Propane vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Best for Your Home?

natural gas burning stove

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.

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.

Natural Gas or Propane: Which Is Cheaper?

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.

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Gas grill with white propane tank

Case Study: Natural Gas vs. Propane Grills

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.

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

Learn More about the Benefits of Propane:

Post updated on January 14th, 2019

31 thoughts on “Propane vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Best for Your Home?”

  1. Maryann Oldham says:

    Fossil fuels are natural gas. For our home we converted to solar, but our natural gas has gone through the roof. (Heater, stove, dryer, fire place insert). Being that natural gas is pumped in why can’t we save by going through an out-of-state company. Is my thinking in correct?
    Why does PGE control this? Our natural gas amounted to $325
    last month. Higher than our electric bills use to be before getting Solar.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Hello Maryann, natural gas is fed to your home through a network of pipelines owned by a particular company which in your location would be PGE. Just like the tanks we provide for our customers through our rental program, they belong to Foster Fuels and only Foster Fuels fills them with propane. The fuel that goes through the pipelines connected to your home is only provided by the company that owns them.
      We would be happy to speak with you more about this in person if you would like. Feel free to contact Jason at 800-344-6457.

  2. Frank Delaware says:

    My wife and I have been looking at houses that have different gas systems in them, and we were curious about how you would choose the right one. I never knew that a propane delivery company can actually deliver the gas straight to your house! It would be nice to know that when it is running low, you will be able to get the gas you need.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thanks for commenting Frank! Choosing a home that fits for your family is certainly a hard task. Propane gives you more control of your home heating keeping you off the grid with your home heating. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 800-344-6457.

  3. Dave Anderson says:

    My wife and I are building a custom house and we are wondering whether it would be better to put in natural gas or propane as a fuel source. After reading I like the fact that natural gas is a pipeline that is connected to the house directly. That means that we won’t have to refill our propane storage’s every so often. For the lifestyle that my wife and I live, I think that it would be beneficial to power the home with natural gas.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thanks for commenting Dave! Although natural gas is on one direct line, it also means you are on the grid for your heating. With propane, your tank is either your responsibility or the company you rent from responsibility, keeping you off the grid in case of emergency. If you are concerned about the filling of your tank, most propane companies (including Foster Fuels) offer an auto fill program keeping your home running when you need it most. If you have any questions please feel free to talk with a propane specialist at 800-344-6457. Good luck with your home building!

  4. Kairi Gainsborough says:

    Thanks for explaining some of the different aspects of propane and natural gas. I actually had no idea that one of them is delivered to your home as a liquid and the other as a gas. If your home doesn’t have a pipeline connecting to the rest of the city, then would it be impossible to have natural gas heating? In that case, propane seems like a good alternative for houses that are far from the beaten path.

  5. Chris says:

    Propane is no hassle at all the propane suppliers put you on a route and they do all maintenance to the tank or anything their gas touches

  6. Violette Lebrac says:

    I like the idea of having the propane levels monitored remotely and refilled if they get low. We’re having a house built and we need to decide which kind of heating fuel we want. I’m not always great at remembering things, so it might be nice to have propane so the service can take care of refills without me scheduling it.

  7. Americas Generators says:

    Many homes use either propane or natural gas. And it’s about time for them to find out the difference between the two. This time, they can decide on what to get for themselves, that is safer not just for their home but also for the whole family.

  8. water heater replacement says:

    I like your article because its written in amazing real way and information is useful

  9. tyler thompson says:

    more of a question… im wanting to install a wall heater to be used only in the case of a power outage, 1-5 days at a time in the case of a bad winter storm. where i live there is no natural gas pipeline so either choice would have to be by tank. if price isnt the major issue, as either way i would think i wouldnt have to refill a 100 pound tank more than a couple times a year, which would be better to heat an entire house if there were no power to heat it any other way?

  10. Spencer Montgomery says:

    My fiance and I love barbecues. That’s why I find it interesting how you focused on making that your example. We actually have a patio being built in our backyard, and I’m now considering propane gas to use for the grills. I like that it’s cheaper and more cost-efficient.

  11. Kayla says:

    My dad is planning to change from natural gas to propane. He appreciates this article because it discussed the difference between natural gas and propane. The article specifically emphasized that propane is more cost efficient.

  12. Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    It’s good to know about natural gas and propane heating. I actually really like the fact that propane is monitored by the company, so professionals can fill it up themselves. That would save me from my terrible memory.

  13. Tim says:

    If you’re in town can you switch from natural gas to propane

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Depending on your local ordinances, yes, you should be able to.

  14. Chris Malone says:

    Hi. We just bought a house and it’s heated with propane. But in one month the heating bill at 70 degrees was at 1000 dollars. The house is 4000 sqft. Is that normal? And would natural gas be cheeper?

