Does Cold Truly Affect a Propane Tank Level Gauge?
Similar to nearly all other kinds of materials, propane is affected by cold temperatures. As the temperature declines, the propane gas contracts. That reduced level of gas inside the tank is reflected by the gauge that reflects the tank level. Normally, this happens whenever a homeowner checks the gauge during cold weather conditions and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending on the weather, the level on the tank might not rise as much as expected.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The gauge on the propane tank will show what fraction of the gas tank is still full. Tanks are usually not filled more than 80% full because this would allow for the gas to expand on warmer temperatures. Like for instance, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80 percent at normal temperatures reflects approximately 400 gallons of propane in the tank. This is around how much can be stored.
The website Propane 101, which is operated by the propane industry, considers an exterior temperature of 60 degrees to be the reference or baseline point. For example, if the gauge reads 50 percent of capacity on a day when the temperature is near 60 degrees, then a 500 gallon tank will contain approximately 250 gallons of propane. If the temperature that day is a lot lower than 60 degrees, the gauge will read lower. Similarly, if the temperature is much higher than 60 degrees, the gauge will actually read higher because the gas expanded.
Effect of Expansion and Contraction
Based on the information provided by the propane industry web site, the amount of energy contained inside the tank does not really change when the gas contracts or expands. The amount of propane itself has not changed, but only the density of the gas has changed.
If a homeowner orders 100 gallons of propane to be delivered, they would be given 424 lbs. of propane. If the homeowner has a 1000 gallon propane tank, they can expect the gauge to go up by 10% with the delivery of 100 gallons. These numbers would be accurate if the temperatures were close to 60 degrees at the time of delivery. If the delivery happened during colder weather, these chillier temperatures will cause a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.
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