If you use 600 gallons or more of propane per year, an underground propane tank can be a great option, but what are the benefits and drawbacks?
This article explains the most important underground propane tank pros and cons to be aware of before purchasing or leasing one.
By the end of the investigation, you should be well on your way to making a more informed final decision!
underground propane tank pros and cons
If you’ve been considering installing an underground propane tank, here are the benefits and drawbacks to consider, starting with the benefits.
Advantages of a Subterranean Propane Tank
There’s a lot to like about a propane gas tank that’s below ground.
People wouldn’t be installing them at the rate they are if there weren’t any (the most popular size among homeowners is the 500 gal. tank).
The following are some of the most well-known underground propane tank experts:
• It isn’t a blight on the neighborhood
The most significant disadvantage of above-ground tanks is that they are often an eyesore (or worse) unless you take the extra step of concealing them in your yard (at an additional cost!).
Your underground tank, on the other hand, will be buried beneath the ground and will only be visible through a small dome (to allow access to the valves, filling port, and regulators for service).
In fact, you’ll do very little damage to the yard because only minor excavation is required.
Plus, you can use creative landscaping to hide the dome in the area around the tank, making your yard look more pristine.
This is not a point to be taken lightly: underground propane tanks can cause property prices to rise.
• It is more resistant to environmental factors.
Because they are exposed to extreme weather conditions and other types of elements, above ground tanks are more easily damaged than underground tanks.
The installation of underground tanks, on the other hand, necessitates the addition of several safeguards.
These are some of them:
• Special coating – underground propane tanks are treated with a special coating to prevent rusting and corrosion.
• Sacrificial anodes (a type of cathodic protection in which two or more metals encased in bags corrode away instead of the tank) are attached to all underground propane tanks prior to installation to further prevent rusting and corrosion.
Remember that the tank is already protected from various elements that can harm above-ground tanks (due to the fact that it is buried beneath the earth).
Furthermore, because leaks are generally restrained by the soil, an underground propane tank is a safer bet when it comes to dangers such as a propane leak.
In a nutshell, an underground tank may last longer than an above-ground tank because it cannot be damaged by falling trees and is more difficult to vandalize.
• It works better in colder climates.
If you live in an area where average temperatures are frequently below freezing, an underground propane tank is the best option.
The reason for this is simple: because the tank is buried in warm earth, it is unlikely to be affected by drastic temperature changes. As a result, even in colder climates, the tank continues to function effectively.
Issues with underground propane tanks
When it comes to the other side of the coin, there are a few major drawbacks to consider as you weigh your options.
• It can float in the event of a flood.
The risk of “floating” is one of the most serious disadvantages of buried propane tanks.
Although it is not a common occurrence, the tank can “float” underground if the water level (in the pit) rises above the current propane level (in your tank).
This could be especially problematic for those who live in flood-prone areas.
On a more positive note, you can avoid this snafu by ensuring that the tank is properly installed on a firm foundation and then secured to prevent it from moving.
• It could pose unique safety issues.
While underground propane tanks have proven to be extremely safe to use over time, they do pose a number of unique safety concerns.
For example, detecting a leak requires more effort than detecting a leak in above-ground tanks.
Second, natural underground pressures can cause it to warp over time.
The good news is that routine inspections can help you detect such issues before they become costly.
• It is more expensive to install.
The installation cost is another noteworthy concern (though it isn’t a problem in and of itself).
Installing a below-ground propane tank is generally more expensive than installing an above-ground propane tank.
If you’re wondering what causes the price to rise, consider the following:
Underground propane tanks, on the other hand, necessitate more labor and equipment (remember, there’s some excavation involved) as well as additional procedures for safe and efficient use.
For example, you must pay for the anti-corrosion protection features mentioned earlier.
There are also some permits that must be paid for, the amount of which is determined by your local code.
All of this comes at a premium for the homeowner.
So, how significant is the price difference?
Well, it varies by location (safety regulations and codes differ, affecting cost), but you could end up paying more than twice as much for an above-ground propane tank!
Of course, if you critically evaluate all of the discussed underground propane tank advantages and disadvantages, you could argue that it’s all worth it.
In summary, the following are the main advantages and disadvantages of underground propane tanks:
On the plus side, it improves the curb appeal of your backyard, makes it more resistant to the elements, and allows it to function more efficiently in colder climates.
The higher installation cost, the possibility of “floating” if improperly installed, and the issue of possible peculiar safety issues are, on the other hand, its major flaws.
If you’re still undecided after reading this analysis, your local propane provider can assist you in deciding between an above-ground and underground tank.