Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

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Leeraar
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Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:34 pm

I am finally done with propane grilling. We cook at least three meals a week outside, summer and winter. (We live north of I-90.) The cost of filling propane tanks is out of control, I have to replace date-stamped tanks that are in perfectly good condition, and the stupid safety valves malfunction all the time.

To tide me over, I bought an electric grill, a CharBroil Patio Bistro. So far, I am very pleased. Had cedar planked salmon tonight - wonderful! (Frugal bogleheads: Reusable cedar planks are $1 if cut from fence boards from Home Depot.)

Anyway, I plan to install a new grill fueled by natural gas in the spring. Does anyone have experience with this? Two questions:

1. Where do I buy a natural gas grill? The only options I see are to buy a propane grill and then to spend $100 + on a conversion kit, throwing away a bunch of valves and orifices.

2. Natural gas has about half the energy of propane. Is this an issue, that the grill will not get as hot with natural gas as with propane?

Any other advice is welcome. I can tap into my home's natural gas system fairly easily to run a line from the crawl space supply for the clothes dryer to the deck for the grill.

I would be very interested to see a comparison of costs for grilling with propane ($1/lb) vs electric ($0.10 per kWh) vs natural gas (I have no idea).

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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LowER
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by LowER » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:56 pm

I've had a NG grill since 2005. No more propane refills. The performance is excellent and gets to 500 degrees pretty quickly. I'll never own a propane grill again, except for camping. No more running out of propane in the middle of a tri-tip and have had more beer than a prudent citizen should have and drive to the propane store afterward.

I have no idea about cost though. I think NG grills are available just about anywhere.

If your electric grill is working well, why not stick with that?

I may venture into the big egg-style cookers someday, mostly because of the rave reviews from co-workers.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:50 pm

Leeraar wrote:
2. Natural gas has about half the energy of propane. Is this an issue, that the grill will not get as hot with natural gas as with propane?


L.
I don't know where you got your ideas about methane and propane
but Methane has more energy per gram than propane

CH4(g) 55.6 kJ
C3H8(g) 50.5 kJ

See also http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fuels ... d_169.html

Flame temperature is similar

methane 2,810 °C (oxygen), 1,957 °C (air)

propane 2,820 °C (oxygen), 1,980 °C (air)
http://chemistry.about.com/od/firecombu ... atures.htm

In both propane and methane you are burning hydrogen and Carbon. Hydrogen has higher energy density than carbon per unit mass. More hydrogen more energy per unit mass.

Propane is preferred in portable combustion because it liquifies at higher temperatures and lower pressures. If that is not an issue methane is a slightly superior fuel.

dewey
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by dewey » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:57 am

I escaped the propane refill hassle nine years ago. I have natural gas from the house to the grill and it's great. I have a Weber that came as a natural gas setup. Stainless steel. Heats to above 500 degrees no problem--in winter (albeit Vancouver, WA winters). Couldn't be happier. I also have a Traeger pellet grill for smoking and grilling. And, an older Weber kettle grill I keep around for use on occasion...point here is I grill a lot and the natural gas Weber gets the most use.
“The only freedom that is of enduring importance is freedom of intelligence…”

LifeIsGood
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by LifeIsGood » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:42 am

Not related to your question but I'd be a bit concerned using cedar fencing for cooking. There's a chance that the wood may be treated with chemicals to inhibit mold/mildew, etc.

Cigarman
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Cigarman » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:05 am

I bought a Broilmaster Natural Gas Grill 13 years ago. I had to replace the physical grills once as well as the ignitor. Check your local gas company, that's who did mine (PSNC Energy in NC). They piped it, assembled and warrantied it. The grills were covered under warranty and they left me a conversion kit for propane just in case I needed it in an emergency. No heat issues, no refill issues. Mine sits on a wood deck and is on wheels. Oddly, you can (according to code) place a stand alone grill anywhere on the deck if it is on wheels (as mine is) but a permanently mounted one had to be a certain distance from the deck rails.

Enjoy the natural gas, it is so damn easy.

