Vent-free appliances can be fueled by either natural gas or propane: so what is the difference?
Many residential areas have natural gas pipes running gas to individual gas meters installed in the houses. Natural gas is often used for central heat during the cold months as well as fueling gas cooking appliances and gas heating appliances. Natural gas is usually regulated by your local utility company and billed monthly, usually on the same bill as the electric bill.
Liquid propane is a more portable method of fuel, stored in individual tanks. These tanks are hooked up to a gas fueled appliance and if they are small enough, they can be interchanged. Propane tanks need to be refilled when they run low but the mobility of the gas supply can be an advantage in some situations.
From a safety standpoint, both fuels are well regulated. Natural gas has quite a small range of concentration per volume of air where combustion is possible. While leaks can sometimes occur, the gas itself has a chemical, called mercaptan which contains sulfur, added for smell to allow easy sensory detection. It is important to remember that if you ever smell any gas fumes to avoid turning on any electrical or fire producing devices. Propane tanks for appliances like stoves or ovens are required to be stored outside the house with a line running inside.
All gas fueled equipment should be regularly inspected by a licensed technician to ensure proper working order of the gas lines and flame ignition device. If a strong gas smell persists, quickly leave the area and contact the local fire department as a safety precaution. Taking simple steps such as these should greatly reduce the already small risk of using gas powered appliances in your home. It is also recommended for those with natural gas pipes in their homes to install a carbon monoxide detector as an additional safety measure against gas leaks.
When you are looking into buying a vent-free appliance, find out whether there is a natural gas line going to your home. If so, you will probably want to choose a natural gas-powered vent-free appliance. This will be convenient and the fuel cost be added to your monthly bill. If you do not, consider the liquid propane option. Look into local regulation and delivery options, and find out if a refillable tank is preferable. Vent-free appliances are built to handle either one type of fuel or the other, so make your decision before you buy. Some models are virtually identical except for the type of fuel they use, such as the Hearthrite Radiant Vent-free Gas Heater L.P. (Liquid Propane) vs. Hearthrite 6,000 BTU Radiant Vent-free Gas Heater N.G. (Natural Gas).