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Virco - Natural Gas?

Posted by minfinger (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 10, 02 at 12:02

I saw someone say that there was a kit for the Natural Gas hook up. Does it allow the unit to still be some what mobile for cleaning? What's the cost difference, other than having to go to the store to get new gas?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

You can get the NG conversion kit from Virco Associates for $50 plus $7 shipping. Mine came in about a week. Then if you have a NG stub you can go to Home Depot and get a NG grill hook up kit for about $37. I had to buy a couple of reducers to get down from the stub's 3/4" pipe to the kit's 3/8" pipe size. The hose has a quick connect that hooks into the fitting you hooked up to the NG line. Then hook the other end of the hose up to your grill. Make sure you use pipe dope for gas or gas tape on all of your fittings and also check all connections with soapy water.

Total cost to convert from LP to NG approximately $100.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

The savings are excellent though. The average cost is about $1.00 to $1.50 per hour to run LP. (Depending on BTU, cost of LP, etc..) The average cost for NG is about $0.40 per hour so it will pay for itself pretty quick, depending on how often you grill. Also, of course the convenience of never worrying about running out of LP. (Unless you don't pay your gas bill haha) But at least with the Virco, you can always convert it back to LP if you move or whatever. This was one feature I really liked about this model. (Not having to permanently drill anything out) Plus the NG hose that you buy from the "Depot" is 12 feet long, so it does give you some flexibility. Good luck.

bsbbq


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

FYI FWIW: Another way to look at this is that a 20 pound
tank of Propane is about 420,000 BTU (this is talked about
in various threads) ... and Natural Gas is almost certainly
billed in Therms (which is 100,000 BTU).

It costs me about $13 to refill by Propane Tank ...
whereas (with taxes/etc.) it's about 50 cents/Therm for NG.

So you basically are saving about $10/tank of Propane.

alek


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

So how much does it cost for the conversion kit?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

How hot are you able to get your Virco using Natural Gas? Im only able to get about 450 degrees. I may need a bigger gas line running out to the unit.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

you should be able to generate as much heat as you need from a standard 1/2" pipe stub with the normal 5/16" inside diameter line that runs to your grill. This is the same 5/16" ID. as is the inside of the pipe that your line hooks up to on the grill itself. As long as you are this size or larger you should be fine. Also, you should not need a regulator for NG. What size pipe are you running now? Do you have a regulator?

bsbbq


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I talked to Virco and they said the maximum temperature I should see with natural gas is about 450. Which is about what I get. I have a 3/8 copper coming off the main 5/16" gas line. I'm not using a regulator.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

What is the phone number you guys called to order your Natural Gas conversion kit?

Just picked up one of these Virco grills tonight and it is sitting in the garage unopened. I didn't want to open the box until I get it to the deck in the back yard (easier to move in the box).

I want to place an order for the Gas conversion immediately so that I can begin using it soon.

Does the grill come with a propane tank?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

No propane tank, but the number is an 800 number right on the front of the grill.

bsbbq


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

You can also try going to a local BBQ store and buy the correct size drill bit and drill out each orifice. Really the Natural Gas conversion kit is a duplicate to each orifice already in the grill with a larger size orifice.

If I were doing it all over again I would save the $50 and just drill a larger size orifice (5) total. Either way your going to have to pull all the orifices out of the unit so you can try the drill route first.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

aakin - I'm sending you an email with the phone numbers. I'm sure you already have it by now, but just in case...


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I spoke to a rep from Virco earlier about ordering the Natural Gas conversion and they told me that they are out of stock and do not expect to get any for about 2 weeks. And then it will take about another week to get it to me.

I am dissipointed. I know this can be the case with any grill manufacturer but after having received excellent service from Costco I guess my expectations were higher.

No choice but to wait. Has anyone heard differently form them?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

You know, I have seen only good listing on this forum for this grill. Which is a good thing but..... is there any negative remarks out there about this grill? I plan on picking one up, but just can't pull the trigger. Well, as of today that is. Thx


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I wouldn't trade it. Think of it this way - you can spend a couple hundred on a grill and plan on replacing it after a few years use. This grill is stainless and is going to last a long, long time. You could buy three sunbeams or charbroils for the price of one VIRCO. As hot as this grill is, if you didn't like it you could probably sell it.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I went to a local propane fillup gas place and they told me they can convert my grill from propane to natural gas. I need to take the stuff to them to do the drilling though. Cost is $25. Could someone provide specific instructions on how to take the things apart? Thanks


