Propane vs. Electric Heating: 9 Common Questions Answered
Updated: Jul 5
Are you worried that your current home heating system is inefficient?
The best heating method for you depends on many factors, and here at Affordable Tanks, we know different heating methods are better in depending on the situation.
So, today we will compare two common methods for heating your home: propane and electricity.
If you are curious about either of these two methods, this article is for you! You will learn how each system works, the pros and cons of each, and get some good advice on when you should use each method.
Let’s take a look!
How Does Propane Heating Work?
Scientifically speaking, propane is a combustible gas made up of carbon and hydrogen. When compressed, it turns into a liquid and can be easily stored in tanks or cylinders, and when it ignites, it burns very hot and clean. This makes it a highly efficient and portable fuel for furnaces, water heaters, and other home appliances.
The process of getting propane is pretty easy:
Get a tank to store your propane in (purchasing a tank instead of renting one allows you to shop around for the best propane prices)
Run a line from the tank to your home
Find a propane provider to keep your tank full
Use propane to fuel your water heater, furnace, stove, or other appliances!
We highly recommend having a professional install your tank and run the line to your home. The installation process is a bit tricky, and you don’t want to install your tank incorrectly or run a leaky line to your home.
How Does Electric Heating Work?
We all know what electricity is!
Electric heating is the process of converting electrical energy to heat energy. There are many different types of electric heaters that do this. For instance, you could use baseboard heaters, an electric furnace, or some kind of radiant heating. Electric heating appliances range from whole-house furnaces to small, portable space heaters.
To get electricity, you have to run a line to your home. Then you can hook the cable up to your electric appliances.
Next up is the million-dollar question: which heating method is best? Let’s find out how the two methods compare on several fronts.
Propane vs. Electric: 9 Common Questions Answered
1. Which is cheaper?
Calculating which fuel is cheaper depends on factors such as your location, the efficiency of your appliances, and the cost of the fuels in your area. So we won’t make too many bold statements.
However, using propane is almost always cheaper than using electricity.
To make sure, you would have to calculate the cost of both in your area and in your unique situation. To do this, remember that the two fuels are measured in different units. Propane is measured in gallons, and electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours. One gallon of propane is roughly equal to 27 kWh of electricity.
To calculate which fuel is cheaper in your area, it can be helpful to use an online cost calculator.
2. Which is more versatile?
Electricity is a very versatile way to heat your home and can power most types of appliances. However, nearly any appliance powered by electricity could also be powered by propane, as long as its design is propane compatible.
As we said earlier, propane is cheaper than electricity, so switching to propane-powered appliances may help lower your energy bills. However, you may have some high upfront costs since you might have to replace some of your appliances.
3. Which is more eco-friendly?
Electricity may seem like the more eco-friendly option at first glance, but actually, propane wins the green competition. Here is why:
Electricity has to be generated by a source of fuel. Often this is coal, which is a significant source of greenhouse gas pollution.
After production, it takes a lot of energy to transport the electricity to your home.
Propane is stored right on your property, so no more transport or processing is needed after it is delivered.
Propane is an extremely clean-burning fuel and produces very few emissions.
Because of these and other factors, propane comes out on top when it comes to eco-friendliness. From extraction to transportation to use, propane is around 87% efficient, while electricity is only about 32% efficient.
4. Which is easier to get started with?
Switching to propane from electricity could save you money in the long run. But in terms of convenience, electricity is the clear winner.
To get started with propane, you must buy or rent a tank, run lines to your home, and possibly switch out some of your appliances.
You will also have to deal with filling your propane tank regularly, which is less convenient than simply having an endless supply of electricity running straight to your house.
5. Which is more efficient?
Propane has a high energy density compared to most fuels. That means it stores a lot of energy in a small amount of matter. In other words, it contains a lot of potential energy.
Its high energy density means that it releases a very hot, even heat when ignited, and it heats things more quickly than fuels such as natural gas or electricity. It is the clear winner when it comes to efficiency.
Of course, the efficiency of both propane and electricity also depends on how efficient your appliances are.
6. Which heats faster?
Propane is the clear winner when it comes to quickly heating a room.
Overall, propane is a more efficient fuel than electricity, and that means it heats things much faster. In fact, propane heats a boiler full of water in about a third of the time it would take electricity to heat the same amount of water.
7. Which is easier to use?
Electric appliances are often a bit easier to use than propane appliances, as they are easier to turn on and off and automate. With an electric appliance, you can heat rooms to a more precise temperature or set them to turn on and off at certain times.
If you're using propane, you need to maintain and refill your propane tank, so electricity wins the ease-of-use contest.
8. Which is lower maintenance?
If you don't want to deal with continual maintenance, electricity is probably the best option for you. If you use propane, you will need to store it in a tank, which may develop problems common to propane tanks and need maintenance and repairs. You will also need to replenish your supply whenever it gets low.
That means adding one more thing to your to-do list. And if you forget to refill your propane tank, you are out of a heat source. Good luck staying warm!
And good luck calming down your disgruntled (cold!) family members.
9. Which is more reliable?
One of the best things about propane is that it is reliable off-grid. In the case of a long power outage, it could be a lifesaver! If you run completely off electricity, you are in trouble if there is an outage – you won’t have heat, working appliances, or even a warm shower!
On the other hand, propane heat and appliances continue to do their job even during an electrical outage. Of course, propane’s reliability ultimately depends on yours. If you forget to refill your tank, you are out of luck.
The Bottom Line
Have we answered the question: Which is better, propane or electricity?
Well, ultimately, which is best depends on your situation. You are the only one who can make a truly informed decision about which is best for you.
In most cases, propane is cheaper, so if you want long-term savings, it may be your best bet. However, it will probably take a sizable investment to switch over to propane, so if you want to save money within the next several months, it’s not the greatest option.
If you are concerned about the environment, kick electricity out the door and go with propane! But if you want convenience, maybe you should go with electricity.
If you live in an area where the electric grid isn’t entirely reliable or are concerned about off-grid reliability, propane is a far better option for you.
We can’t completely answer the question for you, but hopefully, the information in this article helps you make an informed decision.
If you are interested in switching to propane, contact us here at Affordable Tanks! We offer you the option of buying your own propane tank so you can shop around for the best propane prices from different providers.
That way, you can always get the best pricing on propane!
We make it as easy as possible to get your own propane tank:
Get an estimate
Review your quote
We install your tank
Love your new freedom!
We also offer other services, including:
Give us a call today! We look forward to hearing from you.