Propane tanks are used for a variety of propane services. The two main categories of propane services include residential and commercial applications. Propane tank sizes are typically determined by the type of propane service.
The following includes a review of propane tank sizes used for residential and commercial propane services. The discussion focuses on stationary ASME propane tank sizes, the discussion does not include smaller portable DOT propane cylinders. The following references to propane tanks use water capacity (wc), which is the standard measure used to rate propane tank size.
Propane tanks are typically filled to 80% liquid capacity. The remaining 20% of the tank capacity is designated for safety reasons and allows space for the liquid propane to vaporize. The vapor then travels through the propane gas lines to the appliance locations. Therefore, a completely empty 500 gallon propane tank will typically accept a maximum delivery of 400 gallons.
For residential propane service, propane tank sizes commonly range from 120 gallons to 1,000 gallons. Some of the propane tank sizes between these smaller and larger propane tanks include 150 gallons, 250 gallons, 320 gallons and 500 gallons.
For residential propane service, the smaller range of propane tanks are typically used for propane homes that use propane for non-space heating uses. Common non-space heating applications include water heating, cooking, clothes dryers and gas log systems. A gas log system that uses lower quantities of propane are typically installed for the aesthetic value more than the ability to heat a room. As an example of annual consumption by appliance mix, a home that uses propane for water heating and cooking can use between 400 and 500 gallons of propane per year. A quick calculation shows that a 150 gallon tank will receive approximately five deliveries per year.
The larger propane tank capacities for are typically used for propane applications that may include any or all of the smaller quantity appliances noted above, plus a combination of space heating, one or more central home heating furnaces and/or swimming pool and spa heating systems. A home with propane water heating, propane cooking, perhaps two central heat propane furnaces and a space heater can use 1,500 gallons or more per year. A quick calculation shows that a 500 gallon capacity tank at this home will receive approximately five deliveries per year.
Commercial propane tank sizes are generally the same common capacities as those noted above for residential applications. However, commercial applications will use more propane tanks in the 500 gallon to 1,000 gallon capacity range. The common commercial applications include forklift refilling stations, propane resale programs (a gas station or lumber yard that refills smaller propane barbecue tanks). Commercial heating applications generally use larger heating systems that generate a higher BTU heat values. Therefore, these applications may use 1,000 gallon or larger propane tanks. Construction heat or temporary heating services may commonly use 250 gallon to 500 gallon propane tanks.
Your propane supplier will typically recommend propane tank sizes using a number of considerations, including:
- Propane safety is the top priority of any propane tank installation.
- The projected maximum volume of propane consumption for the system on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The seasonal delivery requirements.
- Propane tank location spacing. Fire codes dictate the required spacing between building structures, property lines and other factors. Larger capacity propane tanks must be farther away from a structure than smaller capacity propane tanks.
- A determination if the propane tank locations are on existing propane delivery routes. If not, perhaps a larger propane tank makes sense as the tank will require fewer deliveries.
As noted above, your propane supplier has the experience and knowledge to recommend a safe and efficient propane installation. Always consult with a qualified propane professional to design and install your any propane tank.
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