Leeraar
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:10 am

LifeIsGood wrote:Not related to your question but I'd be a bit concerned using cedar fencing for cooking. There's a chance that the wood may be treated with chemicals to inhibit mold/mildew, etc.
I confirmed that they are untreated. They are plain rough-sawn cedar boards.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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yatesd
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by yatesd » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:16 am

When I built my house 12 years ago, I paid to have a natural gas line hookup run out to the deck. It was one of the best things I ever did!
  • Lower costs
    Never running out of fuel
    Convenience of Gas
I just recently replaced my 12 year old Weber with a new EP-330 Weber. I went back and forth between the EP-330 and the EP-310 (probably should have just bought the EP-310). The 330 adds a side burner and an additional sear burner (for $100) to help it easily get over 700 degrees. The EP version is a little more expensive, but includes the stainless grates and flavorizor bars (my non-stainless version would rust & need replaced every few years). IMHO worth the extra money.

There are cheaper options, but Weber excels at having parts available in local stores if anything happens. I suggest using find a dealer http://dealer.weber.com . We actually bought ours from a local small business that included setup & delivery with their price (and competitive with the local HD/Lowes).

I always like to joke about my grill running out of gas! Never again... :D



On another note, we have an electric stove. If we ever lose power it is nice to know we can always grill...

*Natural Gas versions are readily available, but often go for about $50 extra. I strongly suggest buying a NG version at the outset rather than trying to upgrade it after purchase.

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bottlecap
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by bottlecap » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:38 am

I have a Weber natural gas grill piped in directly from the house. It still gets up to 650-700 degrees, depending on warm or cold weather outside.

The problem with propane is it always runs out when you're in the middle of cooking something; never when you're done...

JT

nordlead
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by nordlead » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:46 am

Professor Emeritus wrote:
Leeraar wrote:
2. Natural gas has about half the energy of propane. Is this an issue, that the grill will not get as hot with natural gas as with propane?


L.
I don't know where you got your ideas about methane and propane
but Methane has more energy per gram than propane

CH4(g) 55.6 kJ
C3H8(g) 50.5 kJ

See also http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fuels ... d_169.html

Flame temperature is similar

methane 2,810 °C (oxygen), 1,957 °C (air)

propane 2,820 °C (oxygen), 1,980 °C (air)
http://chemistry.about.com/od/firecombu ... atures.htm

In both propane and methane you are burning hydrogen and Carbon. Hydrogen has higher energy density than carbon per unit mass. More hydrogen more energy per unit mass.

Propane is preferred in portable combustion because it liquifies at higher temperatures and lower pressures. If that is not an issue methane is a slightly superior fuel.
because people always talk about the energy content per cubic foot, not per pound/gram. If we were being scientific, then I'd agree with you, but we are talking general population.

http://www.propane101.com/propanevsnaturalgas.htm (link for the math, I'm not going to do it)

So, when you take a propane grill you have to get ~2x volume through he burners, which means you either need to buy a conversion kit or drill them out. Do that, and make sure you have adequate pressure at the hookup (so big enough pipes) and a converted LP to NG grill will burn just as hot.

I'm yet to do it myself even though I have a NG line to my back yard. The reason is I refuse to pay $400 for a grill and then another $100 to throw out most the parts. I need to do a better search as I'm sure someone sells a NG grill without having to rebuy parts.

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Summit111
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Summit111 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:57 am

Fellow Bogleheads,

I converted to a natural gas grill 20 years ago and couldn't be more pleased. My grill was purchased at Sam's Club. Over the years, I've replaced several parts as needed, but I have the original one.

When the gas line was installed, I had several connections put in for my natural gas generator and my boiling pot burner. Whenever I need the generator or boiling pot, it's just a matter of plugging in the correct hose and voila, power or boiled seafood!

Convenient to the max! If you have natural gas available do it.

