Gas stoves, ovens, dryers, and other appliances can often be converted from natural gas to propane (also called liquified petroleum gas, LP, or LPG). They come designed to work with natural gas supply lines, but not all homes are supplied by natural gas lines, and some people prefer to use propane tanks.
The name “conversion kit” can be misleading since there’s not actually much to them. It’s a very doable DIY job if you decide to do the conversion, but some may prefer a professional to do it because it does involve flammable gas.
LP conversion means replacing the gas supply orifices (the holes that release fuel into the burner tubes). Conversion kits are specific to each appliance and obtained from the manufacturer. Depending on the appliance and personal comfort level, a professional may be required to install the kit.
Purpose of the LP Conversion Kit
The conversion orifices are brass pieces that screw onto the end of the fuel tube in the gas appliance and have small holes that deliver the right amount of fuel to the combustion or burner tube.
Propane has higher pressure than natural gas, so it needs a smaller orifice. If you connect a natural gas appliance to propane without changing the orifice, there will be too much propane flowing through the hole, and the flames will be too high.
Luckily, conversion kits allow you to replace the natural gas orifice with a correctly sized propane orifice. The appliance can then use only propane unless the orifices are changed back.
Can It Be Used With Any Gas Appliance?
Conversion kits are specific to the model. They are not interchangeable. This also means that you cannot use a gas dryer kit for a gas stove.
Kits are not typically included when you buy an appliance. You have to buy them separately from the manufacturer if it is possible to convert your specific model.
If the manufacturer does not offer a kit, do not attempt to convert it without consulting the company’s technical support team or another trained professional.
People convert many different appliances from natural gas to propane: gas dryers, ovens, and stoves are the most common, but also barbecue grills, cooktops, patio heaters, furnaces, and air conditioners.
In theory, most types of gas appliances can be converted to propane and vice versa.
In practice, not all models allow for conversion. Older appliances were designed to be more flexible, but manufacturers are moving toward designing appliances for only one fuel type.
Components of the Conversion Kits
LP conversion kits contain replacement orifices. Your kit will contain the number of orifices needed for your appliance.
A kit for a stove may contain four or five differently sized orifices marked for different burners, as well as orifices for the oven.
A kit for a dryer will typically contain one orifice and one blocking pin. Depending on what type of valve your model has, you might not use the blocking pin.
Conversion kits are not universal. Each orifice has been tailored to a specific tube. For example, each burner on a stove might require a differently sized orifice and those sizes might not be consistent across models.
The good news is that many manufacturers attach conversion kits to your appliance for future use (not dryers, though).
If you are converting a stove and oven, look on the back of the oven to locate the manual and 4-5 brass pieces, sometimes held in place by a small strap of metal. Alternatively, remove the warming drawer and look in the back left corner underneath the oven.
If the orifices are not marked or you are confused, remember that propane orifices are always smaller than natural gas orifices.
Using the Kit
Conversion kits can be installed as a DIY project.
Homeowners can safely convert appliances like ovens, stovetops, and dryers as long as they follow the manual. However, dryer conversion is more difficult than stove and oven conversion.
That said, it is still advisable to hire a professional when dealing with gas appliances for safety reasons. If the manual instructs you to get professional help, performing a DIY conversion could lead to warranty or insurance issues.
Furnaces should be converted by a licensed contractor. Legally, you can convert your furnace by yourself as long as you arrange for any necessary permits and inspections. However, furnace manufacturers tell owners to hire a licensed professional.
Conversion is reversible. Keep track of the original natural gas orifices and follow the manual to reinstall them.
Consult your manual for more specific instructions. Disconnect electricity and gas from your appliance before proceeding.
Stoves and Ovens
- Convert the gas valve by rotating or flipping the pressure regulator cap, depending on your manual.
- Remove the grate and burner cap and cover. You will see a brass orifice in the center hole.
- Remove the original orifice with a screwdriver and screw in the new propane orifice. Tip: use some masking tape around the end of your screwdriver to prevent the orifice from falling into the burner.
- Change the orifice of the oven burner tube, following the manual.
Removing the orifice can be tricky. Old stoves have rusted or damaged orifices and a magnetic screwdriver does not work with brass. If you drop an orifice inside the burner, you can remove the entire top of the stove for better access.
- Disassemble the front panel following the manual.
- Behind the gas valve, you will see the burner. Remove the screws around the burner and lift it away to expose the orifice.
- Remove the original orifice with a wrench.
- Attach the new propane orifice and reinstall the burner.
- Convert the valve: your manual will tell you to either turn the valve to the propane setting OR remove the regulator vent cap and screw in a new blocking pin (which will come with the conversion kit).
Is It Worthwhile Converting to LP?
Reasons to Make the Conversion
While conversion is a relatively simple process, the decision to convert can be complicated, depending on energy prices and your home’s existing infrastructure.
Propane is twice as efficient as natural gas, meaning that the heat produced by a given quantity of natural gas can be produced by only half that quantity of propane.
Because of its energy efficiency, propane allows your dryer to run hotter, so your clothes will dry more quickly and have fewer wrinkles.
It also means that propane might be a cheaper option, depending on current energy prices where you live. If a gallon of propane costs less than two gallons of gas, it is more cost-effective to switch to propane.
Propane allows you to be more financially strategic and independent. Instead of being stuck with the price your utility company charges for gas, you can shop around for different propane prices and try to purchase more when costs are down.
If you’ve had problems with your utility company, then having control over your energy supply might be appealing.
If your house has no natural gas lines or you have a lot of propane-powered appliances already, it makes sense to convert a new appliance right away and hook it up to the existing propane tank.
Propane is more environmentally friendly. Propane is considered non-toxic if leaked into the air or water, while natural gas is classed as having low toxicity. Unlike natural gas, propane is not considered a greenhouse gas in terms of emissions.
Reasons Against Making the Conversion
If this is your first propane appliance, you need to install a propane tank.
You need to maintain the tank and schedule for refills to be delivered by a propane company. In exchange for more control over your supply, you’re giving up the convenience of natural gas supplied on demand.
While a large tank of propane might make some homeowners uneasy, there are no particular safety concerns associated with propane.
Propane suppliers inspect your tank when they refill it, whereas government bureaucracy can sometimes slow inspections of natural gas lines. Your propane tank might be better maintained than local gas lines.
The main reason not to convert an appliance to propane is if you don’t want to install a propane tank. If you don’t intend to convert multiple appliances to propane in the future, it does not make sense to convert only your dryer.
An exception to this guideline is smaller, more portable appliances. Maybe you have a natural gas grill that you want to move somewhere without hooking it up to gas lines. In that case, a small propane tank and an LP conversion can help.