Switching to Propane

“Can I switch from Acetylene to another fuel gas, like Propane?”

Usually the main reason behind this questions is the high cost of acetylene. But not everyone switches; there are other issues besides cost, which have to be taken into consideration:




-Metal thickness


-Length & type of cuts.

If you would like to switch to a fuel gas, such as Propane, here are some issues to consider:

1. Torch lighting. With acetylene, the black soot gives you a visual indication that you need to increase the oxygen until it disappears. Fuel gases don’t give you that indicator. With fuel gases, you need to know the correct pressures – which you know from memory or a chart.

2. The primary flame for acetylene is very pointed, creating heat quickly. This creates a fast start and works well with thin metal. With propane, the primary flame doesn’t get as hot.

3. Fuel gases can create more heat in the outer flame than acetylene. When you count the total BTU’s (inner and outer flame), fuel gases can become much hotter than acetylene. BTU’s are what you need to heat or cut THICK metal.

4. Fuel gases are cooler gas than acetylene. With fuel gases, you are going to need more oxygen to produce the same heat as acetylene.

5. Heating a large area can be a problem for acetylene. The acetylene cylinder is restricted to keeping withdrawal below 15 PSI. If there is too much withdrawal, acetone will be drawn up into the regulator.

6. Safety issues on leaks. Acetylene is lighter than air; therefore it dissolves into the atmosphere. Fuel gases are heavier than air; thus falls to the ground. Keep this in mind, as a Fuel Gas Leak can be extremely dangerous!

7. Portability: A propane cylinder is much lighter than an acetylene cylinder, making it much easier to handle.

What to remember when converting to Fuel Gases:

The Torch
Most torches only require changing to the appropriate cutting tip. But there are some manufacturers who require the injector in the torch head to be changed.
If you aren’t sure about your torch, contact our service department to determine if the injector needs to be changed.

The Torch TipFuelGasTip
AcetyleneTipAn acetylene tip is one piece with 4 or 6 pre-heat holes. A Fuel gas tip is usually a 2-piece cutting tip: an inner and outer shell. Because the fuel gas is cooler than acetylene, it requires more pre-heat holes to allow more gas flow through. Hence the reason for the fluted inner (lots of holes) and why acetylene tips (not enough holes) can’t be used on fuel gases.

The RegulatorPropaneRegulator

Acetylene regulator has a gauge not allowing it to go past 15 PSI. Fuel gases can go higher than 15 PSI, so Acetylene regulators are out of the question. Fuel gas welding needs regulators with gauges that allow more than15 PSI.

The Hose
Acetylene hose is rated R. Fuel gas requires a T-rated hose. It is not recommended to use R-rated hoses for fuel gases; or else they decay from the inside.
Any more questions? Feel free to call us at 604-888-4481, or come visit our shop at Port Kells.


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