Understanding Residential Propane Tank Sizes (Which One Should You Get)

Propane is one of the most efficient fuels to heat your house with. There are several sizes of propane tanks for residential properties, as well as above-ground and underground tanks. Homeowners that are planning to install a propane tank need to consider a few factors to choose the right size.

A 1,000-gallon propane tank is the best option to provide full-time heat throughout a cold winter season. This size of propane tank will provide enough fuel to run a heating system and other household appliances. The best option for temporary heat is a 100 lb propane tank. This tank provides a few days of heat and can be moved easily.

Are you wondering which propane tank is the right size for your property? Today, we’re going to discuss the different sizes that homeowners can choose from. We’ll also discuss how you can determine which one is right for you. Read on to learn more.

The Types of Propane Tanks 

Before we get into the different sizes of tanks, we should discuss the different types you can get. Above-ground and underground propane tanks are used for residential heating systems. Let’s take a look at what you should know about these two types of tanks.

Above-Ground Tanks

Above-ground propane tanks are easily accessible. Homeowners know exactly where they are and it’s easy for propane suppliers and professionals to get to it. Homeowners don’t have to leave any special instructions when they order a propane refill.

One of the main advantages of choosing an above-ground tank is that it’s less expensive. The installation process is faster and easier, costing homeowners less money. It’s also common for repair bills to be less money as well because the specialist doesn’t have to do extra work to get to the tank.

Above-Ground Tanks propane

However, one thing many homeowners dislike about above-ground tanks is that they are eyesores. Nature can also take a toll on propane tanks, causing them to look even more unattractive. Luckily, homeowners can spruce up the appearance with a coat of paint.

Propane tanks can become a distraction on the property because they’re large. They can also take up a fair amount of space, which can get in the way of leisurely activities.

Underground Tanks

Homeowners can keep their propane tank out of sight when they choose underground propane tanks. This is a major advantage for smaller properties since the tank won’t take up a portion of their outdoor space.

There are more advantages to having an underground propane tank than just the aesthetics. One of the biggest things to consider is temperature control. When your propane tank is underground, the dirt and soil keep it protected from extreme temperatures, as well as other elements of nature.

Underground Tanks

You might be wondering what would happen if there was a propane leak. Propane is environmentally friendly and doesn’t contaminate the ground or water supply. When there’s a leak underground it’s less likely to result in a fire because the propane will go into the soil.

However, there’s one major drawback of choosing an underground tank. That’s the complicated installation process. Before you begin, you will need to get a permit. You will also have to hire contractors. This means you’ll have to cover the costs of labor, excavation, and more.

4 Most Common Residential Tank Sizes

Now that you know about the two different types of propane tanks, it’s time to discuss the sizes. There are 2 common tank sizes for both types of tank types. Let’s take a closer look at all 4 of these sizes to give you a better idea of which one is right for your property.

Above-Ground 100 LB Tank

Let’s start with the smallest tank on our list. An above-ground 100 lb tank can hold up to 23.6 gallons of propane when it’s full. This tank is roughly 4.18 feet tall, which means that it doesn’t take up as much space as other above-ground tanks.

This tank can be moved as needed, which is good news for homeowners that want to plan out renovations in the future.

However, the 100 lb propane tank isn’t necessarily the best option for your heating system. This is because it will only provide heat for a limited number of days. Most households only get 4 to 9 days of use from a full tank.

Above-Ground 100 LB Tank

One question we hear a lot is “should a household use a 100 lb propane tank for heat?“. Most households can use a 100 lb tank for heat. That being said, the propane tank will only be able to supply enough energy for heat. You will not be able to run other appliances on it as well.

In most situations, a 100 lb propane tank is preferred for temporary heating situations. For example, it can be used as a backup heat source or to provide heat for a cottage/cabin that you only visit on occasion.

Above-Ground 100-Gallon Tank

The most common propane tank to see above ground on residential properties is the 100-gallon tank. This tank is a lot larger than the 100 lb tank. Once it’s installed, homeowners won’t be able to move it.

