Natural Gas Vs. Propane | Which is Better?

There seems to be a debate about the fuel that powers your barbecue. Some believe that Natural Gas is the only way to go, while others are supporters of propane. If you haven’t used both of these fuel types, then you need to know what you can expect from your gaseous fuel source of choice.


Properties of Propane

Propane is a byproduct of both the refining of oil and the production of natural gas. It’s heavier than air and when released will pool in place and settle in lower areas. Propane is a non-toxic, tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas. Much like natural gas, mercaptan is added as a safety measure so that you can smell it if there is a leak. Propane burns hot at 2,500 BTUs per cubic foot of gas used. Propane is portable, which means you can take it with you when you want to grill, whether on a camping trip or if you decide to rearrange where you placed your grill in the yard.



Properties of Natural Gas

Natural gas is also a non-toxic, odorless, tasteless fuel source. It is used to heat homes and power appliances. Natural gas is made of methane and other hydrocarbons and is generally found with petroleum. Natural gas is clean burning and is a great fuel source for your natural gas grill. It produces 1,000 BTUs per cubic foot of gas consumed, which means it technically doesn’t burn as hot as propane - however, because of the way a Napoleon Grill is built and engineered, it’s not about the heat of the gas being burned, but in how those BTUs are utilized. Natural gas doesn’t need to be changed, and you won’t run out in the middle of a grilling session. Natural gas is 1/3 to 1/6th the cost of propane, though you will need a professional to install it, and may even need them to run the gas from the house if you don’t already have a line run.






Natural Gas

  • Never run out of fuel

  • Less expensive in the long run

  • The grill needs to stay where it is

  • Installation requires a professional and maybe expensive


  • More portable than a Natural Gas grill

  • Burns hotter than Natural Gas

  • The tank can run out of fuel


Burning Questions

To have any form of combustion, you need three things; fuel, oxygen, and ignition. How is that achieved on any gas grill? First and foremost you have the air shutter on the tube burners of your grill. Napoleon grills have been set to allow the perfect mixture of gas and oxygen so you shouldn’t need to worry about it whether you have a propane or a natural gas barbecue. The air shutter draws air into the burner and mixes it with gas in the perfect ratio for ultimate combustion. Now all you need is a spark. A Napoleon grill will create that spark with its igniter through the press of a button or the use of our nifty JETFIRE™ ignition system that is built into the knobs.



Can I use Propane in a Natural Gas Grill? And vice versa?

A question asked with surprising frequency is if you can use propane in a natural gas grill or if you can use natural gas in a propane grill. The answer is no, you cannot interchange gas types. Grills (especially ours) are specially designed to optimize fuel usage. You will want to know which type you are interested in before making a purchase. If a grill is purchased and hooked up to the wrong fuel source you will experience poor performance.



Which is Better, Natural Gas or Propane?

Napoleon’s barbecues have been specifically engineered to make the best use of the fuel that they are built to use to achieve optimum burn and efficiency. The question – which is better, natural gas or propane? - is completely based on your personal preference. There is no change in the flavor of the food you are grilling when using one gas or the other, and the way that Napoleon grills have been built, you will get the same quality of heat output either way. Both gases have their pros and cons. My choice to go with a natural gas grill was based on the layout of my house. Our deck is just off the kitchen and it has no access to the back yard, there’s a gas line already run, and I really didn’t want to have to carry a propane tank up two flights of stairs. You may have easy access to your outdoor cooking area like moving the grill from one side of the yard to the other or taking it with you when you go places – in the case of a Portable BBQ. So the better question is what type of fuel will work better for your lifestyle?

Happy Gilling!