Summit

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yatesd
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by yatesd » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:59 am

I'm yet to do it myself even though I have a NG line to my back yard. The reason is I refuse to pay $400 for a grill and then another $100 to throw out most the parts. I need to do a better search as I'm sure someone sells a NG grill without having to rebuy parts.
Depending on how much you grill, you may recoup most of your costs (factor in Propane and trips for refills). Also, just about any place that sells grills also sells natural gas versions.

http://www.homedepot.com/s/natural%2520 ... ill?NCNI-5

http://www.lowes.com/Grills/Gas-Grills/ ... as+grill#!

http://www.abt.com/resources/pages/sear ... +gas+grill

There is no way I would have a house with natural gas and not have a NG grill. It is just too convenient!

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by The Wizard » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:05 am

bottlecap wrote:I have a Weber natural gas grill piped in directly from the house. It still gets up to 650-700 degrees, depending on warm or cold weather outside.

The problem with propane is it always runs out when you're in the middle of cooking something; never when you're done...

JT
This is why I have two propane tanks.
It doesn't take too long to switch to the backup when needed...
Attempted new signature...

sscritic
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by sscritic » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:21 am

I had a built-in enclosure built when I bought a new house, but my most recent home came with a built-in already built. I like having the extra counter space, and I think a built-in is more attractive. Of course, your cost will be much greater. How many burners?

Check these out from the previous HD link
(6 burners) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Weber-Summit ... /202516470#
(4 burners) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cal-Flame-Go ... /202978460#

I have a Barbecues Galore unit (old style from 2000), but that's mostly a CA thing (they have a few stores in TX and Arizona and a dealer in GA based on a quick look). They even have a Porsche.
http://www.bbqgalore.com/bbq-grills-smo ... alore.html

Leeraar
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:29 am

Thank you for the replies, they have been very helpful.
If your electric grill is working well, why not stick with that?
The electric grill is too small for entertaining. In the USA you can get only about 1.5 kW out of a single 110 volt 15 amp electric circuit. So, its fine for daily use, but not if there's a crowd or if I wish to cook multiple items. It's like a single burner grill.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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Jake46
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Jake46 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:48 am

I bought a Napoleon natural gas grill in 2007 & love it. The infra-red section is great for searing steaks. No muss no fuss.

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Watty
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Watty » Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:55 am

Just FYI,

One reason that using propane may seem expensive is that the propane exchange places often only put 15 pounds of propane in the tank, when you will get about 19 pounds if you take it to a place that will refill your tank. Around here they are the same price. The places that refill it are harder to find now but there are still some around.

There were several lawsuits here about that and now they have a vague disclaimer posted at the exchange locations that mentions 15 pounds like it is a great feature.

You may be able to cut your propane costs by almost a third, as well as how often you need to get refills, by using refills instead of exchanges.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by jeffyscott » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:06 pm

nordlead wrote:I'm yet to do it myself even though I have a NG line to my back yard. The reason is I refuse to pay $400 for a grill and then another $100 to throw out most the parts. I need to do a better search as I'm sure someone sells a NG grill without having to rebuy parts.
Even if they do, they would likely only be the pricier grills. I prefer cheap grills, though I do want cast aluminum and 2 burners (apparently now the cheapest ones are sheet metal). I can get a cast aluminum, 2 burner, propane grill for under $200. I don't see buying or refilling a tank once or twice a year as much of a hassle, especially with exchanging being an option.
press on, regardless - John C. Bogle

GTi
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by GTi » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:11 pm

Big Green Egg or Primo ceramic cookers. They use lump charcoal. I know it was not on your list but google the products to see if it is something you might want to use.

island
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by island » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:35 pm

The Wizard wrote:
bottlecap wrote:I have a Weber natural gas grill piped in directly from the house. It still gets up to 650-700 degrees, depending on warm or cold weather outside.

The problem with propane is it always runs out when you're in the middle of cooking something; never when you're done...

JT
This is why I have two propane tanks.
It doesn't take too long to switch to the backup when needed...
Me too. 2 tanks work fine. Not a hassle and doesn't seem expensive. Probably cheaper than using my gas oven. We would have to tear up patio to get to the grill island and it would be a long line to get natural gas there. We're in the market to replace our Turbo purchased from Barbeque Galore. It's 20 years old and owes us nothing. Considering the same because the size will fit our existing island. When I was in the store they asked propane or natural gas so they must make 2 models. Same thing with Twin Eagles, but at $3500 that was more than twice the cost of the Turbo!

