Compare LPG suppliers Agas National, Kleenheat, Origin Energy, Elgas and Supagas on their customer service, bill & cost clarity, deliver service, value for money and overall customer satisfaction in 2019.
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LPG is delivered to thousands of Aussie homes and businesses right across our great brown land, providing a convenient fuel for cooking, heating and hot water heating. But the convenience of having LPG delivered to your home can come at a cost – and lots of the households that we surveyed are not convinced they’re getting good value for their money. That’s why we’ve produced our first ever review of LPG suppliers, to help you make a better-informed purchase decision. Not all of the providers compared here are available in all areas, but if this review gives you just one extra supplier to consider, we’ll consider that worth it.
More than 1,400 bill-paying adults from across Australia have given us their feedback, with suppliers rated on factors including customer service, delivery service and value for money. If you’re not getting five-star service and value from your LPG supplier, it might be time to try a new one.
The five LPG suppliers in our 2019 review have been rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Agas National proved a clear winner – not just for overall satisfaction, but also when it comes to customer service, bill & cost clarity and value for money. It was four stars overall for Kleenheat, Origin Energy and Elgas, with Supagas scoring three stars.
Read on as we explore what these six LPG suppliers can offer, but first, here are some of the basics on LPG for those not in the know.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a combination of flammable hydrocarbon gases – primarily butane and propane. This gas becomes liquefied when it is pressurised, allowing it to be conveniently transported in tanks or large cylinders, like the one pictured courtesy of Origin Energy.
LPG is commonly used by households and businesses for heating, cooking and hot water. It is also used as a fuel for barbecues and even vehicles. Customers with LPG will need to regularly organise a natural gas refill (or cylinder replacement) when their LPG levels run low. Most households will have two tanks so that you can replace the empty tank without losing your gas supply altogether.
LPG is available in most areas across Australia. While many LPG suppliers will only operate locally, a couple of the larger companies – namely Origin and Elgas – deliver LPG to most parts of the country. But keep in mind that the further your supplier needs to travel, the more you will pay for LPG delivery.
LPG and natural gas are used for similar purposes, but there are some key differences. LPG is delivered in canisters or tanks and customers must order a refill or replacement tank every now and again. Natural gas or ‘mains gas’ however, is delivered straight to homes or businesses via a large distribution network of pipelines.
Natural gas services are similar to electricity, whereby customers have on-demand access to the gas they need and simply pay for whatever is used at the end of the billing period. Not all Aussie households have a mains gas connection, however. If you’re one of these people, then you may be able to organise a mains gas connection, though keep in mind that this can be quite expensive, so it could be more affordable just to use LPG instead.
Another point is that natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, while LPG is predominately butane and propane, which burns hotter and cleaner than natural gas. This means LPG is the gas of choice for lots of restaurants, cafes and other businesses.
Natural gas is generally cheaper per megajoule (MJ) than LPG, but natural gas customers must pay an additional ‘supply charge’ – a fee of about 60 to 90 cents for each day you’re connected to the mains gas network. This charge applies regardless of whether you actually use any gas or not.
LPG customers may also have to pay a ‘Gas Service Charge’, which is practically a rental charge for the gas cylinders, of about $35 to $45 a year, however this works out much less than you would pay in natural gas supply charges over 12 months.
For this reason, natural gas is recommended for customers with high gas usage, such that their usage rate savings negate the additional supply charges. Households with moderate or low gas usage would possibly be better off with LPG, even if a mains gas connection is available. This all, of course, depends on a variety of variables, including the price of LPG at the time and what natural gas deals are available in your area.
Elgas says that, as a general rule, a small household will break even if it uses LPG for hot water and cooking. Any more, and natural gas is likely to be cheapest. Any less, and LPG will probably be the cheapest option. But treat this as a general rule only.
Whether gas or electricity is cheaper is another conversation altogether.
You’re free to switch to LPG from natural gas (or vice versa) at any time, provided that you have access to the mains gas network. With that said, it’s important to be mindful of a few things:
The price you pay for LPG will likely fluctuate from time to time, depending on the global market supply and exchange rates (just like with electricity and national gas). The international gas price benchmarks often change each month, requiring LPG distributors to revaluate their gas prices on a regular basis. The price you pay will also depend on your location and distance the supplier must travel to deliver LPG to your home (if you have it delivered).
Most LPG suppliers will send someone out to swap over your empty (or near empty) gas cylinder with a full one whenever you let them know you’re running low. However, some of the larger providers, such as Elgas, may send out an LPG truck to top up your gas supply periodically, thus eliminating the need for you to repeatedly contact your gas company.
