Propane and natural gas are both very popular fuels and have a wide range of uses for homes and businesses. People will often claim they are the same product, but there are also major differences between the two. These differences are key to choosing which fuel is best for your next home, generator, pool, and more. In this article we break down key similarities and differences of both fuels and help you choose which fuel is right for you; propane or natural gas.
What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a flammable, non-toxic, and non-renewable hydrocarbon. It is also a domestically available gaseous fuel. It is a mixture of gas with methane being the main component. Methane makes up about 70-90% of natural gas. The other gases found in natural gases include butane, ethane, and propane. After natural gas is extracted from the ground, it gets mixed with crude oil to produce the fuel that customers use for daily living.
What is Propane?
Propane is a liquified petroleum gas (LPG) that is stored and compressed as a liquid. Common uses for propane include water and space heating, cooking, and fuel for various vehicles (i.e. forklifts, flights, farm irrigation engines).
Propane is also a non-toxic chemical that is compressed and stored in liquid form. Natural gas processing is the biggest source of propane as it is one of the gases extracted when natural gas is produced. Propane can also be a result of crude oil refinement. Compared to diesel fuel and gasoline, both propane and natural gas can have several advantages.
Propane and natural gas have several things in common. The biggest similarities are that they are both:
- Clean-burning fossil fuels.
Both gases have several things that separate them and cause division amongst homeowners and business owners when choosing the right fuel for them. The biggest differences are:
While propane and natural gas are both clean-burning gases, propane is actually even cleaner than natural gas in burning fossil fuels. Also, propane is considered a green fuel while natural gas is not. Propane is considered green because it is eco-friendly before as well as after its combustion. Propane does not cause any harm when it is leaked into the air. On the other hand, natural gas contains methane which is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases can be harmful for the environment when released into the air.
When considering which fuel to use, an important factor to consider is how much energy you can get using that fuel. British Thermal Units (BTU) is a very common unit of measurement of thermal energy. In general, if you are using the same amount of both propane and natural gas, you will be able to get significantly more energy from propane. Propane is more energy-efficient than natural gas.
Considering there is a difference in the energy efficiency between the two fuels, there is also a difference in cost. Since propane uses less energy for the same amount, it costs more than natural gas. You can compare propane and natural gas prices by first converting propane’s price from gallons to cubic meters/feet. Natural gas is measured in cubic meters/feet. It is important to note that the true cost of propane and natural gas is also dependent on various factors such as whether your house is outfitted for the fuels.
Natural gas and propane are both colorless and odorless substances. This can be a safety hazard because homeowners will not be able to smell a leak in the event of a gas leak. For safety precautions, manufacturers often add chemicals such as ethyl mercaptan to propane and natural gases. This way, the homeowners will be able to smell the unpleasant odor in the event of a leak or if their tank is running low. Additionally, one of the major differences between propane and natural gas is their density. Natural gas is lighter than propane. Therefore, in the event of a gas leak, propane will be more likely to concentrate on the floor while natural gas will rise to higher levels such as the ceiling. Natural gas also likes to dissipate into the air faster when released. Propane will take more time to vanish into the air.
Transportation Method and Household Use –
While propane and natural gas are both very popular for cooking and eating at home, the two fuels have very different delivery methods. Natural gas is delivered to your residence via gas pipelines. Once the gas pipelines are connected to your home, you will have gas available 24/7 with no refills needed. On the other hand, propane is stored in a liquid form inside propane tanks. The main advantage of these propane tanks is that they can be delivered to any location, even one where gas pipelines are not available. However, the disadvantage is that propane tanks do need to be refilled or you will run out of heat.
If you choose Great Valley Propane to be your propane supplier, we have an automatic delivery system. The automatic delivery system uses precise calculations to predict when your next propane refill is needed and ensures that we will never miss a delivery to your home. Additionally, we can add a remote monitor to your tank to allow us to see the exact level or propane at all times.
Furthermore, propane customers that own small propane tanks can get them refilled at our local refilling stations. If you are transporting propane yourself, it is important to know how to transport, handle, and store these small propane tanks to prevent a dangerous accident and keep you safe.
Propane or Natural Gas: Which Is The Winner?
Overall, propane is the more energy-efficient fuel and also considered more eco-friendly. It is also delivered to homes in propane tanks which makes it a lot more convenient for residences that do not have access to any gas pipelines.
The Best Propane For Your Buck!
Here at Great Valley Propane, we provide high-quality propane tanks and cylinders to meet all your heating and fuel needs. We also make sure to provide top quality service and handle your cylinder with care if you are exchanging or refilling it. Our built-in safety features ensure that you and your family will stay out of harm’s way throughout the year.
Don’t wait another minute. Give us a call today at 610-251-2203 to discuss your propane needs. You can also visit the Malvern office to have your propane tank refilled, exchanged, or to buy a new one. Contact us today!