Natural Gas Versus Propane | HVAC Heating Fuels - What is the best for you when choosing between either natural gas or propane? Do you get natural gas or propane for your heating system fuel supply? In some cases you will not have a choice between natural gas or propane. Since having natural gas supplied to your home or business will require a natural gas pipeline near your home or business. If there is a pipeline near your home and you do not have a meter you can call the gas company. Most of the time they will install the meter next to your home for no cost. However, it is always good to ask if they are going to charge you for installing a meter for use in your residence or business.
Natural Gas Versus Propane
If you do have a meter for your residence or business you also have the choice of using propane instead of using natural gas. The difference is that natural gas is delivered through a pipeline usually underground. While propane will require you to have a tank and get propane deliveries from a propane supplier on a schedule. Other differences include the cost of propane and this varies from region to region and company to company. Prices also vary according to market conditions and they price for both and can be volatile. Propane does have more BTU’s per cubic foot.
Despite the increased BTU’s with propane over natural gas all the cost comparisons are the same. Based on mathematical conversions natural gas is the cheaper alternative based on current pricing. These cost comparisons are difficult to follow because the price for natural gas and propane change constantly. The biggest decision or factor for any homeowner will be whether natural gas is available. If not, then propane is the only other option if you have a gas heating system. Whether it is propane or natural gas, you save by insulating your home, making sure you have good ductwork integrity (for forced air systems), and having a high AFUE.
BTU Values for Natural Gas and Propane | Natural Gas Versus Propane
Propane – 2500 BTU per cubic foot
Natural Gas – 1030 BTU per cubic foot
The other difference between propane and natural gas is a safety issue. Natural gas is lighter than air while propane is heavier than air. If there is a small (or even large) leak natural gas will have a tendency to float up and away. Propane, being heavier than air, can settle in low places under crawl spaces or basements. This is why it is important that proper installation occurs with piping regardless of the fuel. Specific procedures should be followed according to the Fuel Gas Code for any piping installation whether it is propane or natural gas piping.
An inspection of the piping for either type should occur at the time of maintenance checks. Maintenance checks for all gas appliances should include an inspection of the integrity of the piping. Additionally, replace excessively rusty or corroded piping. Existing piping should have regular rust and corrosion prevention paint applied as needed to prevent rust and corrosion.
Natural Gas Versus Propane | Conversions
Finally, most appliances come ready for natural gas. However, they typically have a conversion kit with the new appliance. Gas appliances are easily converted for propane use. The gas appliance will not function properly unless it has the appropriate kit for the fuel used. A gas appliance is dangerous if the proper kit is not used for the appropriate fuel that is available. A gas furnace setup for propane will not work and can be dangerous if it uses natural gas for fuel. This is also true if a natural gas furnace uses propane.
Additionally, the fuel gas code and other considerations required by safety codes. Only the manufacturer of the gas appliance can provide the appropriate kit for either propane or natural gas. When dealing with natural gas or propane conversions it is always best to call a certified service provider. A professional licensed HVAC or plumbing contractor. Along with the conversion details the contractor will set the proper pressures required. Regulator and manifold pressures for the differences between propane or natural gas.
Additional articles on Natural Gas include: Natural Gas Properties and Furnace Heating Efficiency
Natural Gas Versus Propane
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