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How to Choose a Propane Company

What should you look for in choosing a propane company?

Propane companies vary as much as people do. Each has its own style of doing business. The best propane companies will not only sell and deliver propane at a fair price but they will provide other services too. Installation of the storage container and piping system should be the least of these services.

  • Do they offer automatic delivery or do you have to monitor the level in your storage tank? If not, there may be special fees or charges for delivery.
  • Does the company conform to local, state and national safety and code standards?
  • Will they perform a nationally-recognized safety test of your system?

If you are satisfied with all the answers, then this is the company for you!

What is propane gas used for in homes?

Woman researching propane use and safety information

Most people are familiar with propane as a fuel for cooking, hot water and heating. Everyone appreciates the low-maintenance of beautiful gas fireplaces and cast-iron stoves, and the warmth of a shower with water heated by propane. For those who live "off the grid," or experience power failures, gas refrigerators and gas lighting sure make life easier, and propane heaters can continue to heat your home when the power is out. It is ideal for backup generators, too, where gasoline or diesel goes bad after being stored too long. Propane-powered mosquito catchers can be used in your backyard to control mosquitoes where they are a nuisance or health hazard. New uses for propane are being invented every day, too! Scientists are using propane in development of fuel cells, cogeneration and distributed generation systems.

How and where is propane gas stored?

One of the qualities that make propane so popular is that it can easily be stored. At a customer's home, it is usually stored in steel or aluminum tanks. Tanks can come in the form of large bulk storage tanks, holding tens of thousands of gallons of propane. They can also be very small, like the 1-pound cylinders used with a propane torch for soldering. Legally, propane cylinders larger than the 1-pound cylinder for soldering must be stored outdoors at all times. This includes small cylinders for a barbeque grill. Propane for wholesale use is stored in salt caverns, like the ones in Harford, NY, and Watkins Glen, NY, awaiting the winter season.

What are the advantages of central heating with propane?

Unlike electricity, propane delivers heat at a consistent temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Electric heat pumps deliver at 98.6 degrees. Propane-heated air feels warm and cozy at 120 degrees, whereas electric pump air at 98.6 degrees feels cooler. The lifespan of an average propane furnace is 8 years longer than that of an electric furnace and the cost of repairing a propane furnace is lower than the cost of repairing its electric counterpart.

There are environmental savings as well. Electricity is touted as being 100% efficient, but that is at the appliance. The energy used in operating the generation plants then distributing that electricity to your home reduces the overall efficiency to only about 25%. Propane, on the other hand, from the oil or natural gas fields to the burner tip, is about 65% efficient. Don't just take our word for it, though. Check out the Energy Savings Calculator from the Propane Council. You can plug in information about your home and get an exact dollar-for-dollar comparison.

What options exist for making my propane gas tank less visible?

Simple landscaping, from plain grass to shrubs, is the easiest and most cost-effective way to hide your propane tank. Some people build screens or fences on one or more sides of the tank. Be sure to leave sufficient room so that your propane technicians can easily access the tank (Regulations call for 3 feet all around the tank). The tank may not be legally enclosed in any type of structure, and may not be located under a roof. Many customers prefer to hide the tank completely by burying it. Of course, this requires a tank manufactured specifically for underground use, and certain measures must be taken to prevent corrosion. But once the tank is in place, only a small, secured, dome protruding just inches above the ground is visible. The tank will remain hidden, silently supplying gas for the life of the home!