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Imperabo
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Imperabo » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:14 pm

yatesd wrote:
*Natural Gas versions are readily available, but often go for about $50 extra. I strongly suggest buying a NG version at the outset rather than trying to upgrade it after purchase.
I've never seen one locally. At least not at Lowes or Home Depot. I've looked.

Stonebr
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Stonebr » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:15 pm

Charcoal.
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

Leeraar
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:51 pm

Watty wrote:Just FYI,

One reason that using propane may seem expensive is that the propane exchange places often only put 15 pounds of propane in the tank, when you will get about 19 pounds if you take it to a place that will refill your tank. Around here they are the same price. The places that refill it are harder to find now but there are still some around.

There were several lawsuits here about that and now they have a vague disclaimer posted at the exchange locations that mentions 15 pounds like it is a great feature.

You may be able to cut your propane costs by almost a third, as well as how often you need to get refills, by using refills instead of exchanges.
> rant
Personally, I think it's all a scam. I have 4 20-lb propane tanks that I fill once a year. Some years ago I had to replace them all because they required a one-way valve. More recently, I had to replace them all because they needed an anti-overfill valve. Now, my refill place won't refill them because they are over ten years old.

Think about it. A propane tank costs $35 plus $5 to purge for the first filling, and you refill it once a year and it is dead after ten years. The lifecycle is ten refills? It's an outrage. The alternative is to pay a $10 premium each time for a partially filled exchange? Don't think you can find an exchange tank that has a decent death date, that will allow you to refill it a few times.

Plus, the safety regulator valve shuts off the flow based on pressure differential. If you do not close or open valves in the correct sequence, it won't work next time. (Turn off the burners before you close the valve on the tank. Open the tank valve before you touch the burner controls.)
< unrant

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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jeffyscott
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by jeffyscott » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:14 pm

Leeraar wrote:
Watty wrote:Now, my refill place won't refill them because they are over ten years old.

Think about it. A propane tank costs $35 plus $5 to purge for the first filling, and you refill it once a year and it is dead after ten years. The lifecycle is ten refills? It's an outrage. The alternative is to pay a $10 premium each time for a partially filled exchange?
No, the alternative is now that the tank needs to be recertified, you trade it for a pre-filled Blue Rhino (or whatever) tank. Then you take that Blue Rhino tank to the refill place until it is 10 years old.

I don't usually exchange, but haven't found the exchange to be that much of a premium. I did recently trade my ancient tank with a star type knob for a "full" tank at about $18, though.
press on, regardless - John C. Bogle

nordlead
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by nordlead » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:19 pm

Watty wrote:Just FYI,

One reason that using propane may seem expensive is that the propane exchange places often only put 15 pounds of propane in the tank, when you will get about 19 pounds if you take it to a place that will refill your tank. Around here they are the same price. The places that refill it are harder to find now but there are still some around.

There were several lawsuits here about that and now they have a vague disclaimer posted at the exchange locations that mentions 15 pounds like it is a great feature.

You may be able to cut your propane costs by almost a third, as well as how often you need to get refills, by using refills instead of exchanges.
Natural Gas is still cheaper even if you refil instead of exchange.

1 Therm (100k BTU) of natural gas costs me ~$0.85 during the summer above what I normally use to heat my water (cheaper in the winter due to the heater pushing me past the expensive delivery ranges). Even if I were to average the $20 service fee over the 13 therms I use in the summer, it would only be ~$2.50/Therm

1 19-pound refil at BJ's costs me $12 (I believe, going off of memory). Those 19 pounds of LP contain ~4 Therms (400k BTU). so, one refil of LP costs $2-8 more than using NG. I'm going with $8 more, since I pay that service fee regardless if I use a NG grill or not.

