Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Propane)

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Low Carbon, All-Weather Energy. 

Propane is a safe, efficient, and portable fuel – chemical symbol C3H8 – that is a derivative of natural gas processing and oil refining.

Propane is from the family of light hydrocarbons; called natural gas liquids (NGL) when sourced from natural gas processing, or liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) when sourced from oil refining. Other members of the NGL and LPG families include butane and ethane.

Recognized for its low environmental impact by both Canada’s Alternative Fuels Act –and British Columbia’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act– propane is one of the hottest, cleanest burning, and most versatile fuels in existence. Propane’s greenhouse gas (GHG) and particulate emissions are significantly lower than most other carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, firewood, and heating oil. 

Not only can propane help reduce emissions, the economic benefits of using propane are many. Vancouver Island’s propane supply is derived from North American gas and oil, and originates from refineries in BC, Alberta, and neighboring Washington State. This means a propane supply that is ethically produced, abundant, and supportive of the local economy.

Why Propane?  

When deciding on a primary heating fuel, more and more people are choosing propane. There are many reasons why…

Propane vs. Heating Oil (Diesel)

  • Most are unaware that heating oil and diesel fuel are virtually the same product. Nevertheless, heating oil customers will often pay a premium over diesel fuel at the pump. Propane is typically much cheaper on a per-liter basis.
  • There are many examples of costly remediation claims caused by leaking oil tanks. If you currently own an oil tank, likely your insurance agent has asked you about it. In fact, insurance rates will often be higher for homes and businesses outfitted with aging oil systems. Ground contamination concerns are eliminated by switching from oil to propane.
  • Propane can be stored safely in a tank or cylinder for decades without spoiling, and does not require the addition of fuel stabilizers. The same can’t be said for other liquid fuels. This makes propane the ideal choice for back-up power systems.
  • Propane is cleaner burning than heating oil, and helps significantly lower emissions.

Propane vs. Natural Gas (NG)

  • There is no denying that Propane is more expensive than Natural Gas on a per-liter basis. This difference in price is primarily attributable to the higher costs of handling, transportation, and final delivery (Pipeline vs. Truck). However;
  • If a NG pipeline is not available at your location, installing a new stand-alone propane system is considerably cheaper (and much easier) than trenching and extending NG distribution lines. Depending on your consumption and the site, it could take years (or even decades) to recoup the initial cost of installing a new NG service.
  • Propane contains nearly twice the heating energy (BTU’s) of NG . In other words, you require half as much Propane by volume to produce the same amount of heat .
  • Propane tank rental charges are typically at par or cheaper than the monthly stand-by (meter) fees associated with NG service. 
  • Propane fuels a variety of common, and readily available, gas appliances.
  • Propane systems can be installed virtually anywhere a delivery truck can gain access, or a person can physically pack a propane cylinder. Due to the cost of trenching and burying distribution lines, NG service is typically only available in densely populated areas, industrial parks, or high consumption commercial areas. 

Propane vs. A Heat Pump (With electric furnace or electric baseboard back-up)

  • Virtually all heat pumps on the market today cease to produce heat effectively below 5 degrees Celsius. On Vancouver Island, we can reasonably expect overnight temperatures to drop below that level from October thru March.
  • During these colder months, a back-up heating system is required to heat your home. Resistance heating with electricity is often extremely inefficient, and costly. Depending on your home, personal habits, and home layout, resistance heating can be 2-3 times the cost of heating the same square-footage with propane. 
  • With the current rate of government spending, and the push to electrify the Provincial economy, it is not unreasonable to assume that BC Hydro’s prices will rise significantly in the coming years. Project overruns (think Site C) and aging infrastructure costs will place even more upward pressure on electricity rates in the years ahead. 
  • One must consider the operating costs of a heating system over the long term. Quality heat pump systems are expensive. $15-20k is typical. The new duct-less heat pumps being marketed today are relatively inexpensive to purchase, yet their quality and working life is yet to be determined. Propane systems are simple and time tested. They often operate for decades with very little maintenance or additional expenditure. 
  • When the power goes out, relying solely on electric heating will leave you in the cold. It’s as simple as that.

