What is propane gas? (2024)

Who Uses Propane and for What Purposes

The hospitality industry – hotels, restaurants, etc – use propane for heating, cooking and hot water. A chicken farmers usea propane to keep the chicks warm. A farmer uses of propane include flame weeding, crop drying and irrigation pumps. Auto body repair shops use propane for the oven to cure painted cars. Refrigeration manufacturers use propane for a refrigerant gas. Many companies use propane to fuel boilers for a multitude of purposes. And the list for uses of propane just goes on and on.

What is Propane Used For – Common Uses of Propane

Propane uses in everyday life include home heating, cooking, hot water heaters, gas fireplaces and clothes drying. Home everyday outdoor life uses include patio heaters, pool heaters, backup generators, and as BBQ fuel. For some people, it also includes vehicle fuel, with LPG cars and vehicles. Propane gas heating systems provide instant warmth and are available in flued gas heaters and portable gas heaters.

Propane is also usedfor hundreds, if not thousands, of uses. In addition, propane is used for propellant, refrigerant, vehicle fuel and petrochemical feedstock applications.

The propane uses most people can name are around the home, in their cars or for their business.What is propane gas? (1)

Propane does get used in leisure time activities including caravans, boats, recreational vehicles, hot air balloons and camping.

Propane is also usedfor fuel for many commercial and agricultural heat applications, including commercial boilers.

Business and industry use propane for a multitude of processes including steam boilers, kilns, ovens and forklifts.

Crop and produce drying, heating greenhouses, hot water for dairies, irrigation pumps and heating animal enclosures are just some of the agricultural applications for propane.

Transport is also a big user of propane, either alone or mixed with butane, to power various vehicle types.

There are alsomany, many more propane applications, including power generation and the hospitality industry.

Why is Propane Used as a Fuel

Propane is used as a fuel because of its portability and high energy density. In addition, it only requires modest pressure for liquefication maintaining a practical vessel weight. So, propane is used as a fuel for transportation and in areas without natural gas reticulation.

7 Important Propane Facts

What is propane gas? (2)

1. Propane is LPG but not all LPG is propane. LPG is the acronym for Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

2.Propane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that isliquefied through pressurisationand commonly used as fuel.

3. Propanecomes from natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

4. Propane is LPG but not all LPG is propane.Propane, along with a number of gases, falls under the “LPG” label. The other gases includebutane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of the three LPG gases.

5. Propane gas can be compressed into liquid at relatively low pressure.

6. Propane is frequently used for fuel in heating, cooking, hot water and vehicles.

7. Propane is generally stored, as a liquid, in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and storage tanks. (45kg gas bottles shown)

Propane Goes by Many Names

In Australia, propane has many names.

It is also called LPG, LPG Gas, LP Gas, BBQ Gas or Autogas.

In the USA it is just called Propane.

In the UK, it is referred to as either propane or LPG.

How Does Propane Work?

Propane is stored under pressure, as a liquid, in a gas bottle.

It turns back into gas vapour when you release some of the pressure in the gas bottle by turning on your appliance.

Almost all of the uses for propane involve the use of the gas vapour, not the liquefied gas.

What is Propane Made of? Propane Composition – Propane Structure

What is propane gas? (3)

Propane structure is as a hydrocarbon gas with 3 carbon and 8 hydrogen atoms in a propane molecule. The chemical formula for propane is C3H8.(Propane molecule structure model shown)

Propane is not made or manufactured, it is found naturally in combination with other hydrocarbons.

Propane is produced or “made” during natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

Both processes begin by drilling oil wells.

Propane does not occur naturally in isolation.

Propane processing involves the separation and collection of the gas from its petroleum base and otherNatural Gas Liquids (NGLs).

Following its refinement, LPG is stored and distributed as a liquid under pressure until used, at which point it is utilised as either a liquid or a gas (vapour).

Propane Gas Heating Systems for Homes

Propane gas heating systems for home are an energy efficient way to keep warm and cozy. Gas heating systems works well for large home spaces so there’s no better way to provide cozy warmth to every corner of your home than with gas heating. Propane heating systems are synonymous with fast home heating and real warmth.

Propane gas heating system sub-types for sale include radiant, convectors, radiant-convectors, flued radiant, freestanding fireplaces, fireplace inserts, inbuilt fireplace gas heaters and power flued gas heaters for the home.

With a wide range of propane gas heating appliances systems to choose from, there is a model that is just right for your home.

What is a Propane Tank?

What is propane gas? (4)

Propane tanks are typically steel vessels for storing the common LPG gases, propane or butane. Homes and small businesses typically use either 45kg gas bottles, the larger 90kg or 210kg LPG gas bottle sizes. BBQ propane tanks come in 9kg and 4kg gas bottle sizes. High volume users have the largerpropane tank sizes.

Propane tanks may also be called “Propane Gas Bottles”, “LPG Bottle”, “LPG Gas Cylinders” or just “Gas Bottle”.