The real question is how many tanks do you go through. If it is 2 tanks a season, that is a $16 premium, which really isn't that bad. If you are going through 6 per season ($48), then it makes a lot more sense to go NG.

~~~~~~~~~~

And to a previous post, part of the reason I haven't converted is I have a huge bag of charcoal and the gril that came with my house and I've been using that. If I had LP or NG I'd grill a lot more. I also seem to have a personal cutoff of ~$400 for grills. If I'm going to spend $1k on a cooking appliance I'd rather get a new gas stove that gets used year round. It seems to me in my brief searching that I'll probably end up with a $300 char-broil and have to buy a $60 conversion kit.

EDIT: oh, and Im holding out for Sears Outlet to have an awesome grill for 50% off that fits my needs.

Leeraar
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:33 pm

jeffyscott wrote:No, the alternative is now that the tank needs to be recertified, you trade it for a pre-filled Blue Rhino (or whatever) tank. Then you take that Blue Rhino tank to the refill place until it is 10 years old.
When you exchange you do not get a new tank. You get one that is likely eight or nine years old, one or zero future refills.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

BIGal
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by BIGal » Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:44 pm

Second on the Big Green Egg....I converted from NG and never looked back. Gas dries food out....Ceramic BGE with lump charcoal is fantastic. We roast our turkey for Thanksgiving, make the best pizza and needless to say the steaks and burgers are far better on this grill..check out http://www.nakedwhiz.com/dogfront.htm....Do some research and you will make the right decision which is lump charcoal in a ceramic grill....They are by far superior.

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SteveNet
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by SteveNet » Tue Dec 24, 2013 6:12 pm

Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
Being frugal is hard to learn, but once learned is hard to stop.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:40 pm

BIGal wrote: Gas dries food out.
Oh dear
Care to explain ? Burning hydrocarbons puts water into the products of combustion. (zeppelins actually recovered water from the engine exhaust.
Burning carbon does not.

Don't get me wrong, I love cooking with charcoal. But the reality is that most charcoal grills operate at a high enough temperature to generate guaiacol
http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/ ... con-coffee
It is the lack of that flavor combined with some of the hot steam effects of burning gas that accounts for most of the flavor difference at any given temperature.

In IME addition most backyard charcoal grills are used at a higher temperature than gas grills.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:42 pm

SteveNet wrote:Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
+ .5
Good fresh charcoal briquettes are excellent fuel

Leeraar
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:01 pm

Professor Emeritus wrote:
SteveNet wrote:Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
+ .5
Good fresh charcoal briquettes are excellent fuel
Where we live, real charcoal is hard to come by.

A neighbor had a huge oak tree come down in a storm, I collected a few garbage bags full of shavings when he had the stump ground. I have enough chips to smoke on my barbecue for years to come.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

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SteveNet
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by SteveNet » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:21 am

Professor Emeritus wrote:
SteveNet wrote:Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
+ .5
Good fresh charcoal briquettes are excellent fuel
Briquettes are good especially for BBQ, but for Grilling (they are different, not saying you don't know that) Lump wood burns hotter and cleaner.
What I mean by cleaner... a good deal of a briquette is clay, used as a binder to hold the briquette's shape.
This is the mess that is left to clean out at the bottom of the grill. While Lump Wood leaves only a very small amount of real ash.
Lump Wood is what I prefer for BBQ as well, you just have to be careful to choke the air intake supply so that the temperature stays around 212 deg or so for a long period of time/Hours.

But certainly never use the fuel soaked easy light briquettes, the taste of the fuel in the briquette transfers to the food imo.
Charcoal Chimney works just as fast.
Being frugal is hard to learn, but once learned is hard to stop.

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DiscoBunny1979
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:58 am

