What propane tank size do I need for my home?
You’ve weighed up the pros and cons of natural gas vs propane as the heat source for your home and determined that propane will work best for your needs. Great news! Propane is a versatile fuel source that has many uses.
This includes home heating, producing fire, cooking, and cleaning, making it an essential part of a home or commercial establishment. In addition, the environmental advantages of propane gas make this an especially good fuel choice that also offers cost savings, so you can rest assured that you’re helping the environment and your wallet!
Propane is available economically and efficiently all year long, and is easily and safely stored in propane storage tanks that come in a variety of sizes on your property. They’re placed at least three feet away from your house, depending on the size of the tank. Choosing the right size propane tank, therefore, is an important decision.
Why is choosing the right propane tank size so important?
The biggest reason? It can cost you money if you’ve chosen a propane tank size that is not appropriate for your home.
If your propane tank is too small, it will need filling more often. When you get propane delivered to your home you pay for the propane, and of course for the delivery. The more times you have to get the propane delivered, the more delivery fees you pay. Also, propane companies often provide the fuel at a higher rate when delivering smaller quantities, so with a smaller tank, you even pay more for the gas itself.
So why not just buy a big tank in the first place and not have to deal with this problem? You could. However, you will pay more upfront for the cost of the tank and installation, so it’s best to take a few minutes to ensure you get the right-sized propane tank in the first place and save money all round!
Also, keep in mind that the bigger tank, the stricter the local safety and installation regulations may be.
While it may seem like it’s a hard mistake to make, you’d be surprised. There are countless homes across Arizona and the country that have the wrong size propane tank.
What propane tank sizes are available?
Before we dive into how to determine the size propane tank you need specifically, let’s take a look at the different sizes of tank that propane can come in.
It can be quite confusing given that propane tank sizes are sometimes referred to by the volume of liquid they hold, and sometimes by the weight in pounds when they are full. Note: the two largest tank sizes are always listed by gallons, never weight.
It’s also important to note that tanks are filled to a maximum of 80 percent of their capacity to allow for the natural expansion of liquid propane that occurs with a change in temperature. Therefore, a 500-gallon tank will typically hold approximately 400 gallons or 1,500 liters of liquid propane.
These are some of the most common propane tank sizes available, from the smallest tanks for portable cooking to the largest tanks for commercial, industrial and agricultural applications.
1lb propane tank – this is a small propane tank that is used in camping stoves and portable barbeques etc. and is sold at most big box household or hardware stores.
20lb/5-gallon propane tank – most full-sized gas barbeques run off 20lb propane tanks, and they can be refilled or exchanged at many local gas stations.
33lb /8-gallon propane tank – these tanks are used to power certain vehicles such as forklifts or farm vehicles. A forklift with a four-cylinder engine can run for about eight hours on a full 33lb propane cylinder. This size tank is unlikely to be used for home heating.
100lb /25-gallon propane tank – this size tank is the lightest of the tanks suitable for homes, and is ideal for homes with smaller, or few propane appliances e.g. a gas cooking range or indoor fireplace. The more items in your home that are fueled by propane—such as water heaters—the more likely it is you will need a larger propane tank. You risk running out often with a 100-pound propane tank.
200lb /57-gallon propane tank – this is a common size of propane tank in smaller homes. It holds a convenient amount of propane that’s enough to run cooking appliances, heat water, and dry clothes. It is limited in that is can only run bigger appliances such as water heaters for a limited duration.
420lb/100-gallon propane tank – this size of tank can be used for a variety of commercial as well as residential purposes. If you are using propane at home for something other than primary home heating, this is the tank for you. The 100-gallon tank can run appliances such as a gas cooker, or be used to heat a swimming pool or run a fireplace for a long time.
500-gallon propane tank – this is the most common size propane tank for larger residential homes when propane is the primary fuel source. It is often used for home heating, generator powering, cooking, pool heating, and more.
One of the main benefits of this size of propane tank is that you can go longer without having to get it refilled. And, as mentioned earlier, when you are buying more gallons of propane, you can often get a slightly lower price rate for buying in bulk.
This size tank is also suitable for many sizes of commercial buildings as it is more efficient than smaller tanks. At this size, the propane is more difficult to transport, and the tanks take up more space, as they are almost 10 feet in length. You’ll also need more space around it since the tank must be installed at least 10 feet from any building or property line.
1,000-gallon propane tank – for very large homes, or for agricultural and commercial businesses, a 1,000-gallon tank will likely be the best choice. It does everything that the 500-gallon tank does but can do it at a larger scale. E.g. heating homes, running multiple appliances, heating pools, powering generators, etc. This tank is larger than necessary for the average home. Spanning almost 16 feet in length, this tank must be installed at least 10 feet from any building and 10 feet from any property line.
How is the right propane tank size determined?
There are a number of factors that you have to take into consideration before deciding on propane tank size.
What is the size of your home?
For homes over 2,500 square feet that will be using propane for heating and running multiple appliances, a 500-gallon tank would be the best choice. If your home is over 4,500 square feet, the 1000 gallon tank would be better suited—but only if you have the outside space to store it. These tanks are also perfect for heating a smaller home that is located far away from the source, reducing the number of fill-ups required throughout the year.
How many appliances will be running off the propane?
In homes with up to three appliances that will run off the propane, a 100lb tank should be a good fit. If you only need propane for your gas fireplace, clothes dryer or stove—then this is the tank for you!
What size is your family?
The larger your family, the more gas you’ll be using on a daily basis, mostly in terms of water heaters. More people means more people taking showers, washing their hands, etc.
What available space do you have to store a propane tank?
Before you buy a tank, measure where you’re going to put it. Above ground propane tanks are ideal for consumers with a satisfactory place in their yard for installation.
If space is limited, you might need to consider an underground tank. Underground tanks are designed to be buried in the ground and are completely out of sight except for the dome covering the valves for servicing the tank. Please keep in mind that in both cases of above- or below-ground tanks, codes require all propane tanks filled onsite to have a line of sight to the truck providing refill service. Other city codes will also apply so it’s best to be familiar with these before purchasing a tank.
Where is your home located?
The size of the tank you need may vary based on climate and usage. Homes located in areas that are difficult to reach for deliveries in the winter may want to consider a larger size for the extra storage it offers. However, in Arizona, where winters are not typically as cold as other parts of the country, this won’t be a consideration.
Propane tanks come in several sizes, each with their own capacities to provide power to homes and commercial buildings. Ultimately, when it comes to the propane tank size you need, the main factors that will determine the choice will be the size of your home, the number of appliances that will be running off the propane, and the space you have available to store the tank.
Smaller homes with fewer appliances need smaller tanks; larger homes with more appliances and items like heated pools, outdoor fireplaces, etc. are going to need much larger ones.
A reputable gas piping contractor like RP Gas Piping will evaluate the needs of your property and propose a plan to install or upgrade your propane gas pipe system. This will include an inspection of any existing gas pipelines and a recommendation for storage tank placement that is convenient for both delivery trucks and gas line plumbing to appliances.
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