How to Convert a Gas Barbecue to Burn Charcoal

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  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Gas grill
Sheet steel (18 gauge or thicker)
Cutting tool
Sheet metal screws

Converting a gas barbecue so that it burns charcoal is a relatively easy process, and it's a great option if your current gas-burning grill is no longer working. If your grill is in good enough shape, the following instructions will allow you to convert a gas barbecue into a charcoal or wood chip burning grill.

Step 1 - Clean the Still Gas Grill

Before converting your old gas barbecue, be sure to check the grill for rust. If the rack on top of the grill is in poor condition, consider purchasing a new rack. The mechanical components of the gas grill will no longer be in use, but the ability of the grill's interior to maintain a constant heat remains important.

If the exterior of the grill has rusted and contains holes, the gas grill cannot be converted to a charcoal-burning grill.

Step 2 - Remove Gas Components

Remove the gas tank from the grill and disconnect the hose leading to the venturi tubes located underneath the grill. Next, remove those same venturi tubes and the lead pipes.

You can find these by removing the rack from the grill. Looking at the burner, you'll see screws holding it in position at the base of the grill. Unscrew the screws and remove the burner and venturi assembly from the grill.

  • Warning: Even if the grill is not functional, if there's any gas left in the tank, it's a potential hazard. Remove it and store it safely.

Step 3 - Add the Sheet Steel

Get an 18 gauge or thicker piece of sheet metal large enough to cover the bottom of the grill base where the burner once resided, and cut it to the right size. Depending on the thickness of the steel, you can do this using a jigsaw or another tool.

Attach the sheet metal to the bottom of the grill using the sheet metal screws. A few screws on each side should allow you to securely cover the burner hole. This creates a base for putting charcoal or wood chips inside the grill without having them fall through.

Step 4 - Light the Grill

Fill the grill with charcoal briquettes or wood chips, light the flammable material, and replace the rack on top. Once it has reached a sufficient temperature, the grill will be ready for cooking.

Gas vs. Charcoal Grills

If your gas grill is too far gone to be usable at all, then this debate is meaningless to you as a conversion is your only choice. However, if your gas grill is still in working condition, consider the pros and cons of the two grill types. Gas grills are much faster to heat and generally more convenient to use, as they only take the press of a button to get one going.

Charcoal grills are generally less expensive to purchase and fuel. If you are converting an old gas grill, it is practically free to obtain a working charcoal grill. Some serious barbecue aficionados swear they can tell the difference between a gas and charcoal grill, and they generally tend to be in favor of the charcoal grill's taste.

However, newer and more expensive models of gas grills add a ceramic bar that mimics the charcoal grill's ability to catch grease and releases them back onto the food as smoke. This allows the food to gain the smokey taste most would relate to the best type of barbecue meal.