Summer is here (sort of), so naturally our thoughts turn to the outdoors, to long lazy afternoons enjoying the garden, to cooking juicy steaks on the BBQ. Whether you’ve just invested in a new gas BBQ grill or you’re pulling your existing one out of storage, you’re probably in need of a fresh gas bottle. But what gas is right for your BBQ? Keep reading to discover the answer to these question and more.
What type of gas do I need for my BBQ?
Gas BBQs use a type of gas known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
There are two different types of LPG; butane and propane. You can instantly tell these two types of gas apart as butane gas is stored in blue cylinders while propane gas is stored in red cylinders. Although propane gas is sometimes sold in small green bottles under the name ‘patio gas’.
What is the difference between butane and propane gas?
Gas is just gas right? Nope! There’s a big difference between butane and propane gas.
Butane gas is mainly used for camping, single burner cooking appliances and indoor portable heaters. Butane has a boiling point of -2ºc and tends to be a bit cheaper than propane.
Propane gas is mainly used as a commercial heating and large appliance fuel (such as heating and cooking in catering vans or on BBQs). Propane has a boiling temperature of -42ºc, so is suitable for use all-year-round. Propane is ideal if you’re intending to use your BBQ or appliance in very cold temperatures.
Either type of gas can be used on a BBQ, however propane tends to be the most popular choice.Beyond these distinctions, there are various benefits to each type of gas which we have detailed below.
What are the benefits of using butane gas for BBQs?
Butane gas has a number of benefits when using it with a gas BBQ. These benefits include:
- Efficiency in warm weather – if you’re going to be BBQing in warm weather (that’s the best time for a BBQ right?!) then butane gas is a very efficient fuel source. On the flip side, if you decide to do some outdoor cooking during winter then butane won’t flow well in low temperatures.
- Low toxicity – butane is a very clean burning gas, so if you’re keen to use a fuel source that has a small impact on the environment, then butane makes the perfect choice.
- Quick and effective burn– with butane you don’t have to go through a laborious process to get it lit and burning. Butane gas lights instantly and reaches its maximum heat output almost as quickly, so if you want to get cooking as soon as possible, choose butane gas as your fuel source.
- Cost effective– butane tends to be the cheaper option when it comes to BBQ gas, so if you’re looking to save money, butane should be your fuel of choice.
- Energy efficient– if you’re looking for a fuel source that’ll give you maximum heat for your money, then butane is head and shoulders above propane. Butane typically produces 12% more energy than propane for the same volume of gas burnt. So, if you’re a regular BBQ user, stock up on the butane gas!
- Easy to use – using butane gas is really easy. To get started, all you need to do is attach the gas bottle to your BBQ, allow the gas to run through to the appliance and then hit the ignition switch. Easy!
What are the benefits of using propane gas for BBQs?
Propane gas also has a number of distinct benefits when using it with your BBQ. These benefits include:
- All year round operation– perhaps the biggest benefit of using propane gas is that it will work all-year-round with no problems. That’s because of its boiling temperature of -42ºc. This means that if you’re a regular BBQer even in the depths of winter, propane can keep you cooking on!
- Instant and efficient burn– as with butane, propane gas gets to work quickly. Propane lights instantly and reaches its maximum heat output soon after. So, if you want a quick, convenient and easy way of cooking on your gas BBQ, propane is an excellent choice.
- Ease of use – again, like butane, propane gas is an easy to use fuel source. Simply connect the gas bottle to your BBQ, allow the gas to reach the appliance, hit the ignition switch and you’re cooking on gas!
- Taste – this is a slightly odder benefit, but there are some people who argue that food cooked on butane fuelled BBQs doesn’t taste as nice as food cooked on propane fueled BBQs. We’ll let you use your own judgement on this, as everyone’s taste buds are different…
What type of gas bottle should I use with my BBQ?
As well as deciding what type of gas you should use with your BBQ, you will also need to think about what type of gas bottle you want to use. There are a number of different types of gas bottles that you can use with your BBQ.
Patio gas bottles
Gas is available in small ‘patio bottles’. These are specifically designed for use with outdoor appliances such as BBQs. Patio gas bottles are generally filled with propane gas.
They are also designed to be compatible with regulators (more on these later), which make it easy to connect the gas bottle to your BBQ. Some brands of patio gas will also include an indicator on the side of the bottle, which will tell you how much gas is remaining in the bottle.
Patio gas bottles are typically smaller than other types of gas bottles. It’s possible to buy 5kg patio gas bottles that can sit underneath your BBQ or within your BBQ’s storage area. If you’re looking for a bit more gas, then it is possible to buy patio gas bottles up to 13kg in size.
You may find that some patio gas bottles are green rather than the red or blue described above. Green patio gas bottles will use a clip-on regulator as opposed to the screw-on regulators used by other types of propane gas bottle/cylinder.
Propane gas cylinders
These are the larger gas bottles that you may have seen on industrial estates. These larger gas bottles are used to contain propane rather than butane and are available in a wide variety of sizes from 3.9kg right through to enormous 47kg cylinders.
Large propane gas cylinders are not generally recommended for use with BBQs. If you do want to use one of these cylinders with your BBQ then you would need to use a screw-on high-pressure adjustable propane regulator.
How much gas do I need for my BBQ?
It can be difficult to know how much gas you need for your BBQ. You certainly don’t want to be running out half way through cooking for friends and family…How much gas you will need depends on how many burners your BBQ has. If you have an average sized gas BBQ grill with between one to three burners, then a 5kg patio gas bottle will be fine.
If, however, you’ve got a larger BBQ with four or more burners, it’s recommended that you should buy at least a 13kg bottle. Larger gas BBQs can be quite ‘hungry’, especially if you’re using them regularly, so it can make sense to have at least one bottle in reserve as well as the one connected to the BBQ.
What is a gas regulator for a BBQ?
A gas regulator is a small device which connects your gas bottle, via a hose, to your BBQ.
BBQs are generally not supplied with a gas regulator. This is because there are a huge range of different gas bottles on the market, so it would be impossible for BBQ manufacturers to include every type of regulator with their appliances.
Why do I need a gas regulator for my BBQ?
Gas regulators are there to keep you safe. A regulator controls the flow of gas from the bottle, through the hose, to your BBQ. Without a regulator, you would run the risk of letting too much gas reach your BBQ at once, with dangerous consequences.
There is one caveat to this however. You won’t need to use a regulator if you have a High-Pressure BBQ. This is because this type of BBQ is designed to connect directly to the gas bottle via a threaded connection. High-Pressure BBQs are designed to receive a much higher flow of gas and as a result, don’t require a gas regulator.
Common types of gas bottles and their regulators
If you’re not too sure what type of regulator you will need for your gas bottle, we have created a handy table below which lists some of the most common types of gas bottle on the market and their compatible regulators.
Gas Bottle Type
Suggested Gas Regulator
Calor Gas Butane 4.5kg
Butane Screw-On Regulator 28mbar
Calor Gas Butane 7kg, 15kg or Flogas yellow cylinders
Butane Clip-On Regulator 28-30mbar
Campingaz R901, R904 or R907
Campingaz Regulator 28mbar
Flogas Butane blue cylinders
Butane Clip-On Regulator 20mm
Calor Gas or Flogas Propane 3.9kg, 6kg, 6kg lite, 13kg, 19kg, 47kg
Propane Screw-On Regulator 37mbar
Calor Gas Patio Gas 5kg, 13kg, BP Gas Light or Flogas Leisure (Green) cylinders
Propane Clip-On Regulator 27mm, 37mbar