How to convert gas appliances to propane
It’s not uncommon to wonder if you can use propane in a gas appliance. Though both have some similarities, not all gas is created equal – and as such, it’s important to make sure your appliances are designed and equipped to run off of propane instead of natural gas.
What you should know before converting a gas appliance to propane
Ensuring you have the appropriate appliance for the right fuel is important, because propane is delivered at a higher pressure and contains far more energy per cubic foot than natural gas. Furthermore, despite the fact that both natural gas and propane are fossil fuels, they have entirely different densities, and are comprised of different gases that burn differently and possess different energy outputs. Operating an appliance designed for propane on natural gas will result in an unnecessarily large flame that could be unsafe. On the other hand, running natural gas through an appliance designed for propane will result in an undersized flame - or no flame at all - which will render the appliance unable to perform its desired function.
Generally a dual-fuel appliance, such as a gas stove, comes with two different ports – either of which can be installed depending on the fuel that will be used. Natural gas orifices are larger than propane, to allow extra fuel to flow through at lower pressure. Propane orifices are smaller, to account for the higher pressure and increased energy output. For safety and effectiveness, it’s important to ensure the correct ports are installed for the right fuel. And while some appliances such as stoves and water heaters can be used for either natural gas or propane, it’s impossible to convert electric appliances to natural gas or propane.
While most appliances can handle the conversion from natural gas to propane, it’s critical to check the manufacturers’ instructions to understand if the conversion is safe, which components are needed for the conversion, and any related safety precautions that need to be followed.
Steps to converting a barbecue grill to propane
Converting gas appliances like an outdoor barbecue grill, can be relatively simple - with the purchase of a conversion kit from your local hardware store. To convert a grill to propane:
- Make sure it’s completely disconnected from the existing gas source.
- Disconnect any other connections, such as electrical, if applicable.
- Find the appropriate conversion kit from your local hardware store.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as those from the conversion kit.
- Ensure connections are tight, and check for leaks before first ignition.
Steps to converting indoor appliances to propane
Hardware stores generally sell conversion kits for indoor appliances, such as stoves and water heaters, however, other concerns must be taken into consideration when switching to propane. To convert these appliances to propane:
- Check manufacturer’s instructions to ensure compatibility.
- Consider consulting with a trained professional before conversion.
- Disconnect the stove from the original gas line.
- Remove the stove burners and fittings.
- Attach new burners designed for propane.
- Adjust the burner settings to the desired flame
Water heaters and furnaces are complex, and often contain a number of safety features that are specific to the designated fuel. Because propane is delivered at a higher pressure than natural gas, conversion could require extensive work, such as replacing valves, switches, and safety devices, to accommodate the pressure variance and control the flow of propane. They also contain electrical components that must be disconnected prior to any attempt to convert to a different fuel. Since flames are a combination of fuel and air, it’s also likely that adjustments must be made to the burner air shutter – where the fuel and air is combined in precise amounts to achieve the ideal flame. And while switching out stove top or burner orifices might be relatively simple, even this can require technical adjustments to calibrate the equipment to reach the desired energy output, and keep your appliances working efficiently for many years.
Propane conversion safety tips
Before considering a conversion to propane, always be sure to check the listing on your appliances to ensure they’re rated for both natural gas and propane. While many appliances are equipped for both, some are designed exclusively for natural gas or propane, with no flexibility to switch. Additionally, it’s always recommended to seek professional advice before attempting propane conversions. A licensed technician who is trained and experienced in gas, propane, and appliance safety can help you make the change to propane with absolute peace of mind. Your local Ferrellgas office can help you find a service technician who can help determine if your appliances are candidates for propane conversion, and, if so, how to safely make the transition.
The safest, and most straightforward solution is to purchase a propane appliance, rather than operate one that has been converted from natural gas. This will ensure your equipment comes ready to install, without the need for a conversion kit or disconnecting a natural gas line. Buying propane-ready appliances will minimize down-time, and will allow you to enjoy the reliable, safe, and efficient benefits of propane. It’s also possible that buying a new propane-ready appliance will cost less than the price of one that has been converted from natural gas.
Contact Ferrellgas for your propane needs
If you’re ready to make the switch to clean burning and long-lasting propane, weigh the cost and delay between buying propane-ready appliances or converting from natural gas. If you want to make the conversion from natural gas, be sure to check your appliances for compatibility, follow all the manufacturers’ safety instructions and enlist the help of a licensed professional who can help make sure your path to propane is safe, trouble-free, and able to meet your needs for years to come.
Let Ferrellgas help you along the way! Get in touch with a Service Technician at one of our local offices.