How Your Local Climate Can Impact Your Propane Tank's Performance

Whether you are using a small propane tank for your barbecue or a larger one for your home, understanding how your local climate can affect your tank and the propane inside it is vital to both save money and achieve the best performance from your fuel. Propane is a type of natural gas stored as a liquid through pressurization, meaning even slight variations in temperature can have a dramatic impact on its density and efficiency. These are three things to be aware of as you use and store propane under various temperatures and humidity levels. They might just help you save on your heating budget. 

Determining the Density of Your Propane

Typically, propane is filled by either mass or volume, with larger tanks typically measured in gallons and smaller tanks in pounds. Cold air causes liquids to contract while warm air causes expansion, and liquid propane is no exception to the rule. When you fill your tank on a cold day, you will end up with a greater mass of propane compared to the volume charged, effectively netting you more bang for your buck. Because of this, however, tanks used in colder climates often allow for greater room for expansion in anticipation of temperatures rapidly fluctuating from cold to hot. Without this buffer, your tank could develop a catastrophic leak as the propane expands with nowhere to go. 

Shortening the Time Between Refills

Perhaps a more obvious side effect of the weather in your area is how much propane you will need to keep your home warm and how quickly your tanks are drained. It is generally recommended that homes in colder climates use larger tanks or multiple tanks to store more propane and reduce the hassle and expense of constant refills. Using larger tanks also allows you to buy propane in bulk when prices are low in anticipation of winter.

Generating Frost and Reducing Efficiency

If you have ever used a propane tank in cold temperatures or high humidity, you may have been surprised to notice frost forming along the tank even when the room or outdoor air is above freezing. This is a problem that usually occurs when your tank and flow rate are not large enough to meet the needs of your home or appliance. Liquid propane vaporizes at a very low temperature, which is reached by manipulating pressure within the tank and exploiting the temperature difference between the tank and the air around it. When vaporized propane is being drawn faster than it can replenish itself, external temperatures plummet and frost can form from any condensation on the tank, hindering overall performance. In these cases, your best bet may be to ask your propane supplier about larger propane tanks for sale as part of your next refill or maintenance procedure. 

Talk to a company like Northwest Propane LLC for more information on propane.