Some residential properties may have a 120-gallon tank as well, which fits into the same size category as 100-gallon tanks. These tanks weigh around 420 lbs and when they’re full, they hold up to 96 gallons. Propane tanks are never filled to full capacity because the fuel expands in the heat.

Above-Ground 100-Gallon Tank

100-gallon tanks are an excellent way to heat a small house. Larger households may have multiple 100 or 120-gallon tanks installed next to each other. This tank can be used for heating, hot water, appliances, and more.

Most small households get approximately 30 days of use from a full tank. Keep in mind, this estimate is for the midst of winter when households are running the heating system frequently. During warmer seasons when the tank is only being used for appliances, you will get more days of use.

500 Gallon Tank (Above or Underground)

500-gallon propane tanks can be installed above-ground or underground, based on the property owner’s preferences. This is a better option for houses that are 1,500 square feet or larger because you won’t have to order refills as frequently.

The frequency that homeowners will need to fill their 500-gallon tank will depend on how often they use it. Some of the factors that go into this include:

500 Gallon Tank
  • The exact size of the house
  • How often the heater is used
  • How often hot water is used
  • Which appliance used propane and how often they are used

Some households may only get 1 month and 23 days from a full tank, while other households could get over 14 months of use. A single-person household in Florida won’t need to use as much propane as a 5-person household in Colorado.

Since 500-gallon tanks are able to hold more fuel, households can use more appliances on them. A full tank will hold roughly 400 gallons of propane. Unlike the other tank sizes we’ve previously mentioned, this size of the tank can heat your home while also supplying heat for your kitchen stover, clothes dryer, and more.

1,000 Gallon Tank (Above or Underground)

Are you the kind of person that wants to fill up your propane tank once and not have to worry about it again for the rest of the season? If so, a 1000-gallon tank might be worth it for you.

1000-gallon propane tanks are the best option for full-time heating solutions. This is something you should consider if you have a house that’s larger than 1,500 and live in a cold climate.

1,000 Gallon Tank

These propane tanks hold roughly 800 gallons when filled. This is enough propane to last anywhere from 2.5 months to 2.5 years. While you will run out of propane sooner if you use it 24/7, it’s good to know the tank is capable of supplying it if you do need to use it all the time.

Of course, one thing you will need to take into account with this propane tank is its large size. A 1000-gallon tank is roughly 16 feet long and just over 4 feet high.

How To Decide What Size Tank Your Home Needs 

The tanks we mentioned above are the most common sizes to install on residential properties. Keep in mind, there are other sizes available that you can get based on what your household needs. But, how does a homeowner know which tank size is right for their house?

Size Of Your House

The size of your house determines how much heat the propane tank needs to supply. This is one of the most important things to consider before you choose a propane tank. After all, a 100 lb tank won’t be able to heat a 3,500 square foot house during the winter.

Larger houses will need more propane. A smaller tank means that you’ll have to call the supply company more frequently. If your tank is too small, you could see the propane supplier multiple times in a week.

On the same note, if you choose an above-ground propane tank that’s too large, it can bring down the curb appeal of your property. The large tank will not look good next to the small building.

General Usage

We gave you some rough ideas of how many days of propane you could get from a tank. However, these numbers fluctuate greatly based on how much propane is used. Every household has a different amount of usage.

Whether you’re using propane solely for your heating system or using it to supply heat for other appliances as well will determine how big of a tank you need. Take note of what appliances you plan to run on it and how much propane they use.

Are you planning to run a pool heater on your propane tank? If so, you will need a larger tank. The average pool heater uses 1 gallon of propane per hour. Let’s take a look at how much propane other appliances use.

ApplianceAverage Gallons Of Propane Used
Water heater1.5 per day
Furnace1.2 to 2.4 per hour
Dryer15 to 25 per year
Stove20 to 50 per year
Pool Heater1 per hour


The last thing a homeowner wants is to run out of propane on a freezing cold day. That’s why you should make sure you choose the right size of tank for your property. If you’re still not sure which size of propane is right for you, we recommend speaking to local propane professional for more information.

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