3 Differences Between Natural Gas and Propane

If you have a choice in which fuel you use to heat your home or power your appliances, both natural gas and propane have probably come up in your research. These are two common fuels that each have benefits. If you have narrowed your fuel choices down to natural gas and propane, there are a few key differences you should know.

Some similarities include the fact that both natural gas and propane are colorless and odorless. Propane is actually a byproduct of natural gas extraction. Both generally have additives that give them a distinctive smell should there ever be a leak.

Natural Gas

Before making a decision on fuel, you will also need to consider your needs as far as what you need the fuel for. Are you heating your whole house? Are you powering appliances? Does your house have a natural gas hook-up? These are all things to consider as you ponder your fuel options, and those major differences between natural gas and propane are:


If you consider the true cost by volume, natural gas is less expensive per gallon. This is especially true if you already have a natural gas hook up to your house and appliances. If you had to pay for the hook-up, the cost would obviously go up.

However, propane is more efficient and provides twice the heat for a comparable amount of natural gas. So propane may actually be the better deal, but it does depend on the specific costs in your area.

Environmental Friendliness

Both natural gas and propane are relatively clean-burning for fossil fuels. Both are much more eco-friendly than electric power. However, propane is slightly more eco-friendly based on its composition. A large component of natural gas is methane, and if this is leaked before combustion, it contributes greatly to greenhouse gasses.

Propane, on the other hand, is considered a “green fuel,” which is marked by the fact that it is safe both before and after combustion. So if propane is leaked into the atmosphere, it will not cause the damage that methane does.


If you decide on natural gas, it is delivered via pipe directly to your house and then piped to appliances, including your furnace if your heat source is natural gas.

Propane, on the other hand, is delivered via truck by your propane supplier. Your supplier will install tanks at your house and maintain them if you decide to lease your tanks from the supplier. The supplier will then deliver propane as needed or on a set schedule that you decide on. Propane is pumped from the delivery truck into your tanks for storage on your property.

While there are other differences between these two fuel types, these are the three main differences between natural gas and propane. A lot of your decision will depend on what fuel is available in your area and what the prices are in your area.

However, if you do have the luxury of deciding between the two, the main things to consider are cost and efficiency, environmental friendliness, and means of delivery.

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