Most people use either natural gas or petroleum gas to heat their homes, cook their food or to otherwise provide warmth when they need it. As the name implies, natural gas is made in nature as the byproduct of decomposing organic material. Petroleum gas is a byproduct of crude oil, and it must be liquefied and put under heavy pressure to be used as a fuel source. According to Plusgas, it is important to learn about the differences between the two choices — natural gas and LPG or LP, so you know what to expect from both and make the best use of your utilities. Let’s take a closer look at which one is better from a cost, usability and safety standpoint.
How Does Natural Gas Work?
In most cases, natural gas is taken from the Earth, sent to a refinery and then shipped via pipes to homes or commercial buildings. In Australia, it is also referred to as mains gas as it shipped via gas mains or pipelines directly to a residence. The amount of natural gas that an individual consumes is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), and the use of such gas may be preferable because there are more natural gas providers compared to LPG providers. One of the other benefits of natural gas is that it is often cheaper than petroleum gas.
How Does LPG Work?
Liquefied petroleum gas, also known as propane, is stored in bottles at a high density and with a higher oxygen content than natural gas. As the gas is packed tightly into LPG gas bottles, there is a higher chance of an explosion if there is a leak or if a bottle is dropped. Bottles can contain as much LPG as an individual wants or needs it to hold, but a standard bottle carries about 1.96 liters if you are converting LPG from kilograms to liters. The discrepancy in the numbers has to do with the fact that LPG is less dense than water or similar substances.
The Price Difference Between LPG and Natural Gas
If you are deciding whether to use LPG vs natural gas based on price, you should choose natural gas. This is because natural gas may cost as little as 55 cents per therm while propane may cost as much as $2 or more per gallon. One gallon is equal to roughly 1.1 therms. However, if you are going on a camping trip or need an emergency heating source when the power goes out, it may be worth your while to go with propane.
Natural Gas Is Generally Safer Than LPG
Natural gas is lighter than air while propane is heavier than air. This is important in the event of a leak because natural gas will simply float away while propane will collect near the ground or near the floor of a home. If a match were to be lit or a spark were to fall near exposed propane, it would create an explosion that could hurt or kill anyone close to it.
Natural Gas Is Generally Cleaner Than LPG
As natural gas is a naturally occurring substance, it is among the cleanest energy sources that a person can use. As propane is a byproduct of crude oil, it is among one of the dirtiest energy sources that a person could use. However, it is possible to refine LPG in ways that make it less harmful to the environment.
Rural Residents May Be Forced to Use LPG
Propane is a lot easier to transport than natural gas because it can be put into trucks in liquid form. Since it doesn’t require gas lines or other infrastructure to transport, it can also be cheaper to move on scales of hundreds or thousands of miles. Therefore, if you live in a rural area, you may have no choice but to buy LPG instead of natural gas.
While both propane and natural gas can be used to heat homes and businesses, they each have benefits and drawbacks. If you live in a rural area or like to camp, LPG is a reliable and affordable source of energy that is widely available. However, if you live in closer to natural gas lines, it may be better to use natural gas as it is cheaper, safer and cleaner to burn.