Propane vs. Wind / Solar Energy

  • In BC, Wind Energy is intermittent, and only feasible in certain areas. Winds also typically die down at night when you need the energy the most. 
  • Those hoping to rely on Solar Energy quickly realize that Vancouver Island averages only 4-5 hours of useful solar energy a day during the critical winter season. Without an extreme investment in solar panels and expensive batteries, the heating of an average home requires much more energy than these alternative energy systems can produce. This means maintaining some reliance on a grid-tied, or fossil fueled (e.g. propane) back-up system to ensure you have the energy you need, when you need it. 

 Propane vs. Wood Heat 

  • We agree, there is absolutely nothing like the warmth of a wood fire. However; 
  • Many local governments have enacted (or are actively considering) bylaws to ban wood stoves due to their high particulate emissions. In more densely populated areas, strict emission restrictions are only a matter of when, not if.
  • Abundant supplies of firewood are no longer available for most people. Many forest companies now charge for this once-free resource. On Vancouver Island, commercial firewood cutters and special interest groups also compete for the local supply. 
  • Even when sourced for “free”, firewood is far from free, assuming you value your time. Think of all the hours and physical effort required to source and then cut the firewood. Then add up all the costs of your equipment & gasoline. Once cut, you still need to haul it home in your truck or trailer. Then split it, stack it, dry it, etc. 
  • If you prefer to pay for your firewood split and delivered, this is no longer a cheap option.  Firewood now costs an average of $250-$350 per cord, plus delivery. When used for primary heat, it’s not unheard of to burn 6-8 cords a season.
  • Finally, you need adequate space to store all this wood. You then have to find and split some kindling, and drag all this splintery mess into your house. Then you light (and re-light) the fireplace night after night, and continually dispose of the ash. There are easier ways…  

 PROPANE. THE LOGICAL CHOICE. 

    Canadian Propane Association

    Reference materials: 

    CHECKING YOUR PROPANE LEVEL

    For customers on our “Auto-fill” program, Ready Propane uses a combination of electronic monitoring, manual checking, and historical consumption data to schedule customer deliveries automatically throughout the year. This is the best program for the majority of customers who don’t want to worry about running out.

    “Will-call” customers (i.e. Phone-in) are responsible for checking their own propane levels on a regular basis. Newer cylinders / tanks that are 200# and larger will have a factory installed gauge. It can be found by lifting the lid, then peering inside to read the plastic dial. (Note: A full cylinder will read 80%. The top 20% is left empty for safe expansion of the liquid propane).

    Phone-in customer’s should constantly monitor their levels and contact our office once the gauge drops to 30%. During the busy fall & winter season this will give us some lead time to reach you. Don’t wait until 10% before contacting us. You could risk running out. 

    Please note: Delivery schedules are typically set only 24-48 hours in advance, and are subject to change. During high consumption periods, this allows us the flexibility we need to maintain a high level of service.  Although we try to accommodate customer requests whenever possible, we cannot guarantee specific delivery days or times.

    CYLINDER AND TANK SIZING

    (AND PLACEMENT)

    UNSURE HOW MUCH STORAGE YOU NEED?

    IN MOST CASES:

    • A single 420# cylinder (contains 360 liters @ 80%) is enough storage for the average residential user. e.g. A single fireplace used occasionally, plus a cook-top, plus hot-water on demand.
    • If you are running multiple appliances, you intend to install a back-up generator, or if propane is used for primary home heating, you may require 2 or more 420# cylinders. Possibly even a larger 500 USWG horizontal tank.
    • 1000 gallon tanks are typically reserved for high-load commercial applications.
    • For residential cook-tops, or if your fireplace is only used as emergency heat during a power-outage, a 200# cylinder will typically suffice.
      • 200# cylinders come with a factory installed gauge. 100# cylinders do not.
      • It is worth buying a 200# cylinder (in order to get a proper gauge) and avoid the inconvenience of running your 100# cylinder empty. During the busy winter season, 100# customers may face delays. 

    NOT SURE WHERE TO PLACE YOUR TANK OR CYLINDER?

    NEED SPECS & SIZING INFO?

    Click on the link below to learn more.