I have a nice stainless steel grill I bought for about $1200 a few years ago and It sits quietly under it's protective cover most of the year because even though I connected it to the NG line so conveniently located on the outside wall by the kitchen, I found out I dislike cleaning it and polishing it every time I use it. Therefore, I have a nice looking BQ grill gathering dust under its cover and I use a standard large round Webber Grill that takes Charcoal or Wood . . . which I've found Apple Wood to give a great flavor to chicken. But I do agree that propane tanks are a pain and I refuse to use one because I always forget to turn off the propane, always out just in time for the next time I want to use it.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:18 am

SteveNet wrote:
Professor Emeritus wrote:
SteveNet wrote:Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
+ .5
Good fresh charcoal briquettes are excellent fuel
Briquettes are good especially for BBQ, but for Grilling (they are different, not saying you don't know that) Lump wood burns hotter and cleaner.
What I mean by cleaner... a good deal of a briquette is clay, used as a binder to hold the briquette's shape.
This is the mess that is left to clean out at the bottom of the grill. While Lump Wood leaves only a very small amount of real ash.
Lump Wood is what I prefer for BBQ as well, you just have to be careful to choke the air intake supply so that the temperature stays around 212 deg or so for a long period of time/Hours.

But certainly never use the fuel soaked easy light briquettes, the taste of the fuel in the briquette transfers to the food imo.
Charcoal Chimney works just as fast.
The binder used in charcoal is usually starch which is combusted. The ash whitener is limestone. I've actually used a bolometer to measure the IR radiation from charcoal and could find no difference between lump and briquette.
Choking the air intake on smoldering carbon combustion dramatically increases the Carbon Monoxide fraction. Both toxic and wasteful Much better to use less charcoal

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mike143
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by mike143 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:06 am

Are we talking standard 20# propane tank? In my town most stores have Blue Rhino tank exchange under $20. Ace Hardware charges about the same to refill your own tank. I have natural gas but having it plumbed outback and the purchase of a conversion would never pay itself off.

Get a quality grill (Weber). If you don't want to buy new you can find them used on Craigslist for 50% off. I have seen several natural gas units on my search.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by German Expat » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:02 pm

We had an outside gas line at our last house and bought a Weber grill at Lowes suitable for it. Most Weber grills come in both variants but stores don't carry them usually in the natural gas variety or they might not discount them as much.
After we moved our current house had no line, I got it quoted but to do it nicely not too visible would have cost me close to 1000$. The good part about Weber is that you can get parts forever so I bought a conversion kit and converted it to Propane. Also bought 2 bottles so I never run out of gas. We use about 2-3 bottles per year so the pay back would have not been there.

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by texasdiver » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:16 pm

I have natural gas plumbed to my patio and was going to get a natural gas grill when I replaced my old Weber with a new one. But after thinking about it I went with propane instead to make the grill more portable but especially to make it easier to use up the propane from my camper.

We have a Fleetwood Popup camper that takes 2 standard propane cylinders. When we do camping trips we pretty much never run through a complete cylinder of propane but I also always like to start each trip with full propane. So I have about 5 cylinders and after every camping trip I pull the half used ones off the trailer and put them into the queue to use up on the Weber. Then start each camping trip with fresh cylinders on the camper. I just do the Blue Rino bottle swap at my local grocery a block away rather than search out a refill place.

If I had bought a natural gas grill I would have had no way to use up my half spent camping trailer propane bottles.

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Kinja » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:59 pm

Hey mate, you're missing the forth choice - wood pellets. There's a guide over here on comparing these fuel sources:

http://www.cookshack.com/store/Comparin ... BBQ-Grills

Of course, it depends upon how much of a purist you are, but wood pellets provides the aromatic taste of wood with great cooking consistency. In general, wood pellet grills cost more, but the operational costs are a little cheaper. Anyway, whatever you cook up, be sure to post the pics.

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by SteveNet » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:49 am

Professor Emeritus wrote:
SteveNet wrote:
Professor Emeritus wrote:
SteveNet wrote:Lump Wood Charcoal, Lodge Cast Iron Grill.
Chimney starter.
I gave up any form of gas a long time ago. :beer
+ .5
Good fresh charcoal briquettes are excellent fuel
