What burns hotter propane or natural gas?

Is there a pre-Christmas question more important than the one in the title? To be honest, there probably is. For example: is Santa Claus based on St. Nicholas of Myra? Or: can reindeer actually fly? Those are tough ones, don’t you agree? Anyway, as you can assume, we’re only kidding.

There are harder questions to tackle. The question in the title is definitely among them. Many folks around the country are asking themselves exactly the same. So, should you choose natural gas over propane or the other way ’round? We’re here to help you find the correct answer.

Propane burns hotter than natural gas. It produces more BTUs (British Thermal Units) per cubic foot. To be precise: propane produces 2.520 BTUs per cubic foot, while natural gas only produces 1.012 BTUs per cubic foot. By heating your home with propane instead of natural gas, you’ll save some funds. Propane’s also the more eco-friendly option.

Wondering if there’s more to it? If so, don’t hesitate to check the article below. We’re pretty sure you’ll find some helpful info. In other words: you’ll find the answer to the question: what burns hotter, propane or natural gas?

Table of Contents

The difference between propane and natural gas

We’re guessing some of you already know this, but still… It’s good that we mention them anyway. So, what are the difference between these two types of gas?

Folks around the world wrongly use these two as synonyms. We’ll show you why. Both types of gas are very similar: they’re odorless, clean-burning, and odorless. Also, both are used for cooking and heating in plenty of households. So, yeah, it’s easy to mix them up.

But, let’s see those differences:

  • We get propane from processing natural gas. We extract natural gas from the ground.
  • Propane is denser/heavier than natural gas.
  • Natural gas finds a way to people’s homes via gas pipelines. Propene is mostly held in tanks.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, propane is more eco-friendly.
  • Propane produces more energy per cubic foot. About 2.5 times more than natural gas for the same amount of substance.

How come propane is more environmentally friendly?

Alright, let’s see how that’s possible. Don’t you agree propane sounds more hazardous? We’ll take a guess and say that you do. Now, names are only names. The natural in the natural gas syntagm doesn’t mean much to us here.

Both natural gas and propane are so-called clean-burning gases. Here’s what makes natural gas less eco-friendly. To be green, gases need to be clean both before and after combustion. Now, natural gas doesn’t emit hazardous elements into the atmosphere while burning. The thing is: natural gas can be toxic if it leaks into the atmosphere.

Is that reason why many homeowners are switching to propane?

You can say it’s one of the reasons why homeowners are switching to propane. Nowadays, people are more and more concerned about their environment. One would have to be a total cynic to find something wrong with that. Ecological conscience drives people away from using natural gas.

There’s another reason why homeowners are switching to propane. With natural gas, you’re also choosing dependency on large natural gas infrastructure. Imagine something goes wrong with it. You might be stuck without gas for several (or more) hours. That’s something you’ll need to prepare for, especially during wintertime.

Okay, and which one’s safer?

It turns out propane is also safer than natural gas. Also, it could turn out we’re subtly vouching for propane. But, in order to avoid that, here are some facts. Propane is much less flammable than natural gas. You’ll need to find a heat source that’s at least 920°F (493°C) hot, to make it burn.

If safety issues concern you a lot (and they, of course, should), click right here.

Lastly, which one’s cheaper?

You can be sure about one thing. Both options are chapter than electricity. If you already have a gas pipe beneath your home – it’s hard to tell which one’s cheaper. What if you don’t? Well, installing a gas line underneath your home will cost more than obtaining a propane tank.

It’s important to know they’re priced differently. Natural gas is priced per cubic foot, while propane rates are priced per gallon. Not to mention the fact these prices are known to fluctuate over time.

Also, one must consider the BTUs (British Thermal Units) both gases produce per cubic foot. But, that’s kind of the key point of today’s article so… Yeah, we’ll talk about it pretty soon.

Natural gas is priced per cubic foot, while propane is priced per gallon. So, what burns hotter: propane or natural gas? Read the next section of the text.

Alright, what burns hotter, propane or natural gas?

Let’s cut to the chase. We might’ve answered this one in short at the beginning, but it’s important we elaborate on it. As we’ve already said, the answer is not a strict this or that. It’s more of a “well, it depends” kind of answer. Although, propane has a better chance of winning here.

