A propane tank outside a home connected to a propane furnace system

Propane furnaces are a common choice for many homeowners with central HVAC systems.

They provide reliable heat in some of the harshest winter climates. As long as you don’t let the propane tank run empty, they will keep your home warm all winter long.If you are looking to install a propane furnace, you likely already have a propane tank somewhere on your property.

If not, these are pretty easy to get from your local gas company if you are looking at installing a new one. Keep in mind that you will need to run a gas line from the tank to your home.

Whether you have an existing propane furnace or you are thinking about installing one, you might wonder what their typical lifespan is.

How Long Should a Propane Furnace Last? 

Let’s get straight to the answer.

Propane furnaces last, on average, between 15 and 20 years. However, they might last even longer if well cared for. This means changing the filter regularly and having preventative maintenance done every few years.

What Is a Propane Furnace?

There are quite a few furnace types available for heating your home. The most common furnaces are natural gas, oil, electric, and propane.

Natural gas furnaces and propane furnaces are essentially the same thing. The only difference is in the gas valve and the burner orifice size. Natural-gas gas valves can be converted to LP with a simple kit, and vice versa.

Most furnaces come standard as natural gas and must be converted. This takes the installer less than five minutes to complete. The burner orifices need to be changed out, as does the spring in the gas valve.

DO NOT EVER install a natural gas furnace on propane without converting it first! This is extremely dangerous and could be life threatening. Soot will build up and carbon monoxide will leak out through the improperly-sized burner orifices.

Anything involving natural gas or propane should be done by a trained and licensed professional. This is not a DIY job.

Closeup on a propane furnace in a basement
Courtesy of Home Guide

Propane furnaces tend to have lower operation costs.

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), propane furnaces are more energy-efficient than electric, natural gas, or oil. Energy efficiency is one reason many people opt to install a propane furnace. 

Are Propane Furnaces Energy-Efficient? 

Propane furnaces are the most energy-efficient compared to natural gas or oil furnaces. They work by producing more energy or heat, using less fuel. 

The efficiency of your furnace is measured using the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) scale. This scale measures what percentage of fuel turns into heat. The higher the rate, the less energy you need to heat your home. 

A standard-efficiency propane furnace ranks between 80-89% efficiency, whereas a high-efficiency propane furnace measures 90-99% efficiency.

The vast majority of both natural gas and propane furnaces are high efficient. The average efficiency rating is around 95%.

What Maintenance is Needed on a Propane Furnace

The most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your furnace is to change the filter regularly. A dirty filter restricts air flow and causes strain on many of the internal parts. 

Standard 1’’ filters should be checked monthly.

Pro Tip: buy the cheapest 1’’ filter in the store. You don’t need the one with the fancy pleating as these can actually reduce air flow enough to cause a problem.  

Furnaces fitted with filter boots that take 4’’ and 5’’ filters should be checked twice per year. These filters are more expensive but need to be changed less often, sometimes only once per year.

Beyond that, make sure you have your furnace serviced by an HVAC tech on regular intervals. An annual tuneup is a good idea but if you have it done every other year, you are ahead of the game. Most people don’t call until their equipment stops working.

If your furnace is older, you should definitely have an annual tuneup done. This can help catch budding problems before they become major.

A technician services a propane furnace in a basement

Advantages of Propane Furnaces

Aside from lower costs and better energy efficiency, there are also several other advantages to installing a propane furnace. 

  • Propane produces more heat than electric furnaces. As a result, propane can heat the air from your furnace significantly more than electricity. 
  • Propane is more eco-friendly and safer than other options. It is a clean fuel source and does not damage soil or water. In addition, propane does not build up residue if spilled. 
  • Propane furnaces have a lower operation cost. This may be the biggest driving factor for homeowners that use propane. Heating bills can get expensive through the winter with many other heat sources.

One Comment

  1. If you want to make you propane furnace to last longer, consider signing up for a maintenance plan with an HVAC service provider. Regular maintenance can catch issues early and keep your furnace running efficiently.

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