Heating and Cooling | July 22, 2019
Second only to the sound of a baby’s first giggle or maybe the soothing crash of waves hitting the shore is the unmistakable sizzle of a juicy steak hitting the BBQ.
Okay, sure, maybe it’s never brought a sweet tear to your eye or inspired profound thoughts on the meaning of life — or maybe it has?? — but seriously, the tantalizing sounds and smells of cooking over an open flame are second-to-none!
Canadians are proud grilling folk and take the art of BBQ seriously. It’s no surprise then that passions run hot when the conversation steers towards the great natural gas vs propane debate. We’ll try not to stoke the flames too much, but here’s our breakdown of the pros and cons of cooking with a propane vs natural gas barbeque.
Bringing the (hottest) heat: Propane or natural gas?
When the steaks are high and you want a grill that packs some sear-ious heat, the proof is in the BTUs. Propane contains more than twice the energy of natural gas. For example, one cubic foot of propane has a BTU rating of 2,516 whereas one cubic foot of natural gas has 1,030 BTUs.
Some staunch BBQ traditionalists feel that this makes for a better grilling experience, but natural gas BBQs have come a long way in recent years and have definitely amped up the sizzle factor. Some natural gas models come with an infrared burner, which delivers intense heat that burns hotter and sears meat quickly.
Also, some grill masters point out that since propane is heavier than air (versus natural gas which is lighter than air) it can settle into corners and tight spaces in a more concentrated form and for longer periods of time, which can present a higher risk of accidental fire.
Trimming the fat: A cost comparison between propane and natural gas grilling
While natural gas BBQs have more upfront costs, natural gas is a cheaper fuel than propane. Natural gas can be as much as one-sixth of the cost of propane. That being said, you’ll also need to consider installation costs for a BBQ gas line if you don’t already have one.
On the flip side, it’s ideal to have at least two propane tanks on hand so you always have a backup supply of propane. Also, tanks expire over time and will need to be replaced. Once the natural gas line installation is complete, you have an endless supply of natural gas at the flip of a valve. No more rolling propane tanks down the side of the house, into the vehicle, and down to the gas station for regular fill-ups!
Looking for a clean burn? How do BBQ fuel choices compare?
When it comes to the environmental impact of natural gas vs propane, it’s pretty well a draw. Both propane and natural gas are considered clean-burning fuels and release very little carbon dioxide. One advantage of natural gas is that you don’t have to burn additional fossil fuels (gasoline) to travel back and forth filling up empty tanks like you do for propane.
“Mind if I smoke?” (And other dad jokes heard around the grill)
Whichever side you find yourself on the great grilling debate, may your meat never be under-seasoned and may all your steaks be perfectly well done — or rare, as the case may be.
Curious about making the switch to natural gas grilling? At First Call, our experienced gas fitters can help set you up with the grill of your dreams!