Propane vs. Natural Gas

Reliable supply and eco-friendliness put propane on top

propane vs natural gas

Consumer surveys have shown that people like heating their home and water with propane, because they know they will have a reliable supply on hand whenever they need it. Having a propane tank on their property gives them the ability to store a plentiful amount that’s always ready for immediate use.

Natural gas customers don’t enjoy security like that. It seems as if every winter you hear stories about interruptions in natural gas service somewhere in the country because of pipeline problems, caused by either cold weather, accidents or deterioration—or sometimes a combination of all three!

Propane has a distinct edge over natural gas because of the way it’s transported and stored. After propane gets compressed into a liquid, becoming what’s called liquid petroleum gas (LPG), all of it gets stored inside large tanks until the local propane company delivers it to the on-site supply tank at a home or a business.

Liquid propane changes to gas before it leaves the on-site storage tank, getting released slowly and safely through pressure regulators. Compare that to the delivery system of natural gas. If an underground natural gas pipeline gets damaged—or other problems occur—hundreds and even thousands of customers may lose their supply until repairs are done.

Other reasons to choose propane over natural gas

It’s no secret that natural gas is the leading home heating source in many parts of the country, yet there is something most people don’t know: many of the benefits of natural gas are also very similar to those of propane.

Whether it’s with a super-efficient furnace, unlimited hot water, a temperature-precise cooking stove, a reliable backup home generator or a propane grill, your propane-powered home gives you the same benefits as a home supplied with natural gas.

Here are some more key advantages of propane over natural gas.

pie chart

Propane delivery is more accessible

If there are no gas pipelines installed near your home, you can’t use natural gas. Propane businesses serve customers in every one of the 435 U.S. congressional districts.*

On-site secure storage

Most propane suppliers have several ways to ensure that you will always have plenty of clean, dependable propane on hand, with programs like automatic delivery, prebuy and other plans to suit your needs. Unlike natural-gas users, propane customers can contract for and store their energy supply on-site for ultimate security.

Propane delivery is safer

Propane is kept as a liquid under pressure for safe transport, and is handled by highly trained professionals using equipment and techniques that are regulated by authorities at federal, state, and local levels. If damage occurs with a natural gas pipeline, the situation can turn tragic, as we saw in Durham in the spring of 2019.

Propane gas line installation is more flexible

In most cases, a propane line can be fed into a home at many different entry points, as long as there’s a tank nearby (while there are some requirements for the distance of a propane tank from the home, they are not overly restrictive). Easy routing may not be possible with a natural gas line.

Propane produces fewer greenhouse gases when burned

Environmental issues have been raised about allowable levels of methane leaks coming from old underground natural gas pipelines. (Methane is a greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas.) In its original form, propane is not a greenhouse gas; it’s considered a “green” fuel because of its low carbon content. And for customer safety and security there are no allowable leaks with propane.

As a fuel, propane is also safer

Propane has a much narrower range of flammability (minimum and maximum burn temperatures) than natural gas; propane will not ignite when combined with air unless the ignition source reaches at least 920°F. Read more about propane safety.

Are you interested in learning more about the costs of natural gas and propane, comparing propane grills with natural gas grills, or other issues concerning natural gas versus propane? Please reach out to your local propane company.

*Source: National Propane Gas Association.