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Converting a gas stove to propane is usually relatively straightforward, at least from a technical perspective, though it still requires a bit of expertise and a lot of care. You are essentially going to shift the fuel line from your natural gas supply to your propane supply, making needed adjustments to burner strength and gas output along the way. Many manufacturers sell kits designed specifically for making this sort of conversion, and experts often recommend this route if you aren’t comfortable enough with wiring and gas lines to figure out the technicalities for yourself. Even with a kit, though, you’ll need to be prepared to pay close attention to detail and learn how to identify problems early on. The most important things for success tend to be planning, patience, and attention to detail. Propane conversions can save a lot of money and may be better for the environment, but only if they’re done correctly.
Assess the Situation
The very first thing you’ll want to do is study the specifics of your stove. Count up the burners, look at where it attaches to the gas line, and figure out as much as you can about when and where it was manufactured. All of this may seem rather trivial, but it will help you get the right materials and will enable you to ask the right questions if you need to get help from a professional at any point along the way. It’s usually a lot easier to have all of the details and basic information before you start taking things apart and making readjustments.
In most cases all you’ll need to get started are screwdrivers in sizes that correspond to your stove’s hardware and a basic wrench. The goal is to redirect the fuel away from the natural gas lines in your home or building and towards a new propane line, likely one that is connected to a residential propane tank somewhere on your property. The hardest part is usually figuring out how to cap or control the flow of propane once you’ve switched the fuel source, and many beginners find that using a commercial kit is the easiest and most foolproof option. Using a kit helps ensure that the conversion will be done correctly and that the finished stove will function properly.
Before unscrewing anything or changing any settings, though, it is very important to shut off the gas being supplied to your stove. Depending on the make and model of your equipment, you may need to wait a few moments after turning things off before you begin disassembling your valves in order to let the line drain. Opening or reattaching a live line can lead to spills and other hazardous conditions.
Adjust Your Orifices
Natural gas and propane burn at different rates, so controls are needed to maintain the proper amount of gas being burned. The amount of gas delivered to the flame will be regulated by a color coded orifice at each burner, which is simply a fitting sized for the appropriate type of gas. You will need to adjust the orifices on each burner so that they’ll be optimized for propane rather than gas.
Importance of Control Valves
Once the orifices are in their proper location, you’ll need to locate the gas regulator, which is usually found under the stove cover. There is a cap on the gas regulator that must be removed and then refitted using the opposite side of the cap. Another adjustment must be made on the main burner tube where it enters the stove. This is another orifice that must be turned clockwise with a wrench until it cannot be turned further. If there is a broiler orifice, it must be adjusted in the same way.
Reconnect Your Fuel Line
Once the stove is ready for propane you need to reattach the line. If the connection is threaded, it is important to use pipe tape or thread compound to ensure a tight fit. In the case of threaded connections with flare cones inside the female ends, it is best not to use any tape or compound so you don’t damage the integrity of the opening, which can allow fuel to seep through.
The final thing you’ll need to do to convert a gas stove to propane is to test for leaks. One of the easiest ways to do this is to mix a solution of soapy water with about half a cup (118 ml) of water and a drop of ordinary dish soap or hand wash. Apply a small amount of the solution on the propane connection. If bubbles form in the soapy mixture, the connection must be reseated, but if no bubbles appear, the connection is tight. Once this test is complete, it is safe to test the propane stove and ensure that it is working properly.
Both propane and natural gas are highly combustible and can be dangerous to work with. The steps you’ll take to convert a gas stove to propane aren’t necessarily challenging in and of themselves, but missteps, overlooked connections, or leaking valves can lead to a number of bad situations. You could end up with a fuel spill, for instance, or you could create a dangerous condition that could lead to erosion or combustion at some future time. Most experts recommend that you take your time when making the conversion, and ask for help if you aren’t sure you’re doing something correctly.