Select Page
Pros and Cons of Propane vs Natural Gas Built-in Grills

When it comes to built-in gas grills, you’ll generally find two fuel types out there: natural gas and propane.

Natural gas vs propane may sound like a great debate, and to some grilling fans, it may be. But in reality, it’s a matter of figuring out which grill type will fit your home, budget, and lifestyle best.

When it comes down to it, neither fuel type is necessarily better. One will probably just be a better match for you and what you’re looking to get out of your built-in gas grill.

This isn’t our first fuel showdown —we’ve debated the pros and cons of pellet grills vs gas grills, and charcoal grills vs gas grills before — so we know the information you’re looking for to help figure out which fuel type is the best choice for you.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about propane and natural gas grills, how they differ, how they’re the same, the pros and cons of each fuel type, and FAQs. We’ll wrap it up with a recommendation of who we think would be the best match for both types of grills.

By the end, you’ll have all of the information to make an informed decision about whether a propane or natural gas built-in grill is right for you. Ready to get started?

Natural Gas vs Propane — Which Is Better?

Not all built-in gas grills are created equal. One model that works great for your neighbor may not fit your needs as well.

The biggest difference you’ll need to consider when shopping for a new gas grill is to go with natural gas or propane. But which one is better?

The fact is there really isn’t a huge difference in how propane and gas grills perform. Both types will get the job done where it really matters — cooking delicious food.

That said, there are pros and cons that you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing between natural gas and propane. Let’s dive into this hot topic!

What Is a Natural Gas Grill?

A natural gas grill is a grill that uses natural gas as its fuel source and runs off of a home’s natural gas line, similar to a gas stove.

A natural gas grill connects directly to the home’s natural gas supply, requiring a permanent installation. Because of this, they are typically more stationary than propane grills, which use portable propane tanks for fuel.

The most important thing to remember before purchasing a natural gas grill is that you’ll need to already have a natural gas line installed with outdoor access or be prepared to have one added.

It’s also important to note that because natural gas grills are directly connected to the home’s gas supply, professional installation is recommended for safety purposes.

Natural Gas Hookup Hose

What Is a Propane Gas Grill?

A propane gas grill does not require a gas line to work. Instead, it runs off of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that’s stored under pressure in a liquid state within portable tanks or canisters that you can purchase, exchange, or refill at just about any hardware store, grocery store, or gas station.

Unlike natural gas grills, which are typically fixed in one location due to their connection to a home’s natural gas supply, propane grills are more portable.

This is because the propane is stored in individual tanks that can be easily transported and connected to the grill. This makes propane grills a popular choice for camping, tailgating, and other outdoor events.

Propane Tank for a Gas Grill

Properties of Propane

Propane is created as a byproduct of both oil refining and natural gas production. It’s colorless, non-toxic, and naturally odorless (although an odor is typically added so you can tell if it’s leaking).

When you buy it in a tank or canister from your local hardware store, it’s both a liquid and a vapor. In its liquid form, it’s incredibly compact and portable (making it perfect to fit into a can and take on the go), but as it’s released from the container, it becomes a clean-burning gas.

You can learn more about the Properties of Propane Here

Properties of Natural Gas

Much like propane, natural gas is also tasteless, non-toxic, and naturally odorless but has a pungent odor added to help detect leaks. It’s a fossil fuel formed over millions of years and is generally found along with petroleum.

It doesn’t burn as hot as propane can, but it is clean burning and cheaper to use as long as you have a line installed with outside access.

You can learn more about the Properties of Natural Gas Here

Natural Gas vs Propane Grills: Taste

Good news if you’re concerned about natural gas or propane potentially leaving a flavor behind on your food: they won’t!

They both burn cleanly and without an odor, so neither one will add any undesirable flavor to your food.

Natural Gas vs Propane Grills: Cost

Natural Gas | Propane Gas

One area where natural gas and propane grills diverge is operating costs.

But it doesn’t boil down to one simply being more affordable than the other — either one may be more economical for you, depending on your home and current budget.

I’ll break it down or you next.

Cost of Natural Gas

Natural gas does have an advantage over propane when it comes to cost, at least over time.

If you don’t have a gas line accessible in your yard, installing one can be expensive upfront. And natural gas grills typically tend to cost a little more than their propane counterparts.

But aside from that, the operating costs of a natural gas grill are typically less than a propane grill since you don’t need to worry about refilling or replacing the tank. Over time, a natural gas grill will cost you about a third of what a propane grill will.

So if you already have a natural gas line or aren’t worried about the cost of having one installed, when it comes to operating costs, natural gas is the way to go.

Cost of Propane Gas

But let’s say you don’t have a natural gas line accessible in your outdoor cooking space, and you definitely don’t want to worry about the cost or hassle of putting one in. Or maybe you rent and can’t make any permanent changes to your home.

In that case, the best bang for your buck will be a propane grill. The good news is propane grills typically have a lower price tag than natural gas ones, so you’ll save some money from the start.

Refilling or replacing your propane tanks will cost more over time than simply hooking up to a natural gas line will, but depending on how much you use your grill or what it would cost to install a line in your yard (if you even can), you may not really notice the cost difference.

