Many homeowners are making a switch in their heating systems. From propane heaters, they are transitioning to natural gas. Propane and natural gas are popular fuel sources. However, natural gas stands out with several benefits that make the conversion worthwhile.
Choosing natural gas for heating offers many advantages. These include a constant supply, cost-efficiency, and less carbon emission. It’s an effective and reliable choice for those who wish to warm their homes in an economical and environmentally friendly way.
A conversion from propane to natural gas might seem complex but is quite achievable. It requires careful steps to be followed and comes with the need for accuracy and safety.
Propane vs. Natural Gas
The battle between propane and natural gas has always been close. These fuels have their own pros and cons, yet natural gas nudges ahead in a few ways.
Fuel Source: Propane vs. Natural Gas
Propane, although an efficient fuel, is often stored in tanks. Natural gas, on the other hand, is directly supplied from utility companies. This saves homeowners the hassle of refilling or replacing tanks.
Cost Comparison: Propane vs. Natural Gas
Price fluctuations can affect both fuels. However, natural gas usually is more cost-effective. Its ample availability makes it a cheaper alternative compared to propane.
Efficiency Analysis: Propane vs. Natural Gas
Both gases burn cleanly and are environment-friendly. But propane heaters need larger orifices than natural gas due to their chemical composition. Converting to natural gas might improve the heater’s efficiency and longevity.
Steps to Convert Propane Heater to Natural Gas
Converting your heater from propane to natural gas involves several vital steps. Each of these steps should be carried out with precision and attention to detail. Before beginning, remember to review your heater’s manual to familiarize yourself with its parts and setup.
The foremost step in any conversion process is to ensure safety. For this, begin by turning off the heater and the propane gas supply to it. This reduces the risk of any unintended ignition during the conversion process. If possible, relocate the heater to a well-ventilated outdoor area to further minimize risk. Wearing protective gear such as gloves and safety goggles is also recommended to prevent accidental injury.
Assemble Required Tools
To facilitate a smooth conversion process, assemble all necessary tools beforehand. The essentials typically include a wrench, screwdriver, needle nose pliers, and of course, a conversion kit. A conversion kit usually contains all the necessary parts needed for the conversion like natural gas orifices, new gas valves, burner air adjustment parts, and other components specific to your heater model.
Disconnecting the Propane Source
Once you’re ready to start, the first active step is to disconnect the propane gas source from the heater. Using the wrench, disconnect the gas line that leads to the propane tank. Make sure to handle the gas line carefully to avoid any damages.
Removing the Propane Orifices
Next, you have to remove the propane orifices from the burner. The orifices control the flow of gas into the burner and hence need to be changed during a fuel conversion. Use the appropriate tool, often a wrench, to unscrew these orifices. Remember to keep them safely, in case you need to convert back to propane in the future.
Installing the Natural Gas Orifices
After removing the propane orifices, replace them with the new natural gas orifices provided in the conversion kit. These orifices are specifically designed for natural gas and allow the right amount of gas to flow into the burner for efficient combustion. Install these orifices where the old ones were removed and ensure they’re tightly secured.
Reconnecting the Natural Gas Source
Finally, connect the heater to the natural gas source. This usually involves connecting the heater’s gas line to the home’s natural gas supply line. Ensure this connection is secure and sealed properly to prevent gas leaks. You may also need to replace the gas valve and the hose, based on your heater model and the requirements mentioned in the conversion kit.
Adjusting the Burner Air Shutter
After the conversion, your heater will need some adjustments to ensure it burns natural gas efficiently.
Importance of Air-Fuel Mixture
The right air-fuel mixture is critical for the efficient functioning of your heater. An optimal mixture ensures complete combustion, leading to maximum heat generation and minimal wastage. It also prevents the formation of soot or harmful gases.
How to Adjust for Natural Gas
To achieve the correct air-fuel mixture, adjust the burner’s air shutter. The air shutter controls the amount of air that mixes with the gas before combustion. This adjustment is typically done using a screwdriver, and the correct position is often indicated in the conversion kit’s instructions.
Checking for Proper Combustion
Once the adjustments are made, it’s important to check for proper combustion. This can be done by observing the flame in the burner. A steady, blue flame indicates complete combustion and the right air-fuel mixture. If the flame is yellow or flickering, further adjustments might be needed.
Professional Conversion Services
For some homeowners, a DIY conversion may seem daunting. In such cases, hiring a professional can be a good choice.
When to Hire a Professional
Professional assistance might be necessary if the heater system is complex or if the conversion instructions are not straightforward. If your heater is not designed for conversion or does not have a compatible conversion kit, professional help becomes a necessity.
Benefits of Professional Services
Hiring a professional for conversion has several benefits. They possess the technical knowledge and experience to handle the conversion accurately and safely. They can also diagnose and fix any underlying issues your heater may have, ensuring it performs optimally after the conversion.
Cost Involved in Hiring Professionals
While hiring a professional comes with a cost, it can be a wise investment considering the long-term benefits. They ensure the job is done right, preventing potential issues that could lead to more significant expenses down the line.
Precautions and Maintenance
Post conversion, your natural gas heater will require regular care and safety checks.
Maintenance Tips for Natural Gas Heaters
For the heater to function effectively, schedule regular maintenance. This includes cleaning the heater, checking for leaks, inspecting the flame color, and getting professional servicing if needed.
Safety Precautions Post Conversion
Safety should remain a priority even after the conversion. Regularly inspect for gas leaks, ensure the heater is placed in a well-ventilated area, and use a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
Common Issues and Troubleshooting
It’s beneficial to be aware of common issues you might encounter post conversion. Irregular flame, heater not turning on, or unexpected shut-off are some issues you might face. Having a basic understanding of troubleshooting these problems will help you maintain the heater better. For complex problems, don’t hesitate to call a professional.
Benefits of Conversion
Converting your heater to natural gas has long-term benefits.
- Cost Savings Post Conversion: Natural gas is a cheaper fuel source. This conversion can help you save significantly on fuel costs.
- Environmental Benefits: Natural gas emits less carbon compared to propane. Hence, it’s a greener choice.
- Enhanced Heater Life: Natural gas burners require less maintenance and have fewer breakdowns, enhancing the heater’s life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it expensive to convert from propane to natural gas?
The initial cost of conversion might be a bit high. However, considering the lower cost of natural gas, you can recover this expense in the long run.
Can all propane heaters be converted to natural gas?
Most propane heaters can be converted to natural gas. However, it’s essential to check your heater’s specifications or consult a professional to confirm.
Is professional help necessary for conversion?
For simpler heaters, DIY conversion is possible. However, for complex systems or those without a conversion kit, professional help is recommended.
Switching your heater from propane to natural gas is a wise choice. This conversion brings along cost savings, environmental advantages, and better efficiency.
Choosing natural gas over propane proves beneficial in numerous ways. It’s a cheaper, cleaner, and more convenient fuel source that can significantly enhance your heater’s performance.
Adopting natural gas as your fuel source is a step towards greener and smarter energy use. It’s an investment that pays off well, both in terms of cost savings and environmental impact.