Whether it is the rising cost of natural gas or the environmentally destructive force of traditional wood furnaces, or the unstable dependency on electric units that has homeowners wanting to switch fuel sources, there are a number of pros and cons when it comes to propane furnaces.

Types

In order to have a better understanding of the pros and cons associated with propane furnaces, it is important to know the different types. Propane furnaces come in three styles--central heating, wall units and combination heaters. Wall units are small and traditionally used in mobile homes and other small homes where space conservation is key or for single use applications, such as providing heat for a small garage perhaps. Central units are extremely efficient, often coming with a remote control that can power the unit from any location in the house. Combination heaters are relatively new to the market and are designed for not only heating the home, but also providing propane fuel to other appliances, such as water heaters and outdoor grills. Additionally, combination heaters use the excess heat from the water heating and cycles it throughout the house, helping eliminate any energy waste and are typically the size of standard water heaters.

Energy Efficiency

One positive aspect of propane furnaces is that they are more energy-efficient. Typically propane furnaces have a rating of 90 percent efficiency or higher, while other furnace types run at about 78 to 82 perfect efficiency. For a better understanding, consider the 100 percent efficiency that you would like your furnace to run. While the furnace is heating up and cooling down, typical furnaces will let roughly 20 percent of the heat escape through the exhaust. With propane furnaces, most are constructed with flappers similar to that of a chimney that will shut when the thermostat has reached its predetermined temperature, therefore conserving the heat and sending it throughout the house. Depending on the manufacturer, propane furnaces waste only 10 percent of heat, and when that waste is translated into dollars during the cold season, every percentage point saved is another dollar saved.

Costs

There are several pros and cons associated with the cost of replacing old propane furnaces. This is also where homeowners will need to hire a contractor. The contractor can help decide which type of propane furnace is needed, as well as inspect the home's internal piping to ensure that the pipes are propane compatible and have no leaks or other safety violations. In addition, propane tanks no longer need to be placed beside the home, which can lower the home's value. Tanks can now be buried underground for aesthetic and safety purposes. Prices for propane furnaces and propane fuel vary from location to location. While the initial cost and set up may be high, the yearly savings in energy conservation, as well as potential tax credits may make the switch more sensible. Propane furnaces also generally have lower maintenance costs and have a longer life than those of traditional furnaces.

Health and Safety

Perhaps the most influential discussion in the pros and cons of propane furnaces are environmental and personal health and safety risks. Propane furnaces burn cleaner than fuel oil furnaces, omitting fumes as well as eliminating potential health risks for the homeowners. As with most furnaces, there are risks of fire hazards, which can be reduced by frequent inspections of fuel lines. Propane furnaces, unlike wood furnaces, do not have messy ashes to clean and also save trees and the environment.

Potential

Depending on the type of propane furnace purchased, the pros of having a propane furnace far outweigh the cons. Propane fuel lines can be used in a variety of methods, whether heating an entire house or a small space, such as garages or storage shed. With the fuel source so readily available, lines could run to other places of use, such as outdoor grills, or in the case of combination heaters, to heated pools or spas. As with any fuel source, the cons are of course running new lines, setting up the regulators and other system requirements, as well as hiring a contractor to ensure the safety and longevity for the new propane furnaces.