To Rent or Own Your Propane Tank: Pros & Cons

August 24, 2022 –

It should come as no surprise that we love propane, as do many millions of Americans. Propane is an integral part of America’s energy mix, and the advantages of propane over oil are plentiful.

A question that arises frequently for existing and prospective customers is whether owning a propane tank or renting a propane tank is best for them.

There are several aspects to tank rental versus ownership, including differing policies among propane companies and individual customer circumstances. But overall, we lay out the main factors to help explain the differences and assist you in making an educated decision.

The pros and cons of renting or purchasing a propane tank that propane customers should consider before making a decision come down to 3 main things:

  1. What is the cost to purchase versus rent the propane tank?
  2. What are the terms of the lease contract? (All reputable propane companies have lease tank contracts and lease fees).
  3. The customer chooses their preferred propane company to lease the tank, then obtains propane from that company.

Owning A Propane Tank

The owner is responsible for the purchase price of a propane tank and all required piping from the tank to the house, all regulators, fittings, and other installation-related parts. These are standard costs and should be explained to prospective propane tank owners before purchase and installation.

Most likely, the propane company won’t sell and install a propane tank without filling it with propane. Additionally, dealers will not sell a propane tank to an unlicensed person for installation by themselves. Only authorized propane professionals who have undergone rigorous training and OSHA certifications are authorized to perform this service by law.

Prospective propane tank owners should discuss the cylinder’s warranty, parts, and labor before purchasing the propane tank. Propane cylinders come in assorted sizes and corresponding prices. The propane company will help you determine the size best suited for your needs and assess appropriate cylinder placement.

Propane companies commonly have financing available to qualified buyers, usually with one-year approved-credit terms, or buyers can pay for the tank at the installation time. Propane tank owners are free to choose their propane provider. And upon future sale of the home, there is no burden to the next owner to acquire propane service since the tank will be part of the sale.

Renting A Propane Tank

It is common for propane companies to have criteria for approval of propane tank leasing (company-owned tanks). The criteria includes a required minimum annual propane use, the total BTU load is at or above a minimum threshold, or a certain number of appliances be on propane, plus a credit check before approval.

Before determining whether leasing is the right option for you, also consider that:

  • All piping, fittings, parts, and connections are usually purchased by the customer and not part of the lease
  • Company-owned tanks are maintained by the propane company, so the propane company usually handles repairs to the tank
  • The propane company often has the legal right to enter the property to inspect their tank at will, and they pay close attention to their tanks for both the customers’ and their protection
  • Customers moving to a new home are responsible for notifying their propane company of the relocation
  • The customer must purchase all propane from the company leasing the tank. Purchasing propane from another company may result in tank lease termination.

Additionally, the propane company will most likely require that the tank be filled by automatic delivery. This is safer, more convenient, and protective for the customer. The main difference between tank ownership and lease is who will be responsible for the maintenance and any repair costs associated with the tank.

Tank type, size, and capacity

There are two types of tanks, aboveground and underground, each with varying sizes.

Both aboveground and underground tanks are built to last harsh winters, muggy summers, and extreme natural elements. Underground tanks have additional advantages of being discrete and painted with a special coating that prevents corrosion, lasting for years.

Both aboveground and underground cylinders come in assorted sizes and capacities. It’s important to understand that the total cylinder capacity does not mean the tank holds that amount of gallons of propane. No matter what size the tank is, all propane tanks are designed to safely store 80% of the total gallons of that tank’s capacity.

Known as the 80% fill rule, it’s a preventative safety measure against the propane expansion fluctuations inside the tank. Propane can increase in volume almost 17 times over water at the same temperature increase. Filling the propane container to only 80% capacity allows for this expansion.

Additionally, various rules and regulations dictate where cylinders of varying sizes may be placed. The breakdown below addresses the approximate dimensions of propane cylinders commonly found in the northeast part of the US.

Propane Tank Sizes and Dimensions

56-gallon cylinders are used for limited applications such as fueling ovens, ranges, and clothes dryers. They stand 43 inches high and 24 inches in diameter and hold 48 gallons of propane.

120-gallon cylinders are commonly used for smaller demand applications, serve a single or small number of appliances, and have more flexible distance requirements than larger tanks.

250-gallon cylinders are popular for mid-size BTU demands, are capable of whole house and structure heating use depending on the square footage and the number of occupants, and are available for aboveground and underground use.

500-gallon cylinders can fuel multiple needs, provide whole house heating for larger structures depending on square footage and the number of occupants, are often installed for commercial use, and come in aboveground or underground types. These tanks are subject to distance requirements.

1000-gallon cylinders are the largest size available, can fuel large homes, and are also used for commercial applications. Five feet tall by 16 feet long, they can hold up to 850 gallons of propane and fuel spaces in the coldest climates.

Check out this video on tank sizes:

Lease Fees

Propane tank lease fees are standard in the industry. As with other reputable propane companies, Paraco charges a lease fee because of the high purchase, maintenance, and replacement costs associated with investments in the equipment installed on customers’ properties.

The lease fee allows companies to recover the costs associated with providing your propane tank when usage falls below the required minimum. Additional uses like heating or hot water might reduce the price of propane and the lease fee.

At Paraco, your safety is our top priority, and we are transparent about our fees. When researching a prospective propane provider, ask if the company requires a lease fee and what are the other associated costs and potentially hidden charges.

Whether you’re heating your home or powering appliances, we’ve got the right size tank to fuel your every day. For more details on propane tanks, their sizes, installation, and how we can help you assess the best cylinder and placement for your needs, see Propane Cylinders.

6 Comments

  1. Dalton Miles on October 5, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    I got a gas fireplace need a tank and fuel

    • Isousa on October 6, 2020 at 8:15 am

      Hello Dalton! One of our Customer Service Associates will help you with this or any other questions you might have, please reach out to them by calling 1-800-647-4427 or by email at contactus@paracogas.com

  2. rachel frampton on October 9, 2020 at 12:58 am

    My dad would like to buy a propane tank because he heard that this is more eco-friendly compared to suing the LPG. Well, I agree with you that it would be best to hire a professional that has OSHA certifications. You’re also right about the importance of choosing the right size tank too.

  3. Adam Golightly on October 22, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    My dad has been thinking about buying a propane tank so that he can have some extra energy in case of any damage. He would really like to get some help from a professional and have it delivered to his home. I liked what you said about they should allow for some expansion because it increases in volume with the temperature.

  4. irwin on April 21, 2022 at 9:16 am

    i need to buy a 500 or 1000 gallon tank.

    • Kristen Anderson on April 21, 2022 at 3:39 pm

      Get in touch with us, Irwin — we’d love to help!

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