The Ultimate Guide to Propane Tank Sizes

An image of multiple propane tanks lined up together.

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Did you know that 11.9 million American households use propane energy for water and space heating? Switching to propane energy sources offers several benefits, such as reliability and efficiency. 

However, enjoying these benefits depends on answering what size propane tank may meet your needs.

Propane service providers manufacture different standard tank sizes to meet their customer’s varying energy needs. This allows consumers to select a propane tank size that fits their energy requirements and budget considerations.

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When selecting an appropriate propane tank size, understanding the different available options and what they offer can guide your selection. Choosing a larger-than-necessary size propane tank can be a financial burden. 

Conversely, selecting a smaller-sized propane tank may affect the effectiveness of its intended operations.

Also, before purchasing, learning how to choose an appropriate propane tank size to suit your household needs is essential. We welcome you to find out the available tank sizes and how to select the right one for your home.

Discover what size propane tank is perfect for your needs with our comprehensive guide. Choose wisely for efficient usage.

What are common propane tank sizes?

Standard propane tank sizes typically vary depending on their intended capacity and use. Propane service providers use common propane tank sizes to maintain safety and market considerations. 

The safety considerations include 

  • the setback distance
  • specific storage conditions
  • the allowable capacity for heat expansion. 

Standard tank sizes make exchanging or refilling the propane tanks convenient for customers. Standardizing sizes also allows producers to enjoy economies of scale in their manufacturing processes. The different tank sizes available include:

20-gallon propane tank

A 20-gallon propane tank or grilling tank is typically 18” in height and 12” in diameter, making it portable. It has a capacity of approximately 4.7 gallons of propane. 

A propane tank located above ground is suitable, and research shows that these above-ground propane tanks can provide about 18-20 hours of cooking time on a medium grill and about 10 hours on a larger grill. 

These above-ground propane tanks offer several advantages, including portability and convenience of refill at gas stations, camping supply outlets, propane tank exchange services, and hardware stores. 
You can use this tank for outdoor grilling and as an alternative energy source for stoves, ovens, hot water heaters, patio heaters, refrigerators, and lanterns for off-grid living.

33-gallon propane tank

The average dimensions of a 33-lb propane tank are 24” in height and 12” in diameter. It holds approximately 7.8 gallons of propane when full and offers an above-ground pavement location. 

33-lb above-ground propane tanks offer portability and convenience of refill similar to the 20-lb propane tank. Its uses can include the following:

  • Construction: propane-powered construction tools such as hot water heaters and torches can use the 33-lb tank as an alternate fuel source.
  • Outdoor events: you can utilize this tank’s large capacity and portability for outdoor cooking activities, mobile kitchens, or patio heaters.

Off-grid living: individuals living off-grid can use this propane tank to fuel their household utilities such as showers and refrigerators.

60-gallon propane tank

The 60-lb propane tank is another one of above-ground propane tanks that measures 43” in height and 24” in diameter. It has a capacity of about 14 gallons of propane when full providing an extended runtime compared to the above two propane tanks. 

You can easily fit these above-ground propane tanks into a corner wherever you use them, as they offer relative portability. It provides similar utility to the 20 and 33 LB propane tanks, but its larger capacity provides for additional uses, including:

  • Commercial applications: A 60-gallon propane tank provides sufficient fuel for commercial applications such as restaurants and food trucks.
  • Industrial processes: You can use this tank as a fuel source to heat asphalt in roadworks and metal cutting and welding 
  • Agricultural and farming processes: greenhouse heating for optimal plant growing conditions, irrigation systems, and farm produce processing equipment can use a 60 LB propane tank for fuel.

100-gallon propane tank

A 100-gallon propane tank typically measures 48” in height and 18” in diameter and is placed above ground. It has a capacity of about 23.6 gallons, offering a large storage capacity. 

This tank offers a utility similar to the 60-gallon propane tank, but its higher capacity suits larger, longer-duration applications.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how much it costs to fill a 100-lb propane tank.

