Complete Guide to LP Regulators – How to Choose the Right Regulator for Your Grill
The BBQ grill is a favoritebackyard appliance of homeowners everywhere. There’s nothing better thanperfectly grilled burgers or steamy, seared steaks to be enjoyed with friendsand family during the summer (or any season, if you’re bold enough).
It takes power, precision, and heat to cook your food to perfection. And if you have a propane gas powered grill, you have the benefit of spot-on temperature control.
Part of your gas grill setup includes an important part called the regulator.Without this, you don’t have proper flow of propane and pressure to your grill.
In this guide, we’ll cover what an LP Gas Regulator is, how it works, and how to choose the right type for your grill.
What is an LP Gas Regulator?
An LP gas regulator (orpropane gas regulator) is the part of your grill that controls the flow of gasfrom the propane tank to the heating appliance. It also serves as a safetybarrier between the heating element and the high-pressure propane tank.
- Controls flow of gas
- Regulates pressure
- Safety feature between propane tank and grill
In other words, the main purpose of the gas grill regulator is tofunnel the propane down to a safe pressure level. Too low and your grill maynot heat up. Too high and there may be a flare up (or worse).
How it Works
The regulator is screwedonto the propane take and controls the flow of gas to the heating element(flame). A higher flow of gas results in a bigger flame and, therefore,more heat. Less gas flow results in a smaller flame and less heat.
The regulator also includessomething called a bypass: a plastic mechanism that shuts off the gas supply ifthere is no pressure in the hose leading from the propane tank. When thishappens, it is likely due to a leak or because a grill burner was left on fortoo long.
Are All Gas Grill Regulators the Same?
Every propane gas grill usesan LP regulator, but not all regulators are created equal. Though the purposeis the same, different types of setups require different types of regulators.The type of regulator a grill needs is based on the specific propaneapplication requirements.
There are many types of gas regulators available including:High-Pressure Regulators,First Stage Regulators,Second Stage Regulators,Integral Twin Stage RegulatorsandAppliance Regulators.
In summary, the saying"a regulator is a regulator" is FALSE.
Typesof LP Gas Regulators
Different types ofregulators are available for different pressure capacities. The requireddownstream of gas is what determines the type of regulator your grill needs.Some grills use multiple regulators to increase efficiency
A regulator capacity is based on BTUs. Whendetermining the regulator you need for you grill (or any LP gas appliance), youneed to know the total BTUs of the appliance or the total BTUs that you areplanning to use with the regulator.
Basic hose and regulator kits are low pressure regulators that will only have a BTU capacity of between 50,000 to60,000 BTUs. This means that any appliances that have a larger rating will notwork with this regulator kit. Grills over 60,000 BTUs (TOTAL) youwill need to go with one of the other regulator options.
That holds true for the same kits that have dual hoses for side burner applications. The kits are generally imported from overseas and do not have a high quality regulator on them. In addition, the hose is clamped onto the end of the regulator making it impossible to replace one piece of the kit. It also opens the door for more failure than connecting your hose and regulator using brass fittings.
First or Single Stage regulators areinstalled at the propane tank and connect to the service valve. A single-stage regulator has a large BTUcapacity, up to 200,000 BTU's. This regulator is best used with larger sizedgrill (those with many burners). The first-stageregulators regulates the fluctuating tank pressure and delivers gas at a lowpressure to the second-stage regulator.
In other words, its only jobis to regulate the gas pressure to an appropriate level so that thesecond-stage regulator can work effectively. Therefore, both the first stageand second-stage regulators need to be properly matched so that the system issafe and works correctly.
Second-stage regulators areinstalled downstream from the first-stage regulator. Its job isn’t to decreasetank pressure but to keep the system safe and functional. It further decreasesthe inlet gas pressure before it reaches the appliance (outlet pressure).
A two-stage regulator is rated to 175,000 BTU'sand is best used on commercial products, as well as grills in the high-endmarket, with brands including Alfresco,LynxandTwin Eagles. This is because these brands manufacture grillsthat are most like commercial quality. Although you could use a single-stageregulator with these grill brands, the two stage is a safer way to go since thesecond stage provides a backup.
In addition, in a built-in setting is necessary to use a stainless steel flex hose vs a rubber hose. This is for safety.
In the below picture you will see the female threaded ends of both the single and two stage regulator. These ends are 3/8 pipe. They will require a male pipe and most often a male flare (for the hose end) fitting. The male pipe end will need LP gas sealant (Yellow NOT white Teflon which is used for water not gas).
Integral Twin Stage Regulators
Integral or inline twin stageregulators are the most commonly used LP gas regulators. They are most used when hooking up multiple appliances.
However, they arenot recommended if there is a long distance between the propane tank and theappliance/building because they won’t be able to supply enough propane over along distance. In that case, you would likely want to use a two-stage system.
