Even though natural gas and propane are both fossil fuels they have very different properties. Ensuring that your appliance has the appropriate setup for the right type of gas is vital since propane is delivered at a much higher pressure than natural gas.
Trying to run an appliance intended for natural gas on higher-pressure propane could be hazardous as the much larger natural gas orifice would produce an unnecessarily large flame that could be dangerous.
Orifices are brass fittings that come into various hole sizes and fit into the burner valve and the orifice at each burner is the component responsible for the amount of gas that flows into the burner.
Most natural gas appliances can be converted to propane fairly easily, some of them even have a conversion kit included with the appliance. Not all of them, however, can be converted, so it is a good idea to check with the manufacturer or consult a certified technician to ensure that converting a particular model is advisable or not.
If it is, find out the specific instructions for your make and model, making sure you understand them and follow them step by step.
Getting Ready to Do a Conversion
1. Read Up
Get the owner’s manual to find out if your project is possible, or consult the manufacturer to find out the possibilities for conversion to propane. You can also talk to a certified service technician on the subject and find out which conversion kit would best be suited for your stove make and model.
2. Disconnect Stove
Since this is a conversion job, the stove shouldn’t normally be hooked up or plugged in yet, but if it was an existing installation already where you are disconnecting from the natural gas provider to change the installation to feed on a propane tank, you should disconnect the stove from the gas line and unplug it from its electrical outlet before beginning the conversion.
So pull the stove away from the wall and turn off the gas supply line to the appliance by shutting off the ball valve, then disconnect the stove’s gas line fitting from it. Also, unplug the stove from its electrical outlet.
3. Remove Back
Remove the cover from the back of the stove and check for the conversion kit that is sometimes provided by the manufacturer. It would be a common practice for the kit to be stored inside the stove. If there isn’t one, purchase a conversion kit as suggested to you in step 1.
Starting the Actual Natural Gas to Propane Conversion
4. Remove Burner Grate and Caps
Next, remove the burner grate, the burner caps from the stovetop. Some gas ranges might have the burner caps bases secured with screws. Remove the burner cap bases from the range top.
5. Check Burner Tubes
After all those parts are removed, Check to see how the burner tubes are secured to the stove. If they’re screwed into the lift top, remove the screws to release the burner tubes so that they don’t hold the lift top down.
6. Open the Top
With the lift top now ready to be raised, slide the thin flat blade of a putty knife between the top and the base of the range and slide along the front until you come against a retaining clip.
Pull the putty knife slightly and place it in front of the clip, applying forward pressure against the clip while lifting up on the top until it lets go and disengages itself from the appliance.
More clips can be found around the perimeter of the top. They can all be located in the same manner as they must all be disengaged in the same way as the first clip was.
7. Remove the Top
You can now lift up on the range top to remove it completely out of the way or propped open on its hinges at the back—the fastening system varying in design for different stove models—thus exposing the piping and the burners along with some electrical components.
8. Remove Burner Tubes
With all that out of the way, inspect the burner tubes installation carefully to find out exactly how they are secured to the stove. With the proper screwdriver or other tools, you can now proceed to remove the natural gas burner tubes and their orifices from the top cavity of the stove.
9. Replace Hoses
Since propane operates under greater pressure than natural gas, it might be a good idea to consider replacing the hoses, especially if the stove is older. In this case, they should be replaced at this point in the installation. A certified service technician could offer you guidance for this substitution and getting the right parts.
Replacing the Parts
10. Install Propane Orifices
Install the new propane orifices into the burner valve, making sure they’re tightened securely in place.
11. Change Pilot Orifice
If your gas stove is equipped with a pilot light, you will also need to change the orifice for the pilot. This is done by unscrewing the nut attaching the pilot tube to the pilot assembly and removing the tube. You can then simply swap the natural gas pilot orifice for a propane one and reassemble everything together.
12. Remove Door
From the owner’s manual, check the procedure to remove the oven door from the range. Open the oven door and follow the instructions supplied in the owner’s manual—as the method differs for a lot of makes and models—and remove the door from the range.
13. Remove Oven Burner Covers
With open access to the inside of the oven cavity, proceed to remove the burner cover plate(s) from the bottom of the oven. This will uncover and expose the piping, burner, and igniter.
14. Replace Oven Burner Components
With the burner assembly exposed to view, repeat steps 8, 9, 10, and 11 to convert the oven’s components from natural gas to propane gas.
Finishing Up and Final Adjustments
15. Check Internal Connections
Make sure all necessary connections are done properly between the shut-off ball valve and the propane tank outside.
16. Connect to Gas
Connect the appliance’s gas line to the shut-off valve of the propane gas, and plug in the 120 volts cord to the outlet behind the stove, making sure it is powered.
17. Adjust Air Shutter
You should expect to have to adjust the burner air shutter since it controls the ratio of fuel to air and, therefore, is used to adjust the flames. Fine-tune the flames to obtain a nice blue flame.
18. Replace Covers and Door
Replace the range’s back cover, the oven’s cover plates, and the oven door in place. The range top and all of its accessories can be put back in place onto the range and the range pushed back in its place against the wall.
19. Adjust the Burners
The next step consists of adjusting the simmer setting on each burner. Failing to do this step will end up with your simmer winding up into a rolling boil!
Light all the surface burners on the appliance on a setting higher than on low.
Turn the knob to be adjusted on Low, then pull off the knob.
This step requires a thin miniature flat-blade screwdriver to be inserted into the hole at the center of the valve shaft.
Rotate the screwdriver to adjust the flame to its proper size.
Replace the knob onto the shaft and test the flame for its stability.
Once you’re satisfied with the flame’s adjustment, you need to repeat all those same steps for each of the surface burners.
20. Change the Information
Finally, replace the tag on the equipment that specifies the fuel used so it reflects the conversion.
A final word of caution—if you have any doubt about your skills while doing the conversion, do not hesitate to call a certified service technician.