The difference between Natural Gas and Propane

The difference between Natural Gas and Propane

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A number of our customers have been inquiring about the difference between Natural Gas and Propane when it comes to providing heat for the home. There has been a marketing push for the conversion to natural gas as it becomes available in the local area. As a marketer of propane, we certainly want to help our customers understand what is involved in possibly making the switch from propane to natural gas. Customers often ask these common questions:

What is the difference between natural gas and propane?

Both fuels are clean burning gases! They burn at different pressures but otherwise are extremely similar. Both are naturally odorless and colorless (but usually have a chemical odorant added for safety). Natural gas is sourced from the ground while propane is a by-product of either crude oil or natural gas. Natural gas is brought to you via pipelines connected to your home but propane is brought to homes on trucks and then stored in pressurized tanks.

Do my current appliances work with both choices?

While there are exceptions to everything, generally speaking the answer is no. Another difference between natural gas and propane is that the fuels burn at different pressures. This means, usually at a minimum you need conversion kits to move to the specific fuel. A lot of appliances are not convertible, so they would need to be replaced.

Is the gas line installed in my house compatible with both fuels?

In some cases, yes. If the house is older, the line would need to be upgraded for the new fuel. But you would certainly need to make sure that compatible line is sized correctly for the appliances in your home.

Which one is less expensive?

Even though they are billed differently (Natural Gas Therms versus Propane Gallons), the pricing for natural gas per unit is less than propane.

Because propane delivers more BTUs for your dollar, it is often the choice fuel to run your home appliances more efficiently. It is also typically better for cooking, especially if you utilize an outdoor barbeque, as it is more cost-effective for high-heat grilling.
Additionally, propane is seen as an “off-the-grid” heating solution. Meaning propane is portable and can easily work if other systems in your house malfunction, or if you need to move to another location.

Should I switch from propane to natural gas?

The last question is the toughest, because the answer is dependent on the customer. We have compiled a set of questions below that may help inform a customer so that they may make a good decision:

1) How is the service level of the company that supplies my propane? Do they take care of my needs? Do they answer the phone, or am I stuck in a call center? 
2) What is the cost to hook up to natural gas? What are the application fees?
3) What is the amount of repair to my yard for the piping?
4) What is the cost to convert or replace my appliances? How much is it to inspect and/or upgrade the lines inside my house?
5) How many years will it take to break even on the expenses paid to make the change?

Franger Gas is here to meet your energy needs

If you are struggling to choose between propane or natural gas, our team is here to help. Let us answer any questions you might have. Call us today.