Does Cold Affect the Level Gauge on a Propane Tank?
Propane is similar to nearly all other kinds of materials in that it is affected by cold temperatures. The propane gas contracts as the temperature declines. That reduced level of gas inside the tank is reflected by the gauge that reflects the level on the tank. Often, this happens whenever a homeowner checks the gauge in cold climate and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending upon the conditions, the tank level might not go up as much as anticipated.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The propane tank's gauge shows you what fraction of the tank is full. Typically, tanks are not filled more than 80% in order to enable the gas to expand on hot days. For example, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80 percent at normal temperatures reflects approximately 400 gallons of propane in the tank. This is roughly the amount that can be stored.
The propane industry manages the popular website Propane 101, which considers the propane baseline point to be an exterior temperature of 60 degrees. 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 contain approximately 250 gallons of propane. If the temperature that same day is a lot lower than 60 degrees, the gauge will read lower. In the same way, if the temperature is much higher than 60 degrees, the gauge would actually read higher due to the expansion of the gas.
Effect of Expansion and Contraction
Based on the information given by the propane industry website, the amount of energy contained within the tank does not really change as the gas contracts or expands. The amount of propane itself has not changed, but just the density of the gas has changed.
If a homeowner orders 100 gallons of propane to be delivered, they would be given 424 pounds of propane. If the homeowner has a 1000 gallon propane tank, they could expect the gauge to go up by 10% with the delivery of 100 gallons. These numbers will be correct if the temperatures were close to 60 degrees at the time of delivery. If the delivery took place during colder weather, these chillier temperatures will cause a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.