Natural gas and propane are very similar in many ways. For example, they are both alternative sources of energy that are gaseous at room temperature, and propane can be obtained from natural gas. However, one of their significant differences lies in how many BTUs are in a gallon of propane compared to natural gas.
Propane vs. natural gas: BTU
The BTU of propane per gallon is 91,500. However, to adequately compare it to natural gas, we have to change the gallon to cubic foot. This is because natural gas only exists as a gas, while propane can exist as a gas and a liquid.
For the BTU per cubic foot of propane, the amount is 2,516BTU, while for natural gas, it is 1,030BTU. Thus as you can see, propane contains more energy than natural gas—more than twice. And in an hour, you will use approximately 2.4 more cubic feet of natural gas than propane.
Propane vs. natural gas: cost
Even though propane burns more efficiently than natural gas, it doesn’t cost less per cubic foot. Natural gas costs around $7 per 1000 cubic feet, which translates to a million BTUs.
On the other hand, a million BTUs of propane costs around $27. Thus for equal amounts of BTU for each fuel, you will pay more for propane. However, since propane is more than twice as efficient as natural gas, the long-term cost may not differ much.
Propane vs. natural gas: safety
Propane and natural gas are very combustible and flammable in the event of a leak. Because of this, a compound with a pungent smell is added to both of them to help detect a leak if it happens. However, propane is deemed safer because any event of a leak is easy to deal with, unlike natural gas, which is riddled by a lot of bureaucratic red tape.
Also, propane has a lesser combustion index than natural gas, so generally, it is deemed the safer gas.
Propane vs. natural gas: environmental impact
Propane is by far one of the cleanest burning fuels and was even put in the 1990 Clean Air Act by US Congress as a safe fuel. When compared to natural gas, it is miles safer because natural gas has emissions and is technically a greenhouse gas.
So if you’re very environmentally conscious, choosing natural gas may not be the best option for you.
Is propane or natural gas right for you?
This all boils down to your lifestyle and what you feel is right. With natural gas, you won’t have to worry about maintenance, delivery, or buying more gas than you need. It is a pay-as-you-go kind of business.
However, if you want more BTU for your money, propane may be your choice. It is clean, efficient, and versatile. To find out how many BTUs are in a gallon of propane, you multiply the gallon of propane by 91,500BTU.
Finally, if other sources of energy malfunction, you can use propane as a backup to help you power your appliances