Understanding Gas Appliance Conversions Making changes to an appliance so that it can utilize a different fuel is known as appliance conversion and involves the replacement of gas orifices, burners and/or appliance regulators. These internal connections and gas utilization fittings are designed to work with a particular gas that has a specific pressure. Natural gas is a much lower pressure gas than propane and converting the appliance to one or the other gases requires that the differing pressure is compensated for.
In other words, connecting a natural gas appliance to a propane piping system will result in appliance malfunction and possibly danger. The reason for this is because natural gas orifices are larger than propane orifices strictly because of gas service pressure. In this case, the higher pressure gas flowing through a larger orifice will result in more gas through the burner and likely, more flame.
..an unnecessarily large flame. Conversely, trying to use a propane appliance with natural gas will likely result in a very small flame or no burner flame at all because of the lower pressure gas and the smaller orifice. This is the underlying purpose of an appliance conversion from propane to natural gas or from natural gas to propane. Additionally, appliances cannot be converted from electricity to propane, or vice-versa.
Conversions Between Natural Gas and Propane Appliances can be converted only if they are listed as such or can be safely converted by a licensed gas/appliance technician. Most appliances available today are designed to use only one fuel such as propane or natural gas (as pictured below). As mentioned in the above warning label picture, the rating plate should be checked for the type of gas the appliance is designed for.
Gas appliances that are purchased through a retailer will be labeled as such for use with either natural gas or LP Gas. Appliances designed for use with propane will often be labeled "LP" while "NAT" indicates natural gas. Water heaters, ovens, ranges and heaters that are able to be converted to one gas from the other are labeled accordingly and will most likely come with a conversion kit in the appliance packaging.
However, appliance conversions and conversion kits are increasingly being limited to stoves purchased as new. Also, if the appliance is able to be converted for use with another fuel (LPG or natural gas), the packaging should clearly say so. Gas Appliance Conversions - What's Involved The conversion of any gas appliance to another fuel involves not only replacing the orifices (fixed and pilot), but the replacement of appliance regulators, burners and possibly the venting as well.
Appliance conversions these days are not as simple and straightforward as they used to be, if the appliances are able to be converted at all. Historically, most all appliances could be converted from natural gas to propane and vice-versa but the the gas appliances manufactured today are engineered (by professional engineers) to be used with one type of fuel as specified by the manufacturer for dedicated fuel use.
In other words, most all gas appliances are built to use either propane or natural gas and are not designed to be converted or modified for use with another fuel. The topic of converting appliances has been a problematic issue for the propane industry because of the "do it yourself" consumers who believe that switching or drilling out an orifice constitutes an appliance conversion. If an appliance is to be converted for use with another gas (natural or LP), then several other factors must be addressed including: Appliance Regulator - Differences between natural gas and propane appliance regulators involve inlet and delivery pressures.
The wrong type of gas appliance regulator would deliver pressure either too high or too low for the use of the appliance. It would be similar to watering a plant with a high pressure fire hose or watering your yard with a hose with a diameter of a guitar string. Regulators of any type should be changed, serviced or converted by a licensed professional...regulators are "hands off" in any part of a gas system.
Burners - Orifices on a burner function in unison with the delivery pressure supplied by the regulator and can lead to incomplete combustion if improperly sized. Burners can also damage an appliance if the conversion requires larger or smaller orifices be in place on/around the burner. Burner Air Shutter - Air and gas are mixed at the this point before entering the burner and are used to adjust the flame condition.
With varying types of primary air shutters, this essential air/gas mixing mechanism must be of the proper type and must be adjusted properly so that complete combustion occurs. In truth, it would be cheaper to buy a new appliance than to try and properly convert one that is designed for use with either propane or natural gas. Even if appliance conversion kits are available for certain equipment, the conversion should be handled by licensed technicians so that all necessary adjustments can be made prior to placing the converted appliance into operation.
