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Propane 101 for Construction Professionals: Determining the Total Load

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Construction professionals ready to start building with propane: The following blog is the first of a blog of three blog series, a reference that will cover residential and commercial construction. PERC (Propane Education and Research Council) also has a full version of these topics available as a Pocket Guide, an easy-to-use reference guide called The Propane Technical Pocket Guide. This guide includes frequently referenced facts and data about propane systems, such as gas properties, pipe and tube sizing, and fuel load estimates for popular applications. For our blog series, we will focus in on the following topics:

- Determining the Total Load
- Vaporization Rates for ASME Storage Tanks
- Container Location and Installation

Let’s get started!

Determining Total Load:

The best way to determine British thermal unit (Btu) input is from the appliance nameplate or from the manufacturer’s catalog. Add the input of all the appliances for the total load. If specific appliance capacity information is not available, refer to the table below. Remember to allow for appliances that may be installed at a later date, especially if a manifold with unused ports is installed. Some examples may include gas outlets for fireplaces and grills and a switch from electric to gas dryer.

(Approximate Gas Input for Typical Appliances)

If the propane load needs to be in standard cubic feet per hour (SCFH), divide the Btu/hour load by 2,488 to get SCFH. Conversely, the Btu/hour capacity can be obtained from SCFH by multiplying the SCFH figure by 2,488.

We(AmeriGas) will need to know the total Btu load of the system to be served to properly design the propane system, including determining the proper sizing and distance placement of the propane tank, the location of regulators, and the specifications of the underground high-pressure piping system.

A variety of mechanical systems are available for space heating and water heating in homes. These systems have varying energy sources and varying efficiency levels. The table below provides simple calculations that allow contractors and homeowners to estimate the dollars per million Btu depending on the equipment type, efficiency, and energy price. The “$/MMBtu” figure can be compared across different options to evaluate them.

(Operating Costs and Equipment Efficiencies of Residential Space and Water Heating Systems)

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