Propane vs Natural Gas Grills: Temperature

Propane burns hotter than natural gas, but you wouldn’t really know by comparing a natural gas grill’s performance to a propane one. Why?

Natural gas grills are constructed with specific valves, which allow for more gas to flow into their burner systems than propane grills do. This means both types of grills will produce the same size flames and similar temperatures, despite the difference in their BTUs.

So when it comes to grill temperature, one really isn’t better than the other!

Pros of Built-in Grills Using Natural Gas Over Propane Gas

Environmentally Friendly | Easy on Your Pocket | Convenience | Dry Heat | Space

There are several areas where natural gas excels compared to propane for a built-in grill, making them the better choice for you, your home, and your preferences.

Let’s get into it!

Environmentally Friendly

Natural gas is one of the most environmentally friendly fuels you can find since it burns cleaner and produces less carbon emissions than coal.

It’s also lighter than air, so if you have a leak outside, it will safely float away from your outdoor cooking space.

Easy on Your Pocket

As we mentioned earlier, if you have a natural gas supply or aren’t concerned about the cost or hassle of having one installed in your outdoor kitchen, natural gas is incredibly affordable to operate over time.

When you do the math, natural gas will cost about a third of what propane gas does in the long run.

Convenience

Have you ever gone to use a propane grill, only to find you don’t have enough gas in the tank?

Natural gas completely eliminates that problem since it provides a continuous supply of fuel, eliminating the need to refill propane tanks.

There is no need to ever bother with disconnecting a tank and lugging back and forth from your local propane refill station.

This makes it a convenient choice for those who grill frequently.

Dry Heat

Propane gas is in its liquid form when stored in a tank or canister, creating what some people call a “wet heat” that can negatively impact the texture and consistency of food.

That’s not a problem you’ll face with natural gas, leading some grilling experts to proclaim it superior for its dry heat and ability to impart a smokier flavor and better char on your food.

Space

When you have a propane built-in grill, you’ll not only need to find space to install the grill itself but also a place to store the propane tanks since they can’t be stored inside. Those tanks can take up valuable outdoor storage space!

With a natural gas grill, all you need to worry about is space for the built-in grill itself since the fuel will flow from the gas line, leaving you room for extra storage.

Cons of Built-in Grills Using Natural Gas Over Propane Gas

Stationary, Not Portable | More Complicated to Install

For all of its strengths, natural gas built-in grills do have some cons you’ll want to consider before buying.

Stationary, Not Portable

If you install a natural gas built-in grill, it’ll have to be close enough to your outdoor kitchen’s gas line to work.

If you want to redo your outdoor kitchen in a few years, you’ll be limited to where you can move the grill since it requires that gas hookup to function.

More Complicated to Install

If you don’t have an outdoor natural gas hookup but want a natural gas built-in grill, you’ll first have to go through the process of adding a gas line to your outdoor space.

Even after that, natural gas built-in grills are more complicated to install since you’ll have to carefully ensure it’s hooked up correctly to the line. It’s a process that takes more time and effort than popping on a propane gas tank.

You Should Get a Natural Gas Grill If:

So how do you know if a natural gas built-in grill will be the right fit for you?

You should consider investing in a natural gas grill if you own your home, already have a natural gas line, or don’t live far from one.

You should consider getting a natural gas grill if:

  • You grill frequently: Since natural gas grills connect to your home’s natural gas supply, you won’t have to worry about running out of fuel or refilling propane tanks, which makes it a convenient option if you grill often.
  • You have a natural gas line at home: If your home is already equipped with a natural gas line, using a natural gas grill can be cost-effective and convenient.
  • You’re planning a permanent outdoor cooking area: Natural gas grills are typically stationary due to their connection to the home’s gas supply. A natural gas grill could be a great fit if you’re designing a dedicated outdoor kitchen or grilling area.
  • You want consistent heat: Natural gas delivers a consistent heat output, which can offer better control over your cooking and potentially lead to more consistent results.
  • You’re conscious about environmental impact: Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel compared to propane, which means it produces fewer emissions and is a more eco-friendly choice.

You also must have a budget that can handle the upfront expenses, don’t mind that you’ll have limited options of where your grill can be installed, and live in an area with a high supply and production of natural gas.

Pros of Built-in Grills Using Propane Over Natural Gas

More Energy Efficient | Portability | No Upfront Costs to Install

While we’ve talked a lot about the pros of natural gas for a built-in gas grill, propane built-in grills still have a lot to offer.

First off, they’re typically the type of gas grill most people are used to using, so there’s an element of familiarity there we don’t want to overlook.

But propane grills also deliver several other benefits you’ll want to consider.

More Energy Efficient

While natural gas may be the eco-friendlier of the two fuels, propane produces more energy, requiring less of it to bring your grill up to sizzling temperatures.

That’s why you’ll find smaller gas ports on a propane built-in grill than you will on a natural gas grill — you don’t need as much propane flowing out to cook quickly and at high temperatures.

Portability

Propane grills win another point for portability. Unlike natural gas grills, propane grills don’t have to stay tethered to a gas line, so you can put them just about anywhere.

