Propane as an Alternate Fuel Source for Vehicles

The price of gasoline is constantly increasing, and auto manufacturers and other interested parties are continually looking for alternative fuels to power vehicles. Electric cars are at the forefront of this push for alternative fuels. However, propane vehicles are another alternative, and can be cheaper and more efficient than electric vehicles. Some estimates show that there are over 270,000 vehicles on the roads that are powered by propane. This includes passenger cars, buses and trucks and delivery vehicles. Using propane in your vehicle offers many benefits, much like it does with water heaters and fireplaces. However, there are some hurdles that stand in the way of widespread propane usage in cars and trucks, and the biggest is lack of infrastructure.

There are many benefits involved when using liquefied Propane Gas (LPG) in vehicles. Propane burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel fuel. The impact on the environment from propane use is much less than from these other fuels. Propane is also much cheaper than gasoline or diesel. Gasoline and diesel fuel are priced in excess of $3.50 per gallon in most of the United States. In some areas, such as California, consumers pay prices in excess of $5.00 per gallon. Propane offers a huge savings to motorists. With many Americans struggling to make ends meet in the current economy, switching to vehicles powered by propane could mean savings of thousands of dollars a year, and allow them to stretch their budgets even further. And face it; most consumers are looking to save money at the pump, regardless of their financial situation.

There are a couple drawbacks to using propane in vehicles. First is the cost of converting a gas or diesel powered vehicle to propane. The conversion costs about $10,000 for one vehicle. This is almost as expensive as buying a new car that runs on gasoline; a compact car will cost you about $16,000 in the United States for the 2013 and 2014 model years. When you factor in the amount of fuel savings that you’ll see, the propane conversion kit will pay for itself in just two or three years of use. Many consumers just don’t have $10,000 laying around to convert their cars, and automakers haven’t gotten on board with offering propane powered vehicles yet. Electric hybrids are where their current interests lie.

Once you convert your vehicle to run on propane, you run into another issue – where do you fill up your fuel tank? Propane facilities are not nearly as common as gasoline or diesel filling stations. You can find a gas station on nearly every corner in the city. And only about half of the existing propane facilities are equipped to service propane powered vehicles. This is a huge concern for those motorists who use propane powered vehicles. However, propane filling stations are fairly cheap to build; the estimated cost for one of these facilities is only about $100,000. The federal government and several states have offered grants and other funds to organizations who build propane filling stations. These grant offers could mean that we’ll see more of these filling stations installed in the near future.

Propane is not only a great source of energy for homes and businesses, but it can be a great alternative to the high price of gasoline and diesel fuel. And propane powered vehicles are much cheaper to purchase than hybrids that use electricity combined with gasoline or diesel fuel. Several organizations are leading a push to have more propane filling stations set up for on-road vehicles. Many lawmakers are also trying to assist with this push, and grants are being offered to organizations that help further the use of propane in vehicles. In the coming years, consumers will see more propane filling stations and more propane-powered vehicles on the road. You may even have one in your garage or driveway!

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
By: Hank Griffis

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Safety Tips

Tip 5: Don't run out of gas!

Serious safety hazards, such as fire or explosion can result. If your storage tank gets empty or depleted, air and moisture can enter. This can cause a build-up of rust inside the tank. Rust can decrease the concentration of the odor of propane, making it harder to smell. If your propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.