Saturday, September 4, 2021

Propane at last

Now that the hot weather is over and our thoughts are turning toward winter, we're embarking on a frenzy of outdoor projects. One of the things we needed to do was get a propane tank installed.

Unlike our old house, which had a propane range, dryer, wall heater, and on-demand hot water heater, our new home only has one propane-run appliance: the kitchen range. In the future we hope to install an on-demand water heater (love those things!), but it's not happening this year.

Oddly, the only source of propane for our range was a seven-gallon tank situated outside the kitchen wall.

We've gone through about two and a half of these tanks in the eight months since moving in, so obviously our usage rate for propane has dropped drastically compared to our old place. We keep two spare tanks on hand at all time.

Our eventual goal is to get a 500-gallon tank, but that requires some infrastructure we're not in position to install at the moment: a level pad on our sloped property to park it, and trenching and installing an underground pipe (including under a concrete sidewalk) to connect the tank to the house. So for the time being, we contacted the propane company and requested the largest-size tank that can be legally installed against the side of the house. It turned out to be a 120-gallon tank (which holds about 96 gallons, since they only fill tanks to 80% capacity).

The installation truck came last week with our small tank and someone's larger tank on board.

The truck had a self-loader. Don decided he wants one of those too.

Using the control box, the workman swung the tank off the truck...

...and positioned it near the house.

He spent a few minutes swapping out the fittings for new ones and getting the hoses ready to hook into the new tank.

He placed cinderblocks under first one end...

...and then the other, hoisting up one end of the tank at a time while he made adjustments and leveled the tank.

Darcy, meanwhile, watched the proceedings with great interest.

The workman said the "empty" tank has about 20 gallons of propane in it to get us through until the delivery truck made it out to fill the tank. Considering that's about the amount of propane we've used in the last year, clearly it was plenty for our needs.

The installation fellow was very pleasant, and we chatted with him while he worked. We asked if he'd been very busy, and he sort of let out a groan. First, he said, they're dealing with a shortage of tanks. Why? "Everyone is panicking," he answered. "If they have a 250-gallon tank, they want a 500-gallon tank installed. If they have a 500-gallon tank, they want a 1000-gallon tank."

We told him we, too, eventually wanted to upgrade to a 500-gallon tank – not out of panic, but common sense. We'll see if a tank is available in that size when the time comes.

A few days later, the propane delivery truck came out and topped off the new tank.

Meanwhile, until we get our on-demand water heater installed, this tank of propane should last us a good long time.


  1. We also have a 250 gal tank and it was also on dirt with cinder blocks. They eventually got un-leveled due to weather. Lucky we were able to keep it in the same spot when we built our covered patio with a cement foundation and in so doing the tank is well protected. I spoke to the delivery guy about upgrading to a 500 gal which would entail having the tank much further from the house and of course out in the elements. He did however have a nifty solution, get a second 250 gal tank and hook the 2 together all under the covered patio, I am considering that. Next up, a good friend advised that it is better to lease than to buy so that if should go wrong that company is responsible for that mishap whatever it may be. But they are only responsible for certain parts and another reason was that if you own your own a different company may not want to fill a tank that is not theirs. Obviously more research is needed. Have had no reason for any problems. Another thing I had in my previous house was a tankless water heating system. The negative I found was the maintenance for clearing out built up calcium from hard water, however it did save a ton in electricity, another item to consider in our new place. Should we get one I will for sure have to get that second tank. There is a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that you have at least energy for the stove during power outages. Who wants to light up a wood stove in hot weather?

  2. Have you thought about getting another 250-gallon tank? We couldn’t get a 1000-gallon one, so that’s what we did. We have a 250-gallon and a 500-gallon. The two tanks have a connection between them similar to what is used on our travel trailer. When one tank is empty, we can switch to the other. We refill the first tank and have the second for emergencies.

  3. Hey Patrice, just a thought for your future upgrade. I have a good friend who is a wildland firefighter here in North Idaho, and he told me how much they *hate* seeing aboveground propane tanks. They expend a lot of resources trying to keep the tanks cool in a fire. Often they fail, and the tanks vent their gas causing a hazard to the firefighters working to save your property. I was advised that if I had the means, to purchase and bury our tank, which we did during our last upgrade. If you’re going to install a concrete pad and trench for a line anyway, the cost of digging a hole versus pouring concrete might be a wash. Something to consider.

  4. "The truck had a self-loader. Don decided he wants one of those too." From your reports, it's clear Don is a man of some experience. I find it hard to believe he didn't already know he wanted one :)

  5. As a reader who has been reading for years, I know I've harped on getting what you need now rather than wait. But....

    The driver is correct, there are shortages many have trouble wrapping their heads around. I seriously suggest getting what you need for a tank, as soon as it can be gotten. Even if you have to park a disconnected tank, or three, in the barn unused for now. Get the tank(s) now if you can. They might not be available later, at any cost. And propane itself might be available in sporty timing, if.

    A lot of these shortages are manufactured, and going to get worse instead of better. Get what you need to last for a long time, you might need it sooner than you think.

    Praying for you guys

  6. We have a 250 gal buried tank. We own the tank because the co. did not want to drive all the way out here to fill it so I got a good deal on the tank. We have a gas stove and on demand water heater, generator and dryer. The 250 will last us for almost one year but I wish we had a 500.

  7. We live in Alaska and have a 1000 gallon heating oil tank, Toyo oil stoves, an on-demand hot oil hot water tank (has saved us soooo much money over the last 27 years), and upstairs and downstairs wood stoves. The only reason we don't have propane is because we didn't want to have multiple tanks in our yard, and many times over the years oil has been less expensive than propane. Our only issue is our electric range. However, if we have to cook outside due to warm weather, we have a large cast iron propane camp stove we bought years ago in prep for Y2K. Whatever heating and cooking methods one has, it is always a good idea to have a backup resource, even if you only have a propane BBQ grill with one of those side cooking elements.

  8. "Propane is God's gas"

    Hank Hill

  9. That must be a good feeling Patrice.

    My parents have propane for heating (as a backup to their wood stove) but used electric for their stove. In retrospect, it might have been better to go with propane for that as well.

  10. Built our house ten years ago and buried our 1000 gallon tank. So glad!