LPG is safe, provided it’s used appropriately as per the instructions. You should not tamper with the safety valve or other cylinder fittings, and you should leave any modifications or maintenance work to qualified gasfitters. Also, check for a gas appliance certification label on any gas appliances to ensure it is approved for LPG use. If you attempt to use a gas appliance, and it fails to light, give it a few minutes to air out the gas before attempting it again. If you notice a leak, then turn off the cylinder at the valve and contact your supplier.
Agas National describes itself as an alternative to the giant multinational gas companies “with their control of the market and lack of interest in customer service/needs”. It claims to be “all about customer service” and strives to provide a level of service far beyond what is experienced in the industry. Despite its name, Agas National only services South East Queensland – from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast and surrounding areas – as well as parts of Northern NSW. Apart from customer service, its biggest selling point is its free same day delivery service (although some conditions apply). In fact, if you’re having a children’s party, you can even order helium gas and balloons from Agas National!
One of the major national gas retailers in the Perth area, Kleenheat is also one of the most prominent LPG suppliers in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, from Broome to Albany, Perth to Kalgoorlie and Darwin to Alice Springs. Kleenheat claims 60 years of local experience and that it delivers to more places, more often. The retailer’s website appears to be a helpful tool in organising cylinder collections, with 24/7 ordering also available. The website also provides a helpful searching tool for customers to identify their nearest dealer. When it comes to the natural gas market, and intense competition with other suppliers in WA, Kleenheat offers large discounts for customers who pay their bills on time. It also appears to provide discounts to LPG customers but you’ll need to check the website for details.
Origin Energy is one of Australia’s largest suppliers of residential and commercial LPG, in addition to being one of the country’s most prominent electricity, natural gas and solar retailers. When it comes to LPG, the company promotes two Australia-wide plans. The first comes with a $50 Visa Gift Card, while the second is an online-only offer that comes with money off gas bottle purchases. Origin has also previously offered a Price Promise plan whereby it claimed the cheapest prices for LPG. If customers found a better deal, the retailer would beat it by 5% for 12 months. On top of the special deals, Origin promises competitive rates, reliable delivery and dedicated phone support. If you’re conscious about your impact on the environment, then you may also be interested in Origin’s ‘Green LPG’, whereby customers can pay an extra $3 per tank to have Origin offset their LPG emissions.
Elgas is another major player in the residential LPG market. It claims to offer competitive rates, no contracts and no residential establishment fees. Elgas also boasts a range of helpful products and services, including 24/7 call centre support, LPG bundling with gas appliances, and interest free plans to purchase appliances. Elgas says it has a strong ethos towards safety, and has a global reputation for reliability. It has gas depots throughout the country, so it is available to most Australians. For those who travel to their local depot for LPG refills, Elgas provides a long list of locations plus other helpful details on its website, including log-in facilities for customers to manage their account and pay bills, as well as check out the latest promotions. These include offers such as gas credits for purchasing various appliances, including heaters and hot water heaters.
Supagas claims to be one of the most successful LPG and Industrial gas companies in the Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula areas, with a history dating back to 1968. The company has a strong focus on safety, for its customers, employees and the wider community. It provides LPG in a wide range of bottle sizes for different requirements, as well as gas cages which can be used for the storage of 15kg and 45kg cylinders, to be rented on a monthly basis or purchased outright. Customers can wait for home delivery or visit their nearest Supagas location to swap their empty cylinders for a new or reconditioned full cylinder. In fact, its ‘Supaswap’ service is available at service stations and convenience stores across metropolitan Melbourne and surrounding areas. In addition to LPG, Supagas also sells and rents heaters.
While Origin and Elgas operate nationally, most LPG suppliers only service particular areas, so location is going to be a major factor in picking where you get your bottled gas from. That said, if you do have more than one or two options where you live, it makes sense to look for a supplier that makes the ordering and delivery process as convenient as possible. As mentioned in this report, some suppliers have helpful and easy to use websites, while others are rather lacking in this space. But ultimately, your satisfaction will likely be determined by the price you pay and the customer service you receive – not just online, but on the phone and from the fella who drives to your home and replaces your empty cylinders!
Our survey found that just 61% of customers believe they get a good deal, while only 23% have switched suppliers in the last two years. This number may be so low because many households won’t have options to switch, but for those who do, it’s time to shop around.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 12,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who live in a house that uses bottled gas and they pay the bills – in this case, 1,420 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.