Does Cold Affect a Propane Tank Level Gauge?
Similar to nearly all other types of materials, propane is affected by cold temperatures. When the temperature goes down, the propane gas contracts. That reduced level of gas inside the tank is reflected by the gauge which reflects the level on the tank. Normally, this comes into play whenever a homeowner checks the gauge during cold climate and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending upon the weather conditions, the tank level might not rise as much as anticipated.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The propane tanks guage will show what percentage of the gas tank is still full. Tanks are usually not filled more than 80% full because this will allow for the gas to expand on warmer temperatures. For instance, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80% at normal temperatures reflects about 400 gallons of propane inside the tank. This is around how much could be stored.
The web site Propane 101, which is managed by the propane industry, considers an exterior temperature of 60 degrees to be the baseline or reference point. For example, if the gauge reads 50 percent of capacity on a day when the temperature is close to 60 degrees, then a 500 gallon tank would contain about 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 would actually read higher due to the expansion of the gas.
Effect of Expansion and Contraction
The amount of energy contained or energy contained in a tank will not change when the gas either contracts or expands, based on the propane industry web site. The amount of propane itself has not changed, but only the density of the gas has changed.
The homeowner who orders 100 gallons of propane will be given around 424 lbs. of propane. With the delivery of 100 gallons, the homeowner with a 1000 gallon propane tank could expect the guage to go up by 10%. These numbers will be correct if the temperatures were near 60 degrees at the time of delivery. If the delivery happened during colder weather conditions, these chillier temperatures will result in a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.