Propane Vs. Natural Gas

What’s the Difference?

propane or natural gas north carolina Whether it’s a super-efficient furnace, unlimited hot water temperature-precise cooking stoves or reliable backup home generators to keep your power going, you can count on all of these benefits in your propane-powered home in the same way people do in homes supplied with natural gas.

With that said, let’s take a look now at some of the differences between these two widely-used home heating fuels.

Reliable Supply with Propane

Consumer surveys have shown that people like heating their homes 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 traditional 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 your local propane company delivers it to your propane tank so you can fuel all of your appliances without worry.

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.

As an aside, while the majority of natural gas is delivered in its gaseous form via pipeline in the United States, the growth in the international market for natural gas has given rise to the use of natural gas in a liquefied form, which is known as LNG, according to energy.gov.

Convenience and Choice with Propane

Most propane suppliers have several ways to ensure that their customers will always have plenty of clean, dependable propane on hand, with programs like automatic propane delivery and other programs to make it easy to fuel your propane appliances. Unlike natural gas or electricity, propane customers can contract for and store their energy supply on-site for ultimate security.

With many companies serving the Tar Heel State, North Carolina’s propane consumers also have a range of local options for price, service, and terms. In contrast, natural gas and electricity providers have monopoly territories that don’t permit competition. These companies also may not lock in a customer’s service or supply.

Propane Vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Cleaner?

Environmental issues have been raised about methane leaks coming from the processing of natural gas. (Methane is a greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas.) In its original form, propane is not a greenhouse gas and it’s considered a “green” fuel because of its low carbon content. It does not contain any methane gas.

Here’s one more thing to feel good about: most of the propane consumed in the U.S. is produced in North America. So, every gallon of propane you buy contributes to America’s energy independence.

Safe Propane Delivery

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 a few years ago in Durham.

Propane also 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. 

Are you interested in expanding your use of propane? Please reach out to your local North Carolina propane company for advice.