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Getting Started With Propane: Your Questions Answered

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A Guide to Propane Tanks, Size, Installation, and Whether to Buy or Rent

Propane is an efficient and versatile energy sources — excellent for a wide range of uses including home appliances, backyard pool and patio heaters, fireplaces, water heaters, and of course, furnaces.

When getting started with a propane system, the first thing to figure out is where and how to store your propane supply – and that means making decisions about your propane tank. If you’re new to using propane, this idea may be new to you. Let’s explore some frequently asked questions of new propane users:


What size propane tank do I need?

For residential use, you’ll usually see propane tanks in four sizes: 120, 250, 500, and 1000 gallons. If you’re heating just a few appliances in a small home, a smaller tank will probably do. If you’re heating a larger property with many appliances, you’ll want something bigger.



Best for

120-250 Gallons


2 or 3 appliances (such as a gas fireplace, standard hot water heater, clothes dryer, stove)

500 Gallons

Heating and running appliances in a smaller home

1000 Gallons

Heating and running all appliances in a large home or small business office

80% rule

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a propane tank size: Since propane expands when it gets warmer, it’s standard practice to fill them to 80 percent of their capacity. For example, if you think you need 325 gallons of propane, you might think about stepping up to the 500-gallon tank.


What type of propane tank do I need, and where do I put it?

Underground propane tanks are safe and comply with all technical requirements and federal EPA regulations.      They preserve the aesthetics of your property and keep the tank cool in summer, making the more complex installation investment worthwhile. Underground propane tanks start at 250 gallons, so if you’re using only a few appliances, contact us so we can help you find the tank that’s the best fit for your needs. 

Aboveground propane tanks offer an alternative when physical limitations of the property make an underground tank impractical. Often smaller in size (from 100 gallons), aboveground propane tanks are inexpensive and quick to install, and can usually be well camouflaged. One tip: Since they’re exposed to the elements, we suggest an annual inspection to ensure continued reliable service. Get in touch to learn more about how our team can assist with your maintenance needs.


Vertical propane tanks are designed for occasional or more limited use -- for instance, fueling a single appliance such as water heater or a fireplace. They’re small (usually 120 gallons or smaller) and tuck discreetly against the home. For your safety, these need to be installed at least 3 feet from any windows or doors and at least 10 feet from any source of ignition. 


Guide to Propane Tank Types

Propane Tank Type




Hidden from plain view

Keeps your tank cooler during warmer months

More expensive than above-ground tanks to install

May not be necessary if you plan to have a tank less than 250 gallons


Less expensive than underground options

Faster installation

Require more maintenance


May sometimes be a challenge to camouflage



Not for heating the whole home


Safety guidelines limit where it can be installed


Should I rent or buy my propane tank? 

The decision to rent or buy your propane tank is a lot like deciding whether to lease or buy a car, or to rent or purchase a home. Each option has distinct pros and cons. Let’s consider them step by step:

Propane tank installation. Installing a propane tank requires a licensed professional who can ensure quality work and compliance with your local area requirements. (Imagine trying to install an underground tank in your backyard -- it is not a DIY project.) If you buy a tank, you can be left on your own to secure the right contractors and handle a significant project. If you rent from a propane supplier, all of those details are handled for you as part of your rental or lease agreement.

Upfront costs. Owning a propane tank involves more expense than just the tank - which in itself is a significant cost. Your costs will also include the purchase of all the hardware and piping to connect and operate the system. Many of these costs are mitigated with tank rental.

Propane service. Propane tanks require the care of a specialist for maintenance and repairs.

Propane tank maintenance. Regular upkeep is part of tank ownership.

Propane supplier. For as long as you use the tank, you will have to keep it supplied with propane. If you own your own tank, you can choose the supplier, and you can switch at any time. Leased or rented tanks can be filled only by the propane supplier you’ve contracted with.


Cheat Sheet: Rent or Buy?




Choice of supplier

Only your supplier can fill your tank

You can choose your own supplier and switch at any time

Upfront costs

Set-up may be covered by your supplier; you pay tank rental according to your agreement

You pay for all upfront costs: tank (the primary cost, significantly higher than other items), regulators, blocks, and anything else that comes up


Supplier may handle installation; AmeriGas charges for installation in many cases.

Installation may be performed by AmeriGas or by a licensed installer you hire


Customer often pays for service

You have to hire service providers; not all suppliers service tanks they don’t own


Maintenance and repairs to the tank are the responsibility of the supplier

You are responsible for all maintenance and repairs


There are many considerations in choosing a propane tank as well as the right propane supplier and you can be certain that in choosing AmeriGas for your propane needs, you’ll have reliable, safe and energy-efficient home heating for years to come. Learn more about switching to propane.