How Long Does A 500-Gallon Propane Tank Last?

When you buy a 500-gallon propane tank, it may seem like it will last forever, but all good things must eventually come to an end. Let’s take a look at how long you can expect a propane tank this large to last and tips you can use to make it last even longer.

How Long Does A 500-Gallon Propane Tank Last

Propane is used in a variety of ways inside many households. It helps with everything from cooking to heating and even drying clothes. Having a steady supply of propane is important for many homes to operate properly.

Many homeowners rely on 500-gallon propane tanks to meet their household’s fuel needs. How long can you expect that 500-gallon propane tank to last?

On average, a 500-gallon propane tank should be able to meet a household’s needs for about five months. The home furnace is the largest consumer of all that propane. A 500-gallon tank of propane may not last a full year even if it will only be used for the furnace.

Knowing how long your 500-gallon tank of propane will last is important. Find out more about how to keep tabs on your propane supply and other relevant topics by reading on.

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Breaking Down Your Household’s Propane Consumption

A 500-gallon tank of propane is the recommended purchase for the average household. It should be able to meet the average family’s heating and cooking needs.

Still, some homeowners may be surprised to learn that a 500-gallon tank of propane only lasts for five months. However, that becomes less surprising after you take a closer look at the appliances inside your home.


Furnaces consume a lot of propane. The exact amounts do vary slightly, but the average furnace will go through about a gallon of propane per hour. If you want to cut down on your propane usage, you’ll probably have to limit your furnace usage to some degree.


Whenever your family is gathered in one room, you can consider using the fireplace instead of the furnace. Fireplaces consume about one gallon of propane for every three hours of operation. They still use a lot of fuel, but they aren’t as voracious as furnaces.

Water Heaters

Water heaters are less of a drain on your propane supply, especially when compared to furnaces and fireplaces. A gallon and a half of propane should already be enough to sustain your home’s water heater for the day. Given how often your family will need hot water though, the heater will likely still use a lot of your propane.

Kitchen Cooktops

You can now find electric stoves to prepare your meals at home, but many still prefer using propane cooktops. Thankfully, kitchen cooktops don’t consume a lot of propane relative to some of the other appliances we’ve mentioned. Regularly used cooktops only consume roughly a gallon of propane every week.

Cost to Buy a Propane Tank Unit

A 500 gallon propane tank costs an average of $1,500, and it’s well worth the cost. Considering that you’ll get 20-30 years or more out of the tank, it’s a worthy investment. If the tank is 1,000 gallons, however, it will cost closer to $3,000-$3,500 depending on the manufacturer.

Your 500 gallon propane tank can cost as much as $3,000, but they don’t often exceed $2,000. You can find 500 gallon plastic propane tanks for as low as $480, but pricier tanks offer better quality. Of course, owning a propane tank comes with reoccurring costs, such as refilling it throughout the year.

Cost To Fill

It can be expensive to fill a propane tank, especially if the tank holds 500 gallons. You can expect to pay an average of $600, or even more, to fill your 500 gallon propane tank. The total cost can vary based on the market price of propane at any given time.

Many homeowners realize that this cost is worth it as a 500 gallon tank is enough to power all home appliances. Believe it or not, 500 gallon propane tanks do not hold 500 gallons, and they generally only hold 400 gallons. If the market price of propane is $1.50-$2.00 per gallon, 400 gallons comes out to between $600 and $800.

How often you refill your tank depends on how much propane you go through as a homeowner. Generally, a household that’s over 2,500 square feet can consume 100 gallons in 30-45 days. At that rate, you could refill your tank as much as 3-5 times per year, costing you $1,800-$3,000.

Cost To Install

The tank and propane itself are not the only costs of a 500 gallon tank, and installation is a big one. Underground propane tanks are expensive to install, especially for 500 gallons, and can cost up to $2,000. Above-ground propane tanks typically come out $1,500 after you have it professionally installed as it is labor-intensive.

Professionals have to haul the tank to your home and install it making for many hours of labor. You can technically install a 500 gallon propane tank on your own, but it is quite difficult and potentially dangerous. Call around and get installation quotes to get a feel for the difference in labor and installation costs from professionals.

Make It Last Longer

You can extend the life of your 500 gallon propane tank if you use it wisely and take precautions. The easiest way to make it last longer is to simply turn your thermostat down by up to 15%. You don’t necessarily need to make the house cold, but you can make a huge difference in longevity with a 10%-15% decrease.

Up to 300 or more gallons of propane will be dedicated to hot water usage per year in most households. Limiting your hot water usage can not only make your propane tank last longer, but it can save money. Taking shorter showers and limiting how long your sink runs is the best way to liberally use hot water.

Your furnace could consume as much as 1,000 or more gallons of propane each year alone. This puts stress on the propane tank and it increases your bills each month. If you shut your furnace off when you leave the house or go on vacation, you can extend the life of your 500 gallon propane tank.