120-gallon propane tank

A 120-gallon propane tank is a more suitable fuel solution for households. It measures 54.5” in length and 30” in diameter, which makes 120-gallon tank less portable than the above options. 

However, the 120-gallon propane tank’s larger capacity of about 96 gallons of propane allows it to fuel several household applications. These include home, garage, hot water heating, cooking and drying appliances, and backup power supply. 

You can also use the tank for commercial, industrial, agricultural, and construction applications.

250-gallon propane tank

250-gallon propane tanks typically measure about 90” in height and 30” in diameter and are horizontally shaped with a capacity of approximately 200 gallons of propane. Propane service providers usually fill up the 250-gallon propane tank to 80%, giving a 20% allowance for heat expansion. 

According to AmeriGas, propane expands nearly 17 times as much as water over the same increase in temperature. They can be installed as underground propane tanks as well as above-ground and they commonly offer auxiliary heating functions for generators, water, patio heaters, and pool heaters.

320-gallon propane tank

The 320-gallon propane tank is suitable for users who want a propane tank with a capacity greater than 250 but less than 500 gallons of propane. 230-gallon tank measures 120” in length and 30” in diameter, allowing for above or below-ground placement. 

Typically the tank carries approximately 256 gallons of propane. 

Apart from the versatility and extended runtime benefits that come with its larger capacity, it has a lower refill frequency making it a convenient option for home and business owners.

If you have sufficient installation space, you can use the 320-gallon propane tank for residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial use. You can use them for pool heaters as well as to light up your propane furnace or for whole-house heating.

500-gallon propane tank

A 500-gallon propane tank typically measures approximately 44” in height, 120” in length, and 37.5” in diameter. They can be installed as underground propane tanks as well as above-ground propane tanks and have a capacity of about 400 gallons of propane.  

According to Great Valley Propane, it’s the most commonly used propane tank size. 500-gallon propane tanks offer whole-house heating solutions for homes about 1500 square feet and are suitable for establishments with 2-3 propane appliances.

In case you’re wondering whether 500-gallon propane tank is right for your home make sure you get more information here.

1000-gallon propane tank

1000-gallon propane tanks have a capacity of about 800 gallons of propane and measure approximately 36” in height, 192” in length, and 41” in diameter.  You can place a 1000-gallon tank at least 10 feet from buildings or property lines above or below ground. Preferably though and most commonly they’re installed as underground tanks.

Such large-size propane tanks are ideal for high-volume commercial and agricultural applications such as 

  • Commercial heating
  • Large scale cooking
  • Crop drying. 

This propane tank is also well suited for large square footage homes, whole-house heating plus pool heating, and apartment complexes that share gas.

Choosing the right Propane Tank size for your Home

Propane is an eco-friendly clean-burning energy source offering significant efficiency, making it a  suitable household energy option. 

Hence, selecting an appropriate propane tank size for your home can facilitate the smooth operation of household activities. It can also help reduce your energy bills and control your refill frequency. 

We invite you to review the following factors to consider when choosing the right propane tank size for your home:

Propane usage

Ideally, higher propane usage requires propane tanks with larger capacities. Determining your propane usage can help you prevent the inconvenience and risks associated with propane shortage in your home. 

It also helps you maintain cost-effectiveness by avoiding payment for a larger tank size that exceeds your requirements. 

Analyze the steps below to guide you on how to estimate your propane usage:

Determine the number of propane-powered appliances

Inspect your home appliances and utilities such as furnaces, fireplace, cooking appliances, hot water heaters, and more to determine whether they’re connected to propane sources. Reviewing the manufacturer labels on your appliances can also guide you on whether they use propane. 

Remember also to assess the outdoor appliances such as grills. If you have previous home maintenance records, reviewing them can also help you determine the number of propane-powered devices. 

Compiling a list of all appliances can improve your organization.

Identify the factors affecting usage

Identifying the factors affecting propane usage in your home can help you determine the overall consumption. These factors include your home and family size and external factors such as environmental changes

Consider reviewing your home construction and architectural plans to get an accurate description of its size. Extreme weather conditions such as winter can increase your use of propane-powered utilities such as space heaters or home hot water heaters.