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I would be careful doing that if I were you. First of all, you can get the conversion kit from Virco for only $50.00 this includes new valves and orifices for all five burners. The nice thing about this is if you ever want to go back to LP, you can. Second, you still need a gas line to your grill so there is the same expense there. The kit comes with instructions I am told, as well. The kit also does not void the warranty. The problem with just drilling out the orifices, (assuming that is all they would do), is that some of these new grills have different valves for LP and for NG, to allow for different flow rates. It is a little more involved. Plus, you can really fine tune the BTU's by measuring the gas pressure at your grill and using some tips from others to get the optimum flame. Try the following link and good luck. It is for a different grill, but it will give you an idea of what I mean by fine tuning.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.komar.org/bbq/mm/convert/dannos.html


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Actually, it really is not that hard to convert - I just
did my Member's Mark ... and if you drill out the orifices
*AND* the valves, you are ready to rock-n-roll. The orifices
"control" the HIGH setting ... and once you enlarge the
LOW setting on the control valves, it operates the same.

MM doesn't offer a conversion kit, so when you do this,
it is basically a one-way trip (although I guess you could close up the holes a bit) ... so bsbbq is exactly
right in that if you ever wanted to go back, having the
original set of valves/orifices is nice.

I haven't had time to upload the pictures/how-to ...
but if you check this URL in a few weeks:
http://www.komar.org/bbq/mm/convert/
I should have added the pictures & commentary that shows
and tell you exactly how to do this on the Member's Mark.
And it should be VERY similar on the Virco.

Since you have to replace the orifices/valves anyway;
the additional step of drilling a few more holes isn't
that much if you are so inclined ... but I'm sure doing
it yourself on the Virco will void your warrenty there
and there is something to be said for getting the "right"
stuff from the manufacturer.

alek

P.S. Just to add to BSBBQ's comment about the gas line;
if you don't have one in place, this will be your major
expense.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

qmanq -

If you e-mail me I'll send you the instruction sheet from Virco on the parts that need to be replaced for the conversion.
You could always drill out the orifices and if there's a problem just order a new set from Virco.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Great advices and info/websites. I don't think I'll go back to LP once I convert over to NG. Just like Matt said, worse case is to order a conversion replacement kit. I am building a swimming pool in the back yard so I'll have a 3/4" gas pipe stub off to the side. Thought about doing this myself but if the shop can do it for $25, this will be cheaper than me getting a $50 drill bit set...or a $50 replacement kit (unless the shop screwed up). I think they will also throw in a 12 ft flex gas line to connect between the grill and the pipe. Great to know that it is easy since I only need to drill orifices and valves. The more info I learn from you fine folks, the easier it is for me to enjoy my grill.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

The natural gas conversion kit includes all new valves and new jet bodies for the side burner and rear burner. It's not just a matter of drilling out the old jets. I wouldn't even attempt it; I'd get the conversion kit, while it's still available. At $50 it's quite reasonable.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Just got my conversion completed. Hit 450' on the hood thermometer in about 10 minutes, but a glass oven thermometer inside up on the warming rack registered 550'. I would bet it was at least 600 down on the grates if not more! Pretty blue flames at all settings and still runs at low nicely! This is with the factory orifices in the conversion kit which are 1.70 mm. That converts to .067" which is a size #51 drill equivelant. Based on a chart at (http://www.icscparts.com/terms_tech/gasburn_chart.asp) that means that I am only producing about 16K per burner, but at these temps I am VERY satisfied. I think if I left it on high longer, it would have reached 600+ at the grates easily. I am at 4500 feet above sea level here in Salt Lake, so I am not sure how to calculate loss of air at this altitude. I am hoping that Alek may have some input on this though. According to the same chart, if I went to a size #48 (.076") I could get 20740 BTU! All of this is based on Alek's handy, dandy manometer that I copied, showing me 7" of pressure with nothing on.

I am thinking though, that if I were to increase the orifice size, I might start getting orange tips on my flames. I read some other posts where people have had problems not being able to get nice blue flames and Virco sent them smaller orifices for LP. It seems to me that would indicate not enough air or, high altitude. I don't know if the latter is true, but if it is, then I would probably have the same issue if I went to larger ones than I have now at my elevation. It gets plenty hot for me so I am not going to change it though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Orifice Chart


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

If you look at the LP and NG valves side by side the only difference is the size of the orifice. The parts are identical otherwise.
If I had to do it over I probably would have just drilled the orifices to accommodate NG.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas - Too drill or not to drill?

Actually Matt, I am not sure about that. I got Virco to just send me the orifices at first and I could not get my grill as hot as I would have liked, and the burners would not stay lit on low. I called them back and bought the NG valves and just got those replaced tonight. Now, they stay on at low nicely and I get plenty of heat with blue flames. So, I have to assume, (All else being equal) there must be some internal difference between them, because that is all that I changed. It makes sense too, why else would they sell you new valves if they didn't have too? I mean, I believe in profits, but....

