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Gas Grill FAQ - The Grilling Life

In this ultimate gas grill FAQ guide, I’m going to be giving you the answers to your most frequently asked gas grill questions. Learn more with the Grilling Life Q&A.

Whether you’re new to grilling or are a seasoned pro looking for quick answers, these frequently asked questions in our gas grill FAQ will cover everything you need to know about gas grills.

At the end of our gas grill FAQ list, we’ll give you a few parting thoughts so you can make your own decisions about the grill that will work best for your lifestyle.

Be sure to check back on this guide, as we often add questions and update the answers with new articles!

Let’s dive into these gas grill FAQs!

In This Article, We’ll Explore:

Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.

What are Gas Grills Typically Made of?

Most gas grills on the market today are made from either cast aluminum, cast iron, sheet metal, or stainless steel.

Stainless steel is the most popular material, but be careful—not all stainless steel is created equal! We recommend 304-grade stainless steel because of its durability.

More on 304 Grade Stainless Steel

The highest-quality stainless steel is 304-grade. It’s the most durable, long-lasting, and won’t show its age as quickly.

Some lower-quality grills will be made of 430 stainless steel, which isn’t as resistant to corrosion as 304. You can tell the two apart with a simple magnet—430 is magnetic, while 304 is not.

How Long do Gas Grills Last?

Your gas grill’s lifespan will depend on the quality model you buy, where it’s located (climate, exposure to elements, etc.), and how well you treat it.

Think of your grill the same way you think of your car. With proper care and repairs, a grill could last up to 20 years.

How do I Light a Gas Grill?

Most grills have either an electric (battery-powered), piezo (friction-powered) or hot surface (igniter rod) ignition system.

How you light your grill will depend on your type of ignition, so it’s best to check your owner’s manual to confirm. Depending on which ignitor system your grill uses, it will be completed by either the push of a button or the twist of a knob and should light instantly.

Regardless of your ignition type, remember to open the lid before lighting your grill to avoid a potentially dangerous gas buildup.

How do I Preheat a Gas Grill?

To preheat your gas grill, light it with the lid open, crank all of the burners up to their highest setting, then close the lid and wait 10-15 minutes.

After that, you can open the lid and adjust the temperature if needed.

Are Gas Grills Better than Charcoal Grills?

Gas grilling vs. charcoal is one of the greatest BBQ debates of all time, right up there with vinegar-based vs. tomato-based sauce.

Check out our Cooking with Charcoal vs Gas Grills guide for a full rundown with comparisons, benefits, drawbacks, and a final verdict.

Is Gas Cheaper than Charcoal?

Gas grills will typically cost more than charcoal grills up front. However, propane and natural gas are cheaper than charcoal, so you’ll pay less to use your gas grill over time.

On average, a 20-pound propane tank will last you around 25 uses. Meanwhile, 20 pounds of charcoal costs around $10 to $14 but only lasts for about three to four cookouts. If we break it down further, that means that it costs $0.60 per use of a gas grill but $3.50 per use of a charcoal grill.

Even if you only use your grill on average once a week, you can expect to pay around $31.00 for a gas grill or $182.00 for a charcoal grill per year.

So while gas grills cost a little more upfront, they will quickly pay for themselves within a year or two of use.

Can Gas Grills Use Charcoal?

While some models of gas grills are designed to use different types of fuel, most gas grills can only use gas—not charcoal.

You may find gas grills that come with charcoal accessories like a charcoal tray (or buy your own separately) that allows you to use both, but these are usually only found on higher-end gas grills.

Another option is to go with a Hybrid grill for the best of both worlds.

What is a Hybrid Grill?

A hybrid grill is a grill that can use more than one type of fuel at the same time, typically charcoal and gas.

Few grills are considered “true” hybrids, with a standard design that uses both fuel types, but some models offer charcoal accessories that allow them to be considered hybrids as well.

A good example is the Fire Magic Aurora which is sold as a Propane Gas & Charcoal Combo Grill.

What does a Grill’s BTU Rating Mean?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit.

It measures the amount of energy that’s required to heat up one pound of water by 1 degree. In grilling terms, it tells you how much fuel your gas grill will use over a period of time.

What is a Good BTU Rating for a Gas Grill?

A high BTU rating doesn’t necessarily mean a gas grill will perform better than one with a lower rating, so it shouldn’t be the most important thing to look for when buying a gas grill.

However, if your grill will primarily be used for casual grilling for your family, 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface should serve you well as this is considered the industry standard.

How do you Clean a Gas Grill?

It’s important to not only clean your grill grates after each time you cook but give the entire grill a good deep clean occasionally to help keep it in great shape for years to come.

