What Size Heating Oil Tank Do I Need For My Home?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When it comes to keeping your home warm, oil remains one of the most reliable options on the market. It doesn’t short out during lightning storms, it is easy to operate, and it also is guaranteed to keep you toasty. However, when you first get a home with an oil tank, there can be a little bit of a learning curve. This is especially true if you aren’t sure what size heating oil tank you have.

A typical home heating oil tank will be anywhere between 100 and 500 gallons, with 275 gallons being the most common above-ground size. You can usually tell how many gallons your tank holds by examining the shape and the actual length of the tank.

If you’re new to using heating oil in your home, you are going to need to know how much oil you should request. Moreover, you probably are curious about the size of your tank. It’s a good thing to know. So, let’s talk about how to figure that out, shall we?

Understanding Heating Oil Tank Sizes

There’s some bad news and good news about heating oil tank sizing. The bad news is that it can take a little effort to figure out what your tank size is. The good news is that the tank sizes are somewhat standardized and you can generally glean your maximum tank capacity through the use of a ruler.

Most heating oil tanks will be in one of the following sizes:

  • 100 gallons
  • 275 gallons
  • 300 gallons
  • 330 gallons
  • 500 gallons
  • 550 gallons
  • 1000 gallons

That’s a pretty large array of different sizes, isn’t it? You’d be right to feel a little worried about trying to gauge the size of your tank. But, don’t worry. As long as you have a ruler in your hand, there’s a pretty easy way to figure out the size of your heating oil tank in a pinch.

Is There Any Quick Way To Find Out How Much Oil My Tank Holds?

The easiest way to find out how much oil your heating oil tank can hold is to look on the tank’s side. Federal law states that all new heating oil tanks need to have a label explaining how much oil they can hold as well as other key details. If you do not have a label stating that information, grab a tape measure to find out.

Why Do I Need To Know My Heating Oil Tank Size?

This is a fairly simple question to answer. Otherwise, you might order too much or too little to hold you over. Knowing your heating oil tank means that you will get the following perks:

  • You’ll know how much oil you should order. The primary reason you need to know your tank size is because you need to know how much oil you should order when you start to run low.
  • Knowing the level of oil can also help you prevent running out of fuel. Keeping an eye on the exact number can help you predict how much you should store when you are facing a Nor’easter.
  • You will also be able to tell how much oil you still have in your tank. With most tanks, the oil meter only shows the fraction of oil is left. This will let you figure out the exact amount left in your tank.
  • It also can give you a better idea of your consumption practices. It can be eye-opening to find out how much oil you go through in a season.

Different Heating Oil Tank Sizes

Unless you have a custom-made heating oil tank, you can expect your tank to be one of two shapes. You’re either going to have a cylindrical oil tank or an oval tank. With a cylinder tank, you will have a tank that resembles a food can on its side. Oval tanks are cylindrical, but don’t have a circular end. Rather, their two bases are oval rather than a perfect circle.

Each tank shape has its own standardized sizes. Now that you know what shape your tank is, we can start parsing out the sizes based on the shape.

Oval Heating Oil Tank Sizes

If you have an oval heating oil tank, congratulations. You have the most common type of heating oil tank found in residential areas. These tanks can be set vertically or horizontally. When measuring out your tank, make sure to look for the size that matched up with the measurements that you get regardless of which orientation your tank happens to be in. The common measurements for tank sizes are:

  • 275 Gallons. By far the most common size for a heating oil tank, these measure 27 inches by 44 inches by 60 inches.
  • 330 Gallon. These tanks measure 27 inches by 44 inches by 72 inches. Though not as common, you still may see them from time to time.

Cylindrical Heating Oil Tank Sizes

Cylindrical heating oil tanks are the more uncommon, and they are also the ones that are most standardized. You will need to get a ruler to figure out your size. To get a better idea of what tank size you have, check to see which measurements match up with your tank.

  • 300 Gallon. This will be the smallest tank of this shape. They are 38 inches in diameter and are 60 inches long.
  • 500 Gallon. This will be 48 inches in diameter, with a length of 65 inches.
  • 550 Gallon. This size will still have a 48-inch diameter, but its length will be 72 inches.
  • 1000 Gallon. This is the largest possible heating oil tank size you will see in a home. Like others on this list, they are 48 inches in diameter. However, they will be a whopping 130 inches in length. These are generally only seen in multi-family units.

What If My Heating Fuel Tank Has Different Measurements?

