7 (practical) outdoor propane connecticutPropane, also known as liquified petroleum gas, or LPG, is a compressed gas stored as a liquid. In addition to being non-toxic, colorless, and odorless, it’s an “approved clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act.”

Besides being cleaner and better for the environment than natural gas, propane provides greater flexibility, is reliable, and is safer to use. 

Many homes around the country heat their home in the winter using propane, and now we want to talk about the ways this fuel can power your home in the summer, too. 

1. Outdoor Grilling

Being able to grill outdoors is one of the special perks of a New England summer. There’s nothing like food fresh off the grill. With a propane-powered grill, there’s no waiting for charcoal to heat up, you have a more even distribution of heat while cooking, and they are much faster when it comes to clean-up. The other benefit of grilling outside on your propane grill is lower energy costs, and you’re not heating your house up during the hot summer nights. 

2. Patio Lighting

There’s something so magical about warm summer nights when everyone is hanging out on the patio, and the warm glow from the outdoor lights creates an enchanting feel to the evening. Propane tiki torches, or fire torches, are a safe, pretty way to bring ambiance to your backyard. Just be prepared to host backyard parties where no one wants to leave at the end of the night!

3. Mosquito Traps

Summer nights under the stars can only be ruined by one thing: pesky mosquitoes. Did you know propane mosquito traps are great ways to trap and kill mosquitoes while you’re outside? They are self-contained and use the same signals that the bugs use to find their human victims: heat, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Propane traps create all three. A catalytic converter changes the propane into carbon dioxide and can catch thousands of mosquitoes in a week

4. Outdoor Heaters

Propane heaters are a great way to heat not only your patio, but also your pool, spa, or hot tub. They ensure your midnight dip in the pool is always at the right temperature, and they conserve energy, all while saving you money. For any impromptu swims or hot tub parties, propane heaters will heat your water to the perfect temperature more quickly. 

5. Patio Heater

Patio heaters can help turn your patio into a three-season feature, rather than a one-season amenity. As opposed to electric heaters, propane-powered heaters are more efficient and cleaner for the environment. They not only can keep your family warm when summer nights start to get a little chilly, but they are also safer than wood-burning fires and electric heating appliances. 

6. Back-Up Generator

The same weather that gives us those warm summer nights also gives us those massive and often destructive summer thunderstorms. When the power goes out, a propane-powered generator will ensure your house still has power. And unlike gas-powered generators, you won’t have to worry about whether the power outage has affected gas pumps. Depending on the generator, you may be able to power your entire house, including your air conditioning unit, and your home security system. 

7. Indoor Appliances

If you are already using propane to heat your home in the winter, it makes sense to use propane to power other appliances in your house, too. Not only does it save money, but it saves you energy when you use propane to run your stove, water heater, or clothes dryer. Did you know that propane appliances can produce twice as much energy as an electric appliance, in the exact same timeframe? In addition to being more cost-friendly and energy-efficient, propane appliances won’t stop working when the power goes out during those summer storms. 

Need to know how long your propane tank will last with each of these unique summer uses? Read our blog posts ‘Propane 101: How long does a propane tank last?’ and ‘How to Read a Propane Tank Gauge (With Examples)’. Or, schedule automatic propane deliveries from Santa, so you never run out!  

Homeowners use propane for a vast number of tasks: home heating, water heating, clothes drying, fireplaces, cooking and back-up power. To ensure there is enough propane for all of your home energy needs, it’s important to check your propane tank fuel gauge on a regular basis.

Not only is it an easy way to make sure you always have enough fuel, but it’s critical to your safety. 

If a propane tank runs out of gas completely, it may introduce air into the system, which can cause damage to the tank, or worse, may cause your pilot lights to go out. 

If not handled properly, this situation can be dangerous. As a result, federal code requires you have a professional inspect your entire propane system before you can turn the gas back on. 

To avoid these issues, learn how to read your propane tank fuel gauge so your family — and home — are safe. 

