Converting Your Vehicle To Natural Gas

Natural Gas Transportation and Stations
January 2, 2014
Natural Gas Conversion: Your Home
January 20, 2014

Converting Your Vehicle To Natural Gas

natural-gas-station

We’ve discussed the many benefits of natural gas to the environment and economy frequently here on the blog. It stands to reason people often wonder how to go about converting a home or vehicle to natural gas. And is it even feasible?

From a consumer standpoint, natural gas is cleaner and less expensive. While converting a home or vehicle to natural gas might have some upfront costs, in the long term it saves money on your utility bills and you can sleep better knowing you’re doing good for the environment.

You have to keep some things in mind when converting to natural gas…

Access to a Fuel Source?

Many metro public transportation systems run on natural gas, such as the system in Los Angeles. This is possible because the busses stay within a predictable radius of natural gas filling stations. For that reason, public transit is a great case use of natural gas. They always know they’ll have access to a filling station.

Some long haul truck fleets use natural gas, and UPS has been transitioning to natural gas, but they’ll have to stick to routes that have filling stations. In fact, UPS is currently building nine additional filling stations to accommodate their fleet.

Of course, having the family vehicle run on natural gas sounds great in theory, but you’ll want to make sure you have access to filling stations. We’re guessing you don’t have the resources to build your own fueling stations. The U.S. Department of Energy has a a comprehensive site set up to locate fueling stations near you.

The good news is you can also create a home fueling station! Refilling stations in your garage allow you to plug in overnight and wake up with a full tank. Naturally, this solution works well when you’re doing close proximity trips.

Actual Conversion

Technologically, it’s not that difficult to convert a vehicle to natural gas, but more than likely, you’ll need to hire a certified compressed natural gas installer to do the job. This is so you avoid violations of the Clean Air Act – these violations can cost you upwards of $5000, so unless you know what you’re doing, you don’t want to risk it.

Economics of Conversion

Once you get past the fueling and conversion obstacles, it is good to ask yourself: Is it worth it? Well, it might not be for everyone just yet and here’s why.

The pros first:

  • Better fuel economy
  • Cheaper and cleaner fuel with no apparent hindrance on performance.

The catch, however, is in the cost to entry. According to Popular Mechanic, the cost for conversion can run anywhere from $6500 to $12000 with an additional $3500 for a home fueling system. Over time, this cost might be recouped in gas prices, but this solution seems dependent on better conversion installation costs.

Or you can purchase natural gas powered vehicles such as the Honda Civic GX. It’s more expensive than it’s gas-powered counterpart, but if you drive many miles, you’ll break even in a few years. The decision isn’t always based purely in economy. It’s paired with the environmental benefits. But of course, the savings have to be there, eventually.

We’ll talk next about converting your home to natural gas.