Propane gas vs. natural gas blog post image of a blue gas stovetop flame.

Propane gas vs. natural gas: Which is better for your home?

Some local residents have wondered about propane gas vs. natural gas for home energy needs, so we decided to break down the differences for those who are considering switching to propane. Whether you already have natural gas service at your home or you’re building a new home and thinking of adding propane, we’ve put together some pros and cons of propane gas vs. natural gas so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Before you decide, consider installation costs

If you’re like many residents in the more densely populated areas on Delmarva, you may already have natural gas lines supplying fuel to your home. Or, if you live in a more rural area, you may not have the convenience of nearby gas lines to tap into. Piping natural gas to a home can be cost prohibitive, which is why propane is the fuel of choice for many of our customers. It’s easy and cost-effective to plumb and install when compared to natural gas, and each homeowner controls their own fuel supply via onsite storage in pressurized tanks leased from (and maintained by) PepUp.

A comparison of propane gas vs. natural gas composition

Natural gas is predominantly composed of methane and is sourced from underground natural reserves via drilling and fracking. It emerges alongside petroleum deposits and is processed to remove impurities.

Propane, a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, consists of hydrocarbons like propane and butane. It is extracted from raw natural gas using refrigeration and pressure.

Propane has a higher energy content per unit, meaning appliances using propane are often more efficient. Natural gas is generally more convenient in urban areas, while propane is ideal for rural homes or those without nearby gas transmission lines.

What is the cost difference between propane and natural gas use?

Natural gas is generally cheaper to purchase, per BTU (British Thermal Unit, a measure of energy), in areas where pipeline infrastructure already exists to lower transportation costs.

Propane has a higher energy content per unit than natural gas, of approximately 2,500 BTUs per cubic foot compared to natural gas’s 1,030 BTUs per cubic foot. This means propane-powered appliances tend to be more efficient, offering more heat and energy per unit of fuel consumed. This greater energy potential per unit also results in more efficient heating when propane is used for a home’s primary heating source.

Converting natural gas appliances to propane gas

Switching to propane from natural gas offers many benefits, including the fact that many natural gas appliances can be converted to run on propane. Conversion requires professional installation of specialized components designed to manage the pressure and energy differences between the two fuels. The components are usually available directly from your appliance manufacturer, and PepUp technicians can install them correctly for safe operation.

Wondering which appliances work best when they run on propane? Check out our top five choices for liquid propane gas (LPG) appliance swaps.

Benefits and drawbacks of using natural gas vs. propane gas for your home

A homeowner should consider a cost-benefit analysis of choosing natural gas vs. propane gas for their home’s primary fuel source, with a hefty consideration for the cost of installation if their home doesn’t already have natural gas supply lines connected. Here are a few pros and cons of each fuel type.

The benefits of using natural gas

  • Continuous Supply: Natural gas provides a steady supply through pipelines, minimizing the risk of running out of fuel unless those pipelines are disrupted.
  • Lower Fuel Costs: Generally, natural gas is cheaper per BTU compared to propane, offering long-term savings on energy bills.
  • Minimal Storage Hassles: No need for on-site storage tanks, reducing maintenance concerns.

The downside of using natural gas

  • High Installation Costs: Installing natural gas lines can be expensive and disruptive, particularly if the home is far from the nearest pipeline.
  • Limited Availability: Not all areas have access to natural gas infrastructure, especially in rural settings.
  • Environmental Concerns: Although cleaner than some fossil fuels, natural gas extraction and transport can still have significant environmental impacts. Also, natural gas doesn’t burn as cleanly as propane gas.

The benefits of using propane gas

  • High Efficiency: Propane has a higher energy content per unit, making appliances more efficient and effective at heating.
  • Flexible Location: Propane is ideal for homes in rural or off-grid areas, as it doesn’t require pipeline infrastructure.
  • Reliable Onsite Storage: Propane is stored in tanks on your property, ensuring availability even if external supplies are disrupted.
  • Safety: Propane is stored in pressurized tanks, minimizing leak risks, and has a distinct odor added for leak detection. It also doesn’t produce harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide if burned correctly, although CO detectors are still required in homes using propane. Safety is important!

The drawbacks of using propane gas

  • Higher Fuel Costs: Propane tends to be more expensive per unit than natural gas. PepUp offers payment plans to help homeowners manage the cost of annual propane use, including a level payment plan to make budgeting easier.
  • Regular Deliveries: Propane tanks need periodic refilling, requiring diligent monitoring and scheduling. PepUp makes this a bit easier through Automatic Delivery with the option of wireless tank monitoring, so you never have to worry about checking tank levels, ordering propane, or running out of fuel.
  • Initial Setup: Although less disruptive than natural gas lines, installing storage tanks and associated fittings still incurs costs. PepUp regularly offers new customer specials that include free tank delivery and setup, among other perks, to eliminate this cost.

Propane: The clean-burning choice to reduce environmental impact

Both natural gas and propane burn cleaner than other fossil fuels, but propane produces fewer pollutants during combustion. This produces far less impact on air quality. Natural gas can release methane during extraction and transport, which, although not directly harmful to air quality, contributes significantly to global warming.

Learn more about reducing your impact on the environment by using propane for your home.

Need more information? We can help.

PepUp Energy Specialists have a lot of the answers you’re looking for. We help hundreds of local Delmarva residents make informed decisions about propane every day, so if we don’t have the answer, we’ll find it for you. Our local network includes regional office locations throughout our service area, so you can always find the answers you need and meet up with one of our specialists in person to talk through any concerns you may have about choosing a dependable, local energy provider.

Meet Contributor and PepUp Home Propane Delivery Driver, Jeff North

Customers in our West District – Federalsburg area may recognize this smiling PepUp face. Jeff North has been delivering home propane with a smile since 2021. Jeff says the best part of his job is getting friendly waves on the road and catching up with long-time customers.

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