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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research,
he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Propane gas grills are fast becoming the outdoor appliance of choice for many self-declared grillers and barbecue enthusiasts alike. These alternative grills are seemingly more reliable than ordinary charcoal grills. Moreover, they come with sleek, high-end features that make them far much easier to operate.
One of the reasons why many homeowners prefer propane grills to charcoal grills is that they cook much faster compared to the latter. Besides, they are easier to light since most of them come with auto-ignition switches, and they are easier to refill as well.
So, if you want to enjoy a tasty dish of grilled veggies and pork chops, you can always rely on a propane grill to deliver the perfect meal in a minute.
However, as much as propane grills are fast, versatile and easy to use, they still pose a major threat to your safety. If used inappropriately, your propane grill can explode and cause serious burn injuries or even lead to death.
According to the NFPA, grilling accidents directly account for up to 10,000 house fires every year. Gas-powered grills, including propane grills, cause 90% of these fire incidents.
These alarming statistics lead us to the big question – are propane grills safe?
In this article, we investigate whether propane grills are safe, and we further discuss how to use these popular outdoor appliances safely, for a memorable barbecue experience.
How Propane Grills Work?
If you already have a charcoal grill at home or perhaps, you’ve used one before, then understanding how a propane grill works won’t be a problem at all. Propane grills work just the same way as any other typical grill, but instead of using charcoal or wood, they use liquid propane gas as the main source of fuel.
The simplest propane grill consists of a cooking grate, a burner, a gas regulator, a gas tank and an igniter. Some more advanced grills come with additional parts such as warming grills, grease trays, side burners, heat plates and temperature gauges. Despite the slight differences, all these parts work together to ensure the grill functions optimally.
When you ignite your grill, liquid propane moves from the gas tank through the valves swiftly into the burner. Depending on the design, your grill may have one long burner or several burners spread out across the cooking area. The burner has holes that distribute propane across the grill to ensure even heating.
The good thing about propane grills is that you can control the strength of the flame seamlessly with the turn of a knob. Propane grills come equipped with regulator knobs that allow you to adjust the flow of gas from the tank to the burner. This makes it very easy to increase or decrease the amount of heat the grill produces.
Some propane grills also feature a flame sensor that ignites the grill automatically once the gas reaches the burner, and shuts it off in case there’s no supply of gas. This goes a long way to prevent any accidents and fires caused by leakages.
Unlike charcoal grills, propane grills also come with heat plates located beneath the cooking grate. These plates help minimize flare-ups, and channel excess grease into the drip tray, subsequently extending the life of the burners and your grill.
With all these features at your disposal, you can easily tell that propane grills are extremely safe, and there is no chance of compromising your safety so long as you use it appropriately. However, you should also follow all the needed setup instructions precisely as indicated in the manual to avoid putting yourself and your guests at risk of potential harm.
Is it Safe to Use a Propane Grill Indoors?
Here’s a secret. The beauty of buying a propane grill is that you can safely use this appliances indoors. This makes it possible to transfer your outdoor grilling experience indoors in case of bad weather or if you live in an apartment with no yard for your BBQ party. Besides, propane grills do not release carbon dioxide, so there is no risk of suffocation from inhaling concentrated toxins.
However, you must be wary of indoor grilling since propane grills require adequate ventilation to function optimally. Lack of adequate airflow might cause gas to build up at the bottom, thus increasing the risk of explosion. In addition, you must ensure your indoor space does not have any flammable materials nearby to avoid the risk of causing a fire. If you can get the best insulated grill jacket that you can buy for your indoor grill so that you can provide a buffer space for your nearby furniture.
More worryingly, propane grills tend to release excessive heat and this might not go well if you are using the appliance indoors. The excess heat can be uncomfortable and unbearable and above all, it could cause a fire if you are not careful when using the grill indoors.
Since propane is an invisible gas, any leaks could go unnoticed, and this might increase the risk of gas buildup, explosion or a fire, hence it is always a good idea to stick to cooking outside unless you have no other option.
Why You Shouldn’t Leave the Propane Tank Valve Open?
Just like a gas stove, a propane grill comes with a separate refillable tank that stores the liquefied propane gas. This tank has a valve that you can open and close each time you want to use your grill.
However, since the grill already has control knobs that open and close the burner, many people do not see the point of closing this valve. As much as this is more convenient for everyday grillers, leaving the propane tank valve open could pose a great risk to you and your household.
If your grill does not have a safety lock for your knobs and someone knocks them to the on position by accident, then you are in for a tragedy. A large amount of gas could build up undetected and any open flame or spark could light the grill and cause an explosion.
To avoid compromising your safety, we strongly suggest you turn off the propane tank valve in between uses. This will go a long way to ensure you are safe from any possible dangers.
Possible Reasons Your Propane Grill Could Explode
Propane grills are manufactured with your safety in mind, as all modern grilling appliances should. However, anything and everything could go wrong even with the safest outdoor appliances you could think of. After all, accidents do occur and your propane grill is not an exception to these mishaps.
With that said, here are a few reasons why a propane grill could explode.
The Dos and Don’ts: How to Use a Propane Grill Safely
Cooking using a propane grill can be safe and fulfilling but only if you adhere to basic safety guidelines. It’s worth noting that these safety measures apply across all outdoor grilling appliances. For this reason, it would be important if you comply regardless of whether you are using a propane or charcoal grill. Here are the dos and don’ts of using a propane gas grill.