Propane is a versatile fuel that is popular with people who prefer a cleaner burning fuel. Propane comes in a variety of different-sized containers. A common question is that if you have a small tank, do they need to be treated differently? How should they be stored?
Small propane tanks should be stored in an upright position on an elevated, flat, sturdy surface in a well-ventilated area. Store them where the temperature does not exceed 120F or drop below -40F, away from electrical tools and other flammable materials. Do not store them inside your home.
For most tanks, a storage cabinet like this one from Amazon will work very well.
Due to small propane tanks’ ability to fit into tighter spaces, they are often shoved into corners in cupboards, garages, or any area they will squeeze into. Since they look a lot less intimidating than the large ones, perhaps people feel they don’t need to have the same treatment. The rest of this article will address keeping small propane tanks correctly.
Small Propane Tank Storage Guidelines
Just because small propane tanks are smaller does not mean that the storage parameters for these cylinders or tanks are any different from tanks with larger capacities.
A few simple and basic guidelines should be followed when it comes to the storage of small propane tanks.
- Store propane tanks on a flat, sturdy surface- A concrete slab, some bricks, or a wooden pallet will work well. It is crucial that they are elevated off the ground a little to prevent them from standing in water which could cause the tank to rust. The elevation also helps with airflow around the tank.
- Store the tanks at a safe temperature under 120F or 49C- Store the tanks out of direct sunlight. Ensuring that they are in a shaded spot for most of the day is usually a sufficient precaution.
- Do not store propane tanks in your living area- Propane should not be stored in your living area because of the fire hazard it presents should there be a gas leak. Insurance companies would also view this as a risk factor for your home.
- The tanks do not need to be covered- As long as the tanks are protected from direct sunlight, they will be fine outdoors.
- Store the tanks away from electrical tools and flammable materials- Electrical tools cause sparking when their motors run. This could ignite any vapors if there is a leak.
- Store the propane tank in a well-ventilated space- This will allow vapors to dissipate rather than accumulate and pose a fire risk.
- Store the propane tanks upright- This is to prevent the blocking of the over-pressure valve.
- Keep the tank above -40F (-40C) in winter- Extreme cold will cause the pressure to drop in the tank, and the pressure may not be enough to exit the valve when it is opened.
Is It Better To Store Propane Tanks Empty Or Full?
The best practice for storing your propane tanks, whether large or small, is to ensure that they are kept at full capacity as per industry guidelines. If the tank is stored empty, moisture buildup in the tank can result in oxidization, which will develop into rust on the tank’s inside.
The rust could compromise the tank’s structural integrity and lead to leaks or even to the complete failure of the tank.
Is It OK To Store A Propane Tank On Its Side?
A propane tank should always be stored standing upright and never on its side. The over-pressure valve at the top of the tank is designed to allow gas to escape should the pressure inside become too high. If the tank is on its side, the liquid may cover the valve and not allow it to function correctly.
So, while it may be tempting to lie the tank down on its side to fit in under a shelf of some similar storage space, but this is not a good idea. All propane tanks have this over-pressure valve, a safety feature that allows gas to escape should the be an excessive buildup of pressure in the tank. This is to prevent the tank from exploding.
When propane is in a tank, it is in two forms; it is in liquid form at the bottom of the propane tank and in gas form at the top of the tank. Side storage could create a potentially dangerous situation if the pressure builds up inside the tank and there is nowhere for the additional pressure to be released.
Is It Safe To Store Propane Tank In Garage?
You may not want to store your propane outside, exposed to the elements, especially if you have a large number of them. Keeping them outside may also make them vulnerable to theft, so your garage may seem like the ideal place to store your propane tanks.
You can store a propane tank in the garage so long as you follow a few basic storage guidelines:
- Always store the tank upright.
- Make sure your garage is well-ventilated.
- Do not store the propane tank near where you use power tools.
- Do not store the tank near other flammable substances or materials, such as gasoline or solvents.
Following these propane storage rules will make it perfectly safe to store your propane in your garage.
How Long Does Propane Last In Storage?
Propane can last a very long time, much longer than most other fuels, including diesel and gasoline. The propane that is inside the tank could potentially even outlast the lifespan of the tank.
If the propane tank and the valve are in good condition, propane can remain good in storage for between 10 and 30 years.
This is another reason that propane is a favored fuel for preppers and homesteaders. You can stock up on the fuel, and as long as your propane tanks are stored correctly, they will have a very long shelf life!
Where To Store Propane Tank In Winter
Many fuels are negatively affected by the cold and do not work well in low sub-zero winter temperatures. This is especially true for diesel and butane. However, propane is durable across a wide range of conditions.
Propane can stay viable in cold temperatures down to -44F (-42C). Even at these low temperatures, it is not the fuel that is compromised but rather the tanks’ pressure. The contents get so cold that they shrink, reducing the tank’s internal pressure to the point that the gas will no longer flow out of the valve.
Once the temperatures rise again, the pressure will increase once more inside the tank, and the gas will be usable.
This means that you should store your propane tanks in a winter location where the temperatures will not get this low. A Shed or a garage that gets some winter sun to prevent the temperatures from dropping too much would be the ideal location.
Is It Safe To Leave Small Propane Tanks Outside In Winter?
If you have no other option but to leave your propane tank outside in winter, this will pose no problem for the fuel or the tank.
It is safe to leave a propane tank outside in the winter if your outside temperatures do not go as low as -40F. In this case, you can store your tanks outside without covering them. You will still even be able to use the gas tanks outdoors should you need to.
If your temperatures do get this low, you can still store your tanks outside, but you may not be able to use the fuel until the temperatures increase again.
Alternatively, you can cover your tanks with a tarp and stand them in the winter sun to warm up a little, which will allow the gas to expand in the tanks and increase the pressure to a usable level.
Propane is a liquid petroleum gas, which is why it gets the name LPG or LP gas, as it is sometimes referred to. It is a clean-burning, efficient, reasonably cheap gas which is why it is used extensively worldwide. It is also versatile and not only burns clean but also stores very well. As long as you adhere to a few simple, basic precautions about where and how you store your propane tanks, be they large or small, they will serve you well for many years to come.
Even though it is possible to store your small propane tans outside, it would be in your best interest to cover them to make them last longer. Even though they can withstand a lot of abuse and rough storage conditions, taking that bit of extra care of your propane tanks will allow you to possibly even pass them down to your grandchildren!
For more, check out Is It Safe to Use a Propane Stove Indoors?
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!