It is possible to have a heating oil fuel tank that doesn’t match up with a standardized size. However, these tanks are very rare and tend to be exceptions to the rule. If you cannot find a label on your home’s heating oil tank, you should consider calling an HVAC professional to help you determine how much oil you will need to buy.

Different Heating Oil Tank Types

Along with knowing the general measurements of your oil tank, you will also need to know the type of tank you have. There are two heating oil tank types that you could get: single skin tanks and double skin tanks. Here’s what you need to know about each tank type and how it can affect your fuel:

  • Single Skin. A single skin tank is just a regular tank. There’s no protective outer layer, which means that a puncture will lead to an oil spill in your yard. With that said, these tend to have a higher capacity than double skins.
  • Double Skin. A double-skin tank will have a second tank inside the outer tank, which will reduce the amount of fuel that it can hold. However, they do come with a major perk. Their double-layered style makes it a great choice for people who are worried about punctures or extra wear and tear.

What Heating Oil Tank Size Should I Get For My Home?

Buying a new heating oil tank can be a little daunting, especially if you don’t have much background when it comes to HVAC. In most areas, consulting an HVAC tech will give you all the information you need. If you’re feeling a little bit lost, it’s okay. These tips can help pair you with a good oil tank size for your building:

  • An average home will work well with an average-sized oil tank. This means that people who live in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home will do well with a 275-gallon heating oil tank. Even if you have an extra bedroom, chances are that this size (or something similar) will work well with it.
  • Take your oil consumption into consideration. A typical home will require one full fill-up of a 275-gallon tank per month during the coldest months of the year. If you are the type of family who insists on a toastier-than-usual home, then you might want to splurge on a tank that is slightly larger.
  • If you have a very large home, an apartment building, or a multi-family home, go for a larger oil tank. Most larger homes will have a 500 gallon or 1000 gallon tank on the property. The larger the home, the larger the tank should be, simply because there will be more rooms you need to heat.
  • Always pay attention to your local building codes. Believe it or not, many towns and cities have regulations on their books when it comes to the maximum size a heating oil tank can be. If you are not sure whether your oil tank size will be in code, ask. The same can be said about the type of tank you are meant to have in your home. Not all towns are open to single skin tanks!
  • People who are concerned about snowstorms should consider getting a larger tank. People who live in areas known for bitter cold should consider getting a bigger tank, simply because it’s wise to stock up before major snowstorms. After all, you might not be able to get someone to come to your home for a refill when there’s three feet of snow on the ground.
  • The best thing you can do is ask a heating oil specialist for their input. Professionals in the heating oil field are there to help  you make the right decision for your home. Asking them won’t cost a dime, but could save you some serious dinero if you ask the right questions.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Heating Oil Tank?

This can vary greatly depending on the size of your tank. A small home that doesn’t require the removal of an older tank will be able to get it done for around $800 to $1600. If you need to replace an older oil tank, you should expect to pay between $2,300 and $3,500 for the full replacement procedure.

If you need to install a larger oil tank, then you may have an even higher price to pay. This is due to the size of the tank you’re removing as well as the size of the tank that you have to buy. A large heating oil tank can easily cost over $900 for the tank alone. This means that the tank installation can be far higher in price.

Related Questions

What is the best type of heating oil tank to get?

If you are looking for durability, then the best option that you can choose is a double skin heating oil tank. The double “tank within a tank” build is excellent for protecting against leaks and damage. Many local building codes will require a double skin heating oil tank.

How long do heating oil tanks last?

This all depends on the type of heating oil tank. If you have a metal oil tank, you can expect a lifespan of 15 to 30 years. Most plastic tanks should last between 10 to 15 years at a minimum, if they are well-maintained. However, plastic tanks are prone to leaks and other issues fairly early on.

How much oil does a 275-gallon heating oil tank hold?

Despite what the name may suggest, a 275-gallon heating oil tank does not hold 275 gallons. Since tanks will have extra layers and other protective seals, the true maximum load of most typical homes will be around 225 gallons.

Am I allowed to replace my own heating oil tank?

This varies depending on your local building codes. Many towns and cities require homeowners to leave oil tank installations to the professionals. If you choose to DIY it in a town that has codes relating to this, you may get slapped with a fine or even have your building condemned. Check with your local ordinances to find out the policy for your tank.

How do I get rid of an old oil tank?

You will need to hire someone to take the oil tank off your hands, clean it, and properly dispose of the oil. Most cities will be able to direct you to a service through the Yellow Pages or the local environmental board.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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