Electric vs. Propane
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What’s the best power source for heating asphalt? For truck-mounted pothole patchers, it generally comes down to electric versus propane. This white paper explores safety, cost, efficiency, practicality, and environmental impact, of both—concluding electric is the better option. Safety: With regular inspection, maintenance, and proper use, both propane and electric heaters can be relatively safe to use. But there is less fear of a malfunction in an electric heater. Cost: Since this is a major consideration, the paper goes beyond a cursory look at cost-per-unit of energy to consider the initial purchase cost of equipment, the cost of maintenance, eventual replacement, and cost of daily power consumption. Efficiency: The evidence shows most fossil-fuel-fired burners operate at 80 to 85 percent efficiency when new, while an electric-powered heater operates at 100 percent and lasts longer. Practicality: It is widely believed that a propane heater can get up to temperature faster than electric heat. The paper explains why the difference is minimal and largely irrelevant. Environmental Impact: Electricity is a cleaner source of energy in almost all applications, when compared to fossil fuels, and can eliminate the need for expensive permits required to operate propane heaters.