Most of us grew up with a gas grill in our backyard — and if we were lucky, Mom or Dad actually let us use it from time to time! But how much do you really know about the most popular grills around? If your answer is
Not all that much, actually, then you aren’t alone. We’ve fielded so many questions about gas BBQ grills throughout our 20-plus years in business that we thought it best to put together an all-encompassing FAQ in one spot. Our grill experts cover everything you need to know about gas grills, from natural-gas-to-propane conversions to the true meaning of BTUs and everything in between.
Have a question about gas grills that we haven’t yet explained? Give our gas grill experts a call at 1-877-743-2269, and you’ll have your answer in no time!
General Gas Grill Questions
A gas grill’s lifespan will vary depending on the quality of materials it was built with, the environment it stays in, and the how frequently it’s used. Because all steel contains iron, it will eventually rust no matter how well you care for it. But regular grill cleaning and maintenance is a normal and necessary part of ownership that’ll extend your gas grill’s life for years.
Factory ignition comes in one of four types, so there are different ways to light different grills. You should first consult your owner’s manual to determine which ignition method your model uses, then check out how to light a gas grill for specifics. Keep in mind that your grill may have secondary ignition options such a flash tube or simple match-on-a-stick.
This question is impossible to answer because it comes down to personal preference. Do you value quickness and convenience, or do you enjoy the process of grilling? Gas grills are easier to use and require less attention than charcoal pits, but they normally don’t achieve the same smoky flavors and have a smaller range of temperatures. If you’re like us and love both grill styles, there’s nothing saying you can’t get one of each!
Generally, yes. And from there, natural gas is usually less expensive than propane. Gas is the better option when looking at cook time per dollar spent, but there’s also a bit of waste that comes with using charcoal. It’s hard to cook all the way through a load of charcoal, whereas a gas valve can simply be shut to conserve fuel.
A gas grill can use charcoal only if it has been designed to do so or offers a charcoal accessory that prevents the ash and high heat from damaging the appliance. Some brands like Fire Magic and Coyote Outdoor Living make this possible with charcoal trays for their gas grills. One exception to the rule is American Made Grills, which are designed to safely use multiple types of fuel.
These models can run more than one fuel, usually gas and charcoal at the same time. American Made Grills produce true hybrids, but other gas grills that offer charcoal trays or smoker boxes could also be considered hybrid grills.
For built-in grills, it’s easier than you probably think – make cuts according to the grill’s cut-out dimensions into your island or countertop, then slide the grill into that space. Built-in grills have flanges at the rear and on both sides to allow the countertop to bear their weight. No brackets, supports, or fasteners required! Gas connections should always be done by a licensed professional in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.
Infrared gas grills exclusively use burners made to produce infrared heat rather than the convection heat found in traditional gas grills. This infrared heat travels in safe, directional waves, cooking faster and hotter while helping food retain moisture. Some grills offer one infrared burner, while some models are all-infrared. Though infrared grills are typically known for their high-end temperatures, there are some all-infrared grill brands like TEC Infrared Grills and Lynx Grills that have a fairly large heat range.
As it applies to gas grills, the basic difference is that propane is denser than natural gas. Propane is denser than air and sinks, while natural gas is lighter than air and rises. Gas grills, however, are almost completely identical and produce the same temperatures and flavor regardless of fuel type — only the pressure regulator and pre-drilled orifices are fuel-specific. Also, natural gas is piped into homes as a utility and is less expensive than propane, which can be purchased in tanks. Some grills have available conversion kits to switch from one gas type to another, and some don’t. If you are unsure, call one of our BBQ experts for help.
Yes. Most manufacturers, excluding Weber and Napoleon, offer gas grill conversion kits that a licensed professional can easily install.
Absolutely not, unless a licensed professional has previously converted the grill’s fuel type. Failing to use the proper fuel type is one of the worst things you can do with a gas grill because natural gas orifices are larger than propane orifices. Propane run through a natural gas orifice will produce giant flames, while natural gas pumped through propane orifices results in tiny, useless flames.
This depends on the BTU rate of the grill, which measures the amount of gas it’s capable of burning per hour. A standard, 20-pound propane tank has about 430,000 BTUs when full, so the only other factor you need to know is your grill’s BTU. Keep in mind that this equation applies only if your burners are open all the way. The tank will last longer if the burners are slightly closed, but the amount of time you get out of it will be harder to estimate.
The short answer is that there is no “good” BTU for a gas grill. Many people mistakenly think a grill’s BTU measures temperature, when in reality it’s just an indication of how much gas the grill is capable of burning in one hour (BTU/h). BTU on a grill is simply about fuel efficiency, like miles per gallon on a car. Though BTU rate does influence temperature, it’s far from the only thing that determines how hot your grill can get.
BTUs by themselves don’t tell much of a story about cooking power. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, simply measure fuel use and efficiency. They play a small role in temperature potential, but there are many other factors that determine how hot a grill can get and how long it can maintain that heat.
We’re proud to carry quite a few brands produced in the USA. See made in the USA grill brands.
Smoking typically involves wood smoke and a steady-and-low temperature, normally around 225 degrees. Gas grills sometimes struggle to get to a consistently low temperature, and they also move a large amount of air out of the oven compared with charcoal grills or dedicated smokers. Still, you can achieve some wood-smoked flavor in a gas grill with a smoker box that houses burning chips. We do carry some gas-fueled BBQ smokers.
