Aboveground and underground tanks

When installing a propane tank on your property you will have to decide whether you prefer a tank that is aboveground or one that is underground. Several factors might influence your decision and for simplicity’s sake you might want to get quotes from different propane companies or propane tank retailers.

Underground propane tanksaboveground propane tanks

Illustrations of an underground and an aboveground tank.

Tank price

Your first consideration is likely to be how much the tank will cost you. Aboveground tanks are cheaper to purchase and install. Depending on size, buying an aboveground propane tank will cost between $450 and $2,500, whereas an underground propane tank will cost between $1,800 and $3,500. Renting an aboveground propane tank will set you back between $25 and $250 per year; whether it is aboveground or underground makes little difference.

When selling or renting a propane tank, propane companies and tank manufacturers take a wide range of factors into account to determine price, including but not limited to capacity (in gallons), maximum working pressure, orientation (horizontal or vertical), tank material (for example, carbon steel or stainless steel), lining, exterior (type of pain, sand blast, etc.), location (transportation costs) and dimensions.

Tank size

Your choice of propane tank will depend mostly on propane usage, which in turn is determined by your propane appliances, location, number of occupants, square footage, etc. It can be interesting to get a larger propane tank than necessary to give you more space to take advantage of lower propane prices, for example in summer (propane is most expensive in winter). A four-bedroom home with propane as a primary source of energy usually requires a 500-gallon propane tank.

Aboveground tanks tend to come in sizes that range from 100 to 500 gallons. Underground tanks come in fewer but bigger sizes, from 500 to 1,000 gallons. Therefore, how much propane you want to store in your propane tank will influence whether you decide to buy or lease an aboveground or an underground propane tank.

Tank installation

Because it need not be buried, installing an aboveground propane tank is both quicker (about half as much time – roughly two hours) and cheaper than installing a tank that is underground. Underground tank installation is also more complicated: the tank itself must be protected from electrolysis (earth currents that can damage metal objects underground), it needs special coating to protect it from potential soil damage; underground propane tank regulators need similar protective measures.

Finally, underground tank are often considered more esthetic than aboveground tanks since they are not visible and do not spoil the landscape.

An underground propane tank is hardly visible

An underground tank is very discreet.