Should I Buy a House with Propane Heat? A Comprehensive Guide

Buying a house with propane heat can be a complex decision, as it involves understanding the technical specifications, safety considerations, and maintenance requirements of this type of heating system. However, with the right information, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Propane Fuel Type and Delivery

Propane is a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that is stored and delivered in pressurized tanks, either above or below ground. Unlike natural gas, which is piped directly to the home, propane must be ordered and delivered by a local supplier. This means that you’ll need to factor in the cost and frequency of propane deliveries when budgeting for your home’s heating expenses.

The size of the propane tank can vary significantly, ranging from 120 gallons to over 1,000 gallons. The tank size will determine how often you need to schedule a refill, with larger tanks typically requiring less frequent deliveries. According to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), the average household propane tank size is around 500 gallons, which can provide enough fuel for a 2,000-square-foot home for approximately 6-8 months.

When considering a house with propane heat, it’s essential to understand the tank ownership and maintenance responsibilities. Propane tanks can be owned outright or rented from the fuel supplier. If you own the tank, you’ll be responsible for its maintenance, including regular inspections, repairs, and eventual replacement. Renting the tank, on the other hand, shifts these responsibilities to the fuel company, but may come with additional rental fees.

Propane Appliance Compatibility

should i buy a house with propane heat

Propane is a versatile fuel that can power a wide range of household appliances, including:

  • Furnaces and boilers for heating
  • Water heaters
  • Stoves and ovens for cooking
  • Clothes dryers
  • Fireplaces and space heaters
  • Generators for backup power

When buying a house with propane heat, it’s crucial to ensure that the existing appliances are compatible with propane. If the home has been recently converted from another fuel source, such as natural gas or electricity, you may need to upgrade or replace some of the appliances to take full advantage of propane’s benefits.

To determine the compatibility of the home’s appliances, you can consult with a licensed HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) contractor or a propane supplier. They can assess the current setup and provide recommendations on any necessary upgrades or replacements.

Propane Safety Considerations

Propane is a safe and reliable fuel when handled and maintained properly. However, it’s essential to understand the safety considerations associated with propane heating systems. Propane vapors are heavier than air and can accumulate in low-lying areas, such as basements or crawl spaces, potentially leading to an explosion hazard.

To mitigate these risks, it’s recommended to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and, if desired, propane detectors throughout the home. These devices can alert you to any potential gas leaks or buildup of harmful vapors, allowing you to take immediate action.

Regular maintenance and inspections of the propane system are also crucial for ensuring its safe and efficient operation. This includes:

  • Inspecting the propane tank and associated piping for any signs of damage or corrosion
  • Checking the connections and fittings for leaks
  • Ensuring that the system is properly vented and that the pilot lights are functioning correctly
  • Scheduling annual tune-ups and cleanings of the furnace or boiler

By staying vigilant and following the recommended safety protocols, you can enjoy the benefits of propane heating while minimizing the risks.

Propane Heating Efficiency and Cost Considerations

Propane is generally considered an efficient and cost-effective heating fuel, especially when compared to electricity or heating oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, propane furnaces and boilers typically have an efficiency rating of 80-95%, meaning that a significant portion of the energy generated is converted into usable heat.

The cost of propane can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Geographic location: Propane prices can fluctuate based on regional supply and demand.
  • Tank size and delivery frequency: Larger tanks and less frequent deliveries can result in lower per-gallon costs.
  • Supplier and contract terms: Negotiating with multiple suppliers can help you find the best rates.

To estimate the annual heating costs for a house with propane heat, you’ll need to consider the home’s square footage, insulation levels, and the average propane consumption per heating season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. household that uses propane for heating spends around $1,700 per year on propane.

It’s important to note that the actual heating costs can vary significantly based on your specific location, home size, and usage patterns. To get a more accurate estimate, you can consult with local propane suppliers or use online calculators that take into account your unique circumstances.

Propane Heating System Maintenance and Lifespan

Proper maintenance is crucial for ensuring the longevity and efficient operation of a propane heating system. Regular tune-ups and inspections by a licensed HVAC technician can help identify and address any issues before they become more serious and costly.

During a routine maintenance visit, the technician will typically:

  • Check the condition of the propane tank, valves, and connections
  • Inspect the furnace or boiler for proper operation and efficiency
  • Clean and adjust the burners, pilot light, and other components
  • Ensure that the system is properly vented and that the air filters are clean

With proper maintenance, a well-designed propane heating system can have a lifespan of 15-20 years or more. However, factors such as the age of the system, the quality of the installation, and the frequency of use can all impact the system’s longevity.

When considering a house with propane heat, it’s essential to ask about the age and maintenance history of the existing system. If the system is older or has not been well-maintained, you may need to budget for a replacement or significant repairs in the near future.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Propane Heating

Propane heating offers several advantages, including:

  • Versatility: Propane can power a wide range of household appliances, providing flexibility and convenience.
  • Efficiency: Propane furnaces and boilers typically have high-efficiency ratings, resulting in lower energy costs.
  • Reliability: Propane systems are generally less affected by power outages, ensuring continuous heating during emergencies.
  • Customization: Propane heating systems can be tailored to the specific needs and layout of a home.

However, propane heating also has some potential drawbacks, such as:

  • Fuel delivery and storage: Propane must be ordered and delivered, unlike natural gas, which is piped directly to the home.
  • Safety concerns: Propane vapors are heavier than air and can accumulate in low-lying areas, requiring proper safety measures.
  • Maintenance requirements: Propane systems require regular inspections and maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation.
  • Potential for higher fuel costs: Propane prices can fluctuate based on supply and demand, potentially leading to higher heating costs.

By weighing the advantages and disadvantages of propane heating, you can make an informed decision about whether a house with this type of system is the right fit for your needs and preferences.


Buying a house with propane heat involves carefully considering the technical specifications, safety requirements, and ongoing maintenance needs of this type of heating system. By understanding the fuel delivery, appliance compatibility, safety considerations, and cost factors, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your home heating requirements and budget.

Remember, consulting with licensed HVAC professionals and local propane suppliers can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the decision-making process. With the right information and preparation, you can confidently determine if a house with propane heat is the right choice for you.