Propane Tank Guide

Propane tank guide

An appropriate propane tank is vital for getting the most out of your supply. It preserves your propane, prevents spills and delivers gasses for running appliances like your heating and cooling system, pool pump and generators. That’s why getting a suitable propane tank and maintaining it is essential. One way to do this is by considering different tank sizes, varieties, storage and maintenance techniques.



Propane tanks are cylindrical, pressurized containers designed for holding liquefied petroleum gas. These tanks can be made from carbon steel, aluminum and other durable materials and come in different sizes. Homeowners and businesses can store their propane tanks above and underground. After installing a propane tank, you can fill and refill them as frequently as needed. Commercial and residential propane tanks can power various appliances, including:

  • Water heaters
  • Grills
  • Oven
  • Pool heaters
  • Cooktops
  • Furnaces
  • Fireplaces
  • Clothes dryers
  • Generators
  • Space heaters


Propane sizes can range between 100 to 1,500 gallons. However, propane tanks can only hold 80% of their capacity, meaning the amount of propane you get when filling your tank will differ from your tank’s gallon capacity. Your tank size can determine your load capacity and where you can install your propane container. Here are some standard tank sizes and their capabilities:

  • 120 gallons: These cylinders can typically power two residential appliances and are often used for small heaters.
  • 250 gallons: These propane tanks are ideal for two home appliances, like heaters and generators.
  • 500 gallons: You can run two to three appliances like generators, supplemental heaters and pool heaters off 500-gallon propane tanks.
  • 1,000-gallon tanks: These containers are ideal for running numerous home appliances and can adequately heat large homes.


Above and underground propane tanks differ in size, value, installation and maintenance. Selecting one depends on your needs and goals. Here are some differences between above-the-ground and underground propane tanks:


While both tank types have various sizes, underground propane sizes can start from 250 to 1,500 gallons, and surface propane tanks typically come in 100 to 1,500 gallons.


Above-the-ground propane tank installation can be quicker and more economical compared to underground tanks. Installing an underground propane cylinder can be more labor-intensive. You might need to excavate the land and get a permit before installing your tank underground.


Above-the-ground tanks can have lower initial costs, including installation, while underground tanks can be costly primarily due to the longer and more intricate installation processes.


Underground tanks are primarily out of sight, while above-the-ground supply is visible. While underground containers can impact your building or property aesthetics less, you can sometimes hide surface tanks with landscaping as long you follow your local safety codes.


Both tanks can withstand harsh weather like snow and temperature fluctuations. However, the above-ground cylinder can require extra maintenance in cold and hot weather to preserve it and ensure excellent functionality.


Selecting a suitable propane tank size can depend on your home size, climate, how often you use your tank and the number of appliances you need to run:

Selecting a suitable propane tank size can depend on building size, climate, & load requirements
  • Size of your building: If you want to use your propane tank to heat and cool your entire property, you’ll need an ideal size for your building’s square footage. An incompatible size means you must refill your tank more often, which can be costly.
  • Climate: If you rely on propane to heat your home, consider a tank size suitable for your weather conditions. The more propane you use, the more often you’ll need to refill your cylinder. If you live in a cooler region, you might use more propane to heat your property, and a larger tank can be more suitable for preventing frequent refilling.
  • Load requirements: You can choose an appropriate propane tank depending on how many appliances you want to run. Experts use the British Thermal Unit (BTU) to measure how much propane your machines use per hour. They can suggest a suitable tank size depending on your building’s BTU metrics.


Water, math, science and consulting expert services are some strategies to check your tank level. You can pour warm water over the propane tank and rub your hand over it to identify the cooling point. This cool area on your tank will indicate your propane level. Additionally, some propane cylinders have a built-in gauge. This gauge can measure the tank pressure and help you identify how much propane you have left.

While these methods can be effective, getting professional refill services is one of the best ways to monitor your tank level. Propane maintenance services provide frequent tank monitoring and refilling. This way, you can fill up your tank at appropriate intervals, ensuring a stable supply when needed.


Here are some frequently asked questions about propane tanks:

How to Care for Your Propane Tank in Winter?

Frequent monitoring and maintenance are some of the best ways to care for your propane tank in winter. While your propane tank can withstand cold weather, you must maintain it to prevent rust and wear. You’ll also need to ensure your tank is full, as cold weather can impact the vapor and pressure levels. Some winter maintenance can include:

  • Wiping away snow from your tank to prevent rust when the snow melts.
  • Clearing the path around your tank so you can locate it easily.
  • Refill your propane supply to ensure you have sufficient tank pressure.
  • Keep your tank visible with a marker or the flag to prevent losing its location in a snowstorm.
  • Scheduling annual maintenance to inspect your tank condition and fix any issues.

Should You Rent or Buy a Tank?

Buying and renting a tank can depend on your goals and needs. Buying a tank can be suitable if you want favorable financing options and a long-term investment. However, renting a tank might be ideal if you plan on moving properties in the future and want more flexibility and increased convenience. Whatever option you select, it’s essential to remember that renting and buying have various pros and cons — considering them can help you make an informed decision.

What Should You Do to Maintain Your Tank?

You can maintain your tank by cleaning it frequently, fixing leaks, keeping it secure on ground level and preventing water damage. A Foster Fuels propane supplier can help you maintain the tank with regular monitoring and inspection services.

Where Should You Store Your Tank?

You should store your tank on a flat surface and in a moisture-free outdoor location to prevent it from falling and rusting. Your tank must also be stored upright and never in your building or home.

Can You Paint a Propane Tank?

While you can paint your propane tank, you must follow the National Fire Protection Association regulations. These guidelines include painting your propane lighter shades, as dark colors can promote heat absorption. You must also use suitable paint for your tank material to protect it from rust and corrosion. When painting your propane tank, you can select between numerous light color palettes and themes to match your preference.

Can a Propane Tank Freeze?

Your propane tank cannot freeze in cold weather. However, you must ensure adequate tank pressure by filling your cylinder frequently. Low pressure can prevent propane from feeding into the burner, causing poor functionality and little to no heat.

Can a Propane Tank Rupture?

While propane tanks do not commonly rupture, rare circumstances like leaks and pressure can cause breaks. However, you can avoid damage with suitable and safe precautions, maintenance and monitoring.

Rely on Foster Fuels for all your propane needs in Virginia


A propane tank can last for years when you have the right size for your space and follow a regular maintenance plan. However, an incompatible and unmaintained propane tank can become an inconvenience. Which option are you going to choose?

If you pick a reliable and compatible propane tank, we can help! Foster Fuels is a trusted and reliable propane supplier, providing quality and comprehensive services. With more than 100 years of experience, we understand the importance of selecting a suitable tank for your property and building.

We can advise you on appropriate tank sizes for your space and provide regular maintenance services. We offer a propane auto-fill program, including regular tank monitoring and level inspections, ensuring you have a steady propane supply and your tank is in excellent condition.

Contact us to learn more.

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