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Brian Reed

Firing With Propane, When To Upgrade Tank?

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I have been firing with Propane for a couple of years.  I have a small updraft kiln and have been firing it with a pair of 100lb (26 gallon)propane tanks, in a dual tank configuration and I run then both at the same time.  I get three firing out of the two tanks, then have to haul them down to the local farm co-op to refill them.  I am getting a new larger kiln next weekend, but the burner configuration is the same so the BTUs should be pretty close as well.  I am sure it will use more volume of gas as it has to heat up more mass.  My question is when is the right time to upgrade and which option is best.

 

1.  Just buy another 100lb tank to add in series and keep going with 3 firings per refill.  This is the cheapest option as the tanks are cheap.  However I would still need to go down to refill them.  Perhaps I could call a mobile refill company and have them come to me, but with such a low volume I bet I would have to pay a delivery charge.  They would not come out for 50 gallons of propane I am sure.

 

2.  Go buy a 250 gallon tank and then have a company come put the refill it when I need to, which may be every other month or so I would guess.

 

3.  Get a contract with a local propane provider and have them subsidize the 250 gallon tank and setup regular fill.  I assume this would be the most expensive.

 

So how do you do it.

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you can own your own large tank. (250, 500, 1000 gal)  If you own your own then you can have any propane company come out and fill it depending on there price.

 

I have a 500 gal tank that the gas company owns but I am not on contract.  They only fill when i call and ask them to.  This keeps my price down because I can call when price is low (like in spring) and avoid costly early or mid winter fills.  But i dont own the tank, so I have to get gas from them.

 

fill contracts will have gas delivered monthly or every other month on an avg price for the year amount.   Lots of people like it because it spreads out the cost of the fuel over the entire year, but you end up playing much more for the gas because the price can be a lot higher than actual cost for most of the year.

 

In my area propane tanks come up on Criagslist often.    100lb can be had for $40 and 500 gal can be had for several hundred.

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I would go with the bigger tank as well. The 500 lb tank should be big enough. They will come out and fill it, so you have to locate it where a big truck with a hose can get to it. You can probably sell your used propane tanks back to your supplier. Fire them empty first of course. Driving around with two 100 lb propane tanks in the back of a truck can be a bit dangerous. People look at you funny when you go through the drive through to order a Coke/Pepsi and you've got these two towering silver tanks sticking up over the cab of your borrowed truck.You do get respect at red lights though-people don't run the yellow when they see you coming.

TJR.

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Basically....... what Neil said.

 

If you have a large storage tank........ you can buy when the market is down.  THAT is a huge advantage.  Plus typically, filling tanks like you are doing is usually a much higher price per gallon for gas than bulk delivery gas.

 

best,

 

......................john

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When I was in eastern Colorado I joined a propane Co-op. I bought a 1,000 gal tank through the Co-op. I was able put the tank on a payment plan over three years. I would fill it in Spring when the price was low and top it off in Sept before winter prices increased.

 

If you are in a suburban area, your HOA regulations or your CC&Rs may restrict the tank size.

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If every method works, then just for what is cheapest and/or easiest. Sometimes it's worth paying for convenience.

I would pay for the convenience myself as the larger tank is easiest

You can set it up where they come every so often or when you call them

Inquire on the options- usually they provide the tank for free or low cost.

MArk

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Thought I would circle back around and let you all know what I have found out and what I have decided.  I called a local Propane dealer, not a big national company, but locally owned place that have been delivering propane in my area for a long time.  I thought that I would get a 250 gallon tank and after talking with them about my needs and where I plan on placing the tanks and usage\rules, they suggested two 120 gallon tanks run in parallel.  Which is similar to what I do today just with smaller tanks.  The leasing of the tanks is super economical and much cheaper that buying tanks, and they have a very nice price on propane; the day I called it was $1.78 a gallon which is far lower than I have ever paid at the local farmer co-op.  They do have a minimum yearly amount that I need to buy, but with my usage I will far exceed that, so no issues there. They can either fill it up when they get low with some sort of system that tells them it is low, or I can call when I need a refill.  I will opt for the latter and call when I need a refill. 

 

Anyway thought I would let you all know what I decided, thanks for the input. 

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sounds good.  Remember to record the price you paid and the date.   make shure to call every few months to check the price to get an idea of how the price will change throughout the year so you can plan your refills for low price times.

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$1.78 a gallon!!!!!!!!  Holy crap.  Out here on the northeast of the East Coast ........ it is closer to $3.50 a gallon or more from all suppliers... and that is the bulk rate.  Amazing.

 

best,

 

...............john

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I would just setup a contract with your local propane provider.  The guys I go through for my 100 lb tank rentals are really great to deal with, low rental costs and the hassle of ownership is on them, if anything goes wrong.

 

hey,

     You might want to go the route Tyler has, because 2 weeks ago I asked the propane co. down the road just how much a new 250 gallon tank was,

and it is about $1,000.  See if you can rent, or buy a used one.  Sometimes they show up in the classifieds.  Every propane co. I see  has at least 30

tanks sitting in the back waiting for someone to rent or buy.  I asked the mgr. about my 250 gal. tank since it was made in 1980 and he said that

rust was ok but any pitting of the metal would be a concern, but they would be glad to check it out before it was re-filled.

Good luck,

Alabama

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