Propane Furnace Vs Natural Gas Furnace Basics to Help You Choose

Shipton's Heating and Cooling helps homeowners choose between a propane and natural gas furnace installation.

This past week has really brought home the impact of ongoing climate change. It often seems like the seasons themselves are shifting and we no longer know what to expect from one month to the next.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear we’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone this week with worried customers. Their main concern? They want to be sure their existing furnace is up to the task of one last severe winter storm.

And for those already on the cusp of a new furnace purchase, we are talking through options to make sure future power outages will not cut off life-saving heat.

In this timely blog post, we talk about the basics of propane furnace vs natural gas furnace shopping. 

What are the pros? What are the cons? How can you know which is right for you?

What Is Propane Vs Natural Gas?

Propane and natural gas are frequently confused. The truth is, they are very similar in some key ways, including that they are both energy forms that can be used to power a commercial or residential furnace.

But there are also important differences between propane and natural gas.


Propane is liquefied petroleum gas. This is sometimes abbreviated as LPG. 

Propane is produced as a by-product during the processing of natural gas. Propane is also produced when crude oil is refined. So you can think of propane as a fossil fuel once removed.

Propane is commonly stored in a compressed (pressurized) liquid form, which explains the large submarine-shaped tanks that typically accompany a new propane furnace installation.

Propane is odourless, non-toxic and colourless but a scent is added to aid in the early detection of leaks.

Propane is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels, so much so that it is considered “green-friendly.” This means that combustion (using propane as a fuel source) does not introduce any concerning off-gassing or byproducts into the atmosphere.

Propane is also considered the most energy-efficient of fossil fuels. What does this mean? 

When you choose a propane furnace, your new furnace will use nearly 100 per cent of the propane you purchase to produce heat.

Natural gas.

Natural gas is a true fossil fuel, although it is considered cleaner to use than any of its relatives. Natural gas undergoes processing before it is sent out through pipelines to end consumers such as you.

Natural gas, like propane gas, is naturally odourless, colourless and non-toxic in its natural state. However, a scent is added to help detect gas line leaks.

And because the largest single component in natural gas is methane, a documented greenhouse gas, its use does have a negative impact on the atmosphere.

While natural gas is considered to be an energy-efficient fuel choice, propane delivers two and a half times as much thermal energy per cubic foot of fuel. However, there are some other considerations that may make a gas furnace a more overall economical choice.

Why Choose a Propane Furnace Vs Natural Gas Furnace?

It is only natural and smart to reevaluate the costs and value of different fuel choices when you are ready to buy a new furnace.

This is especially true when you have all fuel options available to you – electricity, natural gas, propane, geothermal, hybrid, etc.

But let’s say you don’t have either propane or natural gas at your property. In this case, you are facing potentially high costs to install either a natural gas line or a propane tank on your lot.

Propane tank installation cost.

The average price to purchase and install a 500-gallon standalone above-ground (visible) propane tank is around $2,500. Another option is an annual rental, which is about one-eighth the cost annually.

This cost does not include the cost of the propane, which could be as high as $1,000.

The cost also does not include the cost of laying a concrete pad for the tank, running lines from the tank to the furnace or installing a conversion kit if your furnace currently uses a different fuel type.

Natural gas line installation cost.

If your property does not currently have an existing natural gas line, it may cost $1,500 or more to have a line run from the main distribution pipe to the meter and then to the home.

From there, you will need to pay to have individual gas lines run to each relevant appliance – in this case, it would be to your natural gas furnace. Typical costs range from $10 to $20 per foot of pipe. The cost can also vary based on the type of pipe.

Is a Propane Furnace or Gas Furnace Best For You?

Hopefully, you can now see why most homeowners choose a new furnace based on which fuel types are already available at their property. It can be pricy to add a new natural gas line or propane tank to your lot!

But for new construction, you want to carefully think through which energy source will give you the most value and reliability over the years you own your home.

It is always smart to research historical energy costs in your area as well as take a look at furnace purchase prices, furnace installation costs and furnace infrastructure costs for all your furnace options.

Your knowledgeable, experienced Shipton’s service technician would be glad to assist you.

Shipton’s Heating and Cooling Takes Care of Your Furnace Installation & Repair Needs

Your Shipton’s service technician can help you keep your current furnace operating efficiently and affordably. And when it is time to upgrade your commercial or residential furnace, we are on call for you!

How much does a new furnace cost? Give us a call at 1-905-549-4616 or visit us online to request a free estimate on a new propane furnace or gas furnace for your home or business.

P.S. Join our mailing list to receive VIP discounts, specials and savings.

get in touch with us

*By submitting you agree to be contacted by SMS, phone, or e-mail. Rates may apply. You can opt-out at any time