Written on: April 22, 2019
Not having enough propane on hand can be both a burden and a danger. From running out of fuel during the middle of a cookout to not having heating oil on a cold winter’s night, it’s important to know the specifics of propane tank maintenance, how quickly the fuel burns, and how to tell if you’re running low on fuel.
Residential propane tanks range in size from 100-1,000 gallons. Smaller tanks, like 20-pound tanks, are sold for modest needs like outdoor barbecuing or small appliances like fireplaces.
Homes 2,500 square feet or larger, that have multiple appliances running on propane, will most likely use a 500-gallon tank. Propane tanks any larger than 500-gallons are often reserved for commercial use.
How you put your propane to use will play a role in how long your fuel source will last. Consider the most common uses for propane:
As mentioned above, 20-pound propane tanks are used for modest tasks like cooking individual meals. As a rule of thumb, one tank of propane will typically last between 18-20 hours if you’re grilling on a medium-sized grill. Whereas larger grills can burn through 20-pounds of propane in as little as 10 hours.
On average, you’ll use one or two pounds of fuel per meal if you use a medium-sized grill on high heat. That equals roughly 8 grilling sessions per tank.
British Thermal Unit, or BTUs, is the industry standard used to measure the heating efficiency of household appliances. The average home furnace runs on roughly 100,000 BTUs, and one gallon of propane equals 92,000 BTUs. That means the average home furnace burns roughly one gallon of propane per hour.
In this example, a home furnace will burn anywhere from 500-1,200 gallons of propane per year, depending on how often you turn on your furnace.
Your hot water heater usage will vary based on how many bathrooms you have in your home, and how many people are in and out of your home. As a rule of thumb, the average home uses about 1.5 gallons of propane a day for typical hot water heating use.
The average homeowner can expect to use somewhere between 200-300 gallons of propane per year for hot water.
Overall, the average homeowner will use roughly 2.5, 500-gallon tanks of propane each year for home heating and cooking.
For even more customized calculations, you can follow the steps below:
Propane doesn’t expire. So, with its long shelf-life, the only reason you’ll need to order more propane is when you’re running low. Unless your propane delivery service provider monitors your fuel level and delivers to you automatically, you’ll need to learn how to read the gauge on your propane tank.
The most important number to know when reading your gauge is the fuel level. It should never be more than 80% full. The reason is thermal expansion. Keeping your tank filled less than 100% ensures the fuel in your tank can expand with no risk to the tank or your safety.
Once your gauge reads 20%, it’s time to reorder your supply of propane.
Here is a quick video to help you read the gauge on your propane tank:
Large stationary propane tanks need to be recertified 10 years after their date of manufacture and every five years following that. But, as long as your above or underground propane tank was installed correctly and you perform proper maintenance on the tank, and connected appliances, your propane tank will remain suitable for use for decades.
Here’s a quick maintenance checklist:
Santa is known for its reliable delivery and exceptional customer service in Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut. Santa also offers automatic propane delivery, which means we’ll track the levels of your fuel and send out a new delivery before your supply runs out.