Briquettes are good especially for BBQ, but for Grilling (they are different, not saying you don't know that) Lump wood burns hotter and cleaner.
What I mean by cleaner... a good deal of a briquette is clay, used as a binder to hold the briquette's shape.
This is the mess that is left to clean out at the bottom of the grill. While Lump Wood leaves only a very small amount of real ash.
Lump Wood is what I prefer for BBQ as well, you just have to be careful to choke the air intake supply so that the temperature stays around 212 deg or so for a long period of time/Hours.

But certainly never use the fuel soaked easy light briquettes, the taste of the fuel in the briquette transfers to the food imo.
Charcoal Chimney works just as fast.

The binder used in charcoal is usually starch which is combusted. The ash whitener is limestone. I've actually used a bolometer to measure the IR radiation from charcoal and could find no difference between lump and briquette.
Choking the air intake on smoldering carbon combustion dramatically increases the Carbon Monoxide fraction. Both toxic and wasteful Much better to use less charcoal
The binder in more expensive briquettes (Kingsford)is starch but the cheaper versions (store brands) is clay as it is the cheaper binder.
I can assure you that Lump wood burns at a much higher temperature than briquettes, electronic devices aside, 20 years of using both for different applications proves otherwise.
"Choking" the air flow (regulating) is what BBQ and Smoking is all about. Cooking low and slow and for a long period of time is the key, using 'less' briquettes for lower heat might sound like a solution but as charcoal has to last for 5 to 10 hours or longer you will become a slave to the smoker/BBQ replacing briquettes in small quantities.
Also you have to wait till briquettes ash over, something you can't do when adding more. Such is not the case with Lump wood, no need to wait, just add more when needed.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by protagonist » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:01 pm

I'm a purist.

I've had gas grills in the distant past, but, imho, any gas or electric grill is not very different than using your oven, except you are doing it outside.

A basic Weber charcoal grill lasts forever and the food tastes....well...."charcoal grilled". A great one can be purchased for less than $100. Plus, no having your gas run out at inopportune moments and having to lug your tank to get it refilled.

I'd never go back.

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by 6miths » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:23 pm

We've been very happy with NG. I got my last BBQ at Home Depot and you could get it in propane or NG versions. It is a 'Blue Ember' and was very inexpensive but at the time was very highly rated on Consumer Reports. We also had a down draft Jenn-Aire cooktop inside for years and absolutely loved that. Sadly it went out with the kitchen remodel done a few years ago. I have 2 propane tanks at the cottage and a neighbor who will always lend me a spare if I am delinquent in getting a refill. I don't notice any difference in cooking with either fuel. I've never been a fan of electric grilling but did love charcoal in the old days.
Last edited by 6miths on Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:40 pm

OP here.

I am a frequent griller. For example, tonight it will be lamb chops. Outside temp is about freezing.

Planning to grill outside on New Year's Day: It will be about 16F. Rack of pork ribs is what is calling me.

I am swearing off propane, plan to convert to natural gas (NG) for the built in unit. I use wood shavings for flavor on the electric and gas grills, but I also use charcoal and wood for those special deals, like lower-temp smoked fish or fowl.

I will have to look into wood pellets. Thank you for the suggestion.

But, NG will be mainstream here in the future.

L.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by goblue100 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:09 am

yatesd wrote:When I built my house 12 11 years ago, I paid to have a natural gas line hookup run out to the deck. It was one of the best things I ever did!
  • Lower costs
    Never running out of fuel
    Convenience of Gas
There are cheaper options, but Weber excels at having parts available in local stores if anything happens. I suggest using find a dealer http://dealer.weber.com . We actually bought ours from a local small business that included setup & delivery with their price (and competitive with the local HD/Lowes).

I always like to joke about my grill running out of gas! Never again... :D

*Natural Gas versions are readily available, but often go for about $50 extra. I strongly suggest buying a NG version at the outset rather than trying to upgrade it after purchase.


I changed this original post to reflect my situation. I am a huge Weber fan. I bought a Silver Genesis NG model 11 years ago. The only thing I have done to it is replace the "flavorizer" bars and clean it and it still looks like it came out of the box. You can save money on cheaper grills that fall apart in 5 years, but IMHO it is a false economy.

