Natural Gas or Propane Water Heater? Which is best?

When presented with the option of purchasing a propane or natural gas tankless water heater, many people have some difficulty making the choice.

While we acknowledge our bias for Natural Gas, it is indeed the right choice in the majority of cases. The simple fact is, natural gas is both cheaper and more readily available via direct lines than propane, making it the obvious choice for the majority of homes.

But we know that, it’s common sense, so this article will go over the particular cases when propane heaters make the better choice.

When you’re on the road in your RV!

Propane water heater for RVRVs generally go with either an electric tankless or a propane tankless water heater. Sure, the electric might do, but in those cold winter months you might need something more powerful than a tiny ecosmart to get the temperature rise you need. This is where propane water heaters come in to play, with the ability to heat water to over a 50F rise, even in water at 32F! A tankless water heater could never achieve this type of result.

Of course, if you are out during the summer, you might want to look into infrared water heaters. The iWP Foundation makes the best recommendations on tankless water heaters for RVs.

When you’re camping, cottaging and enjoying the outdoors

If you are camping, you don’t have the option (real camping, anyway) to use an electric outlet for a water heater, so propane becomes the right choice. There are many kits and adapters to make that regular stove propane tank hook up to a propane water heater for a great outdoor shower. Keep your bathing suits on! Your nosey neighbors might even want to share in the fun 🙂

If you have a party of 4 or more, you may even want to bring a full blown BBQ propane tank so the whole crew can enjoy showers.

If you don’t have a natural gas line to your dwelling

In northern states and in Canada, electric tankless water heaters don’t have enough power to heat water sufficiently in the winter months. That said, many homes in those areas don’t have access to natural gas either. That leaves either an electric tank or a propane tankless water heater as options. With the tremendous energy savings of a tankless water heater, it may very well be cheaper to switch to a propane tankless from your electric hot water tank.

In emergencies and black outs

propane water heater for emergenicesMaybe the most overlooked of all, but in the case of a grid failure or other type of emergency, having access to a propane water heater can prove very nifty indeed. Think about it, if you had to go 2-3 days without a hot shower, you would do almost anything for that relaxing touch of warm water. It never hurts to be prepared, just make sure that propane tank is stored carefully!

I hope this article shows that while natural gas tankless water heaters are the obvious choice for most people, propane water heaters certainly have their place as well.