Have you ever wondered what the difference is between LPG and natural gas?
Most of us know that there are two types of gas that’s being used for hot water systems, cooking and heating. And we’re aware that the one is supplied in gas bottles and the other via pipelines.
But what is the difference between the two?
Do gas appliances work with either the one or the other, or are they interchangeable?
In this article I will tell you exactly what the difference between LPG and natural gas is, and more!
In this article I will discuss:
What is LPG?
LPG is an acronym for Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
It’s a mixture of gasses, with butane and propane being the major two.
LPG is present in natural gas and is also dissolved in oil inside the earth’s surface.
No wonder, then, that more than 60% of the LPG supply comes as a byproduct from drilling for natural gas and oil.
However, LPG is also produced through the refining of crude oil.
Lastly, a small percentage of the LPG supply comes from renewable vegetable and plant waste material and is known as BioLPG or renewable LPG.
This last form of LPG is becoming more popular because it reduces the carbon footprint by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80%.
What is natural gas?
Natural gas is a gas occurring naturally in the earth’s surface.
It is a mixture of several gasses with the main one being methane.
Other gasses are present in small quantities and these gasses include butane, propane, pentane, ethane and carbon dioxide.
The compressed form of natural gas is called Liquified Natural Gas, or LNG in short.
To liquify natural gas, other compounds like water vapor and carbon dioxide needs to be removed first because they can freeze before the natural gas reaches -162°C/-260°F.
This is the temperature at which natural gas needs to be kept to stay in the liquid form, LNG.
Natural gas is pumped from the earth’s surface from oil and gas fields and transported either in gas pipelines in gas form, or in big specially designed containers, kept at -162°C/-260°F, in liquid form.
What is the difference between LPG and natural gas?
Can you use LPG and natural gas in the same appliance?
LPG and natural gas have different pressures that they operate at. They also have different chemical properties like combustion temperature and gas to air ratios.
Appliances are therefore set up to operate with either the one or the other.
However, most of the newer appliances, especially gas stoves and cooktops, have conversion kits that includes a different set of gas nozzles. These kits can be installed by technicians and will allow the user to switch over from the one gas to the other.
To change back to the initial gas used, a technician must remove the kit and refit the original kit with nozzles.
This gives users of most of the newer appliances the option to choose which gas they want to use depending on availability and personal choice.
Which gas is cheaper between LPG and natural gas?
In general, LPG is more expensive than natural gas. The main reason for this is that natural gas requires less processing since it comes almost straight from the earth.
LPG, on the other hand, is the result of several different processes.
All these steps in the production of LPG accumulates cost with LPG ending up being more expensive per cubic meter than natural gas.
That doesn’t mean, though, that natural gas works out cheaper in the end.
That’s because natural gas suppliers charge a daily supply charge for the connection to the main lines.
Also, natural gas has less energy per cubic meter compared to LPG. This means less LPG is required to achieve the same end result in terms of heating.