I think someone posted a link to some NG grills at the big box stores. Look for BBQ speciality stores in your area, or ACE hardware stores. Yes, they may be a couple dollars more but they more often have these better grills in stock.

* Edit - For every positive, there is downside. I left the grill on to clean it after one winter grill out. 3 days later I found the grill still running... :oops:
Some people are immune to good advice. - Saul Goodman

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by gatorman » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:34 am

GTi wrote:Big Green Egg or Primo ceramic cookers. They use lump charcoal. I know it was not on your list but google the products to see if it is something you might want to use.
^^^ This, far superior to any gas grill. I've owned a ton of gas grills, currently own a large Big Green Egg. The Big Green Egg is a far better grill than any of the gassers I've owned or cooked on.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by leonard » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:53 pm

Consider a Weber smoky mountain smoker.

The bottom of the smoker plus a grate makes it exactly like a weber barbeque. Plus, you get the bonus of being able to use it as a smoker - just use the whole set up and add smoking hardwoods. Smoked bacon, sausage, pork tenderloin, chicken, etc. etc. Delicious.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Mike Scott » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:19 pm

I built a wood fired pit/grill a few years ago. I can use charcoal but seldom do. It's about 3'x4' cooking surface and a small fire will do a single roasted hot dog and a bigger fire will do burgers for a bunch of people. Gas grills are OK but playing with real fire is more fun. :)

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Leeraar » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:23 pm

OP here. The saga continues.

The grilled food on my CharBroil electric grill is amazingly good! I mean, it really does taste exceptional! (Compared to my old propane grill.)

A friend asked about that, and said he wanted an electric smoker. Grilling, smoking, barbecue, what's the deal with the fuel?

The answer is in one of Prof. Robert Wolke's delightful books, "What Einstein Told His Cook 2".

When propane (C3H8) or (worse?) natural gas (CH4) burn the combustion products contain a lot of water. That water condenses on the cooler food, creating steam. Hard charcoal or wood, on the other hand, burns with much less water created, so the food sears at a higher temperature.

An electric grill generates no combustion products: All you have is the fat dripping on the red-hot element, creating those wonderful-tasting and possibly carcinogenic complex hydrocarbons.

For grilling at high temperatures, fuel does matter. No gas, please.

So, I asked Prof. Wolke about smoking or barbecue, long cooking at lower temperatures. He replied (by e-mail today) that it's about the smoke, though he thinks hard wood and charcoal are still the best fuels. You can get flavor by adding smoke by other means, such as damp wood chips.

L.
Last edited by Leeraar on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by FrugalInvestor » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:30 pm

Leeraar wrote:
2. Natural gas has about half the energy of propane. Is this an issue, that the grill will not get as hot with natural gas as with propane?
The natural gas valves/orifices will compensate for the difference in btus between propane and natural gas. The natural gas equipped grill will get plenty hot. The problem occurs if you attempt to run a propane grill on natural gas - it will not get very hot because you will not be feeding it enough btus.
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by placeholder » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:34 am

Lump charcoal and free maple and apple wood from trees in the yard for me.

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Re: Grilling: Propane, natural gas, and electric?

Post by Dulocracy » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:51 am

Using the fence planks is a BAD idea. I know that you stated mid way through the comments that the wood is untreated, but untreated for the purpose of selling the fence does not mean that there are no chemicals on the wood. Treated/Untreated is not like organic food. There is no safety review of the fence post to ensure it is safe. To the contrary, you can put chemical on the wood and still call it un-treated. For example, bulk-spraying wood with an anti-fungal treatment, pesticide (less likely with cedar) or a coloring agent does not treat the wood for weather. The employee at Home Depot does not know if the wood was sprayed with anti-fungal agents, just that the wood itself is untreated for the purposes of weather protection.

In addition, when I was in college and worked at a K-Mart, the store manager would have us dust both anti-fungal and anti-insect powder on problem areas of the garden area. You do not know whether or not they are doing that at your store.

In this case, I would spring for the actual food-intended cedar planks.
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