Barbecuing is simple. Cooking meat over fire is a tradition that’s found in every culture and it’s almost as old as humanity itself. The custom began when Homo erectus – a human ancestor – learned to cook meat with fire 1.8 million years ago.
Simple as that may sound, several factors create distinct styles of the modern barbecue. Many prefer charcoal to light a barbecue because of the intense heat and the smoky flavor it imparts on food. But using charcoal can be expensive and time-consuming.
Gas grills are a convenient and quick alternative to charcoal grills. You might take close to half an hour to start a barbecue with charcoal. With a gas grill, it often takes no time at all.
How to Connect a Propane Tank to Your Gas Grill
Most modern gas grills run on propane tanks. One tank can last a whole summer if you only grill on weekends. Installing a propane tank on a gas grill — or in a propane smoker — is easy, simple, and quick.
However, you first need to know the safety considerations involved. Apart from preventing dangerous accidents, certain safety procedures protect your grill against damage and misuse.
1. Make sure the propane tank isn’t damaged.
The first step is to make sure the propane tank isn’t damaged. You don’t have to worry as much about this if you happen to be using a new tank. But it’s still safer to do a quick inspection.
Many people use the same tank for years on end, simply refilling it with new propane once it’s empty. In the United States, a tank is qualified for 12 years from the date of manufacture. In Australia, LP tanks require testing every ten years.
If you use the same tank, it’s essential to regularly check that it is still in good condition. Filling a damaged or out-of-date gas bottle is illegal and can be dangerous.
Propane tanks come with a valve to control the flow of the gas. You’ll find a rubber gasket housed inside the coupling mechanism of the hose. Make sure the gasket has no cracks or splits. The gasket can get worn over time.
2. Check if the tank contains enough gas.
Before you connect the tank to the grill, check that it contains enough gas. The easiest and most accurate way to check the amount of propane inside a tank is with a pressure gauge.
Propane tank gauges come in several different forms. If you don’t already have a gauge, head to the closest hardware store or go online to buy one.
We favor simple pressure gauges that connect directly to the valve. There are also magnetic gauges that work by detecting the temperature of the propane. However, these types of gauges often malfunction and do not last long.
3. Make sure the propane tank is properly positioned.
Once you’re sure you have enough gas and the tank isn’t damaged, you can connect the tank to the grill. Different grill models offer different ways to secure the tank below the grill. Some grills have an open space below. Others have a built-in compartment for the tank.
Many grills have a hole near the bottom where you can position the tank. The grill’s manual instructions will show the correct way to position the tank.
Be sure that you follow the instructions in the manual. Proper positioning prevents the tank from falling over in the event of an accident. Installing the tank in any way other than the manufacturer’s recommendation might stress the regular connection and cause a leak.
4. Connect the tank to the grill.
You need to familiarize yourself with a few key parts of the grill and the tank. The easiest to identify is the valve. This sits right on top of the tank. Every gas grill also has a hose that connects the grill to the tank. On the end of the hose are a metal regulator and a black plastic connector.
The regulator controls the gas flow from your tank to the grill’s heating mechanism. Experts recommend that you change the regulator every 15 years. If you are using a new propane tank, but the grill isn’t working, you may need to replace the regulator.
To connect, take the hose and connect it to the tank. The black plastic connector at the end of the hose should fit snugly into the coupling mechanism of the tank. Turning the connector to the right will tighten it. Make sure the connection is as tight as possible.
5. Perform a gas leak test before lighting the grill.
Once the tank and the grill are connected, perform a simple gas leak test. For this, you’ll need a spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and a bit of dishwashing soap.
Be sure the grill is completely off, then turn the valve on, allowing the gas to flow. Spray both the connector and the regulator with soap water. If bubbles appear, then there is a leak in the system.
Should this be the case, try tightening the connector again. If the bubbles persist, you probably need to replace the connector, the regulator, or the hose. You should perform the same test where the hose connects to the grill. That is usually right beneath the grilling area.
Once you have completed all the safety procedures, you can turn on the grill. Experts recommend that you press the igniter button before turning the knob on the grill to avoid gas accumulation. If your grill has no igniter button, use a long lighter. You’ll find a hole on the side of most grills where you can safely insert the lighter.
6. Be sure to close the propane tank valve when you’re done cooking.
Be sure you close the propane tank valve once you are done cooking. You don’t have to disconnect the tank from the grill, but the valve should be closed for safety reasons. Otherwise, trace amounts of gas can escape from the tank. The fumes create a serious fire hazard.
Apart from that, leaving the valve on can damage the grill. It can create a state known as bypass, which interferes with the flow of the gas when it’s in use. Your grill is likely to fall short of proper cooking temperatures when this happens.
Make sure the gas grill is shut off and completely cooled before covering it after use. Remember, too, to use or store propane cylinders in an upright, vertical position. Be sure to store them outdoors away from sources of ignition, as well.