Propane dealers

There are around 14 million propane users in the United States and hundreds of propane dealers. This can make it seem difficult to select the right propane dealer but it also means customers tend to have several options to choose from. Therefore, customers are more likely to find a propane dealer that suits their needs.

Get quotes from different propane dealers

However, the large number of propane dealers and the different combinations they offer in terms of service, pricing, tanks, maintenance, can make finding the right propane dealer more challenging. The simplest way of making the right choice is to compare different offers. And the best way of comparing offers is to request a quote based on your situation to see which propane dealer best suits your needs.

Indeed, a local propane dealer may not have the payment options you seek. Similarly, a multi-state propane dealer may not offer attractive prices if your home is too far from their distribution location. You might also need a specific tank type, or want to purchase appliances (for example, if you are fitting a home that has just been built). For all these reasons, your search for the right propane dealer should be as extensive as possible.

National or multi-state propane companies

Although only three propane dealers in the United States have national distribution networks and outlets in all 50 states (Amerigas, Suburban Propane and Ferrellgas), several others cover multiple states: Pinnacle Propane (44 states), Matheson Gas (33 states), CHS (a.k.a. Propane One) (30 states), United Propane Gas (12 states) and ThompsonGas (10 states) have operations in 10 states or more.

The advantage of such propane dealers is that they are likely to have good customer care, rigorous safety training programs, and offer a variety of pricing options, tank sizes, payment solutions, and service and maintenance possibilities. Nevertheless, it is useful to find out where their local outlets are located and make sure it is not too far from your home.

Amerigas, Ferrellgas and Suburban Propane have offices throughout the United States. Although it is difficult to tell for certain which one has the cheapest prices per gallon, in Ohio, which has the propane price per gallon that is closest to the national average ($2.430/gal compared to the US $$2.492 /gal average in the first week of March 2013), Amerigas is ahead of Ferrellgas, which is itself better priced than Suburban Propane.

Company

First fill (dollars/gallon)

Next fill (dollars/gallon)

Amerigas

1.699

2.099

Ferrellgas

1.499

2.370

Suburban Propane

1.799

2.599

Source: US Energy Information Administration

Propane Cooperatives

Cooperatives are voluntary member associations focused on a particular area. Propane cooperatives are either farmer or consumer cooperatives. Some farmer cooperatives provide residential propane services on large scales (MFA Oil, Southern States). Most cooperatives operate on a local scale and are owned by their members but a couple has larger operations (Northern Star Cooperative Services, Jackson Jennings Co-op.). Large cooperatives function in a very similar way to the large propane companies. Your criteria should be the same when choosing your propane dealer if you are requesting quotes.

However, some propane users go through much smaller, local, cooperatives because they negotiate interesting prices with national propane companies. If there is one in your area, it might be worth considering. However, you may not be offered the same range of tank types, delivery options, pricing plans, or have as good a customer care. This makes getting quotes from different propane dealers all the more relevant.

Concentrated and local propane dealers

Some propane dealers cover fewer states but have more outlets per state than some dealers that cover many states. For example, a dealer like Crystal Flash covers one state but has 11 outlets, while Arizona Propane covers nine states but has four outlets. Some local propane dealers even focus on a certain number of counties.

Interestingly, the propane dealers with the largest number of outlets per state are the United States’ three largest propane dealers: Amerigas, Suburban Propane and Ferrellgas.

Concentrated propane dealers are interesting for propane users who are close to one of the outlets. Remember, propane prices increase with propane dealer transportation costs. Having a propane supply agreement with a small propane dealer can also be reassuring for users who want to be close to their customer service center.

However, small propane dealers order less propane in bulk and are less able to be flexible on pricing. You should also ensure they have a 24/7/365 emergency number and responsive customer care. Finally, ask what their delivery, pricing and payment options are. This can all make a difference to your budget and your comfort.