Whether you own a fire pit or a patio heater, you have the option to choose between propane gas or natural gas as your fuel. What exactly is the difference between the two and which one is the better choice?
For us, this will really depend on what your needs are. In order to choose between the two, let’s take a look at propane vs natural gas. That way, you’ll know the differences and similarities between the two. This will make choosing much easier.
Propane Vs Natural Gas (A Comparison)
Both propane and natural gas have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this comparison, we’ll tackle both of them to have an objective view of them.
But before that, what are they exactly?
To be specific, propane gas is a highly flammable hydrocarbon gas that’s also known as liquid petroleum. It is one of the strongest gasses to be used for heating and is created through the refining of petroleum.
Natural gas, on the other hand, is “raw” gas that is made out of propane, ethane, butane, and methane. When propane gas is created, the propane part is actually separated from the other gasses, creating a more concentrated gas.
With that in mind, we can say that propane does come from natural gas.
Now that we know the difference between the two, let’s evaluate them. We’ll be assessing them based on several applications with regard to heating. That way, you can understand where each of them are strong and weak.
- Heating Efficiency:
First, let’s talk about heating efficiency. When we talk about heating efficiency, we usually talk about strength, which is measured in BTU. The higher the BTU, the stronger the heat.
Out of the two, propane contains more energy than natural gas. Because of that, propane can create up to 2500 BTU per cubic foot compared to natural gas’ 1000 BTU. So, when it comes to heating efficiency, propane definitely wins.
Coverage is directly related to BTU because higher BTU means more area covered by the heat. In that sense, propane is better if you’re looking for higher coverage. That is why propane is the gas that’s usually used for heating up big buildings, homes, and factories. However, higher coverage doesn’t always mean better.
If you have a small house, you don’t need that much heat since a smaller BTU will sufficiently heat up the place. Thus, for small spaces, propane-based heating is definitely not worth the money. That said, there is no winner when it comes to coverage since this aspect depends on the type of application that you’re looking for.
- Environmental Impact
Both of them are actually eco-friendly because they both burn clean and they both don’t harm soil or water. However, if we were to pick the eco-friendlier of the two, we’d choose propane because it burns cleaner.
When it comes to safety, natural gas trumps propane because natural gas is much lighter. Upon releasing natural gas into the air, it dissolves quickly while propane lingers quite a bit.
If any small fire were to come in contact with propane gas in the area, it could burn up right away. Homeowners who have lots of concerns with regard to safety should use natural gas instead of propane gas.
Finally, let’s take a look at the cost of each. Propane costs around $2.50 for every gallon. Conversely, natural gas will cost around $15 for 11 gallons. Do some division and the price of a gallon of natural gas reaches around $1.3. That said, natural gas is definitely the cheaper option out of the two.
These five criteria will tell you the main differences between the two gasses in a practical manner. By looking at our propane vs natural gas evaluation above, you can see that propane and natural gas score pretty evenly.
The final decision will be based on what you’re looking for. If you’re after power or clean burning, then you’d best go with propane. But if you’re after savings and overall safety, then natural gas will be the best choice. As for coverage, this will really depend on the size of the home or building you want to heat up.
If you take all of these factors into consideration, you can at least have an idea of what gas you should buy.