It can be difficult to decide which propane tank is best suited to your propane usage. This depends on the number and type of propane-run appliances, the number of occupants in the home, how spacious the home is (square footage), whether it is in a warm/cold/dry/humid region, and how well the home is isolated. Average US propane residential consumption stands at 464 gallons per year and a four-bedroom home that uses propane for most of its energy will require a 500-gallon propane tank.
When making this important decision the simplest solution is to seek advice from propane professionals by requesting detailed quotes from propane companies, which usually sell and lease propane tanks and are used to estimating residential propane consumption and advising customers on what tank is best suited to their needs. However, the following will help you as you request such quotes.
Compare the cost of propane tanks
Propane tank prices range from $450 to $3,500 if you decide to buy one ($450-2,500 for an aboveground tank and $1,800-3,500 for an underground tank) and $25-250 per year if you would rather lease one.
It is important to know what is included in the price you are quoted for a propane tank. If you buy a tank you will need a permit, which costs between $25 and $50. Depending on where you decide to place your propane tank you might need extra piping ($1-2 per foot). Look carefully at what the warranty for the tank includes since good propane tank maintenance is crucial for safety reasons.
Similarly, if you rent a tank from a propane company you should enquire as to what the company offers beyond tank lease price. Some companies that lease tanks out to customers increase the propane price slightly. All the large propane suppliers in the United States offer servicing options: find out what they are to know exactly what you might be paying for.
Compare different sizes of propane tanks
Residential propane tanks come in sizes that range from between 100 and 500 gallons for aboveground tanks and 500 to 1,000 gallons for underground tanks. Since propane tanks represent a considerable investment (especially if you decide to buy rather than rent) propane customers might be tempted to get one that just fits their usage.
However, it can be useful when deciding on a propane tank size to know that although more costly and less attractive, larger propane tanks offer customers the opportunity to buy propane when pricing is lowest given how much difference there can be between the prices of propane advertised by different companies (several dollars per gallon in the same region).
Having said this, you might not want to shop around for the best deal and prefer automatic delivery: in this case, your propane tank size matters less even if you should still check how much a propane company is charging before they deliver to ensure you are given their best price.
Compare propane tank installation standards
Propane is a highly flammable gas and because it is heavier than air leaks may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if too much air is displaced in a confined space. This is why propane tank installation answers to strict federal and state regulations and guidelines. The National Fire Protection Association is the most common reference for propane installation.
Whether your tank is aboveground or underground, it has to be accessible by road (for propane delivery) and placed at a certain distance from neighboring structures such as windows, vents, sheds, playgrounds, parking lots, etc. Specific rules depend on the way your property is set up and how large your tank is.
Similarly, propane tank installation must respect manufacturer standards when it comes to valves, connectors or piping. Underground tank installation standards are more elaborate since installation components have to be protected from humidity and soil.