High-pressure regulators, asthe name implies, are propane regulators that regulate the high pressurebetween the propane tank and the appliance. These are typically used on fryers, NOT grills.
Red regulators typically signify“high pressure.” They can be used independently appliances where the gas demandis high..
What Type of Gas Grill Regulator Do INeed?
With so many regulatorstypes available, your head may be spinning trying to figure out which option isbest for your grill. Really, it comes down to the BTU requirements of yourgrill over your personal preference.
To determine what type ofgas grill regulator you need, look at the BTUs.
Step 1. Look at the information sticker on your grill. Be sure to add all ofthe BTUs (main burners, rotisserie burner or side burner).
For example, on a Gas Grill, the informationsticker will list the main burner BTUs (this may be in total main burner or perburner). If listed per burner, you must multiply the total # of burners timesthe BTU per burner. If there is a rotisserie burner or a side burner, those arelisted separately, as they generally have a different BTU rating than the mainburners.
As you can see from the below Napoleon Grillexample, the information sticker (located on the back of the cart) shows themain burner BTU per burner. They also give you a total BTU (not allmanufacturers do this). If your manufacturer doesn’tprovide this number, you will need tomultiply the BTU by the number of burners in the grill. You would then have to add the side burner BTU and the rotisserieburner to get the total BTU.
Step 2. If your grill isunder
60,000 BTUs, a simple hose and a basicregulator kit will be sufficient.
Step 3. If your grill isover
60,000 BTUs, then a single or two-stageregulator may be the best option. In the above example, this grill is over60,000 BTUs, so it would not be a good fit for a basic regulator kit.
Step 4. If you have a built-in grill, you will need to use a stainless steelflex hose with your regulator. NO RUBBER hoses shouldbe used in an enclosed and vented cabinet.
We also want to be sure tomention applianceregulators. These regulators are essentially backup regulators and attachto the manifold of the grill and should be on any built-in grill. Keep in mind,you still need a regulator that goes to the tank.
Step 5: Make sure you check the BTU rating of the regulator you arepurchasing. If you need help choosing the right LP gasregulator for your grill, please contactus. We’d be happy to help!
Tip: The safest way to go is by connecting the gas hose and regulator with abrass fitting in a custom hoseregulator kit. This way, if any piece were to go bad, it can be replaced.
In addition, it has less failure than in a "crimped" set up.
Replacing Your Gas Grill Regulator
Say you turn on your grilland realize that it’s not heating above 250 degrees Fahrenheit or so. This islikely due to a low flame caused by a decreased flow of gas. A low flow of gasis likely caused by an LP gas regulator issue.
And since you landed on thisguide, it’s likely that you are either in search of a new regulator or are trying to decide on whether youneed to replace the one you got. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
How OftenDoes My Regulator Need to Be Replaced?
It’s recommended that youreplace your regulator every 15 years.This is because regulators, like any grill part, are prone to wear and tear.Some manufacturers recommend replacement every 20+ years or so, but you willneed to double check with your manufacturer to see if this is the case. Notethat gas regulators cannot and should not be repaired. They need to be replaced.
If it hasn’t yet been 15years but your grill is having issues, it may still be time to purchase areplacement regulator.
Here are somepossible causes of regulator issues:
- Brokenbypass mechanism: a piece called thebypass regulates to flow of gas to the grill. If the bypass automatically shutsoff the gas, this may be due to low pressure and your regulator may need to bereplaced.
- Gas leak: If you are having regulators issues, they may bedue to a gas leak in your hose. To troubleshoot this, shut off the gas andremove the regulator and hose from the propane tank. Spray soapy water around the regulator. Turn on the valve. If there’s a leak, you will see bubbles. Replacethe hose and/or regulator.
- Loose/tightregulator: Regulators are meant tobe removed, tightened, and adjusted by hand. Don’t use a wrench to adjust theregulator, as this can cause damage. Instead, use a lubricant if the regulatorgets stuck.
- Totalreplacement: If you have alreadytroubleshooted the possible issues above to no avail, your regulator likelyneeds to be replaced. Follow the steps in the previous section to find theright regular for your grill, or giveus a call if you need assistance.
Where toBuy a New LP Gas Regulator
Remember, if your LP gasregulator is broken or just isn’t working, it cannot be repaired, onlyreplaced. That means you will need to buy a new regulator kit or regulator system that’s appropriate for your grill (based on the BTUrating).
At The BBQ Depot, we helpgrill owners find the grill parts they need at a price they can afford. Ifyou’re on the hunt for a new regular, visit our website to search for the parts you need or contactus for direct assistance.
LP Regulators – FrequentlyAsked Questions (FAQs)
Have more questions aboutwhat LP gas regulators are, how they work, and how to choose the right one foryou? Check out our FAQ section below.
What is thepurpose of a gas regulator?
Agas regulator regulatesthe flow of gas from your propane tank to the heating mechanism in your grill.It is an essential part of your grill, as it adjusts the gas pressure andserves as a safety mechanism between the tank and the flame.
