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Propane Information

What Is the Difference Between Propane vs Natural Gas?

Propane versus natural gas Family cooking in kitchen
There are many differences between natural gas & propane. Costs, energy efficiency & environmental impact are some of them. Read this article to find out more.

Propane and natural gas are both popular fuels used by consumers to do various things, including heat homes, heat water, cook, and fuel appliances. Propane is used in places without access to natural gas, such as off-grid areas or rural areas. Natural gas is distributed via pipeline, meaning it requires consumers to be on-grid and near cities or urban areas.

Although they are similar in application, consumers should understand the differences between natural gas vs propane before deciding which to purchase. This blog post will compare the two gasses and highlight the greatest differences between them.


What is natural gas vs propane?

The answer to this question requires we take a deeper look into where both gasses are found and how they are sold:

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is found in nature as a gas mixture of methane and other gasses. Propane is actually one of the gasses found as a component of natural gas. Natural gas must be cleaned and processed before it can be sold to consumers. Part of the "cleaning" process of domestic natural gas production involves extracting the other gasses, such as propane, from the mixture.

What is propane?

Propane, also known as LPG, is a clean burning fuel used for a wide range of applications in the domestic, industrial, and commercial sectors. This popular alternative fuel is nontoxic, colorless, and odorless (although odor is added for safety) that is produced as a byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. After propane is extracted, it is pressurized so it can be stored as a liquid and sold to consumers in the familiar tanks and cylinders you have probably seen outside stores, on trucks, or alongside people's homes.




What are the biggest differences between gas propane and natural gas?

Propane vs natural gas are commonly mistaken for each other because they are both used for similar applications around the home; but they are quite different in terms of cost, efficiency, and environmental impact. The most important differences are:

  • Cost

  • Environmental impact

  • Energy efficiency

  • Household use

  • Transportation

  • Safety



Propane vs natural gas cost is a question many consumers ask when deciding which to purchase for their home or business. Natural gas rates are measured in price per cubic foot and propane rates are measured in price per gallon. The price of both fuels tends to fluctuate over time. When you compare the average cost of the two gasses, it can appear that natural gas is the cheaper option, but this is not true when you take these factors into account:

  • Natural gas provides just over 1,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs)

  • Propane provides about 2,500 BTUs in the same volume

This means that propane contains roughly 2.5 times the amount of usable energy as natural gas and you need less of it to produce the same amount of energy. Thus making propane the cheaper option and the more energy efficient option.


Environmental impact

Propane vs natural gas environmental impact can be explained in a number of ways. As we covered above, you need roughly 2.5 times less propane to produce the same amount of BTUs, or energy, as natural gas. This is just one of the reasons propane is the more environmentally friendly fuel as compared to natural gas. Because natural gas needs to be "cleaned," the refining process releases methane and other gasses. This is called "upstream emissions, and causes natural gas to have a higher environmental impact than propane. Plus, natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas while propane is not.


Energy efficiency

Overall, propane is the more energy efficient fuel when compared to natural gas. Propane contains almost twice the available energy as natural gas. This means you will use half as much propane to generate the same amount of heat or to fuel appliances in your home.


Household use

Natural gas is only available to homeowners via pipeline in and around high-density areas like cities and urban centers. Propane is available to efficiently and affordably heat your home anywhere. Propane systems are cheaper to run than electric systems, and it is a reliable fuel source in the coldest of climates.



While both propane vs natural gas are considered to be alternative fuels, propane is a green fuel while natural gas is not. Natural gas was deemed to be a greenhouse gas by the Clean Energy Act of 1990. Propane is also the better choice for transportation because it is the more efficient fuel and you need less of it than natural gas to travel the same distance.



Both natural gas and propane are generally safe to use because they both dissipate quickly when released into the air. Propane is safer for the environment because it burns cleaner and is non-toxic. Natural gas has a low toxicity, but is not considered to be non-toxic like propane.


What are the similarities between propane vs natural gas?

Propane and natural gas have many similarities. Here are a few:

  • Both gasses are odorless, colorless, and clean burning fuel sources

  • Propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) can be used as alternative fuel source for vehicles

  • Both gasses are hydrocarbons

  • Natural gas and propane can be used to grill food

  • Both gasses are safe and non-toxic


Conclusion: Where to buy propane?

Homeowners and business owners can use this article discussing the differences between propane and natural gas to decide which is right for them. There are limitations to natural gas because it requires you to be ongrid and near a major population center that is set up for natural gas distribution.

Propane is sold in liquid form and stored in portable tanks or delivered directly to your home. Providers like Pinnacle Propane will monitor your home propane tank levels in order to ensure your home or business never runs out of propane.

Contact Pinnacle Propane to learn more about your options and how they can serve your propane needs.