09 Mar Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Propane for Your Home
What is it?
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C3H8, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used in homes for cooking and heating. An odorant is added so that it can be smelled easily in the event of a leak. It is very important you know what propane smells like.
Propane can be stored in an above ground storage tank or a below ground storage tank. Your tank will not be completely filled with the fuel. For instance, a 500 gal underground propane tank. Its maximum capacity is 400 gallons. The airspace left in the tank is the propane vapor that is used in your home’s appliances.
What are the advantages of propane?
Propane is bought and stored in a liquid form (LPG), and thus fuel energy can be stored in a relatively small space.
Heating water accounts for 20 percent of a typical home’s energy costs. Heating with propane is more efficient than using electricity. Propane tankless water heaters add even more efficiency by eliminating the need to store hot water.
Propane is one of the best fuel options from an emissions perspective.
In Texas, the Railroad Commission offers rebates to buyers of propane appliances. See http://www.propane.tx.gov
Propane is a portable energy source.
Provides redundancy for home heating and cooking.
Doesn’t require electricity for delivery to the appliances.
What are the disadvantages of propane?
Propane is denser than air. If a leak in a propane fuel system occurs, the gas will have a tendency to sink into any enclosed area and thus poses a risk of explosion and fire. The typical scenario is a leaking cylinder stored in a basement; the propane leak drifts across the floor to the pilot light on the furnace or water heater, and results in an explosion or fire.
It is delivered via truck.
Propane is a much higher pressure gas than that of natural gas.
Above ground tanks and wildfires, floods, and tornados.
Interesting Facts About Propane:
The boiling point of Propane is (-44 F). Therefore, any Propane that is warmer than -44 F will begin to boil and give off a vapor. This vapor is what is used in the appliances in our homes.
Propane vapor will not ignite if it is not mixed with the correct amount of air.
Propane vapor is heavier than air and will sink and pool at the lowest point it can find.
One gallon of propane will produce 36 cubic feet of vapor.
Propane tanks are painted with a reflective paint to help reduce expansion caused by increases in temperature.
For our personal house, (The Red House) we elected to install a 1000 gallon underground propane tank. We elected to use propane for the increased efficiencies associated with heating water and the home. We would love to answer your questions and help you look at your specific application.
Propane-Energy for the Homes you Build-Planning the Propane Home