Tank installation process

The most important part of your propane tank installation process is selecting the company that does it for you. Although it is possible to do it all yourself or get independent experts to do it one step at a time, it is inconvenient and doing it yourself may lead to injury (if there is a gas leak, for example) or a faulty propane system. Therefore, it is crucial to enquire with different propane companies to get the best possible service and deal.

 

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Step 1

Ensure you have enough space on your property (more than 10 feet between your tank and your house).

The spot where you imagine your propane tank should be installed needs to be accessible by road.

Step 2

Call various propane companies to get quotes and select the company that best suits your needs.

Compare:

- Tank price

- Propane price per gallon.

- Payment options.

- Customer care.

- Safety record.

Step 3

Apply for a propane tank permit at your local fire or building department.

Ask propane companies whether they offer to apply on your behalf and check costs.

Step 4

Have the company you have selected install your tank.

Discuss the location of your tank beforehand. It must comply with safety regulations but you do not want it to ruin your view.

Step 5

The propane company will connect your tank.

This involves fitting your propane system with the relevant regulators, valves, piping, etc.

Step 6

The propane company will perform a leak test and a systems check.

The leak test is mandatory and you should have a systems check once a year.

Tank installation process basic requirements

To have a propane tank installed, you first need enough space on your property to place it far enough from neighboring structures for the installation to respect distance rules (10-25 feet in general). Where you decide to have your tank installed also should be accessible by road to enable the propane delivery truck to reach your tank.

Getting quotes from companies for tank installation

The second step in your propane tank installation process is getting quotes from different propane companies. Having a propane tank installed is best done as part of a global propane supply agreement with a propane company (though propane tank companies exist and offer delivery and installation services).

This step is particularly important because it means you should not only focus on tank installation but also consider what propane companies offer in terms of propane price, service options, customer care quality, safety record and how close they are to your home. Your final decision should take all these factors into account to ensure your propane supply agreement is best suited to your needs.

What to look out for when comparing quotes

In a nutshell, this means that whether you buy or rent a propane tank, you should:

  • Compare the propane price per gallon charged by several companies bearing in mind that some companies initially charge a lower price for new customers. For comparison purposes, the average propane price in December 2012 was $2.413 per gallon, which means it cost $965.20 to fill a 500-gallon propane tank at 80% capacity (which is the norm). However, prices vary greatly according to region, climate, consumption, etc.
  • Compare the advantages you have with each company in terms of whether you can pay a fixed price for propane over a certain period, whether you can pay for a propane delivery over several months, and what fees and charges apply for each company (for out-of-hours deliveries, for example).
  • Compare the customer care offered by each company by checking that they have a 24/7/365 helpline and whether any complaints have been filed against them in the last year. The Better Business Bureau places Amerigas at the top of the three largest propane dealers (before Suburban Propane and Ferrellgas) though company reputation also varies depending on where the outlet is situated.
  • Compare safety record by enquiring how long companies take to respond to propane emergencies, whether they offer gas appliance systems checks and yearly propane system inspections and whether they have responded to any propane emergencies in the last year.

Average propane tank and installation prices

If you decide to purchase a propane tank from a company price will be an important factor in your decision. Aboveground propane tanks cost between $450 and $2,500 (120-500-gallons) to buy and install; underground tanks cost between $1,800 and $3,500 (500-1,000 gallons) to buy and install. Renting a tank is simpler since the propane company will install it for you at little or no cost and rental fees vary between $25 and $250 per year.

Tank installation: obtaining a permit

Local authorities require that you apply for a propane tank permit as part of your tank installation process. This implies that you fill in the relevant form, attach a drawing and description of the tank and its surroundings and pay the permit fee (between $25 and $50, valid for the lifetime of the tank). Permits are required because they help local authorities keep a record of where flammable substances are located and plan accordingly in case of an emergency. Propane companies usually offer to apply for a propane permit on your behalf.

Physical installation process

Once you have decided on a company to install your propane tank, a special truck will drive it to your home and qualified technicians will install it for you. The truck is equipped with a large crane to move the propane tank to the desired location. Aboveground tanks require minimal setup and are laid down but underground tanks involve digging a hole according to rules established by the National Fire Protection Association. Again, this can be included in your contract with a propane company.

Propane tank delivery

Process for connecting a propane tank during installation

Once the propane tank is physically setup it needs to be fitted for your propane appliances to function. There are four types of propane fittings, which are also usually provided and setup by the propane company during installation:

  • Gauges: The float or dial gauge indicates how much propane is in your tank, whereas the fixed level gauge lets the company know when to stop filling it during a delivery.
  • Regulators: They ensure appliances are getting propane under the right pressure. Pressure-intensive appliances need high-pressure or adjustable high-pressure regulators; ordinary appliances two-stage (two components) or integral two-stage regulators (one component).
  • Valves: They are used to relieve excess pressure in the tank (relief valve), fill propane tanks (fill valve), let vapor enter the gas appliance system (service valve), release excess pressure as the tank is being filled (vapor eliminator valve) or remove propane from the tank (liquid withdrawal valve).
  • Piping connects the propane tank and the propane appliances.

Checking for leaks and inspecting the propane installation

The last step in the propane tank installation process involves a leak check and, usually, a gas appliance systems (GAS) check. Leak checks are required by law for any new installation and aim to ensure your propane system is leak-free; gas appliance systems check verifies that your entire system functions properly, including propane appliances.