Friday, February 6, 2015

It May Be Time to Replace the LP Gas Tank

Suburban Propane used to claim prices went up and down with petroleum prices.  Now they claim it is the opposite, so the next load is $3.79/gallon.  Putting in our own tank so we can buy from anyone starts to make more sense.


  1. Depending on what size, it may pay to get two tanks. Large ones. Locally, the "first fill" from every supplier I've contacted comes at a very reduced price, almost a dollar a gallon below "refill rate." And, with enough capacity, if one finds a deal one can capitalize on it. Plus, if the tanks are manifolded together, one can be shut off as "emergency storage." Two is one, one is none, etc.

  2. We did this about 2 years ago and it is definitely the way to go. Nothing like introducing the dreaded concept of "competition" into a pseudo-market to empower the consumer.

  3. I think we've discussed this a bit before:

    The new supply of LPG is fairly well fixed and inelastic WRT to demand, since it's a byproduct of natural gas production and crude oil refining. If crude goes down, that input will go down in price.

    There are 3 or so places in the US where it's store in huge caverns. There's also of course a transport network, local storage facilities, etc. etc.

    Demand, that's where things get really interesting with an uncoordinated supply. Last heating year, 2013-4, we had late wet harvests which upped demand from farmers to dry their grain prior to long term storage. And then a harsh winter.

    To my knowledge, and my mother heats with propane and my dad tracks this, the season started out well, but of course since then the weather's been pretty harsh; down here in SW Missouri the first half of January didn't rise above freezing, when normal winter days have a high in the mid '40s. So whatever blather they try to pawn off on you, you might not get much relief unless they did a bad job of hedging, or another local company did a lot better.

  4. Doing a web search shows that Propane suppliers are notorious for inflating prices and offering teaser rates for new customers so frequently switching is probably a good idea. They all do that to get customers to switch to them but then jack it up again after a few months.

    Are you leasing or own the tank outright? Since tanks are expensive and have to be certified that can create a wrinkle in switching.

    I would also consider a wood or pellet stove to augment your heating load or even heating a single room with electric over keeping the entire house warm during the winter to reduce gas usage. Rooms that aren't being used usually don't need to be toasty warm.

    I trust since you have a newer home it is well insulated and doesn't have leaky windows/doors, etc but another thing to consider if your consumption is high.

    Unfortunately the propane distribution system is something of a racket. My grandfather used propane (1970's to early 90's) and I remember his complaining about it. He always wanted to switch to NG, but being in a rural area miles from the lines makes that impossible....

  5. Make sure that you can get YOUR tank filled. My buddy uses propane, bought a tank, then had to sell it to his supplier to get it filled, they wouldn't touch someone else's tank. Also, if you buy a tank, be certain that it's OK to be filled. My buddy said that his supplier told him if the tag is still on the tank, even if held by only one corner, it's good to go. No tag, no fill.

    You might also look into a pellet/corn stove. Two friends of mine use wood pellets, and found that Lowes will even deliver them. The stoves are about as complicated to operate as a typical cookstove. Pellets cost about $200.00/ton around here. (SE Michigan)

  6. A friend from church just went through this experience,