Calculate the annual consumption

Each appliance typically has a British Thermal Unit (BTU) indicating fuel consumption levels. Note the BTUs on all your propane-powered devices. 

Considering the peak usage periods, family, and home size, you can estimate your annual propane consumption levels. 

2021 statistics show that propane-powered devices such as a furnace, hot water heaters, fireplaces, patio heaters, stoves, and clothes dryers use 80, 20, 16, and three gallons of propane per month.

Compare your propane usage to the available propane tanks

If your household propane usage is minimal, for example, only for an outdoor grill, consider a small-size propane tank such as a 20 or 33-LB propane tank

However, larger size propane tanks such as the 120, 250, 320, and 500-gallon propane tanks are suitable if your annual consumption estimate is high.

Space availability

The space you have can determine the propane tank size you can get for your home. It can influence your choice in the following ways:

Propane tank size

Larger tanks can take up a lot of space, so a space availability limit may restrict you to smaller-sized propane tanks. 

This smaller size tank are typically portable, making it easier to store them. Consider underground propane tanks if you have large propane power needs but limited space.

Regulatory setbacks

Propane is highly flammable, and any leakages can cause fire or explosion risks. 

As a risk mitigation strategy, authorities typically set a specific distance from which you can store propane tanks in buildings. This minimizes the possibility of fire spreading or building structural destruction during propane accidents. As our most genuine advice we encourage you to educate yourself on what propane smells like, propane tank pressure, and how low you can safely let your propane levels get.

The regulations may vary depending on location, but most regulatory authorities typically define a 10-meter distance or even greater for larger-capacity propane tanks. 

Small size tank may fit if your space availability isn’t insufficient to maintain regulatory compliance with larger tanks.

Propane tank installation and maintenance options

Large-capacity propane tanks such as the 1000-gallon propane tank are typically installed as underground tanks. 

The installation process may require heavy machinery for excavation and installation. Limited space availability can make accessing the specific installation location difficult using heavy operating tools. 

Likewise, maintenance may require excavating large propane tanks from underground placements for inspection and repair, and limited space availability may obstruct maintenance efforts.

Home location

Your home’s geographic location and its environs can determine the specific propane tank for you in the following ways:

Weather conditions

The weather conditions in your home’s geographic location can significantly determine the appropriate propane tank size for you. 

The cold weather increases your use of propane to meet your heating demands during the cold season. The appliances requiring higher propane demands include hot water heaters, propane furnaces, and space heaters. 

Your appliances, such as outdoor grills and propane patios, may also require more propane.

Terrain

Homeowners using large propane tanks that are relatively immobile or underground propane tanks use propane delivery trucks from their suppliers to facilitate refills. 

If your home is also in a region with poor roads and rough terrain, getting refills for large-capacity propane tanks may take time. This will push you to utilize the more portable common propane tank sizes. 

You can physically carry the smaller propane tanks to a nearby gas station or propane supplier for refills.

Power reliability

People living in regions that experience frequent power outages typically have higher propane usage for appliances like backup generators. 

The power outage duration can also influence the propane tank size you decide to get. For instance, short power outages may require small propane tanks to provide generator fuel for the entire outage duration.

In contrast, extended power outages may require larger propane tanks. The above principle also applies to the frequency of outages. Additionally, generator size also matters because a larger generator consumes more propane and may require a larger propane tank.

Legal regulations

Learning the legal regulations governing the different sizes of propane tanks can guide you when selecting the right size. Some of the legal regulations to consider can include:

Permit Requirements

Local regulatory authorities often provide propane tank permit requirements for you to obtain before installation. This allows them to maintain compliance with regulatory standards to ensure safety. 

The permit requirements often include installation, zoning and land use, setback safety inspection, tank anchoring, and emergency access permits.

The permit requirements for different tank sizes vary, with smaller-size propane tank being less than those for larger ones. Comparing household energy needs to the hassle of achieving specific tank size permits can help you determine a suitable tank size.

