Most people who live off-grid or people who want alternate heating means often want to find out if LPG heating is expensive to run.
LPG central heating is much more expensive to run compared to natural gas and oil central heating systems. While it is much cheaper to buy the LPG unit, the cost of the fuel per KWhr is much higher, which is still subject to the changes in the price of hydrocarbon-related fuels.
In most cases, LPG heating systems are mostly used in off-grid homes, or homes that do not have access to a supply of gas. Keep reading to find out more about how LPG heating systems work and how they compare to other central heating alternatives.
Overview of LPG Heating
LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) is a combination of gaseous hydrocarbon extracted from crude oil. This can either be in the form of butane or propane. The type of LPG used as fuel in your house depends on your environment.
If you stay in colder regions, propane is used, since it has a low boiling point of -42˚C. While for indoor uses or much warmer regions, butane is used, as it has a boiling point of -2˚C. Also, butane is more efficient, as it supplies more energy per cubic meter than propane.
LPG was designed majorly for homes without access to gas pipelines. Also, it is used for cooking, heating, vehicle fuels, refrigerants, and so on. It is usually stored and supplied in small canisters and large tanks. It is then delivered to your tank on your property where it supplies the whole house.
How Does an LPG Heating System Work?
LPG heating systems are often regarded as “Wet systems”. This is because it simply heats water, then the heat is transmitted through the radiators into the house and hot water is also sent through pipes into the house for other heating needs. This is also quite similar to how natural gas and oil boilers operate.
The fuel burnt is stored in a tank and supplied into the boiler to generate heat by combustion, which is subsequently transmitted into the house. If you eventually run out of LPG fuel before your next scheduled delivery, you may need to pay an emergency delivery fee.
This is quite different from natural gas boilers, which are fed by the gas pipelines in the house. Also, you can convert certain natural gas boilers into LPG boilers
Installation Costs of LPG Systems
Installing an LPG heating system is no different from installing a gas or oil heating system. The cost of the tank is much cheaper than the gas or oil boiler tank. It typically costs about £400 or higher (depending on the size of the LPG boiler).
The installation fee varies depending on your location and the level of expertise of the installer. Also, Gas safe registered installers must have undergone additional training to be registered to install and maintain LPG boilers.
The LPG storage tanks are usually owned by your supplier, although you will be required to pay a yearly fee for the repair and maintenance of the tanks. This means you only need to pay for the cost of the LPG boiler, the installer, and the cost of refueling.
When installing LPG systems, you need to consider if you’ll be installing an underground tank or an overhead tank.
- Underground Tanks: Just like the name implies, you will need to dig a trench to place the tank in it. The tank is not completely covered as the lid is exposed to ensure access when refueling. Also, these types of storage systems should not be used in areas that are prone to flooding or have high clay content. This is usually preferred by people who would rather have the tank out of sight.
- Overhead Tanks: If you are installing an overhead tank, you will need to create a concrete base where it will be placed. You will also need to ensure that installing the tank in plain sight conforms with your city’s regulations. This is usually much cheaper than underground LPG storage tanks. Also, ensure that there is enough space around the tank and that the surrounding areas are free of any form of debris.
Is LPG Cheaper than Mains Electricity?
Electricity is the most expensive means of central heating when compared to other alternatives. On average, LPG systems costs around 6.75p/kWhr compared to electricity which costs 12.7p/kWhr according to Energy Saving Trust. For an average yearly demand of 18,000kWhr unit of energy, it would cost £1,260 for LPG, and for electricity, it would cost £2,250 to heat the house.
In addition to the fuel costs, the cost of an electric boiler will cost over £650, excluding the installation fees. For an LPG boiler, it costs at least £450, excluding installation fees and the cost of your storage tank.
For maintenance fees, it would cost £80 per annum for LPG heating systems and £60 for electric heating systems.
Off-grid heating systems like LPG and Oil systems are usually not as expensive as mains electricity. LPG heating systems require the fuel to be stored and delivered on-site which also contributes to its overall cost.
When all these costs are factored in, it is obvious that electric heating systems are much more expensive than LPG systems.
Is LPG Cheaper than Gas?
LPG is not cheaper than main gas. On average, mains gas costs about 3.75p/kWhr and LPG systems cost 6.75p/kWhr according to Energy Savings Trust. For a house with an average yearly demand of 18,000kWhr unit of energy, it would cost £1,260 for LPG and about £675 for gas.
Also, LPG is sold in liters, prices vary between 33-49p depending on your location and your fuel consumption. This means that you are likely to pay more for refueling if you stay in a very remote area or your consumption is low. You are likely to pay more (up to 60% more) if you have smaller cylinders than people who buy LPG fuel in bulk.
Another thing to consider is the cost of the storage system. Depending on your supplier and your type of storage system (underground or above ground) the installation cost varies for LPG systems. For an underground LPG storage system, installation can cost about £1,800. While for above-ground systems, it costs between £400-£900.
For main gas systems, you do not need a storage tank system for the fuel. This is because you will be getting supply from the gas pipe network directly into your home.
Is LPG still Economical?
LPG is still much more economical, especially when it is compared to electric heating systems. While its running costs are still more than oil heating systems, the difference is only a little. Another thing to consider is that oil heating units are also more expensive than LPG heating systems. This means it would also cost more to replace.
For off-grid homes, that are split between LPG systems and oil heating systems, when you consider the price, oil is the clear favorite. But when you consider the other minute benefits, you would want to overlook the slightly higher price of LPG systems and install them.
LPG heating systems are a suitable home heating alternative for homes that do not have access to the main gas pipe network. It is much more expensive than the main gas and slightly more expensive than the oil heating system. While oil is slightly cheaper, it has its downside which makes it less preferable.
LPG systems have high running costs due to the cost of their fuel. Also, if you install an underground storage system for your LPG fuel, the cost is much higher. But when you compare it to electric heating systems, the running costs are much lesser.
In summary, an LPG heating system hits the sweet spot when you compare its running cost with Oil and Electrical heating system. So, if you have a home that is not connected to the gas pipe network, your best bet is installing an LPG system, regardless of its cost.