ELGAS Knowledge Hub

Natural Gas or LPG? Making right choice for you

22 Jun, 2023 | Business LPG, Residential LPG

In this article:

With pros on cons for both, here are some details that can help you decide the better choice for your specific needs.
Natural Gas or LPG

Is LPG cheaper than natural gas?

Natural gas is generally cheaper than LPG for the gas itself. However, natural gas suppliers require a daily supply charge for being connected to the mains gas network that can exceed $400 per year, before any gas is used.

LPG compared to natural gas has more than double the energy content at 93.2MJ/m³ vs natural gas at 38.7MJ/m³, so LPG is much more efficient than natural gas and is now cheaper in many cases.

Comparing LPG vs natural gas, natural gas price is no longer the presumed low cost option. Higher natural gas tariffs and daily service charges make LPG the best choice in many situations.

Prices will vary based on the tariffs in your area but LPG vs natural gas price now finds LPG cheaper than natural gas in many situations. The daily supply charge is a charge that applies for supplying gas to your premises for each day of the billing period, regardless of how much gas you use and can be as high as $1.22 per day¹ or $446 per year and this doesn’t even include the gas. Add in just the gas for cooking and it totals $539 total annual cost for natural gas. The corresponding LPG cost would be well under $200.

The gas world has been turned upside down with people abandoning natural gas and choosing to go with LPG. Whilst it may sound pretty implausible, based on old wisdom, the reasoning is simple — they are saving money.

Is LPG Better than Natural Gas

You can see how LPG is better than natural gas when you buy a cooktop. Cooktops usually come with two sets of gas jets. The ones for LPG have a much smaller hole and use less gas. That’s because LPG contains more heat energy, with 93.2MJ/m³ vs natural gas at 38.7MJ/m³ (2572 Btu/ft³ vs 1011 Btu/ft³).

Break-even Volume for LPG vs Natural Gas Cost-Price

Based on the shared tariff information, a small family would probably be break even on LPG vs natural gas cost-price if they had both gas hot water and cooking, based on 10,000MJ per year.

Different tariffs, fees, prices, family sizes and mixes of appliances would lead to various different consumption and cost results.

Cost of Switching to Natural Gas

The cost of switching to natural gas and connecting to the natural gas main can be very expensive and varies from property to property as well as the gas distribution network company.

Cost of switching to natural gas includes actual connection to the main or a mains extension, the necessary service pipe work, the supply and installation of a meter and a pressure regulator.

There may also be excavation and restoration of council foot paths and roads, as well as possible traffic control costs. Your home’s garden and landscaping may also need to be dug up and subsequently restored.

This is a cost that is virtually avoided with bottled gas. With LPG, you only need to install a regulator, possibly a changeover valve and the gas pipework on and within your home.

What if Natural Gas Mains are added to Your Street?

Some homeowners live where gas mains are installed after they already have LPG. They need to remember that the same costs of connection apply, if they are contemplating LPG vs natural gas cost-price, as on an existing home.

So, even if the monthly cost of natural gas is a bit less, it could take many years to recover the initial connection cost and the cost of converting the appliances.

Homes with modest gas consumption may actually be costing even more money over time, with natural gas, based on the previously mentioned fees and tariffs.

Appliances are Not an Issue

Virtually all gas appliances are available in both LPG and natural gas versions. The LPG vs natural gas price-cost of the two versions is typically the same, too.

Town Gas vs LPG

Comparing town gas vs LPG, LPG is more dense (has a higher specific gravity) than town gas. Town gas (methane) is less dense than air, at a relative density of 0.5537 to 1. LPG (propane) is more dense than air, at a relative density of 1.5219 to 1. Energy content of LPG is 93.2MJ/m³ vs  38.7MJ/m³ with town gas. LPG thus has a higher energy content.

Converting LPG and Natural Gas Appliances

Converting gas appliances from natural gas to LPG or vice versa is a common practice. So, switching back to LPG is not cost prohibitive.

To convert from one gas to another, the two most common alterations are the sizing of the gas injector and the adjustment of pressure.

Which is Better Natural Gas or LPG?

LPG gas is not more expensive than natural gas, LPG is often less expensive. Many customers now find that it is cheaper to go with LPG vs natural gas. Finally, LPG is better because you can get it virtually everywhere.

Assuming that you live in an area where natural gas is also available, it pays to do the maths before making any decision on the type of gas you use.

Whilst heavy gas users may be better off with natural gas, the same is not necessarily true for light to moderate usage. Homes with modest gas consumption, and especially ones with gas for cooking only, may well be better off with LPG pricing.

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