What Gas for a BBQ, Propane or Butane

What Gas for a BBQ, Propane or Butane?

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Summer is the perfect time to throw a barbecue whilst enjoying the sun with friends and family.

However, barbecues do not have to be limited to any season, and you can quite easily roast and grill your favourite foods throughout the year as long as you have the right tools, appliances, recipes and of course fuel.

A gas BBQ offers the perfect way to cook, quickly and easily at any time of the year at the drop of a hat. However, when it comes to the right fuel there are several types of gas bottles available so, what gas for a BBQ?

What Gas for a BBQ?

In the UK patio gas is the best gas for a BBQ. Patio gas bottles come in a variety of sizes and is specifically designed for outdoor appliances like BBQs, pizza ovens and patio heaters.

But let’s look at how gas BBQs work and what different types of gas are available.

How do Gas BBQ Grills Work?

Gas BBQs are considered to be a cleaner source of fuel than wood or charcoal and gas also provides more even cooking, resulting in moist, well-cooked food without the production of carcinogenic carbon monoxide.

Gas for a BBQ is supplied through refillable gas bottles. Once connected and switched on, you simply turn the relevant knobs, light the burners and adjust them to allow for even distribution of heat throughout the grill.

For best results, it is best to preheat the grill slightly before use.

What Types of Gas are Used for BBQ Grills

There are two types of gases that are used in BBQ grills, Propane gas, and Butane gas. Both of these gases belong to a class of gases known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). You can identify each type of gas by the type of cylinder they are stored in.

Propane gas is stored in red cylinders or green which is named patio gas while butane is stored in blue cylinders.

What is Butane Gas?

Butane is a hydrocarbon gas that is highly flammable. It is a by-product of the distillation of crude oil and natural gas.

Odourless, colourless, and easily liquefied, it has many applications in both commercial and residential settings.

These include; cigarette lighters, home heating, refrigeration, manufacturing and many others. Butane is also an LPG that is used for cooking, heating or motor fuel.

What is propane gas?

Propane is another LPG that is a by-product of natural gas processing.

Tasteless, odourless and colourless, it often has an identifying odour to it to help with identification. Propane gas has many uses including; engine fuel, heating and cooking, farm irrigation and many others.

Similarities between Butane and Propane

Butane and Propane have several similarities. These include:

  • They are both liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs)
  • They are both by-products of natural gas processing.
  • They are both odourless and colourless highly flammable gases.
  • They are both widely used in cooking and heating.

Differences between Butane and Propane

The main difference between Butane and Propane is their boiling point. Butane’s boiling point is just below freezing at 30.2 F while Propane evaporates at a much lower temperature of -43.6F.

  • Butane has been found to be up to 12% more energy-efficient than propane which means that you will not need to refill your butane gas bottles as often.
  • Butane doesn’t work very well in low temperatures.
  • Propane is a more abundant gas compared to butane.
  • Butane is cheaper than propane.

Propane Vs Butane – Which one is best for my BBQ Grill?

Both Butane and Propane can be used for your BBQ grill. However, Propane is recommended for BBQ use through the patio gas green bottles.

In addition, each type of gas has different benefits when it comes to BBQ.

Benefits of using Propane in BBQ

Propane is the most popular option for BBQ. It has the following benefits:

  • A lot of people have mentioned the taste difference between foods cooked in butane vs. propane barbecue grills. Food apparently tastes better when grilled in propane ovens.
  • Thanks to its extremely low boiling point, Propane can work in even the lowest of temperatures, making it ideal for use all year round and even in places that experience below zero conditions.
  • Propane is the more abundant form of gas so you are likely to find it in places where butane might be in short supply.
  • Propane burns quickly and reaches maximum temperatures fast, ensuring that you can grill your meals as quickly as possible.

Benefits of Using Butane in your BBQ Grill

Butane has its own special benefits when it comes to BBQ. These include;

  • It is cheaper to use than propane.
  • It is more energy-efficient due to the fact that it produces 12% more heat than propane. This also saves you money as you will not need to refill it on a regular basis.
  • Butane is a low toxicity gas which means that it offers a clean form of fuel that has minimal impact on the environment and your health.

Gas Bottle Colours and Uses

Patio Gas normally comes in a green cylinder with red handles. It is the recommended gas to use in BBQs and comes in two sizes 5kg and 13kg.

The 5kg gas cylinders are recommended for single burner BBQs whilst the 13kg are for larger BBQs.

Standard propane cylinders are red in colour and are generally used for large-scale heating and cooking as well as commercial and other heavy-duty activities. Propane cylinders come in a variety of sizes including 3.9kg, 6kg, 13kg, 19kg, and 47kg.

Finally, Butane is stored in blue bottles and is ideal for use in single burner appliances as well as camping-related cooking. Butane cylinders come in 4.5kg, 7kg, and 15kg sizes.

How to choose the right gas bottle for your BBQ?

For most people, the recommended patio gas cylinders will be the best option.

Patio gas bottles are the ideal gas bottle for your BBQ as it is stored in smaller capacities of 5 kg and 10 kg. Patio gas also comes with a regulator and gas use indicator that shows you when your gas is about to run out.

Propane cylinders are not usually used for most BBQs as they need to be connected to it through the use of a high-pressure regulator.

What Size Gas Cylinder do I Need for my BBQ?

Choosing the right gas cylinder depends on a number of factors including the number of gas burners on your BBQ.

For up to 3 burners, Calor Gas recommends you use a 5 kg patio gas bottle. They are also perfect for smaller gardens as they are easy to store, use and carry.

For BBQs with more than 3 burners, Calor Gas recommends that you will require the larger 13kg cylinder.

How Long Does a Gas Cylinder Last on a BBQ

A 13kg Patio Gas Cylinder will last approximately 45 hours on minimum settings. Meanwhile, a 5kg patio gas cylinder will last somewhere in the region of 17 hours at minimum power.

The length of time your gas cylinder will last depends on the number of burners on your BBQ and how often you will be using them so it is important to take this into account as well when choosing a gas bottle.

What is a Gas Regulator?

Every gas BBQ needs a regular. A regulator connects the gas bottle to the BBQ via a hose to facilitate movement. The regulator performs the job of ensuring the safe passage of gas from the cylinder.

For maximum safety, you should always ensure that you use the correct regulator for each type of gas bottle. The regulator prevents too much gas from being sent to the BBQ so it is essential that you follow the recommendations.

There are two general types of regulators, clip-on and screw-in regulators.

Clip-on regulators are generally used on patio gas cylinders and some butane cylinders and are very easy to use. They simply push onto the top of the gas bottle and clip in place.

Screw-in cylinders are used on red propane cylinders and some butane cylinders. These screw into the top of the gas bottle.

It is very important to ensure that you use the correct type of gas and regulator recommended by your gas BBQ manufacturer.

Where To Buy a Gas Regulator

If you’re looking to get a regulator for patio gas, propane gas or butane gas cylinders, then simply click here.


We hope that you have found this article useful and if you want to find out how to connect and disconnect a gas bottle from a BBQ you can do so in our How to Connect and Disconnect a Gas Bottle from a BBQ article.