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Change to propane is easy, affordable

Propane consistently costs less than gasoline or diesel, according to historical records

December 13, 2018  By Jeremy Wishart

Mowers powered by propane at work on a jobsite.

Landscape contractors across Canada may still be reeling from paying high gasoline prices throughout this summer, which reached a four-year high in August across all of North America.

Fuel price fluctuations like those seen this summer can wreak havoc on a landscaper’s budget and dramatically impact the business’ bottom line. If it increases enough in a single summer, it could even be the determining factor as to whether a contractor makes money or is left in the red at season’s end. Unfortunately, the price per gallon of gasoline is predicted to remain high for the 2019 cutting season as well.

But there are ways contractors can protect their business from the whims of the oil market by considering a switch to propane-powered commercial mowers. Using propane not only can safeguard a contractor from an unpredictable fuel market, it can also cost less per gallon than gasoline or diesel – and significantly so when oil prices are high.

Propane costs less per gallon
Fuel is frequently the second-largest expense for landscape contractors – as well as one of the most variable costs. However, propane consistently costs less than gasoline or diesel fuel, according to historical records kept by the Canadian Department of Natural Resources. The data shows propane is consistently less expensive across the southern provinces where it’s more likely to be used as a fuel for mowing. On average, contractors using propane mowers will pay as much as 30 per cent less in fuel costs compared to a fleet using gasoline or diesel mowers.


Canada also produces significant exports of propane and has high-energy security from imports from the U.S., which help insulate the price of propane from fluctuations in the global energy market. These differences are more pronounced during periods of high gasoline prices.

Propane can increase crew productivity
Contractors using propane mowers can actually increase crew productivity alongside reducing costs. For contractors who refuel at public refueling stations, propane allows for on-site refueling to eliminate the need for employees to waste time at gasoline refueling stations throughout the day. Crews can hit the ground running in the morning with fully-filled propane cylinders, either filled at the end of the day by crews from a bulk propane tank or by a propane retailer that stops by to meet a contractor’s fuel needs.


Propane cylinders can also be safely transported on trucks or trailers to sites throughout the day. Crews need only to exchange the full tank with an empty tank from their equipment and are ready to go. Because propane mowers also use a closed-loop fuel system, there’s no need to worry about spills in the field, on trucks and trailers, and on equipment or crews – a common accident with gasoline that wastes fuel and may require time spent cleaning up.

Transitioning to propane is affordable and easy
With the use of the Propane Education & Research Council’s Propane Mower Incentive Program, contractors will not need to pay more to transition to a new propane mower. The program at www.propane.com provides $1,000 for every new propane mower purchased by a contractor – enough to offset the additional cost of most units. Contractors can also receive $500 for each certified conversion of an existing mower.

In addition to available incentives, contractors who make the transition to propane do not have to switch away from the mower brand that they currently operate. More than 20,000 propane mowers were in use at the start of the 2018 cutting season – and more OEMs are including propane models in their equipment lineups all the time. In fact, 14 OEMs now offer a variety of zero-turn, wide-area walk-behind, and stand-on units. Several propane mower conversion kits are also available in Canada, meeting U.S. EPA certifications for emissions reduction that typically also meet Canadian emissions regulations. Because of this growth in models, it’s easier than ever for a contractor to add propane to their mower fleets.

High gasoline prices and fluctuating oil markets can create challenges for landscape contractors. But by considering propane mowers and other propane equipment, contractors can help themselves stay ahead of the price at the pump and in the black on budgets.

For more information on propane mowers, visit propane.com/commercial-landscape.


Jeremy Wishart is director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at jeremy.wishart@propane.com.

This article is part of the Equipment Week.

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