A natural gas barbecue operates on the same type of gas as the typical home gas oven. Unlike the traditional gas grill that uses liquid petroleum (LP) gas that is available in small, portable tanks, the natural gas barbecue uses gas from a utility supplier that is plumbed directly into the barbecue. The natural gas barbecue is typically mounted permanently to a deck, porch or patio and is not usually intended to be moved from the mounting location.
The use of a natural gas barbecue is often a year-round occurrence. For the homeowner who enjoys cooking over an open flame on a barbecue grill, a stationary grill is often a welcome addition to a backyard or patio. While some natural gas barbecue designs are very similar to the portable LP gas barbecue prevalent at many homes, some natural gas units are made of brick or a similar stone material and built to resemble the traditional charcoal barbecue pit. The advantage the gas barbecue holds over the charcoal version is the instant hot action of the gas burner, as well as the elimination of any charcoal residue or ashes. The advantage the natural gas version has over the LP version is the ability to operate without a tank running out of gas.
A seemingly endless supply of gas is not, however, the only advantage the natural gas model has over the LP-type of barbecue. The natural gas grill uses gas that is commonly billed for on a monthly utility bill. This billing can make the natural gas barbecue seem nearly free to operate as the total of the barbecue grill gas rarely shows as an increase in a homeowner's monthly billing statement. Since the natural gas version of the barbecue is permanently constructed, a quality cover is usually used to prevent rain, snow and other weather-related matter from damaging the unit. Sun can also damage the finish of the barbecue if it is left exposed and uncovered for long periods of time.
Natural gas often contains less moisture than LP gas, resulting in longer-lasting gas burners. LP gas grill burners can rust through in as little as a single barbecuing season, while the natural gas burners can commonly last much longer. LP gas can also be affected by temperature and the cold weather can make the gas flow more slowly than in the heat of summer. The natural gas barbecue, on the other hand, is typically not significantly affected by temperature changes.