Mar 16, 2007, 6:32 PM
Post #2 of 18
Yes there is a big difference. Natural gas is reduced to a very low pressure at the meter. Propane tanks also have a pressure reducer at the tank; it is set to a much higher pressure before it enters your house than natural gas is.
Re: [toddmc] Appliances - Natural Gas Vs Propane
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The orifice where the gas enters the burner is much larger in a natural gas appliance than it is for a propane appliance for several reasons, including the differences in pressure. Most of the gas appliances can be converted from natural gas to propane and nice versa. I would not recommend that an amateur attempt to do it.
This involves changing the orifice size. Kits are provided with some new appliances to do this, it is simple to do. If no conversion kit is provided with the appliance, a replacement orifice might be ordered from some manufacturers in The US, it might be impossible to find one in México.
Many years ago, I have converted them by filling the larger natural gas orifice with solder and drilling a smaller hole for conversion to use propane. The parts were made of brass in those days; they are often made of aluminum now, so simply soldering them closed and drilling a new hole to resize the orifice would not be a viable option on a modern appliance. Due to the risk of litigation in case of fire, explosion, etc., I don’t know of any contractors in The US that will make that conversion in recent years. Even with an appliance that comes with a kit provided by the manufacturer.
There are a few places in México that do have piped natural gas, but it is not common. One of the biggest urban myths here is that natural gas is much more dangerous than propane. The opposite is true. I think that myth is probably spread by the propane distributors to protect their near monopoly.
Besides coming into your home at a lower pressure, natural gas is lighter than air, propane is heavier than air. If there is a leak in a gas pipe, and it is natural gas, the gas will most likely rise and dissipate. If the leak is in a pipe carrying propane the gas will sink, and likely puddle if there is no way for it to pour out of the building. If the puddle of propane rises high enough to reach a source of ignition, it’s all over.
Natural gas is safer than propane.
I once had a person approach me to install a propane stove on his boat. After checking with The Coast Guard, he forgot about doing that. Because propane is heavier than air, on a boat you must provide scuppers to allow any leaking propane to drain overboard. It would have required major structural changes to the hull to use a propane stove on his boat.
The short answer to your question is if your house uses propane; buy all appliances that are factory designed for propane use.
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo
(This post was edited by RexC on Mar 16, 2007, 7:51 PM)