Propane and Heating Oil

What runs on propane?

A host of residential appliances are either created to run on propane, or can be converted to use this fuel. Barbeques are one of the most popular examples; you're probably familiar with the small steel tanks sold at gas stations and by propane dealers which fit neatly under BBQs and provide a grilling season's worth of fuel. Even when full, these cylinders weigh only twenty pounds, and many retailers offer refill or exchange program, allowing users to bypass the cost of a new tank and instead pay only for the cost of fuel itself.

Patio heaters and gas fire pits are also popular uses for propane. As an alternative to wood-burning fire pits, those using propane burn cleanly, with no smell, and require only a small electric spark to ignite propane once it is converted back to gas. Many fire pits include adaptors which allow them to run off of standard propane cylinders; patio heaters, meanwhile, often include compartments at their base which will easily connect and store a cylinder. All users need to do is turn on the gas, press the starter button to create a spark, and enjoy the heat.

Benefits to using propane

There are several benefits to using propane instead of other fuel sources. First is cost — expect to pay half as much for propane as standard gasoline. The U.S. Department of Energy also offers tax incentives for propane sellers and fuel station owners, up to 30 percent of the install price in some cases. The clean-burning nature of propane is part of the reason for these incentives, since the fuel itself is non-toxic unless inhaled in large quantities, and produces far fewer pollutants during combustion than gasoline.

Propane also has benefits as a home heating and home cooling material, as it is easily stored outside a home, and acts as an efficient refrigerant.

Blends of isopropane — a combination of propane and isobutane — are able to replace environmentally damaging CFC and HFC refrigerants in home air conditions systems. In addition, efforts are being made to increase propane use in vehicles, since it causes less wear and tear on engines by leaving behind fewer carbon deposits, and is far more difficult to siphon than gasoline or diesel.

Transportation and handling

The transport of propane in North America is typically handled by tanker trucks ranging in size from 3000 to 10000 gallons. They can be adapted to fill up large tanks on a property, or used as delivery methods for cylinders. In either case, the cost to transport propane is less than that of most other fuels due to its low weight in liquid form.

Handling this fuel is straightforward. Cylinders are quite sturdy, and can be transported in the trunks of cars or boxes of trucks with little to no risk. In the event of a propane leak, users must be aware that the gas is heavier than air, meaning it will sink and pool on the floor. Outdoors, this is not a risk, but propane tanks inside the home can pose a danger of fire or explosion if the gas reaches a pilot light or other flame.

If your home is powered by propane, shutting off the supply is as simple as turning the valve near the meter a quarter turn left or right so that it is perpendicular to the pipe. If you have an outside tank, make sure to periodically repaint (or hire someone to repaint) the tank a white or silver color to limit the amount of heat absorbed from sunlight, since it's possible to trigger the pressure release valve if the compressed liquid expands due to increased temperature.

Hiring a propane seller or servicer

Propane sales have increased significantly over the last decade, with a host of specialty companies emerging which provide dedicated supply and service for propane appliances and vehicles.

Some offer so-called "automatic" delivery programs, which supply residential users with fuel at set intervals. Here, the supplier delivers propane based on past usage and estimated needs, meaning you don't need to worry about calling the company directly unless you move out of your current home or your fuel needs change.

Water heaters, space heaters and furnaces are all candidates for replacement with propane-powered appliances from reliable providers. Furnaces, for example, can generate anywhere from 45000 to 115000 BTUs of heat, and offer up to 96 percent efficiency, in some cases saving homeowners up to 30 percent as compared to conventional heating methods.

Propane is a safe, cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to other fuels, and an increased number of reputable propane sales and service companies offer a host of residential heating, cooling and comfort options.

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