Propane gas tanks contain liquid and gas, as propane liquefies under relatively low pressure.

A propane tank is considered low pressure versus high pressure cylinders, as used with CNG.

Propane tank sizes and volumes vary, based on application and demand. A small propane gas bottle is portable, as used in camping.

Can You Bury a Propane Tank?

Yes, you can bury a propane tank as long as it was made for burying. A buried propane tank needs anti-corrosive coatings and cathode protection. Underground propane tanks are tanker filled by hose.

The burying of a propane tank should be handled by an experienced professional company and minimum and maximum distances from your home or business apply. The buried propane tank must also be safely away from any ignition source.

Propane Tank Installation Distance Requirements – Residential Propane Tank Regulations

Residential propane tank regulations and propane tank distance requirements are important for a safe installation. The installation distance requirements can vary based on the size of the propane tank. The typical minimum distance is 10 feet or 3 meters, including ignition sources and building openings in all directions.

Propane Gas Pressure Regulators – What is a Propane Regulator?

What is propane gas? (5)A propane regulator is used to control the pressure of the propane gas delivered to the appliance, from the propane gas bottles. Propane gas pressure regulators automatically modulate high pressure gas down to a maximum pre-determined limit.

The pressure within a gas bottle can be 800-900kPa which is regulated down to the 2.75kPa typically required.

Propane gas pressure regulatorsfor LPG bottles are usually factory pre-set to the standard 2.75kPa operating pressure for the appliances.

A propane regulator can also be referred to as a cooking gas regulator when used with cooking appliances.

Is Propane Explosive? How & Can a Propane Gas Cylinder Explode? Propane-LPG Tank Explosion

Propane cylinder or propane-LPG tank explosions do not happen with any frequency. A propane-LPG tank (gas cylinder) explosion or blast is actually quite rare. Gas cylinders can be explosive but not easily or often. Even trying to create a propane cylinder explosion intentionally is very challenging.

Propane is explosive under the right circ*mstances. The propane can be explosive if it is within the limits of flammability, between 2.15% and 9.6% of the total propane/air mixture.For the propane to be explosive, it must also collect in a confined space in order for an explosion to occur.

What are the Properties of Propane?

Propane Boiling Point

Water boils at 100°C, becoming a gas (steam).

In contrast, propane boils at -42°C becoming gas vapour.

Propane stays liquid because it is under pressure in a gas cylinder.

As a liquid, it looks a lot like water.

It is colourless and odourless in its natural state.

Odourant is Added for Safety

What is propane gas? (6)In its natural state, propane is an odourless gas.

The distinctive smell that people associate with propane is actually added to it as a safety measure.

Without theaddition of an odourant, leaking gas could collect without being detected.

Avoid Direct Contact – Cold Burns

Caution should always be used to avoid direct exposure, as liquid propane is cold enough to cause severe cold burns on exposed skin.

Specific Gravity of Propane – Density

What is propane gas? (7)Unlike water, 1 kilogram of propane does NOT equal 1 litre of propane.

Propane density or specific gravity is about half that of water, at 0.51.

1kg of propane has a volume of 1.96L.

Conversely, 1L of propane weighs 0.51kg.

1lb of propane@ 60ºFhas a volume of 0.24 US gallons.

Conversely, 1 US gallon of propane@ 60ºFonly weighs 4.23lbs, instead of the 8.34lbs it would weigh if it was water.

Propane Gaseous Expansion

What is propane gas? (8)Propane expands to 270 times the volume when it goes from liquid to gas.

So, 1L of liquid LPG equals 270L of gaseous propane.

As there are 1000L in a cubic meter (M3), 1L of liquid propane expands to 0.27M3.

1 US gallon of liquid propane equals 36.38ft3of gaseous propane

Energy Content of Propane

Propane contains approximately 25MJ per litre.

This alsoconvertsto 6.9kWh.

More propane energy content facts:

1 US gallon of propane = 91,502 BTU @ 60ºF

1ft3propane gas = 2,488 BTU of Gas @ 60ºF

1 US gallon propane = 1.1 therm

1 therm = 100,000 BTU

1 watt = 3.41214 BTU/h

Combustion Formula

In the presence of sufficient oxygen, propane burns to form water vapourand carbon dioxide, as well as heat.

Propane + Oxygen → Carbon Dioxide + Water + Heat

(C3H8+ 5 O2→ 3 CO2+ 4 H2O + Heat)

If not enough oxygen is present for complete combustion, incomplete combustion occurs with water,carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide being produced.

Propane Flame Temperature

What is propane gas? (9)An propane flame burns at 1980ºC (3596ºF).

When it is burning properly, theflame is blue.

A yellow or red flame is usually indicative of incomplete combustion.

Limits of Flammability

The lower and upper limits of flammability are the percentages of propane that must be present in an propane/air mixture.

This means that between 2.15% and 9.6% of the total propane/air mixture must be propane in order for it to be combustible.

