Is Propane Cheaper If You Own Your Own Tank?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Hank Hill might be the world’s most popular propane salesman, and from watching King of the Hill, you’d never guess that propane is such an expensive fuel. But it is. People who are on a budget and regularly use this fuel often seek out ways to trim costs. One of the more popular rumors about propane prices is that you can get a discount if you own your tank. But is this true?

Owning a propane tank does not directly make it cheaper, but it can save you money on rental contracts. You can spend between $40 and $2,500 per year on rental fees if you don’t own your tank. It costs $400-$2,000 or more to purchase a propane tank depending on the size.

Before you run out to the store and try to grab your tank, it’s essential to understand the full scope of this issue. It could save you hundreds of dollars in the long (and short) run.

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How Does Owning Your Own Tank Impact Your Propane Costs?

Propane isn’t a cheap gas, which is why it can pay off to shop around to find out which supplier will have the lowest prices. If you don’t own your own tank, you’re pretty much locked in with a specific supplier or manufacturer. This can potentially leave you at their mercy if they choose to bump up their prices.

The big draw of owning your own tank is that it affords you a certain level of shopping freedom. Most suppliers will happily fill up a tank that you own if you bring it to them. This means that you can shop around and find the supplier with the lowest prices in your area.

How Much Money Can You Save By Buying Your Own Propane Tank?

This all depends on how much propane you’re using. Heavy propane users who are able to shop around might find that their savings quickly add up, while those who are more casual about their fuel usage might have a harder time nailing down lots of savings. With that said, owning your own tank means that you get to avoid the following fees:

  • Rental Fees. Rental fees can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of your propane using years. An annual rental fee can be as much as $2500 depending on where you go as well as the size of the tank. For example, if you’re just renting a gas propane tank, you will only need to pay around $40 per year. 
  • Minimum Consumption Fees. If that isn’t bad enough, many suppliers will insist that you use a specific amount over the course of your year. If you don’t hit that amount, you might get slapped with an additional fee. Some dealers will charge you their minimum bill, month after month. Others may choose to charge a nominal fee that’s slightly less than the minimum.
  • Delivery Fees. This is another major hit to the wallet. Depending on where you go or where you are, a delivery fee can range between $70 and $200. 
  • Maintenance Fees. Some propane retailers will also charge tank renters a maintenance fee as a separate portion of their annual rental payments. This is meant to cover any repairs and maintenance that you may need.

Of course, owning your own tank also comes with “soft perks,” such as being able to paint it any color that you want. However, that’s not something you should take into account when you’re strictly looking at costs.

What Are The Pitfalls Of Owning Your Own Propane Tank?

Though you could potentially save hundreds per year, there are still drawbacks that make people think twice about owning a propane tank. The biggest one deals with damage. If your tank leaks, you’ve lost propane and will need to replace it. You also are going to be the one in charge of maintaining the tank, and you will be liable if the tank ends up causing damage.

Moreover, most propane tanks are known for being tied to your property. If you decide to move, you can’t always bring your propane tank with you unless you’re talking about a small grilling tank. Additionally, many propane retailers offer perks with their tank rental services, such as on-call maintenance and servicing. If you own a tank, you miss out on those perks.

Additionally, propane tanks don’t last forever. Most will need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years, depending on their size and how heavily they’re being used. Of course, there’s also one other issue that makes most potential tank owners balk…

How Much Does Buying Your Own Propane Tank Cost?

We are not going to mince words here. The price of buying a propane tank is prohibitively high, which is why most people turn away from this option from the get-go. Depending on the size of the tank, you should expect to shell out anywhere from $400 to over $2000 for an average tank size. Huge tanks can easily top $5000 or more for a purchase price.

This means that your propane could easily exceed your car payment or even your mortgage payment!

With that said, it is possible to find propane tank financing options if you go to the right dealer. However, this will put you in debt that could potentially be avoidable and could also lead to financial trouble later on down the road. It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth it.

Is Buying Your Own Propane Tank Worth It?

It all depends on your tank usage, the size of the tank you want to buy, and how much money you could save. If you aren’t sure whether renting or owning is the best for you, calculating the costs at the end of every year can help you figure out your situation. When tallying things up, make sure to add in all the costs, including propane gas usage, rental fees, maintenance, and more.

Of course, not everyone is exactly thrilled about having to crunch numbers to get a solid answer. That’s alright. Another option is to talk to someone who works at a propane supplier about your situation and ask for their input. More often than not, they can provide insight that could prove to be valuable.

Should You Buy An Above Ground Or Below Ground Propane Tank?

Now, whether you choose to purchase an above-ground propane tank versus a below-ground propane tank will depend on several factors. The questions you should ask yourself before making a decision are:

  • How large of a tank do I need?
  • Where am I going to put it?
  • Am I okay with putting my tank in my yard for everyone to see?
  • Do I live in a place where flooding and earthquakes happen frequently?
  • How much propane am I going to use?

These questions will help you figure out whether you should have an inground or above ground propane tank.

When To Choose An Above Ground Tank

Propane tanks that sit above the ground are great for individuals who have an ample amount of yard space and also people who don’t mind having a large tank sitting in their yard. Some people view this as unsightly, and prefer to hide it away. Others don’t mind so much.

However, if you’re looking to buy a couple of small tanks, then these typically are not installed underground because they’re small enough to hide away. Plus, there’s a higher risk of them shifting at some point.

If you live in an area where floods and earthquakes are common then you most likely will want the propane tank to be above ground. When the earth shifts or floodwaters enter the ground then the propane tank can shift. If this happens, lines can be disconnected, and the tank can be damaged or even blow up.

When To Choose An Underground Tank

Underground tanks are great for those who want a large propane tank, but they don’t have a lot of room in their yard to set it. Or, they want to hide it because it’s affecting their backyard area. When you install it underground, you can easily plant grass over it, and no one would even know you had one sitting there.

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Our Final Take

Owning your own propane tank has the potential to save you a lot of money, but it’s only worth it under a very specific set of situations. If you use a lot of propane, are open to maintaining your own tank, are going to be living in your home for a long period of time, and have the money to buy a tank, it could be worth it in the long run. Even then, you should still crunch some numbers to make sure it’s the right thing to do.

Contrary to popular belief, most propane supplies do not offer a special discount for people who own their own tanks. The real discount comes from losing rental fees and being able to shop around for your gas. So, if you only have one supplier in your area, you might not even see that much of a benefit from ownership.

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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