Check out this Gas Grill Cleaning Guide for some pointers.

How do you Clean your Gas Grills Grill Grates

Keeping your gas grill grates clean is essential to proper cooking and food safety (not to mention great flavor).

Check out our in-depth guide on How To Clean Grill Grates to learn more about the options you have when it’s time to clean up.

How do you Clean your Gas Grill Burners

First, turn off all of your burners and gas, disconnect the propane tank, and wait until the burners are completely cool. Following your grill manual’s instructions, remove your burners.

Use a small bottle brush and pin or toothpick to clean your burners’ tubes, holes, and crevices, shake out any debris, and scrub the outside of the burners to remove food or grime. Then reattach the burners and propane tank, and you’re ready to grill!

How do you Install a Built-In Gas Grill?

To install a built-in gas grill, make cuts in your counter or island according to the grill’s cut-out dimensions (if there isn’t space already), then slide it in!

Just be sure to follow the “measure twice, cut once” rule if you’re making the cuts yourself. You’ll then have to install any necessary trim and connect your fuel and electronics systems.

What’s the Difference Between Propane & Natural Gas?

Propane comes in tanks that you’ll need to purchase and refill in order to fuel your gas grill.

With natural gas, your grill is connected to a gas line in your house or on your property, so there’s a constant fuel source. It’s also usually slightly cheaper than propane as well.

No gas type is necessarily better for grilling as there is no performance difference between the two, it just comes down to preference and what’s available in your current home.

Can you Convert a Natural Gas Grill to Propane?

Yes, you can convert a natural gas grill to be propane-fueled if your grill supports conversions.

Many grill manufacturers offer gas grill conversion kits. It’s recommended to have a professional install this kit for you, due to the risks that come with doing the conversion yourself.

Just make sure to check the owner’s manual as this may void the warranty on some manufacture’s grills.

Can you Use Propane with a Natural Gas Grill?

No, you cannot use propane with a gas grill unless that grill has been converted with a gas grill conversion kit.

The gas orifices are larger on natural gas grills, which results in much larger—and more dangerous—flames when used with propane.

How Long does a Propane Tank Last Using a Gas Grill?

This is when it comes in handy to know your grill’s BTU, or how much fuel it can burn per hour.

The average 20-pound propane tank starts out with around 430,000 BTUs, so divide that by your grill’s BTU and you should get a good idea of how long it’ll last.

If you’re not sure of your grill’s BTU, a good rule of thumb is around 18-20 hours of cooking time per tank for medium grills and around 10 for larger grills.

How can I Tell how Much Propane is in the Fuel Tank?

You can tell how much propane you have left by weighing your tank and subtracting the TW number, which is usually stamped on the tank’s handle and tells you how much it weighs when empty.

You can also tell how much propane is left by installing an external gauge or using this test using warm water.

How should I Turn Off my Gas Grill?

To safely turn off your gas grill, first turn all of your burner knobs to the off position.

If you have a propane grill, you’ll then shut off the valve at the top of your propane tank.

If your grill runs on natural gas, you’ll turn off your natural gas supply line after you turn your burners off.

Do I Need to Turn Off the Propane Tank after Grilling?

For safety purposes, you should always turn your propane tank off when you’re not using your grill.

This ensures that your grill doesn’t fill with gas if someone accidentally turns a knob on, or has a leak if an animal chews through a gas hose (yes, it’s happened).

Why isn’t my Tank Scale Working?

If your tank scale isn’t working, check that it’s hooked up correctly.

The tank should be suspended in the air. Once you’ve confirmed this, check the gauge again.

Should I Remove the Propane Tank when the Grill isn’t Being Used?

You can leave the propane tank on your grill (with the valve turned off) when you’re not using it.

You should however take the tank off if it’s empty, if you’re transporting the grill, or if you’re storing the grill in a garage or other enclosed area.

What is a Gas Grill Regulator?

A gas grill regulator is the part of your grill that controls the gas flow and makes sure that only a specific gas pressure enters the grill.

It also acts as a barrier between the heat from your grill and the propane tank.

Can Gas Grill Lines Freeze?

It would take incredibly cold temperatures for the gas lines themselves to freeze.

It’s more likely that your gas grill’s regulator would freeze, but even then, it’s very rare and would require some catastrophically cold temperatures.

Why do I See Frost Forming on my Gas Grills Regulator?

Seeing frost on your regulator is typically nothing to worry about.

This is usually just a sign that the humidity outside is at a level where condensation can form.

On gas grill regulators, this condensation can freeze due to the extremely cold propane passing through it.

