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How Long Does a Propane Tank Last? Facts & FAQ

LPG gas tank with gauge

When you get a propane tank, it is natural to wonder exactly how long the tank is expected to last. Can it be refilled a certain number of times or infinitely? Do you need to replace the propane tank after a certain number of times? How long does the gas inside the tank last?

The good news is that propane tanks last an incredibly long time. A good propane tank can last decades without any issues. This brief overview will answer all of those questions, and more so you will know exactly how long a propane tank can last, how long it typically lasts, and how long the gas lasts.

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How Long Does a Propane Tank Last?

Propane tanks are designed to last a very long time. A typical 20-pound propane cylinder that people use around the house can last up to 30 years if it is well maintained. The key to a long lifespan for a propane tank is maintenance. Do not let your tanks rust, do not use a tank if it has been dropped, dinged, or damaged in any way, and keep dirt and debris out of the nozzles and hookups. The biggest threats to propane tank longevity are rust and damage. If you keep your propane tank out of the elements and do not damage it, it will last for decades.

This is even true of large propane tanks. Large above-ground propane tanks up to 500 gallons can still last 30 years as long as they, too, are maintained properly. As long as the propane tank is in good condition, it can continue to be used and refilled over and over until it is deemed unsafe. Propane tanks can be filled hundreds of times with no issues.

chained LPG stank with stovetop
Image Credit: Mac Kenzie, Pixabay

Underground propane tanks have a slightly shorter lifespan due to the rigors of being surrounded by dirt, soil, and living things. The moisture and dirt in the ground can degrade buried tanks faster than above-ground tanks. That being said, underground tanks can still last 20 to 25 years. In many cases, your propane supplier will conduct annual tests and periodic certification of the tanks to ensure that they are still functioning properly when they are out of sight. Your propane servicer will be able to tell you if your underground tank is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Some local regulations require large propane tanks to be inspected by certified technicians within a timeframe codified by law. Most regulations require large tanks to get recertified every ten years. The recertification process checks the integrity of the tank, the pressure, and the seals to ensure that it is safe and effective for another ten years. Some places require large propane tanks to be inspected every five years. If you have a large propane tank, the inspection process will let you know exactly how healthy the tank is and ensure that it is safe for use in five or ten-year increments.

two propane tanks in hardware
Image Credit: PxHere

How Long Does the Propane Last?

The amount of time the propane gas in your tank will last depends on how much you use the tank and what the tank is powering. If you have a propane tank for your grill but seldom fire it up, it can last weeks or even months before you start to run low. The same thing goes for large propane tanks used for fireplaces, water heaters, and central heat.

A typical gas grill uses roughly two pounds of propane per hour when running on high. The average propane tank contains twenty pounds of propane, so you can expect to get ten solid hours of grilling out of a single propane tank. If you grill once a week, you likely won’t need to swap your propane tank out for ten to twelve weeks.

The average home uses 1,250 gallons of propane per year. That equates to three 500-gallon tank refills or six 250-gallon tank refills. That means that your home’s propane tank will last between two and four months. However, propane usage during the winter is often much higher than it is in the summer, so you might need to refill more frequently during the cold months.

close up propane LPG tank
Image Credit: Alexander Fox | PlaNet Fox, Pixabay

These numbers are all averages, and you could swing in either direction based on your individual usage. If you cook outside all of the time and have a large grill, you could go through a propane tank in a week. If you have a large home that uses a ton of hot water or heat, you could drain your underground tank much quicker than average. Conversely, if you rarely use your propane, you will rarely have to restock. Propane doesn’t go bad, and as long as your tanks are in good condition and sealed properly, the gas won’t escape.

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Propane tanks are simple, but they are built to last. They are made from durable metals, and if they are maintained properly, they can last up to 30 years or more. Large propane tanks often require periodic inspection and certification, which will guarantee a tank’s future lifespan in chunks of five or ten years. Underground propane tanks typically last 25 years. The propane in the tanks will not go bad, and the amount of time it takes for the tanks to become empty will depend on how much you use the propane and what you are using it on.

Featured Image Credit: Rungnapa Tarasiri, Shutterstock

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