Using propane to heat and power your home is one of the most attractive options there is.
Propane is clean-burning, efficient, and less expensive than other home heating sources like electricity. It’s more reliable than sources that have to rely on the weather and environment, like solar.
But sometimes, above-ground propane tanks aren’t the most attractive to look at. Luckily, there’s always the option to have a below-ground tank if that suits your needs better.
So do you go with above-ground or underground?
There are pros and cons to both types of propane tanks, so let’s take a look at each! We recommend making a note of what’s the most important to you in each category so that you can make a well-rounded, informed decision.
Above-ground propane tanks
Lower start-up costs
Because you’re just adding a tank to your existing landscape, as opposed to digging out holes and trenches for a below-ground setup, it’s less expensive to install an above-ground tank. (Of course, what the tank will cost depends on which propane tank size you go with.)
Ongoing maintenance is also less expensive because the tank is completely accessible.
Fewer administrative steps
While there are a number of safety and legal steps that need to be taken to install an above-ground tank, there are fewer than for a below-ground.
You’ll need to make sure to obtain any necessary permits before installing your tank. There may also be additional requirements like having concrete padding laid for the propane tank to sit on top of for stability. You’ll also need to make sure distance requirements are met.
It takes about half the time to be up and running with an above-ground tank as it does for a below-ground.
This is the big one. If you value a landscape uninterrupted by the sight of a propane tank, above-ground tanks will prove to be problematic.
And code requirements don’t allow for anything that might obscure the look of your tank, like installing it below your patio. It needs to be standing on its own for safety purposes.
Possibility of Theft
Although very unlikely (those suckers are HEAVY!), propane tank theft happens! Tanks are sometimes stolen to be resold on the black market, or for the propane they contain.
Obviously, if your tank is underground, this isn’t a concern.
Underground Propane Tanks
Out of sight
One of the biggest reasons people elect for underground tanks is that they won’t impact the look of your property. They are accessible through a covered pipe that’s much less obtrusive-looking than having the entire tank above ground.
Go longer between fills
Because these tanks are underground and insulated from atmospheric heat, they can be filled to 85% as opposed to the standard 80% for above-ground tanks.
This is because propane expands with heat, so our Paraco installation experts leave 20% of the space available for that expansion.
Because there’s less heat underground, we can leave a little bit less room — meaning you can go slightly longer between fills for your convenience.
Less potential for waste
The natural heat insulation of being underground serves another purpose, too.
As mentioned earlier, if propane expands exponentially due to outdoor heat, aboveground tanks have a pressure-release safety valve that will release very small amounts of propane.
No one wants wasted propane! (Of course, no one wants a problem due to expansion, either.)
Being underground takes the possibility of releasing propane for safety off the table.
Additional prep and expense
It’s more expensive and involved installing an underground propane tank because of the excavation work required.
In addition to the mentioned requirements for above-ground tanks, it’s also important to contact your septic company, if you have one, to get them to dig the hole for your tank. If your propane equipment runs over your septic system, it could lead to costly repairs.
Possibility of floating
If you live in a flood zone, it’s possible that an underground propane tank could rise with the water levels, breaching the surface. It’s rare, but it can lead to costly repairs for cracks in the tank and damaged supply lines, not to mention potential damage to the rest of your property.
So what’s right for you?
We encourage you to take your time and really think about what matters most to you. It could be that your personal “pros and cons” list is uneven, but maybe one of the items on your list holds so much weight that it cancels out the others. Both above and below-ground propane tanks are great options!
Either way, they allow you to run your home with affordable green fuel.
We’re always here to help you make your decision! Get in touch and we’ll walk you through it.