Natural Gas Grill Buyer's Guide
- Gas grill in the backyard.
When you think about grilling, do you automatically envision a propane tank? Propane-fueled gas grills are common, but natural gas grills can be a better option. Depending on the setup of your backyard, using a natural gas grill could be more convenient, cheaper, and better for the environment.
Though, you need to consider if you have access to a natural gas line and whether you need the grill to be portable. Perhaps you live in an area where natural gas is available, but your house doesn't have a meter set. You might be surprised at how easy it is to request one. Some companies and municipalities will even do this at no cost!
If you want your gas grill to be portable, you'll want to go with propane. Since natural gas grills are tethered to their gas hookup. Some people opt for a smaller portable grill they can use for camping and keep the stationery grill set up at the house.
However, if you don't need the grill to be portable and you have access to the fuel, then welcome to the world of natural gas grills.
What is a Natural Gas Grill?
Natural gas grills (also known as BBQ grills or backyard grills) are outdoor grills that connect to a natural gas line for fuel. The hoses and valves control the flow of gas to the burner and the ignition system lights the gas for the fire when you are ready to grill.
- Grill grates covering the gas burner
You might notice tented metal pieces directly over the burners. These are called vaporizing panels and are intended to help distribute the heat and also prevent flare-ups. Many grills are also equipped with a side burner so you can prepare sauces or side dishes separate from the main grilling section.
Natural gas is cheaper per gallon than propane, but propane is more efficient and burns less fuel. In the end, the cost savings will be determined partly by where you live since the cost of gas is different in different areas.
If you have access to natural gas, it's hard to beat the convenience. No more refilling propane tanks (or worse, running out of propane before you're done grilling!) Natural gas provides an unlimited fuel source without the hassle of filling and storing propane tanks. You also only pay for what you use.
The one downside is the lack of portability. As mentioned above, natural gas grills need a gas hookup, so they're not portable like propane grills. The grills themselves might be portable (some models even have wheels), but the fuel source is more stationery.
Natural gas is lighter than air and dissipates easier than propane. (Propane is heavier than air and tends to form "pools" of gas that don't disperse as quickly.) This makes natural gas a safer option in the event of a gas leak since natural gas is less likely to collect and cause an explosion.
You'll need a location relatively close to a structure that has a gas line. Adding a natural gas grill can be a smooth process, but be sure to take the time to find out if it's compatible with your gas supply and safely installed. Have a professional map of the gas line layout in your home to see if your existing pipe is large enough to support the grill you want to add.
- Built-in gas grill
It's also important to plan for any future gas appliances you might want in your outdoor kitchen area. If you're starting with a grill, but hope someday to have a natural gas fireplace, make sure the line you install is big enough for both!
If the current supply isn't large enough to add the appliance(s) you want, it's often easier to install a tee downstream of the gas meter that supplies your home and then route a gas line off of that directly to your grill. This separate dedicated gas line is often cheaper and easier than having to replace or upsize your entire home's gas supply.
There are lots of options when it comes to configurations and styles of natural gas grills. The built-in models are perfect for outdoor kitchens where you want the grill to be part of a countertop or structure. Other options include post-mount grills or cart grills.
Before You Buy
If you're ready to start searching for natural gas grills, here are some considerations that will help focus your search so you can find the perfect grill. Start by setting a budget that would include the total amount you're willing to pay for a grill plus any installation costs like running gas lines.
- Cooking on a gas grill
Next up, estimate the size of the cooking area you'll need. Are you just grilling steaks for you and your roommate or manning the grill for large family gatherings? The size makes a difference because you don't want to crowd the food. This is especially true for raw food since crowding it together can result in food poisoning!
The BTU rating is related to the size of the grill. In general, natural gas grills will fall between 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of grilling surface (side burners and warming racks don't count.)
Finally, pick an ideal location! Knowing where you'd like to have the grill will help you get quotes for what it would cost to run a gas line and will also help you decide which configuration will work best.
(Psst - still trying to decide whether you're going to go with natural gas or propane fuel in the first place? No problem! Feel free to check out our article on propane vs. natural gas for more information on the subject.)
Since we know you are looking for a high quality appliance, we've compiled a list of our top recommended natural gas grill manufacturers. We can vouch for the quality these brands offer so you can invest in a grill that will have a nice long life.
When you're shopping for grills, make sure you buy one that is specifically rated for the type of gas you want. Natural gas will not work for a propane grill unless it is somehow converted using a specialized kit. The good news is that many manufacturers offer their gas grills in both propane and natural gas options.
- Blaze Grills - Blaze has a nice selection of natural gas grills, but they're also a great option if you're looking to go bigger than a grill and build an outdoor kitchen.
- Broilmaster - Broilmaster has been making grill customers happy since 1966. Their latest line up has a sleek, modern aesthetic.
- Summerset - If you're looking for the "wow" factor, check out the grills at Summerset. They offer luxury grills packed with thoughtful features and design elements.
- American Outdoor Grills - Made from the highest grade commercial stainless steel and sturdy brass knobs, AOG grills have a contemporary style with the durability you're looking for. They have a selection of built-in, post, and cart models.
How to Use, Care for, and Maintain Your Grill
I know you already know this, but natural gas grills involve (ahem!) fire. Obviously, fire is something to be very, very careful with. Proper maintenance will also help keep your grill in good shape so you won't be replacing it any time soon. The owner's manual is always the best source of information, but here are some additional tips.
- Make sure you have adequate space for the grill.
- Trim back any nearby, low-hanging tree branches.
- Don't leave a lit grill unattended for any length of time.
- Don't use your natural gas grill in an enclosed space like a garage.
- Always light the grill with the lid open.
How to Clean a Natural Gas Grill
Start with a grill that is 1) shut off and 2) cooled down. Remove the grates and drip pan. After you empty the drip pan into a trash can, both the grates and the pan can soak in a bucket of soapy water for about 10 minutes.
- Metal grill brush
While you're waiting for those parts to soak, use a grill brush to gently scrub the inside of the hood and the inside walls. Be careful around the burners because you don't want to knock any parts loose. Wipe down with a paper towel once you're done scrubbing.
When the grates and drip pan have soaked, you can scrub them with a grill brush and rinse them. Once everything is dry, put all the parts back on the grill and replace the grill cover if you have one.
Speaking of grill covers, that's an accessory we highly recommend. They aren't very expensive and will help protect your grill from exposure to the elements 24/7.
A few of the smaller natural gas grills will ship via normal parcel post. However, even when the grills are technically small enough to qualify for parcel posts, most are shipped on pallets to prevent damage. If this is the case, expect the shipping company to contact you to arrange a delivery date.
When the grill arrives, give it a thorough check to look for any damaged or missing parts. Don't sign off on the delivery unless you are satisfied with the condition of the grill. If you do notice anything amiss, contact the manufacturer and they can help make things right.
- Serving food from the grill
Natural gas grills are all about long term value. If you're looking for portability, maximum efficiency, and low initial cost, a propane grill is the best option. However, even though the cost of setting up a natural gas grill is often higher, you're likely to find it's better in the long run.
Investing in a natural gas grill means no more storing and re-filling propane cylinders, and you also have the option of expanding your outdoor kitchen to other natural gas appliances. Perhaps the biggest investment comes down to the grill itself. If you're in the market for a mid to high range grill, have access to natural gas, and plan to use the grill for decades, we recommend a natural gas grill.
Have any more questions about natural gas grills or grills in general? Let us know! Contact us and one of our NFI Certified Technicians will be happy to answer your questions!
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