For a great heating fuel, consider propane. It may be the very best choice for your heating requirements, as long as you are aware of the attendant safety concerns. Propane also has a few issues which other types of heating do not share. But for a warm, efficient, clean source of heating fuel it can be an excellent choice.
Propane is surprisingly clean and very cost effective. Other than the typical carbon monoxide safety issues, propane will not produce undesirable byproducts. It will not trigger allergies nor will it affect the overall health of people. Because it burns hotter than other heating options, such as electrical, it will effective heat expansive areas. In most cases, it will not cost as much as electric heat.
The most important safety measure is to know that propane should never be stored inside. An open flame can cause the cylinder to explode. There may be an open flame if you have a gas water heater or a gas stove. Propane is derived from fossil fuel and all fossil fuels can produce carbon monoxide. Propane use causes the expulsion of carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide is recycled and burned, then the deadly carbon monoxide is formed.
There is no smell or color to propane. Gas companies add a chemical called ethyl mercaptan to give propane a pungent smell so that you will notice, if gas is leaking. If you smell rotten eggs, or sulfer, then you are leaking gas. This gas will accumulate at a low point because gas is heavier than air. For this reason, the most common use of propane heaters are at open air construction sites, where there is little danger of the gas accumulating.
If you are having difficulty keeping your pilot light lit on your heater, it may be because of a dirty or bad thermocouple. Clean it and replace it if it continues to be a problem. This is not an expensive fix.
You may also notice frost accumulating on your cylinders and regulators. If it is particularly cold outside, this is a normal occurrence. When a lot of propane is flowing, you can expect frost. Understand that your cylinder should be drawing vapor, not liquid. If your valve is drawing liquid, it will be the cause of frost. An additional reason would be if you are consuming a lot of propane and you are using a small propane tank. That mismatch will cause high flow and subsequent frost.
Natural gas and propane, though similar, are not exactly the same. Therefore you can not immediately substitute one for the other. Usually, though, if you have a heating unit made for one, it can be transformed to use the other. Only the maker of the unit can tell you if it can be converted. A qualified technician can perform the change and it is typically reasonable in cost. The most important thing would be for the unit to be certified with a new rating plate put in place. This way, should you ever experience a fire, your insurance company cannot balk at your claim.
Instead of propane, you may want to consider kerosene or electric radiant heating. A fan-forced kerosene heater is economical, but there are safety issues here as well. In a garage, an electric radiant heater may be the safest option, although its operation will cost you more.
Propane is a smart choice if you use it in a recommended environment and you make sure to keep the propane cylinders outside where they belong. It is a cost effective, clean choice which can give you years of warm heat.