Liquid Propane vs. Propane Gas | What’s the Difference?


When buying gas for a grill, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Most importantly, you want to buy the fuel that is right for your grill. Many people are confused about terms like liquid propane, often called LPG for “liquefied petroleum gas,” and propane gas – is there even a difference?

There is no significant difference between liquid propane and propane gas. In fact, the terms propane gas, liquid propane, LPG, or simply propane, are used interchangeably. They all refer to the same substance. The only thing that is different is its physical state.

Just like water and ice cubes are, at their core, the same thing. Propane gas turns liquid when put under pressure.

This means that while it is still being stored in a tank or a bottle, the propane is liquid, but as soon as its being released into the grill, it turns to gas. Therefore, any bottle that says “propane” on it, whether a liquid or in its gas state, can be bought and used for a propane grill.

Gas grills of any kind are considered to be more environmentally friendly than those which utilize wood since gas burns cleaner than wood and releases less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Gas also provides a very even heating source for the food.

Is the Propane In a Tank a Liquid or a Gas?

Propane gas is put under pressure when stored in a tank, which means that the propane is liquid inside the tank. As soon as the valve is opened, the propane turns back into a gas. In a propane grill, this gas is then sent into the grill via the regulator and the hose.

In the process of turning into gas, liquid propane is quite cool. This is why gas tanks often feel cold to the touch.

Do Gas Grills Use Liquid Propane?

Gas grills do use liquid propane. Bottles or tanks full of liquid propane are often considered more practical for use in a gas grill. They can be transported and stored comfortably, whereas the use of propane gas would require a connection to a house with a gas main.

Liquid Propane Grill vs. Gas Grill – Is There a Difference?

The difference between a liquid propane grill vs. a gas grill lies in how the fuel, which in both cases can be propane, is supplied. To use a liquid propane grill, gas tanks have to be bought, whereas a gas grill can be connected to the house supply.

Which one can be considered better depends on the needs of the owner.

  • Someone with a home with a gas main who wants to grill only at their own home might prefer a gas grill. This can be very practical since there is no need to constantly stock up on gas bottles.
  • On the other hand, if the grill is supposed to be used at different places, like in a public park, while camping, or at a house with no gas supply, a liquid propane grill would be the right choice.

What Does Liquid Propane Look Like?

In its liquid state, propane looks very similar to water. It has no color and no taste. Its density is about half of the density of water, though, which means that it would float on water. Liquid propane has a temperature of -44°F (-42 °C).

Liquid Propane vs. Natural Gas Grill – What’s the Difference?

A liquid propane grill is portable and runs off a propane tank, while natural gas grills are in a fixed position and hooked up to the home’s natural gas supply. Setting up a natural gas grill is pricier, but it is cheaper to run over the long term. Natural gas grills heat up more slowly than propane grills.

Propane grills are often considered to be more practical, especially for beginners. They start up simply by turning a dial, and they heat up pretty quickly since propane contains more energy than natural gas, so they are perfect for someone who wants to get started right away.

Often, propane grills also contain a variety of cooking methods, for example, indirect heating and multi-zone cooking. Propane grills are also comparably easy to clean. Propane is readily available at gas stations and in most supermarkets, but on the downside, it is more expensive than natural gas in the long run. Refilling the tanks rather than buying new ones every time is a good method to save a bit of money. It is also practical since the fixtures on gas tanks and bottles are not always the same, so if you have found one that works with your grill, it makes sense to stick to it.

Natural gas requires more effort and a greater investment at the onset since there needs to be a natural gas supply in the home. The natural gas supplied by most local utility companies is not propane but consists primarily of methane. A natural gas grill will take a bit longer to heat up, but many people use the “cooler” earlier temperatures to prepare things like fish.

Especially for families that grill very often in their backyard, this can be a worthy acquisition. The downside of a natural gas grill connected to the house’s gas supply is that once the grill is set up and plugged in, it cannot be moved anymore.

Can I Use Propane On a Natural Gas Grill?

Propane should not be used on a natural gas grill. The flame would be too large because the openings that release the gas into a natural gas grill are bigger than those in a propane grill. Natural gas burns cooler than propane, so there needs to be a larger volume of natural gas to achieve adequate temperatures.

There are numerous conversion kits available for replacing the valves and burners on a propane grill to make it usable for natural gas and vice versa. Some manufacturers strongly warn against conversions, though, and will void the grill’s warranty.

There are also instructions available online to do this without a conversion kit, but these are criticized even more strongly since the process can result in a grill that is not safe for use. Even though it is more expensive, the safest conversion with a guaranteed result is buying a new grill.

Final Thoughts

I hope I have answered all of your questions on the topic of propane. If you are trying to decide what type of setup to use, a standard 20-pound tank will be the easiest to maintain and deal with on an ongoing basis. It is what I use in our rental home, and we never have any complaints. We just visit every few months and take advantage of Lowe’s exchange program.

Thanks for reading! For more, don’t miss How Much Does It Cost to Fill a 20 LB Propane Tank?.

Jim James

Hey, I'm Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!

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