Do I need a gasregulator?
Every gas grill has a gasregulator to regulate the flow of gas to the appliance. If your gas grill isn’tworking — as in not getting hot enough or not heating up at all — this may bedue to a regulator issue. In which case, you will need to replace (not repair)your gas grill regulator.
What is aBTU?
A BTU, or British ThermalUnit, is a measure of the total heat output of the burners on your gas grill.The BTU rating determines the type of regulator system your grill needs.
Can propaneregulators freeze up?
Yes. When your propane tankis exposed to extreme cold, the pressure in your tank gets lower. This cancause problems, such as the regulator freezing up and not feeding enoughpropane to the appliance.
Why does my grill have little or no flame?
Having little or no flame onyour grill could be due to a variety of issues. The first place to check is theregulator. Look for leaks or broken mechanisms that may be affecting the flowof propane to the flame. If the regulator is broken, it needs to be replaced.
In addition, we did not touch upon appliance regulators. These regulators are essentially back up regulators and attach to the manifold of the grill and are should be on any LP grill that is built in. Keep in mind you still need a regulator that goes to the tank.
If you are unsure, be sure to call us toll free at 877-983-0451
by Tracy Hollander
Check the appliance itself or the original paperwork for guidance. There should be a data plate outlining the required gas throughput and inlet pressure. Check the type of gas you're using. Propane regulator cylinder connections are different from butane regulator cylinder connections, so they're not interchangeable.How do I know if my propane grill regulator is bad? ›
How to Tell if Your Gas Grill's Regulator Is Bad. There are several signs that show that your gas grill's regulator is bad. These include your burners lighting up unevenly, yellow/orange or lazy flames, flames that float above the burner ports, and a popping sound when you turn the gas burners on or off.Are all propane gas grill regulators the same? ›
Every propane gas grill uses an LP regulator, but not all regulators are created equal. Though the purpose is the same, different types of setups require different types of regulators.How many psi should a propane grill regulator be? ›
Typically, on a 70 F day, the propane may have a pressure of approximately 145 psi. To help ensure safe operation of the appliance burner(s), a regulator is provided at the inlet to the appliance to maintain a steady pressure of about 2 psi to the burner(s).How do you calculate regulator size? ›
Use the formula: 0.33 x A1 x P1 = Q1 (does not apply to regulators with filters). A1 = seat orfice area in mm² P1 = inletpressure in bar (a) Q1 = max. flow of air in Nm³/hour through the seat orifice area.How do I choose a regulator? ›
Your ideal choice of regulator depends on your process requirements. For example, if you need to reduce pressure from a high-pressure source before system media reaches the main process, a pressure-reducing regulator will do the job.How do you know if you need a new grill regulator? ›
Your grill will get to lower and lower temperatures over time, even on “high” heat. The main indicator of needing a new regulator is low heat or low flames, especially if it's getting worse over time.Is there a way to test propane regulator? ›
The easiest way to know if a pressure regulator works correctly is to install a pressure gauge on each side of the regulator. You can measure the inlet pressure with a pressure gauge above the regulator, and the outlet pressure with a gauge below the regulator, as shown in the image below.Are gas regulators interchangeable? ›
There are several different types of regulators. The type of regulator required will be determined by the type of LP gas system. They are not interchangeable. Consult with the propane supplier company or a licensed LP gas plumber when buying or installing a regulator.What regulator do I need for propane BBQ? ›
|Gas Bottle||Recommended Regulator|
|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|
Generally, propane pressure should be between 100 and 200 psi to ensure that the liquid propane gas remains in a liquid state. Normally, the pressure inside a propane tank fluctuates slightly based on the outside temperature.What happens when gas regulator fails? ›
Most regulator failures have led to blocking, stopping the flow of gas. In a few cases a diaphragm has ruptured leading to serious leakage. This problem has occurred in a variety of regulator types and on most brands of gas.How do I choose a gas pressure regulator? ›
You must know the desired outlet pressure to select the correct gas regulator. The outlet pressure helps determine the spring requirements, the casing pressure rating, the body outlet rating, the orifice rating and size as well as the regulator size.Are gas regulators universal? ›
Each regulator is designed to fit a specific type of cylinder valve and a regulator that fits one type of valve will not fit any of the others. The valve on Propane cylinders has a screw thread and only accommodates Propane regulators.What size is my gas regulator? ›
|Bottle Size||Regulator Type|
|7kg & 13Kg||21mm Butane|
|7kg & 15Kg||21mm Butane|
|3.9Kg to 47Kg||Standard Propane|
|5kg & 15Kg||27mm Patio Gas|
To obtain the right pressure it is critical to size the gas regulator correctly. If the gas regulator is too large, too much gas can flow into the appliance potentially causing an explosion. If too small, the appliance will not operate efficiently.