Propane Flash Point

The flash point of propane is -104ºC (-155.2ºF).

This is the minimum temperature at which propane will burn on its own after having been ignited.

Below this temperature, it will stop burning on its own.

However, if a source of continuous ignition is present,it will burn below -104°C.


Propane gas is heavier than air and will sink to and collect at the lowest point.

If propane is vented to the outside air, it will quickly dissipate with the slightest movement of air.

Conversely, if propane is vented into a sealed structure, with no air movement, the propane gas will collect on the floor and rise vertically as more propane is vented into the structure.

Propane Vapour (Gas) Use vs. Liquid Use

Propane can be supplied in eitherliquid or vapour.

The difference is in the extraction from cylinder or vessel in which it is supplied.

Most propane applications use vapour.

Appliances such as water heaters, room heaters and cookers all use vapour.

If these appliances were to have liquid propane flow to their burners, the result could possibly be a fire or similar safety hazard.

This is why propane cylinders should always be kept upright, so that only vapour is released.

What is propane gas? (2024)


What is the difference between propane gas and regular gas? ›

For homeowners, the main difference between the two is that propane is compressed into a liquid form and either sold in portable canisters, or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank on their property. Natural gas, however, remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home via a pipeline.

What is propane gas made of? ›

Because propane is made up only of carbon and hydrogen — the chemical formula is C3H8 — it's an organic compound. It's also a paraffin hydrocarbon, similar to ethane or methane. Although propane is a gas, it's easily liquified with pressure, making it easy to store and transport in bulk form.

Is propane gas bad for you? ›

In high concentrations, propane is bad because it has the capacity to harm your body. Propane displaces oxygen and is an asphyxiant gas. It causes suffocation if allowed to accumulate to concentrations that reduce oxygen below safe breathing levels.

What is safer, propane or natural gas? ›

As a fuel, propane is also safer – Propane has a much narrower range of flammability (minimum and maximum burn temperatures) than natural gas; propane will not ignite when combined with air unless the ignition source reaches at least 920 degrees F.

Is it cheaper to heat your house with propane or natural gas? ›

Propane is usually more expensive than natural gas on a per-unit basis, but it's also much more efficient. In fact, propane produces about twice as much heat energy as an equivalent amount of natural gas.

What are the hazards of propane? ›

As for natural gas, propane is non-toxic. However, it presents a possible inhalation hazard if released in a confined space, as it displaces oxygen and acts as a simple asphyxiate. Liquid propane is an effective refrigerant. It rapidly absorbs heat from the skin and can cause severe burns to the body.

Where does the US get most of its propane? ›

Propane is a byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining, with almost equal amounts of production derived from each of these sources. Most of the propane consumed in the United States is produced in North America.

Is propane bad for the environment? ›

Propane is an environmentally friendly choice. While it does emit a low level of carbon dioxide, it's relatively clean burning when compared to gas or diesel. It does not emit sulfur dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and other wastes.

Is propane heat dirty? ›

Second, propane gas has no greenhouse emissions and is approved as a clean fuel by the U.S. government. It's nontoxic and eco-friendly. Third, propane heating offers better heating efficiency that natural gas – almost double!

Why is propane getting so expensive? ›

Wholesale propane prices have increased because of high international demand and low global propane supply. The U.S. propane market has tightened because of the increase in exports, and wholesale U.S. propane prices have risen in line with wholesale propane prices in overseas markets.

How safe is propane in a house? ›

Like other fuels, such as oil or natural gas, propane is perfectly safe for use as a home heating fuel. Propane itself is non-toxic, so it will not cause health issues. If you are concerned about the safety of propane, there are things you can do to protect your family and home.

Why is propane a bad energy source? ›

Propane is not a greenhouse gas since it does not occur naturally in the atmosphere. However, the production and transportation of propane can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The Good News: Propane has a lower carbon footprint than other fossil fuels and its use can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Which is better to cook with propane or natural gas? ›

Efficiency: Because propane has a higher BTU rating than natural gas, propane tends to heat faster and use less fuel when compared to the same task performed with natural gas. Cost: While prices can vary by region, it is generally true that natural gas is a more affordable option for businesses.

Why use propane instead of gasoline? ›

Fuel Economy and Performance

The potential for lower maintenance costs makes propane a popular choice for high-mileage vehicles. Propane's high octane rating, combined with its low-carbon and low oil-contamination characteristics, has resulted in improved engine life compared to conventional gasoline engines.

Is it cheaper to use propane or gasoline? ›

Propane generators tend to have a higher upfront cost since they require a propane tank or line to be installed. However, propane is typically cheaper than gasoline, so you may save money in the long run.

Can I use propane on a natural gas heater? ›

Most, but not all, appliances can be converted from natural gas to propane. The biggest sticking point is that natural gas is kept at a lower pressure, and some appliances can't handle the higher pressure of propane even with adjustments.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated:

Views: 5978

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.