Suburban Propane, AmeriGas and Ferrellgas provide residential propane services. In areas where natural gas is not available, residents use propane to fuel furnaces, water heaters and kitchens. In many regions, it also serves as an alternative to heating oil.
Propane delivery services use large trucks to transport propane to pressurized tanks at the home. Most of these tanks hold enough fuel to supply the needs of the homeowner for several weeks. Most suppliers offer a automatic refill service where they anticipate the customer's propane use and top off the tank several times during the heating season. Other options the customer monitoring his use and calling for delivery.
Customers have the option of purchasing their own tank or using a tank the supplier provides. Supplier-provided tanks usually include a contract that restricts the customer to using fuel the tank owner provides.
Liquid propane becomes a gas before it enters the supply lines to the home. In the burner of the appliance, it mixes with air to burn cleanly and minimize exhaust fumes. Propane appliances are available in vented models that exhaust the fumes and water vapor outside the home and unvented models that provide over 99 percent combustion to protect the safety of residents in the home. Some states do not allow the use of unvented propane heating in the home.