How Long Does a 500-Gallon Propane Tank Last?

Most households in US use propane for their 500-gallon tank. This is because Propane does not go bad or lose potency over time, ensuring that the tank does not run out when needed.

Propane tanks are a fantastic way to keep your house warm during the winter and are an eminent energy source for electrical appliances. With the right knowledge about propane tanks, house owners can make the most out of it. The most common question concerning propane tanks is how long they last regularly. Through this guide, we have discussed how long a 500-gallon propane tank lasts in the household and the factors determining its durability and longevity.

Factors Affecting How Long Propane Last

There are some basic factors that influence how long a propane tank can last. We have listed the key parameters in the following section.

1. Home Size

The large 500-gallon propane tanks are installed in houses of the size, 500 sq ft to 4,000 sq ft. So, the equation is simple, bigger houses need more fuel, and for the same reason, propane will run out faster for these houses.

2. Heating Requirements

So, the heating requirements majorly depend on the location of your house. It is a given fact that the houses in the northern part of the States will use more power or BTUs than in the southern region. In other words, the heating requirements decrease in places with moderate temperatures, and hence the propane tanks last longer.

3. Weather Conditions

In cold or harsh weather conditions, propane consumption increases immensely. According to reports, during the coldest winter of 2013-2014, an average American household used 830 gallons of propane in 6 months.

4. Energy Efficiency

The 500-gallon propane tanks last longer when used with energy-efficient electrical appliances. So, products rated 90AFUE or above will use less propane than those marked 70 AFUE.

5. Appliances that Use Propane

Heating is just a part of the things propane can help with. It also helps power appliances used to complete regular tasks like cooking or drying clothes. The houses with more appliances use more propane than those without.

6. 80% Safety Rule

Owing to the name, many people believe the 500-gallon propane contains 500 gallons of propane, but that is not true. A 500-gallon tank is filled at 80% of its capacity due to safety reasons, and hence, it houses 400 gallons of propane. Some of the space is left as filling to the capacity can be dangerous. The propane gas can expand and create pressure on the outer layers of the tank.

7. Determining Your Usage

The answer to the question of how long the tank last depends largely on the usage and the critical knowledge of BTU(British Thermal Unit) ratings of the electrical appliances in your house. You need to calculate how long your house appliance will use one gallon of propane by dividing 92,000 BTU, which is the BTU of one gallon of propane, by the BTU ratings of the appliances that you want to use.

The calculation and estimation might become difficult when you consider all the members in the household or if you forget to consider any of the appliances. To avoid any mistakes, checking the gauge meter once every week whenever you call for delivery is better. The gauge meter indicates the amount of propane left in the tank and it is recommended to call for delivery when the tank is 30% to 40% full.

How Long Does a 500-gallon Propane Tank Last?

Several factors determine how long your 500-gallon propane tank will last and all these factors add up to the time before you need to call for the next delivery. We have listed all the important factors in the discussion below.

1. Different Home Size

First, we need to consider how much propane is contained in a 500-gallon propane tank. It is actually 400 gallons due to the 80% capacity safety rule. This implies that a full tank will contain total energy of 36,600,000 BTUs if the tank has 100% efficiency.

In the list below, we have mentioned how long the 500-gallon propane tank will last depending on the home size but first, we will see how to calculate that.

On the basis of estimations, we have seen that a 1,500 sq. ft. house burns 510 gallons of propane during the 6 months of winter. Now, we also know that a 500-gallon propane tank contains 400 gallons of propane, so the calculation will be like this:

400 Gallons X 6 Months ÷ 510 Gallons = 4.7 Months

So, this implies that the 500-gallon propane tank will last a little over 4 months for a 1,500 sq. ft house. Now, through the same method, we have calculated how long the tank will last for different house sizes.

House Size (Square Feet) How long it will last?
500 sq ft 14 months and 4 days
1,000 sq ft 7 months and 2 days
1,500 sq ft 4 months and 6 days
2,000 sq ft 3 months and 25 days
2,500 sq ft 2 months and 25 days
3,000 sq ft 2 months and 11 days
3,500 sq ft 2 months and 1 day
4,000 sq ft 1 month and 23 days

However, you need to keep in mind that these are just statistics based on estimations.

2. Winter Season

The use of propane is usually higher during the winter months due to the heating requirements. You need to generate more heat inside due to the extremely low temperatures outside. Most 500-gallon propane tanks last 2 months during these months but it is important to keep a check on the tank so that you have enough of it when the time comes.

3. Summer Season

The propane requirements decrease significantly during the summer as the propane appliances are used at low capacity. So, a filled propane tank can last for 8 months during summer.

Cost to Refill a Propane Tank

The 500 gallon propane tank holds about 400 gallons of propane. You need to keep in mind that the price of propane gas varies based on the location and alters regularly. However, on an average, propane costs 2.3 dollars per gallon. Therefore, to fill a tank of 400 gallons, the cost should be around 940 dollars.

How to Make it Last Longer?

You can significantly increase the lifespan of the propane tanks by adding several weeks and months by just following some simple steps. They have been mentioned below.

  • Monitor the Use of Thermostats: If you correctly use your thermostat and keep the house’s temperature low while you are away or sleeping, it can reduce the use of propane. Advanced thermostats can learn from the behaviour and enhance fuel efficiency.
  • Weatherproof  Your House: You must block the crevices and cracks while sealing doors and windows. Make the house airtight to prevent the heat from going outside. It is better if you install insulation.
  • Use a Propane Space Heater or Install a Fire Log: Installing a fire log has many benefits and allows users to choose the place they want to heat. It also reduces fuel consumption by enabling you to keep unused coolers
  • Dress Warm: To rely less on the propane tank and to keep your body insulated, you can dress in your favourite sweater.

Final Word

Evaluating the propane tank lifespan during winter is critical for your budget estimation. You want to ensure you have enough fuel to help you last the full winter months and save you from all kinds of circumstances. We have mentioned all the factors and hope that it helps you determine the all-important question of how long will the 500-gallon tank last during the winter months.

If you still have any queries or doubts, mention them in the comments section below.


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