I do agree with you though that with the valves sitting side by side, I could not see any difference either. Just the same, I think you are better off buying the kit rather than having gone through what I just did and having to take all of that apart twice.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Thanks BBSQ for that info. I don't see the value in monkeying around drilling out orifices or doing only half the conversion when working with something as dangerous as explosive gas. A $50 kit is no guarantee that you'll do it right, but it's a step in the right direction.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

I was under the assumption that one would get more heat with a natural gas setup over the propane. Is this true or not?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Well, for me it is because I was never able to completely get rid of my orange flames, and blue flames are hotter. Now that I have converted I am able to get 600 at the grates and I KNOW I am not producing 20K BTU at each burner, because of the orfice size. That's ok though, this baby gets HOT!
I have heard of people using smaller orifices, than factory, for LP and were able to achieve nice blue flames as well. I think alot of it has to do with altitude. I am at 4500 feet and one of those posters that had changed to smaller orifices was also at a higher elevation. I think the bottom line still remains that as long as the grill does what YOU want it to do, I think that's what counts.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

No, one does not necessarily get more heat with NG or propane. It would all depend on the design of the grill and the valves/jets.

Technically, propane gas contains 2.5 times the energy per unit volume as natural gas. That's due to the chemical structure of each gas. Propane is C3H8. Natural gas is methane and has the structure CH4. Energy is derived from splitting the carbon-hydrogen bonds in both gasses, and the carbon-carbon bonds in the propane molecule. Thus, propane molecules have more energy locked into them than methane molecules, per molecule.

However all this doesn't mean that a propane burner will put out more BTU's than a NG burner. That's because the burner must be set up for each gas. Propane needs smaller orifices than NG for the same BTU burner. Also, since propane is delivered under higher pressure than NG, a propane appliance needs a regulator to lower the pressure to a safe level.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

bsbbq or anyone,
I am about to order the NG conversion kit. Am I to understand that with NG there is no yellow/orange flame? I originally adjusted the grill and alleviated the flame problem. After installing a new tank, I notice the return of yellow. I am too lazy to adjust it again. Will this problem disappear with NG? Please do not answer technically--it is Chinese to me.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

zbull,
I can only give you my experience. I too had excessive yellow flames with LP. Even after adjusting the venturis open all the way there was still some yellow tips, but it didn't seem to affect the cooking any. I had read some posts from one or two others that had a similar problem. They had contacted Virco and received smaller orfices to compensate and it seemed to solve the problem. I am at a higher altitude than many (4500) and I atributed this to the problem.

When I received my conversion kit I noticed the size of the orifice was 1.70 mm which, not to be too technical, converts to about 16000 BTU output, not the 20K that the burners are rated at. I actually found this to work rather well for me as I am getting nice blue flames. I had to adjust my venturis all the way closed after installing my conversion kit, because the increased air supply was not allowing the gas to travel all the way to the end of the burner tube where the ignitor was. I only discovered this after lighting the burners by hand and noticing the flames did not go all the way to the end of the tube. Once I closed the venturis, this problem was solved and the burners lit fine again. I could probably increase the size of the orifice to both regain my BTU's and be able to open the venturis a bit, but I am getting plenty of heat. By my estimates with an oven thermometer, I am getting about 600 at the grates! More than enough to sear any cut of anything for me. I don't mean to get too technical, but it is more than just a yes or no answer. The bottom line, I think, is that the orifices they send you are undersized for the BTU's that the grill is rated for, and if you have 7" of gas pressure (same as I did) then you should have similar results. I think I might try and drill the orifices out one size larger, according to the charts, this should increase my BTU's to 18K per burner. Well see though. I hope this has helped to some degree.


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

bsbbq,
Thanks for the information--especially closing the venturis.

Did other Virco owners have the same success with keeping the temperature at a high level after converting to natural gas, or have some of you had problems?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Sure, I can buy the kit for $50 (and I probably will since it is kinda cheap). The point I read from Matt is you have to drill both the orifices AND the valves. I wouldn't do just one or the other. If other people can do it to their (non-Virco) grill, why wouldn't/couldn't it be done to the Virco? Someone has to be first, right?

BSBBQ:
Why buy the kit and then to manually drill out the orifices bigger? Would it make sense to drill out the old set and compare the two?


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RE: Virco - Natural Gas?

Yes it probably would, except that I want to keep my LP setup just in case I want to ever go back. We are looking at maybe moving in about a year and it is a nice option to keep open. Besides, I have two sets of natural gas orifices, so I figured I have an extra set anyways (long story). I think I will experiment just because I can, and it may help others if they decide to do it as well to get the optimum performance.


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