What Size Propane Tank Do I Need?

August 8, 2022

Whether you’re an individual homeowner or a commercial business operator, propane is a remarkable fuel source in its efficiency, cleanliness and cost-effectiveness. At home, propane can fuel your heater, clothes dryer, built-in grill, backup generator and more. Businesses can use propane for much the same and more, like heavy machinery.

A unique factor in propane, however, is that it requires storage. Most cities and rural areas lack dedicated propane lines for infrastructural reasons, meaning propane use will necessitate either an above-ground or a buried propane tank, as best fits your needs and property restrictions.

Although we interact with propane as a burning gas, it’s actually stored under enough pressure that it remains a liquid, and it is thus typically measured in gallons. Large tanks typically come in 500-gallon increments, with an actual storage of roughly 400 gallons of propane per 500 gallons of capacity (the discrepancy allows for the expansion of evaporating propane gas within the tank due to temperature fluctuations).

To get a sense of what size propane tank you need, let’s look at the most common sizes:

30-100 Pound Cylinders

Not all propane storage comes in 500-gallon tanks. These are actually much smaller – think like a typical barbecue or forklift cylinder. These tanks are perfect for powering accessory appliances, but not necessarily a full residential or commercial propane heater. Additionally, they are also great for the space-conscious consumer, as they can be stored standing and right up against a garage or shed wall.

500-gallon tank

The ideal tank size for residential or small commercial heating use, the 500-gallon propane tank is what you’ve likely seen before, especially in rural settings where other fuel sources may be scarcer. The 500- gallon tank has a much larger capacity for storage, but takes up much more space accordingly – each is about 10 feet long and must be installed at least 10 feet from any other structures or ignition sources, depending on local building safety codes.

While it can be seen as an eyesore, burying propane tanks is often an option to retain yard space over the tank and remove it from immediate sight. But even unburied, your energy savings after switching to propane for all possible appliances may help with the visual eyesore bit.

1,000-gallon tank

Most homes don’t need a tank this large, but larger commercial or agricultural properties can make great use of a 1,000-gallon tank, even in multiples.

However, especially large homes or those located remotely enough that midwinter delivery availability may be a concern could consider this larger size to keep them supplied, whatever the weather may bring. Also, you can always load up on gas when it is cheap!

A whopping 16 feet long, the 1,000-gallon tank still needs to be installed 10 feet away from buildings or ignition sources.

If you’re still not sure what size tank you need, give us a call! Our technicians would be happy to talk through your list of propane appliances and help you figure out a tank size to meet your needs. Call Butch’s Propane today at 605-857-1111.

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