By far, natural gas is the most common fuel source used in homes.

However, many people question whether you can use propane on a gas stove designed for natural gas and tend to assume that both gasses can be used interchangeably. This though is a risky assumption, and we explain to you why in this article.

Propane Gas Tank

In order to understand why it isn’t as straightforward as many might think, we need to have a brief understanding of the properties of both natural gas and propane.

While they are both generally efficient and burn cleanly, they have different pressure and heating capabilities.

Propane vs Natural Gas; What are the differences?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that contains high levels of methane. It requires a higher air to fuel volume ratio compared to propane.

Natural gas stoves use orifices with a larger hole to allow more air to flow through to allow for adequate combustion.

Propane, on the other hand, is a by-product of natural gas & crude oil distillation. It is also referred to as Liquified Petroleum (LP). Propane is heavier than natural gas and condenses into a liquid when compressed.

Natural gas can be supplied through pipes, whereas propane is supplied through high-pressure cylinders that preserve the high density and pressure.

Propane has a higher BTU rating. Each unit of propane contains double the energy of natural gas. Therefore for the same amount of heating, you will need twice the amount of natural gas as propane.

What happens if you use propane on a natural gas stove?

Overly Large Flame

Running propane through an orifice designed for natural gas and lower pressure will result in an overly large flame and soot. The flame will be bigger and may cause damage and even an explosion.

This is because the orifice jet designed for natural gas is larger than the one for propane. What happens is that there is unreacted propane that forms carbonaceous soot. Partially combusted propane will form dangerous carbon monoxide gas and soot.

Inconsistent Lighting

Another major thing to keep in mind is the density of the fuel. Since propane has a higher density, it requires higher pressure to allow complete combustion of the fuel. Incorrect fuel/air ratio will lead to inconsistent lighting and might also cause damage.

Difficulty in Lighting

You may experience difficulty lighting and keeping the flame lit due to the lower pressure. If it lights, you may notice larger flames that may be unstable and difficult to control, orange in color, and leave soot on the cookware.

Carbon monoxide Poisoning

Trying to use propane on a natural gas stove may carbon monoxide poisoning due to incomplete gas combustion, high pressure, and gas leaks when using larger orifices meant for natural gas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that causes poisoning when inhaled.

How do you know if your gas stove is natural gas or propane?

Read the appliance manual to see whether your stove is only supposed to run on natural gas. If you can’t find it, you can check your stove manufacturer’s website for a downloadable version.

For some stoves, you can also check the broiler section or the oven section door to see any manufacturer stickers. Usually, there would be a sign that indicates whether it is designed for natural or propane gas.

If you know what you’re doing, you can take off the burner and examine the jet caps. These are little screw-in caps that have a hole drilled on them. The tip of the orifices will show whether it is designed to be used with natural gas or propane. Tiny holes will be designed for propane while larger holes for natural gas.

Is it possible to convert a natural gas stove to propane, and how is it done?

Yes, it is possible to convert from natural gas to propane, but you will need to take great caution while converting your appliances.

Conversion kits are available from manufacturers’ stores though many gas ranges come bundled with conversion kits. If yours isn’t, then there’s a good chance it isn’t convertible and so you might want to reach out to the manufacturer to confirm.

To convert your gas stove to propane, you generally need to change three things: the pressure regulator, orifices, and the air mixer.

A gas regulator is responsible for the internal pressure adjusted for the gas that feeds your home. Some gas stoves will have a convertible pressure regulator that can be changed by removing a cap or flipping a plunger over.

Other stoves will require a new regulator to be set to the correct pressure either mechanically or electronically.

Orifices regulate the amount of gas allowed to get to the burner. There are different sizes designed for each specific gas. Change the burner orifices with smaller holes to allow proper propane gas flow.

An Air mixer is also called an air shutter. Some gas stoves will convert by turning the air shutter on and off. You should confirm with the manufacturer to determine how to convert.

The air shutter may be at the valve hood or the burner control knobs. Turn the burner knobs to the off position, remove them, locate a small air adjustment screw, and then set it accordingly.

Be sure to consult with the appliance manufacturer regarding the viability and requirements for gas conversions. In some cases, it may be cost-effective to purchase a new appliance designed for propane gas.

It is important to have a professional make the conversion to avoid unexpected hazards. Professionals have the required experience and can adjust to the correct pressure settings.

Read more about converting a natural gas stove to propane here

Reasons to convert natural gas stove to propane

Propane stoves are increasingly becoming popular. This popularity may be attributed to the ease of use, portability, and friendly cost.

It is easy to install and use propane gas anytime and anywhere. You may have moved to a different location where there is no piped natural gas to your home.

Final Word

In conclusion, using propane on a natural gas stove is never a good idea. If you must, then you should convert your gas stove to propane as we have covered above.

Costs of converting difer accoridng to the manufacturer and model. Always hire a professional to do the conversions for you and if you’re doing it yourself, then great precaution should be taken. Look out for the gas flame color and size to establish if it has been installed properly.

It’s also true that some appliances cannot handle the pressure from propane gas even after changing the orifices and thus you may need to buy a new appliance altogether if you can only use propane in your area.

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