When you’re installing a propane tank, some of the first questions that come up are about logistics. Deciding what size and type of propane tank you need and understanding requirements about where propane tanks need to be placed are fundamental first steps – each of which depends on a lot of data points and complex regulations. It can be easy to get into the weeds.
So, we thought we’d untangle some of the complexity for you. AmeriGas walks through these questions in more detail when you receive your personal quote, but to help you start looking ahead, we’ve created this rundown of the most common sizes of residential propane tanks and the basics of where to place them. (It’ll also help you visualize what, say, 1,000 gallons of propane looks like.)
Types of Propane Tanks
Propane tanks for home heating and appliances fall into three basic categories: above-ground tanks, underground tanks, and vertical propane tanks. Above-ground and underground propane tanks are designed to hold large amounts of propane required to power your home, and vertical tanks are lower capacity, typically used for one or two appliances. Here are the basics of each:
Available in sizes that hold 125 gallons to more than 2,000 gallons of propane
Horizontal profile, placed on your property, typically in an out-of-the-way location (more on that below)
Used for everyday propane – heating, cooling, appliances
Available in most of the same sizes as above-ground tanks, ranging from 250 gallons to 2,000 gallons or more
Larger underground tanks can be placed closer to the house and property lines, so underground propane tanks may be a good option if you expect high usage but don’t have a lot of yard space to work with
Underground tanks are buried just under the ground; the depth depends on the tank size – usually one or two feet deeper than the tank’s height
Used for everyday propane – heating, cooling appliances, etc.
Smaller tanks, typically less than 125-gallon size
Stand vertically, usually alongside the home
Used to fuel a limited number of appliances, such as water heaters or fireplaces
Where to Place Your Propane Tank
After you’ve decided on a size and type, it’s time to figure out where the propane tank will be located on your property. As a homeowner, your priority may be maintaining curb appeal or maximizing yard space. At the same time, your goals will need to also allow easy access to the tank and, importantly, comply with safety regulations. On the upside, most of these needs are compatible, enabling us to find a spot for your propane tank that is both inconspicuous and safety compliant.
Propane tank placement regulations
The very first thing we check off the “where can we place the propane tank” list is the safety code. Propane tanks are installed following regulations established by the National Fire Protection Association — specifically NFPA 58, the code that addresses all aspects of propane safety. And of all the NFPA 58 rules, the one with the greatest impact on residential propane tank installation deals with propane tank placement. The NFPA established minimum distances to reduce the risk of fire in the relatively rare case of a propane tank leak. These tank location standards also keep propane exhaust from escaping into building interiors. All AmeriGas installments follow these regulations and AmeriGas services only tanks that are located according to the NFPA code.
Where to place larger propane tanks
The requirements about propane tank placement are essentially driven by two questions: How close to the driveway can a propane tank get to allow safe and easy access for refilling? In the rare case of a leak or other problem, how far away does the tank need to be to keep people safe?
For answers, the key numbers to keep in mind are 10 and 25. For 125- to 500-gallon propane tanks, the distance is at least 10 feet – from any building and from any property line. Same with underground propane tanks that hold up to 2,000 gallons: The minimum distance, from either a building or a property line, is 10 feet. For above-ground tanks of 1,000 to 2,000 gallons, the safe distance increases. These must be placed at least 25 feet from a building or property line.
In addition to following the 10- and 25-feet rules, all propane tanks that receive refill deliveries must be at least 5 feet from your driveway.
Placement of smaller propane tanks
Smaller propane tanks are treated a little differently because they typically stay closer to the home. Tanks smaller than 125-gallon size must be placed at least 10 feet from windows or air conditioners, and they must be placed at least 5 feet from any crawl-space openings.
Check out the table [DIRECTION] for a quick reference on propane tank location requirements by size. (Reminder: Some tank placement requirements may vary by state, so check your local regulations for up-to-date information.)
How far should my propane tank be from...
|House or other building||Property line adjacent to other buildings||Driveway||Window||Crawl space opening or other ventilation|
|<125 gallons||n/a||n/a||5 ft.||10 ft.||5 ft.|
|125 - 150 gallons||10 ft.||10 ft.||5 ft.||10 ft.||5 ft.|
|1,000 - 2,000 gallons||25 ft.||25 ft.||5 ft.||10 ft.||10 ft.|
|Underground tanks up to 2,000 gallons||10 ft.||10 ft.||5 ft.||n/a||n/a|
Table: Propane tank placement from key spots
Deciding which tank is right for you
The size of the propane tank you choose will depend on your planned usage; we’ll work with you to determine the optimal option. As for type, you have more flexibility. Above-ground tanks are made to withstand all weather conditions, and the placement requirements make it unlikely that the tank will interfere with the regular, everyday use of your yard. Underground tanks stay out of view and may seem like they would leave more room for other backyard items. However, the area above underground tanks should remain clear of everything but landscaping. So the decision is mostly a matter of your personal taste.
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