Does Cold Affect the Level Gauge on a Propane Tank?
Propane is like most other kinds of materials in that it is affected by cold temperatures. The propane gas contracts as the temperature does down. That reduced level of gas inside the tank is reflected by the gauge which reflects the tank level. Often, this occurs whenever a homeowner checks the gauge in cold conditions and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending upon the climate, the tank level may not rise as much as expected.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The propane tanks guage would show what fraction of the gas tank is still full. Tanks are normally not filled over 80% full since this will allow for the gas to expand during warmer days. For example, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80 percent at normal temperatures reflects approximately 400 gallons of propane inside the tank. This is around the amount which is able to be stored.
The website Propane 101, that is managed by the propane industry, considers an exterior temperature of 60 degrees to be the baseline or reference point. Like for instance, if the gauge reads 50% of capacity on a day when the temperature is close to 60 degrees, then a 500 gallon tank would have approximately 250 gallons of propane. If the temperature that same day is much lower than 60 degrees, the gauge will read lower. Also, if the temperature is a lot higher than 60 degrees, the gauge will actually read higher due to the expansion of the gas.
Effect of Contraction and Expansion
Based on the information given by the propane industry web site, the amount of energy contained inside the tank does not actually change as 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 receive 424 pounds of propane. If the homeowner has a 1000 gallon propane tank, they may expect the gauge to go up by 10% with the delivery of 100 gallons. These numbers would be accurate if the temperatures were near 60 degrees at the time of delivery. If the delivery took place during colder weather conditions, these chillier temperatures will cause a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.
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