Contractor Survey: Copper vs. Steel vs. CSST Natural Gas Distribution Systems


The Real Cost Story

The results of a CCBDA survey of gas contractors, have confirmed that copper tube is the most cost-effective material to choose for
natural gas distribution in residences.Copper is less than half the material cost of corrugated stainless steel tube (CSST) and is quicker
and easier to install than threaded steel pipe. These factors combine to give copper the lowest installed cost when compared to the other materials. For every $100 spent on a copper system, it would cost, on average, $134 for an equivalent system using threaded steel pipe
and $144 for the system using CSST.

house schematic

The Survey

The survey was based on the installation of a natural gas distribution system for six appliances in a typical three-bedroom bungalow.
Contractors were asked to develop cost comparison data for installations using:

· Copper tube with brass flare fittings.
· Steel pipe with threaded fittings.
. Corrugated stainless steel tube (CSST) and fittings.

The appliances consisted of 1 a forced-air furnace, 2 a hot water heater and 3 a fireplace in the family room in the basement.

basement plan

On the main floor, there was 4 a range in the kitchen, 5 a gas fireplace in the Great Room, and 6 a quick-connect outlet for a barbecue on the outside wall at the back deck.

floor plan

Installed Cost

Total installed cost is a function of material cost and labour. The cost of materials for a copper installation is more than for a comparable steel
pipe system, but significantly less than CSST. However, copper's ease of installation is where it excels, reducing labour charges and resulting
in the lowest total installed cost.

An example of the survey result came from an Ottawa contractor who quoted an installed cost of $1102 for CSST, $890 for threaded steel
pipe and only $577 for a copper gas system.


Copper & Weather

Sunlight Can Degrade Plastics

Threaded steel pipe is difficult and time-consuming to install, compared to copper and CSST.In fact, prior to the introduction of copper tube systems, there were tight, obstructed installation conditions in which natural gas lines were not feasible. Flexible copper tube changed that.Installation time was reduced to an acceptable level even in very difficult situations.

Copper Performance

Copper tube and flare fittings are readily available from distributors in communities across Canada. And the copper products supplied by
different manufacturers are completely interchangeable. No special fittings or joining techniques are needed.

Several types of CSST systems are produced by different manufacturers. The tube, fittings, and joining methods are not fully interchangeable. Usually a distributor will carry only one particular brand, which limits availability and material choice.

When you are short of a CSST fitting on a job, it can be an expensive trip back to the distributor's pickup counter.

Copper Performance

Copper Natural Gas Systems
Publication No. 14: An installation manual on selecting copper tube and fittings, choice of system design, layout and sizing, installation
techniques, and testing.

The Right Choice is Easy to See

Information Sheet No. 2000-01: Provides details on Types G/GAS tube, and the 2000 edition of the CSA B149 Installation Code