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What Gas does a Patio Heater use?
A patio heater can use either propane or butane bottled gas. Both gases have their own characteristics which may determine which gas you decide to use. Generally, propane is used in patio heaters because the gas flows better at low temperatures. In this article, we look at the differences between propane and butane and which gas is best for patio heaters, BBQs and fire pits.
What is Butane and Propane?
Butane and propane are forms of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). Both gases are extracted from natural gas using various processes. When used in a patio heater or BBQ, the burnt gases produce carbon dioxide, water, carbon monoxide and soot. They can be used in both commercial and residential situations for heating and cooking.
What is the difference between Propane and Butane?
We have produced a simple table of data to help you easily decide which gas you should use in a Patio Heater, Fire Pit or BBQ. First, let’s go through the differences between the two gases in more detail.
The main difference between propane and butane is the temperature at which the two gases vaporise or in simple terms, turn from a liquid to a gas and are able to flow to your appliance.
The vaporising is called the boiling point, this is when a liquid turns into vapour under pressure. The gas is stored in the bottle/cylinder as a liquid and then pressurised.
When the gas reaches boiling point, it turns to vapour. Now, this is the important bit, Propane will continue to vaporise until the temperature drops to approximately -42°C. Whereas Butane will only vaporise at a temperature of approximately -1°C and above.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, in simple terms, If you want to use your patio heater or BBQ in the winter, use propane, your outdoor appliance will work perfectly down to a temperature of approximately -42°C. However, If you are using butane and its -1°C outside, you might struggle to get the heater or grill to light because the gas simply won’t flow!
Which gas should I use?
You can use either Butane or Propane in your outside appliance. Use the table below to decide which gas best suits your needs.
|Operating temp cut off||– 42°C||– 1°C|
|Smell||Negliageable||Might taint food taste|
|Usage||Outside only/vented areas||outside /inside|
|Pressure in container||High||Low|
|Eco Friendly||emissions||Cleaner Burn|
|Long term storage||Long term||Short term|
|Regulator size||27 mm||20 mm and 21 mm|
Propane and Butane Facts
When deciding whether to use Butane or Propane, there are a number of factors that you may also want to take into consideration.
The pressure inside the bottle is important. Butane is stored in a cylinder at less pressure than propane. For safety reasons most indoor appliances that run off bottled gas use Butane.
Propane produces instant heat and burns at a higher temperature (approximately 1980°C) than butane which burns at approximately 1970°C. This makes propane a good choice for patio heaters and fire pits.
Any fuel that is being burnt, will produce emissions. Both Propane and Butane produce emissions, however, butane has a “cleaner burn” this means Butane produces less soot and carbon monoxide than Propane. in fact, propane should not be used in an indoor situation unless the area has adequate ventilation.
Does Butane and Propane smell?
Butane and propane are naturally odourless but have an odour artificially added to the gas to alert users of a possible leak. Some people say that food can be tainted slightly when using butane gas.
This is most lightly due to the fuel not being burnt properly, generally from a faulty burner or a butane torch, which might sometimes be used to sear the meat.
What is the Best gas for BBQs and Patio Heaters?
Propane is a more popular gas used in Patio Heaters, Fire Pits and BBQs. Either gas can be used in your appliance, however, each gas has a specific regulator for attaching the appliance to the bottle. A 40,000 Btu patio heater will use approximately 1 kg of gas per hour.
Are FloGas and Calor bottles interchangeable?
Flo Gas and Calor Gas use the same regulator. This means the bottles are interchangeable. However, If changing the gas from Butane to Propane or vice versa, you will need to change to the correct regulator. Use the table below to identify the regulator needed for the gas you are using.
Identifying Gas bottles and Regulators
|Calor – Patio Gas||Red/green||Propane||27 mm|
|Calor Gas||Blue||Butane||21 mm|
|Calor Gas||Orange||Propane||27 mm|
|FloGas Leisure||Green||Propane||27 mm|
|FloGas Butane||Yellow||Butane||21 mm|
|FloGas Butane||Blue||Butane||20 mm|
You can find out how much gas your Patio Heater or BBQ will use in our article HERE