Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Converting a Jenn-Air barbecue grill from natural gas to propane

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this Blogger site and because I believe this story will have broad appeal, I’m going to use this blog to share my experience with converting a Jenn-Air barbecue grill from natural gas to propane gas.

Usually though, I’m blogging on my newer family blog, located at

About our Jenn-Air Barbecue Grill

First of all, let’s clarify the name, brand and components of the grill.

Although it boasts the Jenn-Air name (sometimes spelled Jenn-Aire), which makes it more marketable, it’s actually not made by Jenn-Air. I wish I knew that before I bought it at Lowe’s a few years ago.

The grill is manufactured and serviced (and I use ‘serviced’ very loosely) by NEXGRILL.

The grill has four large burners, a rotisserie, a warming rack and a side burner. In our experience it’s well suited for cooking for large groups of people.

It also has workspace on both sides of the grill and a two-door cabinet below the grill for storing barbecue tools, etc. It’s on a nice metal cabinet, on wheels and easily moves on solid surfaces.

About our Situation

We moved in June to a home that doesn’t have a natural gas stub-out in the back yard (our previous home did). We received a couple bids to install a natural gas stub-out and decided it was just too expensive to warrant the project. Plus, if we moved again, we could still be in the same situation with a nice barbecue grill and no way to use it.

So, we decided to take our Jenn-Air barbecue grill and convert it from natural gas to propane gas.

This process, however, was not simple or easy.

Converting a Jenn-Air Barbecue Grill from Natural Gas to Propane

I searched online for an article on converting the Jenn-Air barbecue grill from natural gas to propane gas. I mostly found customer complaints about how difficult the process was and the fact that the grill isn’t a Jenn-Air product.

I called the 800 number provided in the Jenn-Air barbecue grill owner’s manual: 800.554.5799. Calling NEXGRILL only resulted in a giant runaround.

Finally I determined to take the grill to a local barbecue specialist. This was no easy feat as the grill is quite heavy and requires several men to load it into a pickup truck. But it was a good decision.

I’ll tell you right now that the hero in this story is Salt Lake City barbecue specialists Casual Barbecue & Fireplace. The owner, Keith Deppe, was incredibly helpful.

First, he located this article on written by Salt Lake City outdoor cooking expert, Derrick Riches.

Keith tried several times over the course of a week to get the propane gas parts shipped from NEXGRILL so he could convert our Jenn-Air grill. Finally he decided they weren’t going to help so he used his own parts and converted my grill for about $200 (parts and labor).

I dropped the grill off on Tuesday and had it back on Friday.

I was glad to pay for Keith’s expertise and to finally get the job done. Had I tried to do it — which my wife insisted I did not because she was concerned I would end up blowing up the grill, our home, or perhaps myself — I’m sure we still would not have a working grill.

As it is now, we have enjoyed delicious barbecued steaks, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, both for our immediate family as well as for my entire family — parents, siblings, spouses and all the cousins.

We’re so happy to have our barbecue grill back.

What I Learned

I learned several things from this experience:

Don’t be fooled by big fancy barbecue grills offered at relatively inexpensive prices at large home improvement warehouses. Even though I paid what I consider to be a lot for the grill (less than $1,000 but more than $750), it was less expensive than comparable grills that range from $3,000 to $6,000 at most barbecue specialty stores.

Call ahead and find an expert to help. Keith Deppe at Casual Barbecue & Fireplace was very helpful.

Stick with propane. Although using natural gas can be convenient and less expensive, not having access to it when you move to a new location is a pain.