Residential Density

The population density of residential areas may influence the legal requirements for propane tanks. Areas with high residential density typically have stricter regulations. 

The primary reason for such restrictions is the population’s safety. Primarily, a higher population density increases the risks associated with propane use and storage. A higher population density can also indicate limited installation space. 

Hence, limiting large-capacity propane tanks that may compromise the general community layout is essential.

Transportation and Delivery

The primary purpose of these regulations is to ensure safe transportation, delivery, and handling of propane. 

Propane transportation trucks may sometimes have additional features, such as a widened truck body that may limit access to certain roads. 

Installing a large capacity underground tank in such an area may affect maintenance and refill operations because access limits make it more convenient to take a smaller size propane tank. 

Roadway regulations sometimes also include truck weight limits to maintain the road’s integrity forcing large trucks to use alternate routes.

Environmental Protection

Environmental concerns in certain locations may influence the regulatory restrictions on propane tanks. 

For instance, areas around large water bodies and schools with an enormous potential for impact following propane accidents may have stricter propane usage regulations. 

If you live in such an area, consider selecting a smaller-capacity propane tank with a lesser risk of environmental effects following any propane accidents.

Budget considerations

The amount you’re willing to spend for purchase, installation, and maintenance can influence your choice of propane tank size as follows:

Propane tank cost

The cost of purchasing a propane tank typically varies depending on the tank’s size. A larger propane tank typically requires more materials to produce, making it more expensive to purchase than smaller propane tanks. 

The amount of money you’re willing to spend on purchasing one will influence the propane tank size you get.

Delivery charges

Delivery charges vary depending on the propane tank size, as larger propane tanks may require different transportation than smaller tanks during installation. 

Delivery of the propane refills also varies, depending on the tank’s size. Although the refill cost for large, especially underground tanks, may be high, they’re less frequent. Hence, they’re more economical than smaller propane tanks with a higher refill frequency.

Installation expenses

Installing a large propane tank requires excavation and groundwork, which can significantly increase the installation expenses. 

This installation may require you to hire excavation machinery, tools, and labor, making it costly. Unlike large-capacity propane tanks, you can easily store the small-size propane tank above ground due to its smaller dimensions and capacity making it more affordable.

Supplier Availability

Supplier availability varies in different regions depending on demand and may influence the propane tank size you decide to purchase in the following ways:

Local Competition

High supplier availability in your area may create a competitive business environment. Stiff competition among suppliers may expose you to competitive prices and availability. Therefore, purchasing larger propane tanks is easier and more affordable

High supplier availability can also reduce the cost of additional services, such as delivery costs, as they strive to maintain a competitive advantage in the market, making installation, maintenance, and refills cheaper.

Refill Frequency

Purchasing a large-capacity propane tank can reduce the refill frequency. This is a suitable solution if you’re located in areas with limited supplier availability. The large fuel capacity can ensure sufficient propane supply even between deliveries.  

In contrast, delivery times are shorter in areas with high supplier availability offering refill convenience that may push you to get a smaller size propane tank.

Emergencies

Emergencies may sometimes affect supplier availability. These situations may include severe weather conditions that may restrict supplier movement. 

A larger propane tank can get you through such situations due to the higher runtime. Hence, they provide an emergency energy supply until supply availability returns to normal.

If you’re still weighting between different propane providers here’s how to chose the right propane delivery company.

Maintenance and Safety Considerations

Reviewing the safety and maintenance considerations regarding propane tank use can help determine a suitable propane tank size for your home. Some safety and maintenance factors include the following:

Leak Detection and Monitoring

Although propane tanks are relatively safe, they may leak if not installed properly, creating a fire or explosion hazard. Regular monitoring is essential to detect such leakages. 

Leakage detection is simple for small propane tanks but complicated for larger propane tanks. These monitoring techniques include:

  • using odorants such as ethyl mercaptan 
  • monitoring pressure gauges on the tank, which may be costly. 

Opting for smaller propane tanks with simpler leakage monitoring techniques can save costs.

Operator Training

Considering the expertise you require to manage propane tank safety and maintenance operations can influence the propane tank size you choose. 

