What Burns Hotter—Propane or Natural Gas

Written on: July 17, 2023

Everything You Didn’t Know About the Difference Between These Two Gasses

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It could be reasonable to think that the only difference between propane gas and natural gas is how it gets delivered to your home. Natural gas comes from a local utility and is delivered to your home via an underground system of pipelines. Propane is stored in a tank at your home of business and is delivered in a truck from your chosen propane dealer. In fact, there are a lot of differences between the two fuels—and the value they provide.

Your first clue that propane and natural gas are more different than you might think is in the name, propane, which is more formally known as liquid propane gas or LPG. It’s a byproduct of natural gas that is compressed and stored in a liquid state. That’s why propane is usually measured in gallons. Natural gas is measured in therms, which is 100 cubic feet of gas, or about 100,000 Btus (British Thermal Units) of energy. And that’s where you start to see the big difference between the two.

Propane Burns Hotter

Technically, both propane and natural gas burn at the same temperature—3,560˚ Fahrenheit—but unit-for-unit, propane delivers much more heat energy than you get from natural gas.

One cubic foot of propane generates approximately 2,520 Btus of heat. One cubic foot of natural gas generates less than half as much, at about 1,012 Btus of heat. (One Btu is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by 1˚ Fahrenheit.)

In basic terms, propane delivers more than twice the Btus of natural gas, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat or energy. Propane also generates more Btus than an equivalent amount of electricity. That makes propane a great value. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes that heat water with propane rather than electricity can see average annual savings of $174.

Propane is Versatile

Because propane is so efficient, it’s a smarter choice than electricity for a wide variety of appliances, in addition to heating your home. For example, propane water heaters generate much more hot water at a cheaper cost per gallon.

The same technology that makes propane ideal for water heaters makes it a smarter choice than electricity to power all kinds of appliances that use hot water or heat, including washers and dryers, dishwashers, outdoor lighting, patio heaters, space heaters, pool and spa heaters, outdoor grills and more.

Propane Is More Reliable

You can use propane to heat your home and water, to cook, and more, no matter where you live. On the other hand, natural gas requires an expensive connection, that may not even be available where you live. You also are stuck dealing with a large natural gas utility for your gas supply. If something goes wrong with their infrastructure, even if it’s miles away, you could be without gas in your home for hours, or longer. If your home loses its natural gas service in the winter, you’re stuck with a cold home, cold food, and cold showers until the gas comes back.

With propane, your supply is right there at your home. When you have a propane-powered stand-by generator, propane will keep your home powered and safe through electrical outages, too. And our automatic delivery and wireless propane tank monitoring services mean you don’t have to do a thing, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ll always have the propane you need to stay comfortable.

Propane Is More Environmentally Friendly

You might also be surprised to know that propane is a domestically sourced fuel that is one of the cleanest and efficient fuels around. Propane is named as an alternative fuel in both the 1990 Clean Air Act and the 1992 National Energy Policy. Propane is nontoxic and nonpoisonous, so it doesn’t contaminate groundwater or soil if it leaks – which means propane tanks can be safely buried out of sight.

While natural gas does have lower emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides than other fossil fuels, it still emits them. What’s more, aging pipelines can result in methane leaks that are hard identify and even more challenging and expensive to repair—expenses that typically get passed on to the customers.

Ready for Propane?

Whether you are remodeling your existing place, shopping for a new home, building your dream house, or just looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, propane provides great value.

The experts at Pico have the experience and knowledge to answer all your questions and help make adding propane to your Texas home easy. We provide great propane services like on-time deliveries, smart payment plans to help keep costs manageable and so much more. Contact us to learn more and become a customer today.