Propane to Natural gas conversion BBQ [General]

2010 Apr 6
I was the proud owner of a new BBQ (Cheap Canadian Tire special, Master Chef 280). As I was bringing up the box to my condo unit, a ‘concern neighbor’ read; jacka$$, started reciting sections of the condo association guideline regulating the use of BBQ. It seems we are only allowed to use electric or natural gas BBQ. Given that I would like to enjoy my patio but since I’ve be out of town for 2 months this summer, I am somewhat unwilling to pay several hundred dollar more for a natural gas bbq, I looked into converting it. I did a bit of googling and found several DIY guides on converting BBQ from propane to NG. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with such conversion? Is it recommended? Or will I end up taking out half of Preston St. in my attempt to save a couple hundred dollars.

Any feedback would be appreciate….

2010 Apr 6
Hookups cost $80 if your house is already set up for NG.

2010 Apr 6
I should have included that, my patio is already hooked up for NG. I am wondering about converting the actual bbq to natural gas.

2010 Apr 6
I don't know about the conversion - but I can't imagine that kits are cheaper than the original price difference. If its anything more than a kit, I wouldn't suggest trying it unless your are a licensed pipe fitter. Any kind of home made NG incident and you can kiss your insurance policy goodbye.

2010 Apr 6
I too know nothing about the conversion from NG to propane for a bbq either; however, I went from NG to propane for a furnace (new, came set up for NG) - the installers said all that was needed was a new nozzle with a larger diameter hole as propane has lower BTU's/L than NG. I suspect that propane bbq's need a smaller nozzle when being converted to NG, n'est ce pas? Can't be too difficult to switch nozzles, can it?
And so what if it blows in the windows of the "concerned neighbour"!

2010 Apr 6
Actually, it's the other way around because the propane tank is pressurerized and the NG isn't, so you need to have a smaller nozzle.

2010 Apr 7
I would not combine "natural gas" and "DIY" in my home. Not saying it can't be done, I just don't think the risk is worth it. I'm a chemical engineer, so I have a pretty clear idea how big of an explosion can result if things are not done right.

I might be overly paranoid, of course. I tend to prefer coal for my BBQ. More taste, less explosive power.

Canadian Tire are usually pretty good on returns.

2010 Apr 7
I agree with you Isabelle, I was mostly inquiring if there was a safe way to achieve the conversion, perhaps a conversion kit? Unfortunately all I found was vague DIY guides. I am going to return the grill, however, I find the price difference between a LP and NG grill ridiculous. If the only difference is the nozzle size, how can they justify the $200 price jump in base models?

2010 Apr 7
I'm pretty sure conversion is easy - surprised nobody with the know-how has chimed in. I'll post an OT message to the brewers' list - have an answer for you shortly I'm sure. I think you have to change out the jets/nozzle and that is it. But dont' quote me on that.

EDIT: that was quick - first reponse in :

"The main thing is the orifice in the jets is bigger for NG than Propane.
I know you can go from Propane to NG by drilling out the jets, but it is hit and miss on the size required."

I guess the safe, non-DIY way, would be to try to find replacement jets for that model. Look at the manufacturer's website for starters. Give that it is a cheap model it may not be an available option.

2010 Apr 7
Here we go. I'd go ask at if there is a kit that will work with your model. The CT website had a few Master Chef grills that are NG, but mid-high end ones. Or ask at CT.

More quotes from the list :

"All you need to do is swap out the hose and regulator, it is called an NG
conversion kit IIRC. Everything else should work the same....but it has
been a while since I bought mine."

"I looked at this for burners, but not grills.
From what I found, you just need to change orfice sizes.
Some burners had removable orfices and you could insert the correct size for
either gas or propane.
Some burners had to be permanently modified by drilling the orfice.
I suspect grills will be the same."

2010 Apr 7
Faced the same type of problem a couple years back. I had just bought a brand new propane BBQ (not even used once), then decided while having a new AC unit installed to get hooked up for NG.

After investigating conversion, I concluded that cheapest and safest route was to sell BBQ on Kijiji and by a NG one.

Ended up costing me nothing to get rid of the propane BBQ (well I lost the tax and had to deliver it) although I gave up my two full propane tanks with it (that I no longer needed). New NG BBQs are not that expensive, it cost me $50 extra to by the same BBQ that used NG.

Look at options here, check Rona too (for cheaper and other options).

I personally get a new BBQ every 5 or so years (always with a rotisserie, never with a side burner). I have found they all go bad regardless how much you pay for them (I should note that I BBQ 5 of 7 days, summer, winter, it does not matter to me).

This is the one I have now..! is holding out reasonably well 2-3 years in.

2010 Apr 7
Quoting snoopy loopy: "Actually, it's the other way around because the propane tank is pressurerized and the NG isn't, so you need to have a smaller nozzle."

Oops, you're right snoopy - I had it backwards out of ignorance (I didn't know that NG isn't hightly pressurized - I've never used it). Had to do a bit of reading to find that out more info. Guess I owe you a basket of tomatillos, huh? Thanks for setting me straight, hopefully before Yan blew his jet-powered large-holed NG barbie through his neighbour's window!

2010 Apr 7

Without prejudice to all who suggested how you could do a DIY conversion, count me in sourdough and Isabelle's camp.

Saving $50 - $100 today is not worth the risk of having to spend $$$$$$$ to cover the costs of replacing your and your neighbors balconies if your Q blows up. Never mind the cost of reconstructive surgery for the neighbors poodle (who was ugly to begin with) if it's outside during a blast!

Seriously, unless you're licensed and insured it's not worth the risk IMHO.


2010 Apr 7
Mmmm tomatillos... yes please!