Smaller propane tanks require less expertise to conduct safety and maintenance checks, unlike the larger ones, which may require trained professionals. 

Accessing such specialists to conduct regular inspections and maintenance may be difficult because of their availability and cost. Getting a large-capacity propane tank is feasible if safety and maintenance specialists are available in your area.

Inspection Frequency

Ideally, larger capacity propane tanks offer higher risks, making it essential to conduct frequent inspections. Because of the complex nature of the reviews, large propane tanks may require specialized personnel. 

Additionally, increasing the frequency of inspections can expose you to a greater risk of fines and penalties if regulatory compliance isn’t met. Assessing the tank’s inspection requirements can guide you in deciding if purchasing a specific tank size is worthwhile.

Emergency Shut-Off Features

Larger propane tanks require more surrounding room for emergency access to fix leakages or other faults that may cause harm. 

The emergency shut-off systems for large propane tanks are more complicated and costly than for smaller tanks. Apart from installing the emergency shut-off mechanisms, regular inspection and maintenance is necessary to ensure they function properly. 

The emergency shut-off valves work by isolating the propane supply to the connected appliances, limiting the damage. Consider installing smaller ones if you cannot install and maintain these emergency measures for larger tanks.

Future Needs

Anticipating changes in your household propane usage can help you ensure sufficient propane supply. Factors that may influence your household’s future needs can include:

House Expansion

Anticipating home expansions such as additional rooms, kitchen expansion, workshop, or home office construction can help you accurately determine what propane tank size to get. 

Increasing the house’s square footage can increase propane usage due to increased energy needs, such as increased home heating requirements. 

Installing large propane tanks can reduce costs and maintain household operations efficiently if you intend to make home expansions.

Family Size Growth

Anticipating growth in family size can help you predict your future propane needs when determining a suitable propane tank size to install. 

Welcoming new members to the household can contribute to a growth in the family size, increasing propane usage. If you foresee no family size growth, installing a smaller capacity propane tank is sufficient but may be inadequate if the size increases.

Change of Energy Sources

The need for energy efficiency, independence, consistent supply, and environmental considerations can influence people to change their energy sources. Apart from being an eco-friendly, clean-burning fuel, propane can provide a cheaper alternative and power many household applications. A large propane tank can maintain a sufficient energy supply if you change your energy sources.

Aesthetics and Landscaping

Your overall aesthetic and landscaping needs can influence your propane tank size choice in the following ways:

Outdoor Features

Outdoor features such as pathways and outdoor patios or decks will improve the outlook of your homestead. However, installing large-capacity propane tanks may interfere with your outdoor features or reduce their aesthetic value. 

If you’re interested in adding such outdoor features, a smaller propane tank may be a better option as it may be less obstructive, allowing better utility of the outside space.

Neighbor Relations

You may live where your neighbors value unobstructed views and attractive neighborhood environments. Installing a large capacity propane tank that may reduce the aesthetic value of the neighborhood may affect your neighbor relations. 

In such an environment, smaller-capacity propane tanks that may camouflage within the environment offers a suitable alternative.

Property Resell Value

Installing a propane tank that blends well with your landscape can positively impact your property’s resell value. 
Large propane tanks may affect the property’s aesthetic, reducing its resell value. In such a case, if you cannot install an underground tank, consider purchasing a smaller propane tank.

In Conclusion

How much Propane is ideal for your home? There’s no standard amount we can consider as enough primarily because it all depends on the imminent needs. Nonetheless, buying a small propane tank makes sense if you just need gas for simple household applications. 

Still, as we have seen, buying large tanks has its upsides. You’ll have limited refill frequencies, which also helps you stay put when propane gas prices fluctuate. 

So ideally, you should balance a huge tank’s high acquisition cost and a smaller one’s frequent refill costs.

Ryan McCabe

Ryan McCabe

Ryan is a home and small business energy expert, having overseen retail propane, heating oil, and HVAC services companies. On ComparePropane, Ryan writes about things that people should know when shopping for or using propane in their homes and businesses. 

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