“Frozen” regulators can occasionally signal a problem, however, like a tank that’s overfilled or not in the correct position, so keep an eye on it.

What should my Gas Grill Flame Look Like?

When your gas grill is operating correctly, the flame should be blue with slight yellow tips.

If your flames are yellow, large, and uneven, your grill likely has an issue.

Can Gas Grills Explode?

If used properly, your gas grill is completely safe and should not explode. However, gas grills can explode if the gas valve is left on and the gas build-up is ignited.

Propane tanks can also explode on rare occasions if they’re exposed to temperatures above 160°, which can increase the pressure and exceed their safety release valve’s capacity.

How do I Maintain my Propane Tank?

To maintain your propane tank regularly check for signs of wear or rust, and exchange it for a new tank if you see rust on the bottom, if it’s ever been overfilled, or if the valve is stuck or difficult to open.

You can help prolong your tank’s life by keeping it out of direct sunlight, which can cause rust.

What should I do if I Hear a Hissing Noise from my Gas Grill?

If you hear hissing, turn your burners off immediately and make sure there are no flames left in the grill. Then turn off the tank valve or supply line, and smell for gas.

If you can’t get your gas to turn off, leave immediately and call the fire department.

Once the hissing stops and your grill is cool, you can perform a gas leak test to determine if there’s a leak.

How do I Perform a Gas Leak Test on my Grill?

You can test your grill for gas leaks with a solution of water and liquid dish soap.

Spray or wipe the mix to the hose and all gas connections. Open the valve on the gas tank slowly, then check the hose and connections for soap bubbles, which indicate a gas leak.

If a leak appears, close the valve and have your grill repaired before using it again.

Why Won’t my Gas Grill Get Hot Enough?

If your grill isn’t heating up enough, it could be because your regulator’s safety feature is falsely indicating a gas leak.

You can reset the regulator in this case. Your propane tank might also be close to empty, or your burners may be clogged or have debris affecting the flames.

What is an Infrared Gas Grill?

Infrared grills use infrared burners as their main heat source and have a solid surface plate that emits heat right into the meat instead of heating the air around it like conventional grills.

You can learn more about infrared grills and the technology behind them in my article What Is An Infrared Grill – Is Hotter And Faster The Future Of Grilling?

Which Gas Grill Brands are Made in the USA?

Several grill brands make their products here in the United States. You can see a full lineup by going to American-made grills.

Are Gas Grills Allowed on Balconies?

Whether you can put a gas grill on your balcony depends on your condo or apartment association rules, the grill and balcony’s size, and local laws.

For example, some cities ban propane grills in buildings that have more than 20 tenants. If you can use a gas grill, your balcony should be big enough to allow your grill to sit at least 30 inches away from the building.

How do I Winterize my Gas Grill?

First, give your grill a Deep Clean, then spray or wipe your grates with cooking oil and turn your burners on high for a minute to remove the excess.

If you don’t plan on using your grill for several months, wrap your burners in plastic or plastic bags to keep critters out, clean and polish the outside of your grill, and remove your rotisserie motor and the battery from your electric ignition system (if you have them).

After these steps are complete, you can prep your grill for storage.

How do you Prep your Gas Grill for Storage?

To prep your grill for storage, first disconnect and remove your propane tank (be sure to store the propane tank outside) or shut off the gas valve if you have a natural gas grill.

Give your grill a Deep Clean, and follow the instructions from the section above.

Then cover your grill with a heavy-duty, correctly sized cover. If you can move your grill indoors in a shed or garage for the winter, great, otherwise try to move it to a spot where it’ll be as sheltered from the elements as possible.

Can I Smoke Meat on my Gas Grill?

Gas grills aren’t ideal for smoking meat since they can’t consistently keep the low temperatures needed for low and slow cooking and let a lot of air out compared to actual smokers.

However, you can achieve that smoked flavor with a smoker box or other type of accessory that uses wood chips to infuse the meat with that smokey goodness.

How do you Remove Carbon Buildup on a Gas Grill?

The best way to prevent carbon buildup on your gas grill is to clean it regularly with a grill brush and either soapy water or a grill cleaner spray.

Just put on a pair of gloves and use a wire brush to scrub off the carbon build-up. Then just empty the grills ash pan or use a shop vac to get rid of all the scrapped-off debris.

How do I Remove Rust from my Gas Grill?

If you spot rust on your gas grill, (even stainless steel will rust eventually) it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible to make sure it doesn’t spread or start eating holes in your grill.

Try cleaning small spots with soap and water or vinegar and baking soda. Other things to try are lemon juice and detergent, or even soda. For tougher spots, use a commercial rust remover or a heavy-duty cleaner like Bar Keeper’s Friend or Scratch-B-Gone.

