An LPG gas bottle is the same as a propane gas cylinder, and neither of them are the same as natural gas. It’s time to cut through the gas fuel chatter to understand LPG (propane) and its many uses for homes and businesses around Australia.
Propane/butane/LPG/autogas- knowing the difference
It’s used for hot water, heating, cooktops and BBQs, and there are a lot of names that LPG (propane) is known by. Let’s first understand what the names and acronyms mean and the differences between them.
Liquefied petroleum – Liquefied petroleum gas is the full name for the much-easier acronym of LPG.
LPG Gas – The ‘G’ at the end of LPG stands for ‘Gas’, so by saying LPG gas you are actually saying liquid petroleum gas gas. Not great English but a commonly used acronym none-the-less.
Propane – LPG in Australia is the same as propane. They are one and the same thing. In the United States it’s commonly called propane and rarely called LPG.
Butane – In some countries and for some uses LPG is composed of a mix of propane and butane gas. That’s why some people refer to butane as a form of LPG.
Changing from natural gas to propane – what are the differences
Because it’s easily transported, propane (LPG) is used for a variety of outdoor activities like camping, caravanning, outdoor cooking and heating. But LPG and natural gas are different, and it’s important to understand that LPG and natural gas are two different forms of fuel. While both are classified as hydrocarbons, their chemical make-ups differ.
Home appliances can run on either natural gas or LPG, but the two aren’t interchangeable. Make sure you know the difference in order to get the right gas supply for your appliances. For example, if you purchase an oven with natural gas cooktop burners but you only have LPG, the burners will need to be exchanged. If you need specific information, speak to an Elgas service professional.
Benefits of using propane gas for your cooking and BBQsPropane is very user-friendly. Flame (temperature) can be adjusted instantly and directed for optimum heat transfer, for example, when using a wok. Natural flame is always recommended for best BBQ results, and propane (LPG) performs admirably. Propane power brings liquids to boiling point fast, and although a flammable hydrocarbon gas, it’s clean burning with few emissions.
From heating to barbecues, discover the uses for propane gas
Propane is used for a variety of purposes in homes and businesses primarily for cooking, water heating and space heating. It’s also used in industrial and agricultural enterprises. and is the perfect power source supply in rural areas and other areas not served by natural gas.
Propane appliances include space heaters, water heaters, underfloor heating, fireplaces, cooktops, ovens, clothes dryers and pool heaters. Propane is also used as fuel for internal combustion engine applications including cars, buses, forklifts, irrigation pumps, and fleet vehicles. Propane is called Autogas when used as fuel for vehicles.
Propane is a co-product of crude oil petroleum refining and natural gas processing, as are other hydrocarbons such as ethane. Propane is categorised as one of the liquefied petroleum gases – LPG. Propane is transported in gas cylinders rather than natural gas pipelines. Propane liquefies if stored under -42°C.
Reducing your emissions by using Propane gas
Propane is a clean-burning energy source that emits virtually no air pollutants or harmful refrigerants. It is low-carbon, and is safely transported every day around Australia. An increase in propane utilization and decrease in reliance on other fuel sources will help to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect the environment.
Lower emissions – propane is one of the cleanest and most versatile fuels available. Propane emits around 26% fewer GHGs than gasoline in vehicles, 38% fewer GHGs than fuel oil in furnaces and half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a charcoal barbecue. Propane is ideal as a stand-alone fuel source, and the perfect partner during transition to renewable and sustainable energy supply.
Reduce pollution – Air pollution negatively affects people and ecosystems worldwide. Air contaminants contribute to problems such as ground-level ozone, haze and acid rain. Poor air quality is also known to lead to a range of major health issues.
Propane emits 60% less carbon monoxide (CO) than gasoline, 98% less particulate matter than diesel and contains virtually no sulphur, a contributor to acid rain. It emits practically no soot or other emissions that cause ground-level ozone. Burning propane also produces lower levels of air toxins, such as benzene and acetaldehyde, than either gasoline or diesel.
No spill hazard – Propane (LPG) gas cylinders are built tough to handle shifting and transporting. In the unlikely event of a leak, propane becomes a vapour that dissipates quickly into the atmosphere. A small amount of air movement is enough to disperse the vapour. This is important when operating in environmentally sensitive areas such as farms and nature reserves.
