Propane Vs Natural Gas

copper gas light

So you’re on the market for a new set of gas lights for your home or business. You’ve done the research and discovered that gas lights are an attractive and affordable solution to run-of-the-mill electric lighting. You’ve even driven around and found other homes with outdoor gas lighting and determined that you like the natural weathered look of copper gas lights over their cast aluminum gas light counterparts.

Whether you are looking for the radiant light that gas lights with mantles provide or are more drawn to the soft, ambient outdoor lighting that open flame burners provide, the most often overlooked aspect of installing gas lights in homes is the fuel type you should utilize.

Before you start digging and running copper gas lines, you may want to read on and get a feel for whether propane or natural gas is your best bet for gas light power.

While natural gas and propane offer very similar levels of performance, there are a number of differences that need to be considered before purchasing gas lights. Unfortunately, gas lights can be very expensive to ship due to their bulkiness and weight. While many gas light retailers, such as, offer free shipping on many of the gas lights they offer, warranties will not cover the shipment of your gas lights to be refitted for another gas type. Therefore, this folly could end up costing you hundreds of dollars in unneeded and unanticipated cost. Additionally, hooking the gas lights up to the improper fuel source may void your warranty, making the repair costs even more devastating.

Things to consider:

  • That thing called gravity. One of the biggest differences between natural gas and propane is that propane is a much heavier fuel than natural gas. This can be a concern for people worried about the combustion factor of using outdoor gas lighting. When released, propane will fall to the earth and collect while natural gas, which is naturally lighter than air, will normally dissipate when released.
  • The efficiency of propane. Propane is a far more efficient fuel than natural gas. For those worried about the environment, this can be a very attractive quality. In fact, for the same volume of gas, propane will burn roughly 2500 BTUs to natural gas’s 1000 – almost 250% better.
  • Money, money, money. Let’s be truthful. For most of us, the bottom line usually falls to the all mighty dollar, and in the case of gas light fuels, natural gas holds the belt. While propane does burn more efficiently than natural gas, natural gas costs about 80% less on average – that’s a difference that the efficiency of propane can’t hold and open flame burner to.
  • Ouch, bad pun.

    propane tank

  • The look of gassiness. Another aspect of propane gas that many people find unappealing is the propane tank. While natural gas can be run from existing gas lines in your city, powering with propane will require the installation of a propane tank. If natural gas is available, this is another consideration you may want to take into account.

So…natural gas it is, you say?

Not so fast.

Unfortunately, natural gas is not readily available in all areas, and if you live in a rural area, propane may be your only option. The bottom line is that no matter what you choose for your gas light fuel, you will want to make sure it is your final decision. Deciding later than sooner that you would like to use another fuel source will be a costly endeavor and may have you looking at your outdoor gas lighting as more of an expense than an investment.

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