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Hi Chris, Though that seems steep, there are many factors that we would need to consider like your local weather at the time, home insulation, appliance maintenance, your current provider, etc. If you have a few minutes, we would need to ask a few questions about your situation to better assess your question. We’re happy to help. Call us at 800-344-6457.

  15. Cherie Currie says:

    I am looking for land to build a small cabin in the Fracier Park area. Most are off grid. Does propain companies rent the propane storage tanks or do we buy them? Also, do these propane companies install the piping needed to the water heater and furnace or does a contracer do that? Thanks so much!

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thanks Cherie for your question. Foster Fuels has a great tank rental program! Avoid the larger upfront cost of buying a tank and place responsibility on the gas company to maintain and inspect your tank. We will also run the line from the tank to any gas appliance you want. If you have any further questions, please call 800-344-6457.

  16. Cherie Currie says:

    That was ‘contractor’.

  17. Deb Pearl says:

    Thank you for listing all the differences of natural gas vs propane. My husband and I have been trying to decide how we want to heat our home, and we can’t decide between the two. I’m glad you mentioned that propane can be used for a variety of different home appliances as well. That sounds like a great option.

  18. Timothy Heinrich says:

    The best plan is to use LPG, while purchasing your own tank, so that you decide what vendor to purchase from. *This is very important, because as with anything, “Buyer Beware”.
    Amerigas was selling LPG for $5.00 a gallon when we decided to go LPG, but we shopped around outside of Maryland and found Penn Fuels in PA, which was selling at $2.00 average & they had tanks for sale. So we started with a 100 gallon tank for our basement wall heater for Electrical Outage backup Heat and Penn Fuels sold the 100 gallon tank package with all accessories, installation, permit and a full tank to start. After we told my Wife’s Dad, who is a farmer, he went out to Penn Fuels and bought a 500 gallon tank and paid $1.60 for his due to volume & was tickled to death that he was no longer being robbed by Amerigas in MD.
    So, Amerigas calls both of us and wants to reduce their price down to Penn’s on a pre-buy agreement (Great Deal anywhere, because LPG price goes up in Winter during Heating Oil Season). Now we had a choice, but would in no way would give Amerigas anymore business.
    Unfortunately, Amerigas bought out Penn Fuels, as that’s what they do with the stolen $$$ from seemingly trapped customers who do not price shop. The good news is that we Own our tanks, so we shopped around for several years and would buy from whomever we wanted, but never paid under $2.00 a gallon until 3 years ago, when we found Thrifty Propane who had expanded their delivery area and guaranteed lowest prices with quotes Online. We bought a 2nd tank from them after installing a replacement Heat-Pump with a Fossil Fuel Kit, for the most Energy Efficient means to Heat our House, as it Automatically switches between the Heat-Pump to LPG Fuel whenever the Outside Air Drops below 43.0 deg F (adj).
    We are now pre-buying Fuel since switching to Thrifty from $1.00 to $1.60 a gallon and have bought elsewhere at times and have reserves paid for at 2 different places in case of delivery issues.
    *With all that information, you should switch or start with LPG & if you do not want the White Tanks on the side of your House, you can bury them, leaving very little downside to LPG Fuel, unless you do not shop around.
    “Buyer Beware”!

  19. Faraan Behardien says:

    Thanks for posting such a nice and informative blog for readers to aware them about work of PROPANE VS. NATURAL GAS. Great research done on propane vs natural gas.

  20. Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for the tip about how propane is pretty versatile and works with different appliances. It would be good to consider how versatile you need your heating gas to be. My husband and I are looking for a gas heating system, so maybe we should consider propane.

  21. Millie Hue says:

    Thanks for helping me understand the differences between the propane and natural gas. It got me when you said that propane can be used anytime and anywhere due to its portability. With that in mind, I will be choosing this type of fuel for our house. We just need to have an idea regarding the different types of fuels because we will be having our future house custom-built by next year.

  22. Sam Li says:

    I appreciate what you said about propane gas and how levels can be monitored in order to avoid waste. When it comes to fixing a gas line, it’s critical to work with a qualified plumber. If I were to notice any kind of unusual smell in y home, I would hire a plumber to perform a thorough inspection.

  23. Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    We just bought a new home, so this is great. I love how you said that propane is a lot more efficient and burns cleaner. We’d love to get that for our heating and also for grilling and things.

  24. Dylan Peterson says:

    It’s good to know that the cost of different types of fuel fluctuates over time to give each type the cost advantage at different times. My wife and have been working on getting a new house built for the last few weeks, and we want to make sure that we choose the right kind of fuel to get delivered to fuel it. We’ll be sure to look further into the cost of our options in the future.

  25. Jenna Hunter says:

    My dad is thinking about getting a propane tank for his home because he likes how propane works better for him. I’ll be sure to tell him that propane is more versatile because it can be used in stoves, clothes dryers and can give him some off-grid independence.

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