converting natural gas heater to propane?

utluckly(z5)November 13, 2006

I have heard this is possible. I have a vent free natural gas heater made by procom. People I have talked to say it is easy to convert to propane, which would be much easier I think than running gas lines to the greenhouse. I have no idea if this is safe first of all or how to begin to go about it.

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Karen Pease

Nor do I, but I'd be curious. I'm weighing switching to NG when I scale up my current greenhouse, and it'd sure be convenient if I could reuse my current propane heater. Those things aren't cheap. ;)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 3:57PM
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Often all that is necessary is to change the orifice that delivers gas to the burner (this can be as simple as replacing one small brass fitting with another) BUT....if the heater is portable I'd take it to the local gas folks (propane or city gas) and ask their perspective.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 5:04PM
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nathanhurst(VIC Aust)

I'd rather run a gas line. I suspect the long term cost is in favour of natural gas, natural gas tends to be lower in sulfur, and you don't want to have to muck around with all those tanks.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 5:57PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

I have a 30,000 btu converted propane ventless heater. We bought a converter kit, which I think was just a nozzle and a rubber hose. I use 20lb. tanks.

Its not cheap, but I only use it in the spring for about 3 weeks for seedlings.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 11:38AM
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junkmanme(z5 N. NM, USA)

Although not personally experienced in this, I asked the Manager of a local Propane Supply firm. He said it was a simple matter of changing the orifice and that they would be happy to convert one for me if I'd bring it to them.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 2:27PM
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orchiddude(+7b ALabama)

Gaslines are no problem. Dig a hole, run the line, hook it up. Its not that hard. :-) I ran 160 feet to my greenhouse, 6 years ago. Best thing I ever did.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 11:46PM
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Orchiddude, are gas lines run using any special tubing? I'd kind of like the idea of running these to the GH for the propane heater so that the tanks don't have to be hauled all the way to and from the GH for refills. Especially troublesome in wet weather and snow.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 8:40AM
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nathanhurst(VIC Aust)

If you're running a gas line, why not use natural gas? It produces less CO2 too!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 6:19PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

Because they wanted $15,000 USD to run the line to my house...

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 12:49AM
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And natural gas isn't available where I live


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 7:56AM
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Natural and Propane gas are run under very low pressure and the newer materials used to carry them are cheap and easy to work with. And, as gas isn't subject to freezing, they don't need to be deeper than necessary to avoid cutting into them with a rototiller, although marking or recording the location is a good idea.

Check out the gas lines and connectors available at any large home supply center, like Lowe's, HD or Menard's.

Once you get the line out from the supply line from your house, just dig a narrow trench to the GH. If you think you may want another extension sometime in the future, you could add a capped off T connection at a convenient point and mark it.

So if you have only Propane and the cost of another tank is too great to justify and/or your GH is sited were the delivery truck can't get to it, you could extend from your existing supply line just as easily as we did our Nat. Gas.

Maybe easier. We had to go out through the foundation. You might be able to just add another service line connection directly from your tank, but might need to add another pressure controller.

Talk with your Propane supplier and find out for sure, but do check it out.

Flipping a switch would surely beat hauling, pouring, filling and lighting kero all get out: safer too.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 4:45PM
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orchiddude(+7b ALabama)

Sorry...I didnt expect to get a reply to this so I didnt look back.

First, you need a gas line at your house. I have natural gas at my house, water heater and back up heat, then you can connect to anything.

I ran a 160 foot line to my greenhouse. I dug the trench by hand and I had a plumber lay the metal pipe in the trench, he hooked it up to the meter and greenhouse. I think it was all done in less than an hour. I hooked my heater up and was in business, still using that heater. Works great. I have a shead that I want to put a heater in, I am going to do the same thing. I will dig the hole and call the man back out to run the line.

