Natural gas fireplaces are fueled by gas purchased from city and municipal gas suppliers. Natural gas can be considered as the "mother" of propane. Propane is extracted from natural gas. Fireplace owners opt for natural gas versus propane as a matter of cost, choice and convenience. After a natural gas fireplace insert is professionally installed, the user pays for the additional gas usage on his monthly gas utility bill. This eliminates having to make a separate fuel purchase (as is the case with propane) with another energy supplier.
Propane-fueled fireplaces are the most recent alternative to natural gas. They are referred to as "LP" fireplaces, which stands for liquefied petroleum. After the petroleum is extracted from natural gas, it is liquefied; hence the name "liquefied petroleum." For example, the tanks that people purchase to operate an outdoor gas barbecue grill are filled with liquefied propane gas. Propane fireplaces are an option for those who want to save money and for those who do not want to rely on their natural gas supplier for fireplace fuel. Propane is the only choice for people who live in remote areas where there is no natural gas service provider, if they want an alternative to a wood-burning fireplace.
Natural gas and propane gas fireplaces are cleaner and more efficient in comparison to wood-burning fireplaces. Many natural gas and propane fireplace models do not require ventilation. These are called "vent-less" or "vent-free" fireplace inserts. This makes both the obvious choice for high-rise structures such as apartment buildings and condominiums. They also share additional benefits and advantages. Neither emits smoke into the home, so you don't have to worry about the smell of smoke permeating furniture, drapes and walls. And there's there's no need for heavy lifting to bring wood inside or store it outside. And you don't have to clean up ashes, or have all of the fire safety concerns of burning embers landing on carpets and flooring and causing a fire. And finally, both are cheaper to operate than wood-burning fireplaces.
One difference between natural gas and propane is that natural gas can be used with wood-burning fireplaces. Many homes have a gas starter to make the task of lighting the fireplace easier. The gas starter works in a way that's similar to the coils on a gas range. The starter is turned on and the flame is ignited to get the firewood lit. However, gas starters only operate with natural gas, not propane. The big difference with propane in comparison to natural gas is propane's portability and availability. You can purchase or lease a propane tank, and have the tank delivered to your home. That is not the case with natural gas. Gas lines are owned and operated by local gas companies.