No fugitive emissions hazards – ‘Fugitive emissions’ is a term for gas that escapes into the atmosphere before being combusted. Propane is a smart environmental choice, particularly when compared to natural gas, as it isn’t a greenhouse gas and it won’t impact the atmosphere if accidentally released prior to combustion.
Natural gas (methane) however, is a potent greenhouse gas in its unburnt state. Up to 5% of natural gas is inadvertently released during transmission, prior to use. This unburnt methane generates 25 times more greenhouse impact on the atmosphere than CO2.
Using propane as automotive fuel
Propane is a cost-effective, globally-trusted automotive energy option. It has lots of economic and environmental advantages compared to traditional and alternative vehicle fuels. It’s many benefits make it easy to understand why more Australians are relying on propane (LPG) as their preferred fuel source. Here are some more good reasons to use propane for your vehicles.
- Increased savings due to reduced costs to run and maintain autogas vehicles. Propane is generally cheaper than petrol or diesel. It also burns cleaner, resulting in less carbon build-up and increasing the vehicle engine life.
- Proven safety with precise fuel delivery that only flows when the engine is operating. Autogas has the lowest flammability range of all alternative motor fuels and propane tanks are more puncture resistant that petrol tanks. Propane is also quieter than petrol or diesel.
- Reliability thanks to excellent cold start properties in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. Propane provides similar vehicle power, range and acceleration compared to gasoline vehicles.
Power your home heating with liquid propane
As an affordable and cleaner alternative to other fuels, propane is a growing fuel of choice among home owners in Australia. If you’re interested in propane installations for your home, or are considering purchasing a home with propane appliances, contact Elgas for expert advice and assistance. Questions worth asking if purchasing a home with pre-existing propane gas appliances include:
– What is the propane being used for?
– How big is the residential propane tank or propane gas bottle?
– Is the propane tank under or above ground?
– Are propane tank maintenance records available?
Mixing propane and butane – knowing what powers your car
There is no difference between Autogas and LPG except the possible inclusion of butane along with the propane. LPG – Liquefied Petroleum Gas – is a flammable hydrocarbon gaseous fuel including propane, butane and mixtures of these gases also known as Autogas or auto LPG.
Autogas (auto LPG), liquefied through pressurisation, is a fuel that comes from natural gas processing and oil refining and is also referred to as natural gas liquids (NGL). In different countries, what is supplied can be propane, butane or propane-butane blends.
How to carefully store and maintain your propane cylinders
Propane (LPG) cylinders are built tough for safe handling, but there are some essential safety protocols to follow. Here are 8 tips for safe handling and storage of propane cylinders.
- Only store and handle propane cylinders in an upright position. They shouldn’t be stored or handled horizontally, as this increases the potential for leaks.
- Store and handle Propane gas cylinders outdoors. Propane cylinders have a higher pressure than butane, so must not be used indoors.
- Cylinders should be stored in a well-ventilated area. It should ideally be covered and on a dry and level surface. Store cylinders above ground level and away from doors, drains, or combustibles.
- Ensure appliances are inspected and serviced by an Elgas service technician or registered gas fitter periodically.
- Use your oldest cylinder first. When cylinders are empty, Elgas can deliver a replacement. Call your local Elgas depot for more information.
- Turn off and replace safety valves when the LPG cylinder is not in use or empty. Keep two large cylinders on-site so you can conveniently switch over when required.
- Use suitable signage around your gas bottle storage area if required. Make sure the cylinders are secured firmly.
- Regularly check gas hose lines for any signs of perishing. Contact a qualified gas service technician for approved parts, replacement or maintenance of your gas service and appliances.
What is propane gas used for?
Propane is used in homes around Australia for stoves, water heating and gas heaters. It’s also used as autogas and for many industrial and agricultural applications. Propane is an energy source that can adapt with you for wide-ranging sustainable energy-efficient purposes. For more innovative ideas and state of the art propane technology, check out the Elgas Blog.
How long does a propane tank last?
This will depend on your appliances and usage. If used solely for a cooktop in the kitchen, one or two 45kg propane cylinders will last all year. However, usage will naturally increase if you include home heating and hot water in the equation. Speak to Elgas regarding your home or business potential for maximising energy efficiency and saving money on power bills with propane tank solutions.
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.