Check out this grill rust removal guide for more details.

Can you Repaint a Gas Grill?

Most grills will only need a good cleaning, not painting, to look restored.

If you do decide a paint job is in order, choose a paint that’s heat resistant and will hold up to the grill’s high temperatures, and look for gas grill repaint DIY instructions to guide you through the process.

How can Wind Affect my Gas Grill?

Wind can force hot air back into your grill through the gap in the rear, causing it to overheat and potentially cause a grease fire. Wind can also blow out your burners and lead to a possible gas buildup.

If you’re grilling on a windy day, turn your grill perpendicular to the wind if possible, monitor your burners, and open the lid and let air circulate if the burners go out.

How Will Higher Altitudes Affect my Gas Grill?

When grilling at a high altitude your grill will take longer to preheat, so you’ll want to avoid opening the lid as much as possible.

High altitudes can also make your food more likely to dry out, so try to cook at a slighter lower temperature for longer to avoid dry or burnt food.

With less oxygen, plan for things to take a little longer overall.

Can I Use a Griddle on my Gas Grill?

Yes! Griddles are a great accessory to add to your arsenal.

If your grill didn’t come with a griddle accessory, look for a griddle that’s almost the full size of your grill’s surface but leaves between four and size inches on the edges for airflow.

If you don’t want to transform your entire grill into a griddle, you can look for a smaller griddle accessory that will leave some space for you to grill as usual.

What are the Best Cooking Grates for a Gas Grill?

Cast iron grill grates provide the best heat retention and distribution, and the sear marks many grillers are looking for.

However, they are more labor-intensive, as you need to regularly season them to keep them non-stick and rust-free. But if you take good care of them, cast iron grates will give you a great grilling experience.

Can I Use Lava Rocks or Ceramic Briquettes in my Gas Grill?

While most gas grills on the market today don’t come with lava rocks anymore and mostly only higher-end grills come with ceramic briquettes, you certainly could add them yourself.

Lava rocks are durable and great at retaining heat but require frequent cleaning and replacement because the grease they absorb could cause flare-ups.

Ceramic briquettes, on the other hand, are still great heat conductors but don’t absorb grease the way lava rocks do, so they’re easier to clean.

Whichever you choose, be sure to check your grill’s manual first—adding lava rocks or ceramic briquettes could void the warranty on some models.

How do you Cook Indirect on a Two or more Burner Gas Grill?

Indirect cooking is possible on a two or more burner gas grill, and it’s not difficult at all!

Check out our Complete Guide To Zone Grilling for full details.

What are Flavorizer Bars?

Flavorizer bars sit under your grill’s grates and above the burners to prevent flare-ups, help with heat distribution, and protect the burners from debris.

They also vaporize any grease or drippings, which circulate back up to your food to add extra flavor.

Can I Store Things Under my Grill?

Most grills come with storage space under the cooking area but be careful—that space gets hot when the grill is in use, so be sure to keep only non-flammable items like grilling metal tools and accessories in that space.

Do not keep anything made from paper, wood, or fabric under or near your grill when it’s in use.

What’s a Sear Burner?

A sear burner is an area on or attached to the side of a gas grill that can get much hotter than the rest of the grill much faster, making it perfect for achieving a steakhouse-quality sear.

Sear burners use a plate that amplifies the heat once you turn it on, quickly heating up to incredibly high temperatures and giving you the perfect color and crust across the entire surface of the meat.

Should the Grill Lid be Open or Closed when I Cook?

Whether you have the lid of your grill open or closed depends on the type of grilling you’re doing.

If you’re searing meat or cooking at high temperatures, it’s best to keep the lid open to manage flare-ups and keep an eye on the food.

With the lid closed the hot air will be trapped and create a convection effect like an oven, allowing you to grill with indirect heat or cook a large piece of meat at lower temperatures.

What do you do if your Igniter Stops Working?

If your igniter isn’t working, first listen for clicking sounds—if it’s not clicking, it’s possible the wires inside aren’t connected correctly.

You can also check if your igniter has a battery that needs replacing by unscrewing the igniter knob.

If the battery isn’t the issue, or your igniter isn’t battery-powered, visually inspect the igniter system to make sure all of the wires are plugged in.

Rain and humidity can also interfere with igniters, so you may need to manually light the grill to dry it out.

Final Thoughts on our Gas Grill FAQ

I hope this guide answered all of your burning gas grill questions.

If you have any additional questions or want more information on any gas grill topics, leave us a comment below or send us an email—we’ll try to find you an answer and possibly add your question into this guide!

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Patrick Ginise

A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!

I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!

I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.