Trying to decide on propane vs natural gas? Have you finally settled on getting a gas smoker but unsure of which fuel to go for?
I will show you the pros and cons of natural gas as well as propane. I will also highlight the true costs associated with both fuels.
By educating yourself about the difference between propane and natural gas you will have a clear idea what is the best pick for you.
Note: Some of the best propane smokers are able to do both.
You thought gas was just gas???
Natural gas is primarily methane, whereas propane is key component of LPG (liquid propane gas). Another essential difference is that natural gas is supplied via the main connection and propane (LPG) is supplied in a tank or bottle.
Propane or LGP is made by liquefying butane, isobutane and propane gas with pressurization. Propane or LGP comes in a tank, this means it is portable, so you move your smoker or barbecue anywhere and connect your tank. Refill tanks are available at all gas stations.
Natural Gas is initially extracted from the ground and it may also contain Ethane, Butane, Pentane and Pentanes Plus. Most of these are usually stripped out for other specific applications before it is passed along through the pipelines.
Natural gas is also supplied by a utility company. It is directly piped to your house. To hook natural gas up to your barbecue you simply need a direct pipe to your outdoor smoker or grill. The only downside to this is once the smoker or barbeque is connected it can’t be moved easily.
Safety is paramount when dealing with either type of gas, ensure you have a read of our grill and gas safety before you cook up a storm!
Propane burns hotter than natural gas.
When natural gas is burnt in an outside air temperature of 21ºC or 68ºF, it is 1958ºC or 3556ºF. Whereas propane burns at a temperature of 1980ºC or 3597ºF. This is a difference of 24ºC or 42ºF.
When a smoker or barbecue is built to use natural gas different valves are installed. The valves for natural gas allow more gas to enter the smoker or barbecues burner system.
Due to the fact natural gas burn cooler, the larger valves allow more gas though to be burnt, this ensures the heat produced will be identical whether you buy the propane or natural gas model.
A tank cost of propane is more expensive than natural gas that is connected to a main.
However, if you aren’t connected to the gas supply you will need to pay to be connected. If you only use your grill/ smoker occasionally propane LGP might be your preferred option
If we assume that cost for natural gas is $15.00 per 1,000 cubic feet. This means that $15.00 will purchase approximately 1.03 million BTU’s of energy. This would be equivalent to 11.26 gallons of propane.
At $2.50 per gallon of propane, natural gas would be a more cost effective energy solution.
Breaking it down even further, natural gas needs to be more than $28.00 per 1,000 cubic feet for propane to be a more cost effective energy solution (provided the cost for propane is $2.50 per gallon).
Charlie Smoking Hot Tip
My neighbor has a beloved natural gas smoker, the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24. I have asked him if he could give us some insight to using a natural gas smoker.
He said it doesn't even worry him that he can't move it. Once you plonk it down somewhere, how often do you really move it? His favorite thing? Not having to fill up the propane tank! It all comes down to, walking out to the grill and knowing you wouldn't have to make a dash to the gas station!
Although propane bottles do not have a gauge or a full maker, it is possible to check the how much propane is left, and it is actually quite easy! Follow my steps below to tell if your tank is empty!
Going over the pros and cons for natural gas and propane in detail can be overwhelming. Here’s a handy summary for each fuel type to help you make your final decision:
Charlies Tasty Recipe
Who doesn't love pork? I mean bacon, pulled pork, ham, I could go FOREVER! I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you!
My wife and kids absolutely love when I start smoking my boneless pork loin! It legendary among the family!
I currently use a propane gas smoker as I wanted the option to relocate the smoker.
However, we have found that we rarely move it. We have decided that we won't be moving again until the kids finish school. That means we will be in our home for at least the next 12 years.
We both like the idea of using a fuel source that is more environmentally as well as we are both sick of running to the gas station 10 minutes before we want to start dinner!
I'd say within in the 2-3 years we hope to have a natural gas smoker installed, well that's the plan!
Do you use natural gas or propane?
You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!
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