One gallon of propane has 91,500 BTU’s and one KWH of electricity has 3,413 BTU’s. Electricity is considered to be 100 % efficient therefore there are 3,413 useable BTU’s in each kilowatt hour of electricity. While the efficiency of propane appliances can reach 97 % let’s use 80 % as an efficiency rating in our example. When 80 % efficiency is used there are 73,200 BTU available in each gallon of propane.
Thus one gallon of propane utilized in an appliance with 80% efficiency contains the same amount of useable energy as 21.45 kilowatt hours of electricity. Factor in the cost of propane and electricity in your area and you will have an idea of the cost comparison. For example if propane costs $ 2.80/gallon in your area and electricity is 12 cents per KWH the cost to operate each appliance is very close at $ 2.80 for propane vs $ 2.57 for electricity.
However cost of operation is only one part of the equation. Environmental concerns and the overall system efficiency of the electricity producer should also be factored into the equation. One thing is for sure — if you are in a area that is prone to power failures the warmth of a propane heater that does not require power to operate on a cold winter night may more than make up the small saving by an electric appliance.
Danger signs include:
Don’t forget that any fuel burning appliance has the potential to create carbon monoxide. These include appliances fueled by propane, natural gas, oil or wood.
If you are adding a new fuel burning appliance or making changes to your home’s ventilation system, please consult a qualified heating contractor to ensure that your home is safe from CO hazards.” (from the CMAC pamphlet DANGER ! Carbon Monoxide )
In addition to regular maintenance of fuel burning appliances installation of CO detectors in the living space is highly recommended. Always make sure the CO detector conforms to current standards and is installed according to manufacturers instructions. Multiple CO detectors are recommended.
Propane tanks normally have a ten year life from the date of manufacture stamped into the tank. At the end of the ten year life the owner of the tank has the option of replacing the tank or having an approved company re-certify the tank.
Some appliances such a roofing torches and camp stoves require pressures higher than ½ PSI and have regulators made specifically for the higher pressure application. Often this type of appliance requires pressures over 1 PSI and up to 100 PSI. These systems are sometimes referred to as high pressure systems.
For this reason most jurisdictions prohibit pressures greater than ½ PSI inside a structure.