Propane and natural gas are both popular fuels used for heating homes and powering appliances across the country. If you have the option of using either, how do you know which is the best choice? The answer is not as straightforward as you may think, as both have pros and cons. Here, we’ll compare propane vs. natural gas so you can make the right decision for your home.

Learn More About Whole Home Heating >>

Is Propane Gas the Same as Natural Gas? What’s the Difference?

Propane and natural gas are both fossil fuels, and both are largely produced domestically. For homeowners, the main difference between the two is that propane is compressed into a liquid form and either sold in portable canisters, or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank on their property. Natural gas, however, remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home via a pipeline.

Is Propane Made From Natural Gas?

Propane is primarily made as a byproduct of natural gas processing. This has become even more relevant as shale gas extraction increases.

Is Natural Gas Cheaper Than Propane?

For homes that have the option of choosing between natural gas and propane heat, cost is often the most important concern. Natural gas rates are measured in price per cubic foot, whereas propane rates are measured in price per gallon. Like all fuels, the cost of both propane and natural gas is prone to fluctuation over time.

Historically, when you convert between units and compare average rates, it may appear that natural gas is the cheaper option. However, the real cost for your home will depend on a number of factors, including where you live and the efficiency of your furnace and appliances.

Another, perhaps more useful comparison between the two fuels is not price per unit, but rather BTU. BTU is a measure of heating efficiency – in the case of propane vs. natural gas, propane has more than double the BTU rating (1030 to 2490). This means that, even if you are paying more for propane on a per-unit basis, the fuel you’re buying will burn cleaner and heat your home with greater efficiency.

Other Considerations

So, does its superior burning power mean propane is automatically the best choice for your home? Not necessarily. As with any energy decision, there are a number of other things that are worth considering. For example:

  • While natural gas is delivered automatically to your home, propane levels can also be monitored and filled automatically by your propane provider, which means you’ll have a professional regularly helping to address your fuel needs.
  • While propane’s portability may seem to be a weakness, it can actually be an advantage – if you use it to power a gas grill, you’ll have more freedom to set up a barbecue anywhere in your yard.
  • In addition to the this, propane can be used for a variety of different home appliances, from stoves to clothes dryers, giving you off-grid independence if other utilities fail.

Switching from one fuel source to another may require purchasing a new furnace, stove, grill and other appliances, or in some cases making expensive infrastructure upgrades. Even if natural gas does turn out to be cheaper for your home, this investment can take years to recoup.

Case Study: Natural Gas vs. Propane Grills

Propane grill cooking hamburgers

One simpler way to look at the pros and cons of natural gas vs. propane is to look at one specific application. Natural gas grills are a popular way to start grilling in your backyard, in part because they appear cheaper initially. Despite this, however, propane is the fuel of choice for most barbecues, and for good reason – its greater BTU rating provides the higher heats that home grilling enthusiasts love and can actually be more cost efficient because of the additional heat per unit.

Contact Us Today >>

When it comes to the question of propane vs. natural gas, which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section.

Common Natural Gas and Propane FAQs

Can You Buy Natural Gas Tanks?

While you can get natural gas tanks in smaller quantities it isn’t recommended for home heating. Typically, natural gas is delivered to the home via a pipeline and will remain in a gaseous state until it is used. This is because natural gas is hard to liquify, making it difficult to store. Propane, on the other hand, is compressed into a liquid state before being delivered and is stored outside the house in a propane tank. It will remain in it’s liquid state until it is converted to a gas and is used for heating.

What Type Of Gas Is Used In Homes?

Both propane and natural gas are used to fuel home heating across the country. When deciding which energy source you want to use in your home, you should consider energy efficiency, price, and convenience. Contact Foster Fuels with any home heating questions.

Difference Between Propane and Natural Gas Emissions

While both propane and natural gas are fossil fuels, they are both significantly cleaner sources of energy than oil, coal, or petroleum. Both natural gas and propane are considered clean fossil fuels. Propane produces a lower amount of pollutants than natural gas and has a smaller carbon footprint compared to other fossil fuels. While natural gas produces less carbon dioxide than propane, it emits a higher level of methane than propane does when burned making it slightly less environmentally friendly than propane. 

Learn More About Propane For Your Home:

Our Foster Fuels team can answer any additional questions you may have about the benefits of propane for your home! Fill out our contact form or call us at 800-344-6457 today.