The only thing you have to make sure is that you get the correct size pipe in IO measurement. In other word, if you have other gas lines, your gas line to your greenhouse might need to be bigger, this also has to do with how long you are running it in length. Your plumber will know that but just ask to make sure. You would hate to get the wrong size line and then have to dig the thing up.

I hope that got ya questions.

I ran propane for about 8 years. I had a 200 gallon tank in the yard. I would have the gas man come by once a month and fill it up. They loved me cause I was the only greenhouse in town, until I ask them to remove it. Then they had a melt down....LOL

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 10:52AM
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I didn"t realize I would get this kind of response. I am now thinking I will run a gas line, you guys convinced me.
Orchiddude, if you don,t mind me asking what was the cost of the 160 foot gas line including labor? and how deep did you dig the trench? Did the plumber come out and show you where to dig

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 2:44PM
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orchiddude(+7b ALabama)

Well utluckly...its different in different places. Where I live, we dont get alot of freezing days on average and I am kinda in the country so all I had to do was go down about 6 inches. The reason I had to go 160 feet was because I didnt want the line to run across my yard, because I thought I might get a pool one day. So with that, I ran my line along my house and then over to the greenhouse, If I drew it out, it would be an "L" shape.

I had my trench dug and my whole cut in the greenhouse, when the plumber came out, I showed him what I wanted, talked with him about the size of the pipe because of the distance and showed him the greenhouse.

All the plumber did was lay the pipe in the trench, connect the pieces together, hook it to the gas meter and put me a stop value in the greenhouse.

My plumber charge me $1.90 a foot. That included pipe and labor.

Now, if you have someone that can tell you the size pipe you need, you can go buy your own pipe and bargan for the labor. Just remember that most plumbers charge by the foot for gas work.

If I had ran it across my yard, it would only have been 113 feet and around $200.

NOW...if you live where you have alot of rules and things have to be so so, you might want to check with your plumber and see about the depth of your area. If you have to dig deep, you can rent a ditch witch and save alot of time.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 6:34PM
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trigger_m(7b georgia)

I had a 250 gallon propane tank installed behind the greenhouse,and ran the line Myself.I love the way propane heats,and it's very efficient.Natural gas would be great as well.Now,you'll use plenty more gas than i do here in zone 7b.I use about 140 gallons a year for my 14 x 20 foot greenhouse.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 9:24PM
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I recently purchase a home just outside of New Orleans. I had the pool resurfaced, and a new heater installed. When we went to hook up the heater, we found the gas line under the home was corroded from Katrina. The heater is 400,000 BTU's, and I'm told requires a minimum of 1 1/2 inch pipe. The run is about 250. I'm getting quotes between $5,000 and $7,000. Do I have an option to simply convert this to propane?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 12:13AM
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stressbaby(z6 MO)

Scott, $5-7K sounds high for a 250' run of 1 1/2" pipe.

But I believe most pool heaters are easily converted between NG and propane. Ours, same size as yours, came ready for NG but it also came with a conversion kit and we run off of propane now.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 6:50AM
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bama35640(Z7A AL)

I is really simple to do. It just depends on the btu's of the heater then you just drill out the current orifice to the correct size. For example 50,000 btuh is a number 47 drill bit. This is how I converted my gas dryer. See the link below.

Bob in North Alabama

Here is a link that might be useful: Orifice List

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 5:08PM
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you had better ask the manufacturer about conversion on a vent free unit. I have greenhouses and converted all my propane driven unit heaters to natural gas when the lines came through. It amounted to an orifice change, as stated and my contractor had it done post haste. But, there is a difference between vented and unvented units. Mine are vented. Vent frees have very tight tolerances for safety reasons, since there is no flue. I had a vent free unit in my solarium and the contractor stopped right there and told me to buy another unit. He couldn't convert it. I also did a short stint in a box store who sold those units and had that question asked frequently and also got the same answer. There can be differences in not only the orifice, but the hoses and regulators. You cannot mess with safety at all on vent free units. Check before you procede.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 4:07PM
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