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As a result of a move, you may have an appliance that you need to convert from natural gas to LPG or from LPG to natural gas. Can this be done and what is involved? LPG & Natural Gas Appliance Conversion Facts In summary: • LPG (propane) and natural gas (methane) appliances are not interchangeable — they must be converted. • Natural gas and LPG appliances operate at different pressures, with 1.
1 kPa and 2.75 kPa, respectively. • LPG requires an air (oxygen) to gas ratio of approximately 25:1 whilst natural gas is 10:1, for proper combustion. • LPG has a higher energy content than natural gas, with 93.2MJ/m3 vs 38.7MJ/m3. • Manufacturers typically provide kits with the parts and instructions required to convert from one gas to another. • Gas appliances conversions should only be done by qualified technicians or licensed gas fitters.
Please read more for all of the details about gas appliance conversions… LPG & Natural Gas are Not Interchangeable Your gas appliances are manufactured for use with only one gas and will not work safely with the other gas. Never attempt to connect a gas appliance to the wrong type of gas, as it can be extremely hazardous. A bit of background information is helpful. There are two main differences in the way that LPG (Propane) and natural gas (Methane) are burnt.
They Have a Different Energy Content The first difference is in the energy content. LPG has a higher calorific value, or energy content, so less gas is required to produce the same amount of heat. LPG Requires More Oxygen The second difference is in the oxygen to gas ratio required for proper combustion. LPG requires an oxygen to gas ratio of approximately 25 to 1. Natural gas requires a ratio of around 10 to 1.
To achieve this difference, LPG is typically provided in a smaller quantity but at a higher pressure, drawing more oxygen with it into the burner. What is Involved in Conversion So, to convert from one gas to another, the two most common alterations are the sizing of the gas injector and the adjustment of pressure. Gas Injector or Jet For LPG, the gas injector or jet would just have a smaller aperture hole to reduce the amount of gas introduced into the burner.
Alternatively, a natural gas injector (jet) would have a larger opening. This is not as simple as it may sound. As an example of the complexity involved, the accompanying image shows just some of the internal components of a Rinnai gas heater and the four gas jets (Item 6) that require changing on this particular model. Different Incoming Pressure A natural gas appliance requires a pressure of 1.
1 kPa while an LPG appliance requires 2.75 kPa. This is controlled by the gas regulator that feeds the gas into your home. Internal Pressure Adjustments An appliance being converted must be adjusted for this different incoming pressure. Internal pressure adjustments can be made by either mechanical or electronic means, depending on the make and model of the appliance. Mechanical adjustments are typically achieved by changing the strength of the spring that controls the pressure.
Electronic adjustments are usually made by just changing the settings on the electronic control board. Original Design Must Allow for Both Gases The manufacturer must have allowed for the changeover in the original design, with the appliance being tested and certified to use both gaseous fuels. Depending on the appliance, there may be other parts that require changing, in addition to the gas injectors.
Among these can be the burners themselves, dampers, aeration sleeves and air baffles. Product labelling must also be changed. Most manufacturers sell the parts required for conversions of their more recent certified models. You should contact the manufacturer to enquire about the availability of conversion parts. Use of Qualified Technicians In some states, the gas fitter may also need a conversion endorsement, in addition to their regular gas fitter license.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to convert the appliance yourself or allow an unqualified person to do it for you. Contact the Manufacturer In all cases, you should consult with the manufacturer regarding the viability and requirements for gas appliance conversions. In some cases, conversion parts may be unavailable or it may be more cost effective to just purchase a new appliance.
If you find yourself in this situation, please see: Comparing New Gas Appliance Prices Compare the cost of a new appliance, versus converting, with prices for Rinnai, Bosch, Rheem, Paloma, Everdure, Braemar, Cannon and more... Gas Heater Prices Gas Hot Water Prices Gas Cooking Prices Special Gas Heater Deals View More LPG Gas Blogs Comments, questions or feedback? Please Email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots.