What are the Differences between Natural Gas and Propane Water Heaters?

May 15, 2017 | by Chad Sanborn

Depending on where you live, your home may have the option of having a water heater that uses propane or natural gas. What's the difference?

Let's start with the basics. Both propane and natural gas are fossil fuels. Propane is a product made from natural gas that has been separated into an individual product. It's usually delivered in liquid form (LP) in tanks, like a tank for a gas grill or a large tank for whole-home use. Natural gas is delivered to homes by utility pipes. It can be used for gas stoves and furnaces as well as water heaters. Both are viewed as green fuels because they emit very little to zero pollution.

Generally speaking, natural gas is less expensive that propane on a per BTU basis. According to the Consumer Energy Center, the yearly cost of operating a natural gas water heater is $190, compared to $343 for propane when the price per therm is 70 cents.

Natural gas availability will generally determine whether or not propane can be used because many municipalities will require the use of natural gas if a business or residence is within a certain distance of a natural gas main line. When natural gas becomes available in a location, some homeowners opt to switch to the cheaper fuel source.

So if you're considering switching from propane to natural gas, or vice versa, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Some but not all appliances, such as a stove, oven, furnace or water heater, can be converted.

First, check with the manufacturer to see if a conversion is possible. Depending on the appliance, the  conversion may involve only a few parts. In other cases the conversion may be extensive, requiring new orifices, valves and burners. In some cases the conversion may not be possible at all with a particular appliance.

Check with a professional to see what's the best choice for your home, and have a professional perform the conversion and ensure the appliance is operating properly and safely.

This blog was developed by Bradford White. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.


Topics: Heating & Cooling, Water Heaters

Companies: Bradford White Water Heaters



Chad Sanborn
Chad Sanborn is the Product Marketing Manager for Bradford White Water Heaters. He has been in the water heater industry for over 13 years, supporting the growth and development of Bradford White in various capacities. In 2001, Chad began his career in the production areas of Bradford White's Middleville, MI water heaters manufacturing facility. Using his hands-on product experience, Chad transitioned into the engineering department in 2007, where he expanded his knowledge and influence by working with the testing procedures and standards for residential and commercial water heaters. In 2011, Chad was promoted to the Sales and Marketing team, where he currently holds the position of Product Marketing Manager. In his current role, he manages all products for Bradford White Corporation and works collaboratively with the sales and engineering teams to develop Bradford White's short and long-term water heater product development and marketing strategies. Chad holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Business Management from Cornerstone University and is an active participant in many plumbing, engineering and manufacturing trade organizations. www

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