Reading a Propane Tank Gauge

One of the most important things to understand about your propane tank is that the fuel gauge shows you the fuel level as a percentage of the capacity of your tank, not the total amount of gallons in the tank. 

While not all propane tanks have the same gauges, their purpose remains the same: to show you how much propane is left in the tank. Most gauges are “float gauges,” (like the fuel gauge in a vehicle), which reads the level of liquid propane in the tank via a floating arm. As the level drops, so does the float gauge.

floating arm gauge new haven, ct

Knowing how to read the gauge will help you know when it’s time to request a refill.

Below are a couple examples of propane gauges plus some tips on how to read them.

A propane gas fuel gauge showing a tank that is 75% full. (Photo/ Kaufmann Gas)

As a precaution, refill your gas once your fuel gauge reads 20% (or below).

A propane tank that has run far below the recommended 20% level — this tank is less than 10% full. ( Photo/ Ressler Propane)

Reading Propane Tank Numbers

If you have a propane tank for home energy usage, then you’ve probably noticed that after a propane delivery, the tank gauge reads 80%.

Don’t worry, you’re not being scammed and there is nothing wrong with your tank or the gauge. Although you use propane in gas form, propane is stored as a liquid in your tank to allow it space to expand and contract as the ambient temperature rises and falls. The maximum fill percentage is always going to be 80%. 

You can perform some simple math to determine how much gas is in your propane tank. Just multiply the tank’s capacity by the reading on the tank gauge.  

For example, if your 500-gallon tank is showing a gauge reading of 60%, that means you have 300 gallons of gas remaining in your tank (500 x 0.6). 

If you want to skip the math, here’s a handy chart that will tell you how much gas is left in your propane tank based on your tank size and your gauge reading:

Gauge Reads 120-Gallon Tank 250-Gallon Tank 500-Gallon Tank 1,000-Gallon Tank
80% 96 gallons 200 gallons 400 gallons 800 gallons
70% 84 gallons 175 gallons 350 gallons 700 gallons
60% 72 gallons 150 gallons 300 gallons 600 gallons
50% 60 gallons 125 gallons 250 gallons 500 gallons
40% 48 gallons 100 gallons 200 gallons 400 gallons
30% 36 gallons 75 gallons 150 gallons 300 gallons
20% 24 gallons 50 gallons 100 gallons 200 gallons
10% 12 gallons 25 gallons 50 gallons 100 gallons

How long will your propane last?

Now that you understand how to read your propane tank gauge, it’s helpful to know (or, at least have an estimate of) how long your propane will last.

To determine how long a tank of propane will last, we need to start with the British Thermal Unit (BTU). A BTU is a basic measurement used for rating how much energy it takes to produce heat. As a baseline, note that one gallon of propane contains roughly 92,000 BTUs.

The BTU rating is also a way to measure the efficiency of your appliances, which will all use propane at varying rates. This will play a role in how long your propane tank lasts.

For example, a furnace rated for 200,000 BTUs is capable of delivering twice the horsepower of a furnace rated for 100,000 BTUs. However, you wouldn’t use a 200,000 BTU furnace to heat a space that only needs a 40,000 BTU space heater.

Here’s how to determine how much burn time you have left in your propane tank:

  1. Read your gauge to determine the number of gallons of propane gas remaining in your tank (see chart above)
  2. Determine the BTU rating on your appliances. Here are a few standard appliances BTU ratings:

Divide the BTUs of one gallon of propane (92,000 BTUs) by the BTU rating of your appliance. This will give you the number of hours it will take to use one gallon of propane.

Let’s use the gas range stove as an example:

92,000 BTUs / 65,000 BTU per hour = 1.41 hours

Therefore, using your gas stove continuously for 1.41 hours (or one hour and 25 minutes) will burn one gallon of propane.

This calculation should only be used as a rough estimate. Of course, it’s best to refill your tank well before it runs out 

If calculating the fuel in your tank feels burdensome, consider an automatic fuel delivery option. Many propane companies offer propane tank monitoring and propane gas delivery so that your gas shows up right when you need it.