Of course, we’re talking about built-in grills in this instance, so you probably won’t be packing yours into the car for a day at the beach. But when it comes to choosing an initial spot for your grill and moving it around if you’re in the mood for some outdoor kitchen renovations, built-in propane grills offer the most flexibility.

You’re also not limited by the location of your gas line. You can build your outdoor kitchen with a built-in gas grill anywhere in your yard.

No Upfront Costs to Install

With propane grills, you don’t have to worry about footing the bill (and it usually is a hefty bill) for a gas line installation if your yard doesn’t come with one.

Just grab your canister, make sure it’s full, and you’re ready to go!

Cons of Built-in Grills Using Propane Over Natural Gas

The Propane Tank Needs Refilling | Can Get Expensive to Operate & Maintain

While propane built-in grills do have a lot of benefits, there can be some drawbacks as well.

These are the things to consider.

The Propane Tank Needs Refilling Often

Unlike natural gas lines, which provide a constant flow of fuel whenever you need it, propane grills will rely on canisters to run.

And those canisters need to be checked and refilled often if you don’t want to run out of fuel mid-barbecue.

Can Get Expensive to Operate & Maintain

While buying or refilling propane canisters likely won’t break the bank, it is more expensive than simply paying for a natural gas line.

Over time, the cost of using and restocking propane may add up to more than having a natural gas line installed would.

You Should Get a Propane Gas Grill If:

You should consider getting a propane gas grill if:

You should opt for a propane grill if you rent your home, have a lower budget, plan on moving your grill at some point and don’t want to be tethered to a gas line, don’t have a natural gas line, or live in an area that doesn’t have a large production and supply of natural gas.

Here are a few more reasons a propane gas grill may be for you:

  • You don’t grill very frequently: If you only use your grill occasionally, it might not be worth the expense and effort of setting up a natural gas line. With propane, you only need to refill or exchange the tank as needed.
  • You do not have a natural gas line at home: If your home doesn’t already have a natural gas supply, installing one can be costly and time-consuming. In this case, a propane grill would be a more practical choice.
  • You prefer a simpler setup: Propane grills are generally easier to set up than natural gas grills, which require professional installation to connect to your home’s gas supply.

Despite the cost and time it takes to make sure you have enough propane, built-in propane grills may still be the best choice for you.

Propane vs Natural Gas Built-in Gas Grills FAQ

Still wondering whether a propane or a natural gas built-in grill is right for you?

We’re here to help.

Below we provide answers to a few frequently asked propane and natural gas grill questions to get you started.

If you don’t know much about gas grills but are in the market for one, we’ve got you covered on that too!

For a much more comprehensive gas grill frequently asked questions and answer guide, check out my article: The Ultimate Gas Grill FAQ

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

Let’s get to it!

Why Do Natural Gas Grills Cost More?

Natural gas grills typically cost more than propane grills because they require a longer hose to connect to the gas line. They may also require professional gas line installation if you don’t already have one which will drive up the price.

Can I Use Propane on a Natural Gas Grill?

No, you cannot use propane on a natural gas grill or vise-a-versa because they are designed specifically to handle the properties of each. Both gases operate under different pressures which require different valve sizes and mechanisms. While there are kits for converting propane to natural gas, they can be expensive and require professional installation.

Do Natural Gas Grills Get as Hot as Propane Grills?

Yes, natural gas grills will get as hot as propane grills. Propane may burn hotter than natural gas, but natural gas grills are designed to allow more gas to flow into the burners, meaning it can produce just as much heat.

What Color Is the Flame on a Natural Gas Grill?

A natural gas grill that’s working correctly should produce a blue flame, with a tiny bit of yellow on the end. If you are seeing solid yellow flames, this could be an indication that you are not getting enough gas pressure from the regulator.

Final Thoughts on Our Propane vs Natural Gas Built-in Grills Guide

The moral of the story here is that when it comes to propane vs natural gas built-in grills, there really isn’t a debate — it all comes down to your budget, your home, and your personal preferences.

If your home has a natural gas line or you’re willing to pay upfront to have one installed in exchange for buying and refilling propane canisters in the future, a natural gas built-in grill will be a fantastic investment.

If you don’t have a natural gas hookup, rent your home, or don’t have the budget or time to dedicate to having one put in, a propane gas grill is a fantastic option. You will have to maintain your propane canisters to make sure you always have enough fuel, but you get the added bonus of being able to install the grill wherever you’d like!

We hope this guide has helped shed some light on the differences between propane and natural gas grills, and which one will be the right fit for your outdoor space and style. No matter which fuel type you choose, you’ll enjoy some delicious results from your new built-in grill!

If you’ve had any experiences with natural gas or propane grills, positive or negative, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Cheers,

Pat G.

Next Steps:

The Pros and Cons of Using Electric Grills vs Gas Grills

Pros and Cons of Electric Grills vs Gas Grills

What Does an Infrared Burner Do on a Gas Grill - The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Infrared Burners

What Does an Infrared Burner Do on a Gas Grill

Why Is My Gas Grill Not Getting Hot

Why Is My Gas Grill Not Getting Hot

DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

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.