11 May

The differences between propane and natural gas that you should know

When it comes to heating or fueling vehicles, natural gas and propane are both quite popular. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, there are significant differences between them. In this post, we compare natural gas to propane and and give the answer to the question what are the differences between propane and natural gas.

What is natural gas?

differences between propane and natural gas
What is propane?

Natural gas is a non-renewable hydrocarbon that is odorless, colorless, combustible, and non-toxic. It’s a gas mixture with methane as the predominant component, accounting for 70-90 percent of the total. Propane, butane, and ethane are among the other gases in the combination.
Natural gas must be blended with crude oil once it is taken from the earth to produce the fuel we use every day. Propane, butane, and ethane are extracted during this method.

What is propane?
Propane is a non-toxic, colorless, and odorless gas that is compressed and stored as a liquid.
Natural gas processing is the primary source of propane. It is a by-product of the processing, as previously stated. Propane is often produced as a by-product of crude oil processing.

What are the differences between propane and natural gas?

Techniques of Installation

Although many appliances may run on propane or natural gas, each fuel source necessitates the use of specific gas utilization fittings. If your appliances didn’t come with conversion kits when they were first installed and you want to go from propane to natural gas or vice versa, you’ll need to order them from the manufacturers. Electric appliances such as heaters, cookers, and water heaters cannot be easily converted to natural gas or propane. Any electric appliances you want to run on propane or natural gas will need to be replaced.

differences between propane and natural gas
Techniques of Installation

Natural gas is a limited-access utility that is delivered to your home via underground pipes. Propane is stored in tanks that must be replaced or refilled on a regular basis. Some containers are compact and portable, while others are quite large. A larger tank can be installed in your yard or buried underground. The propane pipes begin at the service valve on the tank’s outlet, therefore some of them may be outdoors. The indoor conduits for natural gas start at your gas meter, while the additional outdoor pipes are normally owned by your local utility company.

Burying a tank is similar to connecting your home to a natural gas pipeline. Any grass or other plants that have been disturbed by either method can be replaced by a professional. Call 811, the federal “Call Before You Dig” number, before your installation begins digging to ensure that no underground utility lines or pipes are harmed and to get them tagged for free. Although it is faster and easier to install a propane tank above ground, it may detract from the beauty of your landscaping. Surround the tank with a fence, a trellis with flowering vines, or some hedges for a more attractive yard.

You’ll need to get rid of your propane tank or have it emptied and left in place if you transition from propane to natural gas or stop using propane and switch to electric appliances. Although removing a subsurface tank is tough, you can sell it once the operation is complete.

Methods of storage and delivery

Our personnel can supply propane to every location we serve, making it an excellent option for customers who live in rural areas or in communities without natural gas pipelines. You’ll have to wait for deliveries to refill your tank, and you might not be able to receive the fuel you need in the event of a major snowstorm or other emergency. Natural gas is always available because it is piped into your home. Unfortunately, a leak in a pipe connected to a plentiful supply of natural gas may raise your utility expenses more than a leak in a propane tank with a limited supply.

Because propane is held under pressure in tanks, it is a liquid that becomes a gas when released through the valve on your tank. Natural gas can be kept in a variety of forms, including uncompressed gas, compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG). CNG is sometimes kept in tanks rather than pipes since it is compressed before being stored or transferred.

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency

Propane is typically more expensive than natural gas, but it produces around twice the amount of heat. Natural gas is measured in cubic feet or cubic meters, whereas propane is measured in gallons or liters. British Thermal Units are used to quantify the heat produced by both forms of fuel. The amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit is one BTU.

differences between propane and natural gas
Cost-effectiveness and efficiency

Natural gas is more cost-effective in some locations, while propane is less so in others. In many areas, both types of fuel are more efficient and less expensive than electricity. Installing a new natural gas line is more expensive than adding a propane tank to your home, but if gas is available in your area, the investment could save you money on your utility bills.

You should also consider the appliances you already have in your home. If your furnace is more than 20 years old, whether it’s electric, gas, or propane, it should be replaced. It adheres to the same guidelines as an air conditioning installation. By installing a more efficient system, you can avoid unexpected, inconvenient breakdowns and save your utility expenditures. Propane heating systems have the longest lifespan, and repairs are frequently less expensive than heat pumps or electric furnaces.


Compositions of Chemicals

Propane is the cleanest fossil fuel available, emitting half as much carbon dioxide and other pollutants as gasoline. It is also harmless to water and soil. Methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up the majority of natural gas. Natural gas, fortunately, burns cleaner than most other fossil fuels. As a result, natural gas contaminants normally only enter the atmosphere as a result of pipeline breaches or drilling mishaps. Methane will naturally decompose into carbon dioxide after several years in the atmosphere.

Methane and propane are both more environmentally benign than electricity in many locations, thanks to the popularity of coal power plants in the United States. Although both types of fuel are hydrocarbons, their chemical makeup differ. Propane is C3H8 and methane is CH4. Propane, along with other hydrocarbons including butane, ethane, and pentane, is a byproduct of petroleum refining and natural gas processing.


Natural gas and propane are odorless and nearly colorless. Manufacturers add a harmless chemical called mercaptan, tert-Butylthiol to help people discover leaks. Thiophane, a related chemical, is sometimes used. These substances have a sulfur or rotten egg odor to them.

Put out any flames and then go outside if you notice a weird odor inside your home. Call 911 after you’ve left your residence. Do not turn on or off any gadgets, or plug in or disconnect any devices. You could set off a chain reaction that results in an explosion. Leaks can also occur in subterranean pipes in your yard, so if you smell sulfur or rotten eggs outside, avoid the area and call 911.

differences between propane and natural gas

If you have a propane leak, flip the shutdown valve at the top clockwise to switch off the gas supply at the tank. Most propane tanks are white to reflect as much heat and light as possible since propane must be kept very cold to remain liquid. A safety valve will open if a container becomes too hot, releasing the pressure and preventing an explosion. Allowing propane to come into contact with your skin can induce frostbite.

If you have a problem with your propane or natural gas furnace, stove, water heater, or similar system, partially combusted fuel could produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. Carbon monoxide detectors should be used to alert you if there is too much carbon monoxide in your house. These gadgets look like smoke detectors.

Keep an eye out for headaches, dizziness, or nausea that improves when you leave a place or area. Allow fresh air in by opening your doors and windows, and get your appliances inspected by a professional technician. Seek medical help to ensure that the exposure did not result in irreversible damage.

Natural gas and propane have many similarities as well as variances. Both fossil fuels are odorless, colorless, and clean-burning. Propane is a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly fuel than natural gas. Gas pipes transport natural gas to residential areas. Propane is provided to customers in propane tanks. Finally, while propane is heavier than air, natural gas is not. This makes propane leaks even riskier.

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