Natural Gas vs. Propane: Key Differences You Need to Know

Can’t decide on how to supply energy to your house? Natural gas and propane are popular options when it comes to heating homes across the country, but not all homeowners are aware of their differences. In this article, we compare the two types of gas, natural gas, and LPG, by contemplating their pros and cons.

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a hydrocarbon that contains methane, propane, butane, and ethane. The gas is drawn from the ground, where it then goes through pipes and into people’s houses. It is considered the safest fuel to use since it doesn’t pose the risk of a gas leak.

What is propane?

Propane is in natural gas, but it is separated when natural gas is processed and added to crude oil. In other words, propane is a product of natural gas. Compared to natural gas that goes through the pipes, propane is compressed into a liquid (hence, liquefied petroleum gas or LPG), stored in cylinders, and then sold to propane companies.

What is the difference between natural gas and propane?

Both types of gasses share similarities, for example, being odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. But there are also a few differences between the two:

#1 BTUs

The British Thermal Unit (BTU) measures the amount of energy that each type of gas can create. A cubic foot of natural gas generates 1,030 BTUs, while a cubic foot of propane produces 2,516 BTUs. In other words, for the same amount of gas, we’d get more energy from propane.

#2 Cost of Fuel

The cost of fuel depends on the location of your property. If you aren’t connected to the national gas grid, it’s not the most economical choice. To connect to natural gas, you would need to consider the cost of installing a pipeline and purchasing appliances that operate on natural gas. However, considering that 85 percent of Americans use natural gas due to its abundance, it’s safe to say that it’s an affordable option.

#3 Eco-Friendliness

Between the two, propane is “eco-friendlier”. While the two types of gasses are clean-burning, propane is environmentally friendly even after combustion. Since natural gas contains methane, it risks adding to the earth’s greenhouse gasses in case it leaks.

#4 Transport Method

As long as your property has a pipeline, it can get natural gas. Propane, on the other hand, needs to be sent to your house. Although propane tanks are widely available, the drawback is that the tanks need to be refilled constantly. If you forget to resupply your fuel, you will have to live without heat, which can be a bummer during winter.

#5 Safety

Natural gas is lighter than propane, so it’ll dissipate faster than propane. However, in case of a gas leak, the smallest spark can start a fire, making natural gas more dangerous. Unlike natural gas that’s at risk of a leak, a propane tank explosion is extremely unlikely.


Propane generates more energy, but the downside is that it’s not reliable. On the other hand, natural gas is accessible, but due to the methane content, it’s not eco-friendly at all. If you’re torn between which type of gas to get, a professional can help you determine which fuel is the best for your situation.