenheit. It means that the propane gas emits more amount of heat compared to the natural gas.
Aside from the energy content, the propane gas burns less energy per hour than its natural counterpart. Depending on the area, the propane or natural gas is less expensive than the other.
In some places, the natural gas is more cost-effective, while in other areas, the propane is more expensive than natural gas. Ask the experts or fellow homeowners in your locality about which type of gas source is more efficient and economical.
2. Installation & Cost
Concerning the above-mentioned criteria, the price also refers to the amount of money you can save in the future. In the long run, natural gas is cheaper than propane. However, there are upfront costs needed for the installation. It is another reason why homeowners are still using propane gas.
The natural gas is available in underground pipes connected to a natural gas main. If you live in an area where these underground pipes run across your house, there is a chance that you will pay less to install natural gas. However, if you live far from the gas main, you might need to spend for the cost of the extension to your home.
Installation services of natural gas are quite expensive, but a lot of homeowners testify that it is worth it in the long run.
The propane gas is stored in tanks. Every time you run out of gas, you need to detach the tank from your grill and run to the nearest convenience store or gas company. Then, you attach the full tank to the grill. This cycle repeats every time the propane tanks become empty.
Once the natural gas is installed in your home, you will never run out of gas again. For homeowners who grill a lot of food, this option is more convenient. It will always be available whenever you need it. Natural gas grills serve as another option for healthy cooking rather than frying.
When you use propane gas, there will be chances that you will suddenly run out of gas in the middle of your cooking. Therefore, you need to regularly monitor the amount of gas left in the tank to keep you going.
Some homeowners keep a spare LPG tank around so that they can replace the empty unit immediately with a full one. Otherwise, it will be very inconvenient, especially during parties or outdoor picnics.
One of the most significant drawbacks of the natural gas grill is its inability to be transported anywhere. You can’t move it in your backyard. It should always stay in the gas line where it draws its energy. It is the kind of grill that is not intended for travel or camping.
With a propane grill, you will be able to travel and cook anywhere you wish. You can conveniently bring the tank outdoors and re-connect it to the grill. Moreover, smaller LPG tanks are available. These units are more lightweight and portable, making them an excellent option for camping and backpacking.
Pros and Cons of Propane Gas Grill
As a summary, we have also created a table of the pros and cons of propane gas and natural gas. Check the list which factor is more important or less relevant for you. By doing so, choosing between the two gas sources is easier.
- No upfront installation cost
- Emits hotter temperature / More BTUs
- Empty tank requires replacement
- More expensive than the natural gas
Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Grill
- More eco-friendly
- Good investment
- More economical in the long term
- Always available
- Not transportable
- Upfront costs for installation
Go for the Greener Grill
With the insurgence to address climate change, one important factor to consider when choosing the gas source is the environmentally friendly factor. Both propane and natural gas have a low carbon footprint. They are both at the end of the carbon dioxide emissions fuel scale.
However, between the propane and natural gas, the latter option is more eco-friendly. Natural gas is the burns cleaner than the propane because it stays in the underground and does not go higher in the air. You should also take this factor into account to help mitigate the effects of global warming.
Now that you know the differences between the propane and electric gas, which one is better? The criteria mentioned above will help you weigh up the pros and cons of each gas source. The decision entirely depends on your needs and personal preferences.
If you don’t want to run out of gas ever again, the natural gas is the smart investment that you can have. Natural gas also burns cleaner than the propane. If having a cheaper and portable mode of grilling are the critical points for you, then the propane gas is the better choice.
In the end there is no general answer to which is better. The important thing is both gas sources are easier to use and a lot more eco-friendly than the other grills.
I spent most of my life fascinated by food, and the outdoors. I can’t think of a more fitting combo that leads to mastering the art of BBQ one day. I ended up decent enough to grill the perfect burger and choose the best equipment after years of improvement. I create this website for outdoor cooking enthusiasts, who are fueled by interest but lacking in help, feel educated when they leave because I see my past clueless self in them.