If a griddle fits on your grill and gets hot, it’ll work even if it’s not built for that particular grill. Many grill producers make griddles that’ll either sit in the place of some of the grill grates or go directly on them. When using different griddles and grills, make sure you leave enough space around the griddle for proper airflow. Keep about 4-6 inches between the edges of the griddle and the outer edges of the grill so hot air can escape rather than getting trapped inside and causing overheating.
Grills made from cast stainless steel and heavier gauges of material in general will usually last the longest. Commercial-grade, also known as 304-grade, stainless steel is also a desirable material because its chromium concentration lends outstanding corrosion resistance.
Cast stainless steel is the most durable material for grill grates.
This depends on the width of your grill; the wider it is, the more burners it should have. We recommend at least 2 burners so you can harness the power of dual-zone grilling, but each additional burner you tack on increases versatility. If you find yourself frequently hosting large parties, then a bigger grill with more burners is better. Remember, you can’t add more cooking area or burners after purchase.
Gas Grill Cleaning & Maintenance
There are a few things you should do after every cook, but your grill also requires periodic and seasonal maintenance. Check out our detailed grill cleaning guide to learn how to keep your gas grill looking like new!
Keeping your grill clean is one of the easiest ways to extend its life for many years to come. Our grill cleaning guide will show you the best ways to care for your pit so it can keep cranking out delicious food!
There are a few signs that you should immediately discard your tank: if it has rust on the bottom, if the valve is stuck shut and difficult to open without tools, or if it has ever accidentally been overfilled. You can exchange your malfunctioning propane tank for a new one at most grocery or hardware stores. A good way to prevent your tank from rusting is the keep it out of direct sunlight while in use — if the tank is warmed while it’s cooling, it’ll sweat down the sides and potentially promote rust at the bottom.
If it’s cold enough to freeze your gas lines, you’ll be bundled up somewhere far away from your grill. Propane condenses around -40 degrees Fahrenheit, while natural gas begins that process at an even lower temperature. The only way your gas line would freeze is if water somehow made its way into the line, and in that case, the water would freeze before the gas. Regulators are more likely to freeze, but that’s still a rare occurrence.
Covers, covers, covers! Using a grill cover throughout the cold months is the best way to protect your pit from the elements. But before you put your covered grill away for the winter, give your grates and flame tamers a good seasoning with oil that has a high smoke point. Your grill will come out of hibernation ready to get back to work!
Regular grill cleanings are the best way to prevent buildup on the underside of the hood, which is caused by carbon, soot, and other byproducts. To clean, put on a pair of grill gloves and use a wire grill brush to scrub, but make sure you opt for products like Carbon-Off instead of chemicals like oven cleaners. Use a shop vac or the grill’s ash pan to remove all debris once you’re finished scrubbing.
Stainless steel will rust one day, but proper grill cleaning and maintenance is the best way to prevent that from happening for as long as possible. Though rust spots won’t necessarily affect your grill’s performance, they need to be dealt with immediately or they‘ll spread and begin eating holes in your grill. Try a cleaner like Bar Keeper’s Friend or heavy-duty products like Scratch-B-Gone for more stubborn spots. Keep in mind that lifetime warranties on steel parts almost always cover rust-through only and not random rust spots, but you shouldn’t let the problem get that bad in the first place.
The usual culprit behind rusty grill grates is a lack of oiling or seasoning, which is key to cleaning and maintaining your grill grates. You should always keep your grill grates seasoned, much like you would with a cast iron skillet or pot. There’s also a solid chance that what you’re seeing isn’t rust at all — instead, it’s just gunky food debris that needs a good cleaning. (And oiling!)
Cast aluminum can never rust, so you can be confident that grill components made from this material won’t rust.
Gas Grill Safety Questions
It is possible, but a properly maintained gas line or propane tank correctly connected to its fuel source and operated as recommended by the manufacturer shouldn’t explode. Be sure to follow your owner’s manual along with proper gas grill lighting procedures, including keeping the lid open.
A regulator is a device that maintains a specific gas pressure as gas enters an appliance. Because different gasses — natural gas and propane, in this case — require different pressures, using the correct regulator is highly important for both safety and proper cooking.
Gas grill flames should be blue with just the slightest yellow tips. Flames shouldn’t be completely yellow — that means too little oxygen is mixed in and that the shutters should be opened more. When flames “lift” off the burner and look like they’re not even touching it, the fire is getting too much oxygen mixed in and the shutters need to be closed.
They usually aren’t, but most apartment complexes and condo associations have their own rules that specify which type of grills are allowed where. Another thing to keep in mind is that placing a grill on a balcony can make it hard to meet the required clearances detailed in the manufacturer’s manual. But if you’re in compliance with fire/housing codes and clearances, go for it! We have a selection of small portable gas grills – and if you find out that gas isn’t allowed but electric grills are, we have a collection of apartment & balcony grills you should check out.
Grills include a rear gap to exhaust the fresh combustion air taken in from the front. Hot air forced back into the grill by a strong wind, however, will cause overheating that can harm the wiring and potentially cause a grease fire on your drip tray. To make sure this doesn’t happen to your built-in grill, build a backsplash taller than the rear vent of your pit. For grills on a cart, simply turn the back of the grill away from the wind.