Graduating to a natural gas grill is not a light decision. It involves re-plumbing a gas line out to the grill site, building a grill bay or island, and building the surrounding patio area to accommodate the system.
In some cases, some of these parts may already be in place, but they will still need to be modified to complete the new system. The project takes planning and will easily require the help of a certified gas line plumber to make sure the gas line work is done correctly.
That said, a natural gas grill is the zenith of outside BBQing using the reliance on gas flame instead of basic charcoal grilling. Designed well, a BBQ natural gas grill can be a backyard center of attention, along with a bar and sitting counter area for serving food or eating.
Operating a Natural Gas BBQ
Working with a natural gas grill tends to be the same as working with a portable propane BBQ unit. The gas startup tends to be very reliable and quick as long as the pilot flame igniter and gas lines under the grill are clean and maintained. Line blockage from old grease or dirt will hamper flame exit and heating as well as start-up. Food tends to cook evenly and temperature can be controlled just like a regular oven range inside the kitchen.
With the above ease in mind, taste and cooking flavor tends to raise a bit of debate among BBQ zealots. Some feel that the flavor that comes from charcoal cooking cannot be duplicated by any kind of gas cooking, period.
Others argue charcoal cooking is dirty, polluting, and possibly harmful with all the chemicals from charcoal smoking into the food being cooked. Neither side is perfectly correct. BBQ lovers simply have to figure out which system they like better for their own purposes and go with that.
Costs and Expenses
The cost of installing a natural gas line BBQ is not cheap. Some of the fancier systems along with a matching patio island can run upwards of $15,000 brand new. These include refrigerators, flame burners that cook food from all directions, and tool storage systems as well as a working sink. These systems, of course, include all the details and amenities.
Simply hooking up a natural gas grill with no frills and just basics can probably be had for somewhere near $500, but you could have the same with a portable propane system as well. If considering a natural gas line system, it should be done properly with at least a working counter system to place food, tools, and to allow for counter eating. The drinking bar would be extra in any situation.
It should be noted working with a natural gas grill has its own safety risks. Letting the gas line flow without ignition for too long can create a buildup of flammable gas that will burst in a flame ball when lit. Not turning off the gas when finished can potentially create a ball of gas that can light up with the system’s pilot light.
Gas lines also have a habit of forming small leaks over time when exposed to the elements, so unless the line is buried it could pose an above-ground risk with older systems.
Small kids also need to be watched. To them, a BBQ island is just another place to play in the backyard. So some kind of system control lock will be needed just like the oven in the kitchen.
Natural gas line BBQs are very convenient tools for outside cooking. They take a bit of expense to install correctly, but many owners enjoy them immensely, increasing their outside cooking year-round.
So if thinking about taking the plunge, research what is involved and plan how it will work first. Going through all the details on paper will save money and frustration, and the system chosen will be far more enjoyable in the long run.