When Should You Get Your 500-Gallon Propane Tank Refilled?

We’ve already established that 500-gallon propane tanks can supply enough fuel to last for five months. Keep that tidbit in mind and use it as a reminder to check up on your propane tank.

What you don’t want to do though is to wait until the five-month mark to check on the tank’s propane levels. Instead, make use of a gauge to determine how much propane is left in the tank.

You can attach a gauge to your propane tank and refer to it when determining how much fuel is left. Propane tank gauges are percentage-based. If their marker is pointing to 50 that means there are 250 gallons of propane left inside.

As a general rule, homeowners are advised to get their tank refilled once the gauge hits 20 percent. You shouldn’t let it fall below that mark.

Why the Propane Level in the Tank Should Never Fall below 20 Percent

There are important reasons why you should avoid allowing the fuel level to drop below 20 percent. Safety is foremost among them.

Draining the propane tank completely means that only air is left inside. Allowing potentially moist air to linger inside the air can lead to the formation of rust. If you consistently drain the tank before refilling, its inner walls may start to rust over and weaken.

Another concern here is leaking. You may have left the gas lines open because you forgot to shut them off with the tank drained. Now that a newly refilled tank is back in place, some of the propane may leak via those gas lines.

You also don’t want to find yourself in a position where the propane is running out a bad time. Enduring a cold night with no heat is unpleasant and bad for your health. Avoid that dire situation by refilling the tank ahead of time.

Why Is the Propane Tank Never Completely Full?

After you’ve refilled your 500-gallon propane tank a few times, you’ve probably noticed something that seems odd. To be more specific, you may have noticed that the tank is never completely full according to the gauge.

That’s not an accident. Propane dealers intentionally fill a tank only up to 80 percent capacity on purpose. The reason why they refrain from filling it up completely is again due to safety.

The propane inside the tank expands when exposed to warmth. Leaving some part of the tank empty allows the fuel to expand safely. If the tank is full, it could end up bursting after the fuel expands.

How Long Will the Propane Tank Remain in Good Condition?

The 500 gallons of propane inside the tank should last for about five months, but what about the tank itself? How long can you continually refill and reuse that tank of propane? The good news for homeowners is that propane tanks can last for a remarkably long period of time. Propane tanks are typically made from either welded aluminum or steel. That material composition lends plenty of durability to the tanks.

However, the propane tank still remains susceptible to damage. You have to do your part to keep it in good shape. Performing regular maintenance on your propane tank is highly recommended.

Start by checking that the tank is always level and that the connections are secure. Also, test for leaks regularly and see if the outer coating of the tank remains intact. Cleaning the propane tank regularly by clearing away the debris around it is also a good move.

What is Propane Tank Recertification?

Even if your propane tank can be used continually for many years, you still have to verify its safety periodically. You can confirm that the tank is still safe to use through the process of recertification.

Larger tanks such as the ones designed for 500 gallons of propane are certified for 10 years after they’re made. Once that 10-year period is up, you need to get the tank certified again after every five years. Going through recertification ensures that your tank is safe to use so don’t bypass that process.

How Much Does a New 500-Gallon Propane Tank Cost?

It’s hard to beat the convenience provided by a 500-gallon propane tank. After the tank has been refilled, you can stop worrying about your fuel supply for the next few months. All that convenience does come at a significant cost though.

A brand new 500-gallon propane tank costs around $1500. It’s a big investment for sure, but it’s also one that the members of your household will be grateful for.

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Related Questions

How Long Can You Keep Using the Propane in the Tank?

One of the reasons why propane is used as a fuel source so often is due to its longevity. Unlike gasoline or kerosene, propane remains usable for an indefinite amount of time.

The quality of the propane fuel is not going to be affected by the passage of time. Even after many years have passed, the leftover propane in your tank can still power up your furnace with no problem.

What Can You Do with an Old Propane Tank?

An unfortunate accident may have led to your 500-gallon propane tank sustaining significant damage. Using the tank as a fuel storage unit after that is no longer an option. What you can do though is repurpose the tank.

After cutting the tank into smaller pieces, you can transform them into containers. Use them to hold tools in your garden or garage. You can also turn those pieces of the tank into outdoor cooking equipment.

Just remember to exercise caution before repurposing the tank. Begin by emptying the tank completely and follow that with a thorough cleaning. You can start processing the tank after all the gas has been drained and it’s completely dry.

How much does a 500 gallon propane tank hold?

Your 500 gallon propane tank can hold exactly 400 gallons of propane, despite what the name suggests. They need to leave space in the tank to account for the expanding properties of propane and filling it to the brim could be dangerous. Your 500 gallon propane tank should never be filled to more than 80% capacity for safety reasons.

Gary Evans

Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

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