Natural Gas Barbecue Conversion – How to Save Money!

Every year as we enter patio season at R&B we receive many phone calls for estimates to convert propane-based patios to natural gas by installing a supply line to the area. These enable homeowners enjoy the space using barbecues, patio heaters, and fire pits that run on natural gas.  

When you’re considering changing over to the convenience of natural gas on your patio, chances are you’ve already begun enjoying your outdoor space with some of those common appliances.  Instead of replacing those appliances with new, there is a way to save money without compromising your existing quality: Barbecue Conversion!

Keep the Quality You Already Paid For 

As a recent convert myself, I can tell you that the bulk of the expense was originally going to be in the purchase of a new natural gas barbecue.  Even at Costco, that was going to double the cost of running the natural gas line.   Want to know a secret? There’s a less expensive way!

I was lamenting that I was about to sell my current Jackson Grills table top barbecue on Craigslist for a fraction of what I paid for it, when I started talking with Rob about barbecue conversion from propane to natural gas.  It turns out that under the right condition, it’s a very inexpensive, and accessible way to go.  

The Internet Provides

My current unit, although a few years old, is made of marine quality, stainless steel.  The condition was very good too as I hardly ever used it.  I disliked the wasteful, little disposable propane canisters so I never bought them.  I decided that rather than replace it, that I would try and purchase a barbecue conversion kit for it.  

On the bottom of the barbecue I found the model and serial number. A quick trip to the internet gave me the email of a local company in Abbotsford.  There I found resident expert, Roly Patrick. Senior Customer Service Technical Advisor is his official handle, but it could be shortened to Grill-Guru. Roly knew exactly what I needed and gave me the part numbers and cost by return email. He could ship them out the same day.

The Road Trip

Did that seem a little too easy for you?  I thought so too.  So, I wrapped my Jackson Grill in a heavy blanket and stuffed it into the trunk of my car like a mobster disposing of a body. I took it for a ride out to Concorde Distributing in Abbotsford.  There, I met Roly in person and was witness to the epitome of going above and beyond in customer service.  

Roly set my propane barbecue on the counter and started to take it apart. He named all the parts as he went, and talked about care.  He brought out a wire brush from the back and showed me how it should be used to clean all the parts beneath the grill surface. This to ensure there was no build up on the protective plates that distribute the flame and heat.  Next he showed me how to take those off and see the burner beneath.  He inspected that and pronounced it in excellent condition.  

There was a tiny bit of gentle admonishment as he pointed out how I had failed to properly clean the entirety of the inside of my treasure, before he quietly asked if I knew how to install the barbecue conversion kit. I didn’t.  

The Installation

The next thing I knew, Roly was explaining how to do it, as he was doing it and I certainly wasn’t about to stop him! I left there with a fully converted natural gas barbecue and a receipt for $136.00 which was far lower than the $500 it would have cost to replace the entire appliance.  

Even though I was advised that with a few simple tools I could have done this on my own, I do not have the confidence or know-how to be converting my own propane barbecue to natural gas, full stop.  If Roly hadn’t done it, I would have asked one of my technicians to do it for me.   They do it all the time as part of the natural gas patio service we offer at R&B, if the parts are on site.  

When I got home, I quickly and easily connected it to my barbecue box and we had shish kabob for dinner.  For less money and effort than you would have thought, you can too!  

Here’s a tip for you

It turns out that my trip to the distributor was unnecessary in the sense that I could have just have easily ordered my barbecue conversion parts on line – although then I would have missed the Roly experience.  No matter how you get the parts, my recommendation is that you ensure that you have the conversion kit on site when R&B comes to route your natural gas line to your patio, and they can install the parts for you.  

While I’ve got your attention here are some other common questions you may need answered.

Are there conversion kits for patio heaters and fire pits? 

Yes, is just one of several places that sell a universal kit that they advertise can be used for converting any fire bowl, fire table, fireplace, or fire pit from liquid propane to natural gas.  “for use on units that run 50,000 BTU or less” – getting a licensed gas-fitter to install the parts is also recommended on their website.  

Is there such a thing as a hose extender or will I need to buy a whole new hose?

Yes, if you want to move your barbecue to a new location that is farther from the barbecue box than your hose will reach, you can buy a hose extender for about half the cost of a new hose, depending on how long you need it to be.  Keep in mind that any places where there is a join will have the potential to leak so make sure that your existing hose is in excellent condition.  

How do I recycle my old parts?  

The parts that you take out when you do your barbecue conversion can be dropped off in the metal recycling area of the North Shore Transfer Station. Old barbecues need to be dropped off at the transfer station and disposal fees will apply.  

The Final Word

The best part about the entire experience of converting my propane barbecue to propane, aside from the huge cost savings, was how easy it was.  If you’d like more information about what it would cost to bring natural gas to your patio, call R&B today for your free estimate.