The thing with BTUs

As we’ve mentioned a while ago, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s a standardized unit of energy used in the US, or sometimes – UK. We’re no experts in this field, but we’ll try our best to form the next sentence. BTUs symbolize the amount of thermal energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of (pure) liquid water by 1°F.

So, we’re going to use BTUs to show you why propane might be a better option. Whether you’re barbecuing or trying to heat up your home – it doesn’t matter. Propane produces more BTUs per cubic meter than natural gas. The relation looks like this: 2.5/1 (2.520/1.012 BTUs). That means you’ll need much more natural gas than propane to finish the job.

It seems someone raised their hand. Alright, sir, let’s hear you out!

Other opinions (concerning barbecuing on natural gas)

Okay, so we’ll sum up the lecture we just got from a barbecuing expert.

You might be wondering whether a propane grill is more suitable for barbecuing. There are some folks that claim there aren’t any big differences in power/heat. Unless we’re talking about barbecuing in the coldest days of winter, they add. Something that rarely, if ever – happens, you’ll agree. All grill models are designed to work the same on propane or natural gas.

Do we have an answer to the main question here?

When we take into consideration the number of BTUs propane produces, it’s not hard to think of an answer. So, what burns hotter: propane or natural gas? Our final answer is propane.

We’ve prepared some extra tips for you, so don’t go anywhere yet.

Bonus tip: How to properly store propane?

Here we’ll show you some safety tips concerning propane storage.

Make sure your propane tanks are stored outside

You don’t want to store propane tanks inside your home. Imagine there’s a leak. Even the tiniest spark can cause a life-threatening catastrophe. Make sure your propane tank(s) is/are stored in a dry, outside area of your home. Also, you’ll want to store it/them upright on a flat surface, so they don’t roll away.

If you live in an area that’s used to seeing heavy snow during winter, we’ve got a suggestion. You might want to label your tanks with flags. That way you’ll always know where they are. Even in the worst weather conditions.

We did mention propane isn’t so flammable, but you know how they say: better safe than sorry.

Your tank should get enough sunlight during colder months

Put your tank someplace where it can get enough sunlight during colder months. The surrounding temperature needs to be above -40°F (-40°C). When it comes to summer, you should avoid exposing the tank to temperatures above 120°F (49°C). 

Keep it away from any heating sources (and basement windows)

Well, this one goes without saying. Still, we should mention it anyway. Store your propane tank(s) away from any potential heating sources. Also, propane is, as we know, heavier than air. It sticks to the ground and might go through your basement windows.

What about air-conditioning or heating vents?

Yup, keep the tanks away from them, too.

Bonus tips inside bonus tips

We heard you like bonus tips, so we put some bonus tips inside these bonus tips. Okay, let’s not use age-old memes. Instead, we’ll recommend you to visit this page for more safety tips.

A quick recap concerning the propane vs. natural gas match

As always, when the article nears its end, it’s time to do a recap. First, let’s check out the differences between natural gas and propane:

  • We get natural gas by extracting it from the ground. By processing natural gas, we get propane.
  • Propane is denser/heavier than natural gas. 
  • Propane is mostly held in tanks. Natural gas comes you your home via pipelines. 
  • Contrary to what you might assume, propane is more eco-friendly. 
  • Propane also produces more energy per cubic foot.
  • Lastly, even though they’re priced differently, propane is the cheaper option.

And which one burns hotter: propane or natural gas?

Our final answer is propane. As we said, propane can produce more energy per cubic foot. We use BTUs (British Thermal Units) to measure this. Propane produces 2.520 BTUs per cubic foot, while natural gas produces only 1.012 BTUs per cubic foot.

Bonus tips on proper propane storage

What about those bonus tips on propane storage? Let’s them also:

  • Make sure you store your tanks outside.
  • They should get enough sunlight during colder months.
  • Keep them away from any heating sources and basement windows. 
  • Also, never store them next to air-conditioning or heating vents.

Final words

Alright, that should do it. Now you know the answer to the question: can reindeer fly? Oops, we meant to say something else. Now you know the answer to the question: what burns hotter, propane or natural gas?