Guide to Used Propane Tanks
1. Cost--Buying a new propane tank can cost you 50% to 100% more than a used tank. When the price of steel increases, the new propane tank prices can soar too.
2. Availability Time--A new tank to your specifications can require several weeks to months for it to be built. If it is a distant manufacturer, then there are the additional transport costs. If you find a closer pressure vessel supplier, you need to consider their build schedule.
3. Sizing--It depends on how the tank will be used, bobtail refill station, rail bulk storage facility, single grain dryer, etc. Transport loads are about 9600 gallons, and you would need at least a 12,000 gallon tank to accept a transport load. Considering expansion room and not wanting to run it empty, a 14,000 gallon and up tank is preferred.
4. Age--Propane tank systems have been in use for seventy years and some folks consider older tanks much safer than newer tanks. As the price of steel has increased, the thickness of the steel used has been reduced resulting in a lower safety factor for new tanks.
5. Board Certification--Many tanks have National Board numbers or U1A reports, which mean that the specifications of that specific tank is on file and is fairly accessible for a certain fee. Tanks with the certifications can be used in more states and would have a greater resale value. Wisconsin, for instance requires this certification while most other states including Minnesota do not require it.
6. Governing Codes--Propane tanks/systems oversight is through the local fire marshal and each locality would determine the extent of what is required in their jurisdiction. Wisconsin systems require additional inspections and the State Fire Marshal needs to get involved for large systems. The NFPA-58 (National Fire Prevention Association) is the governing document. Thekey parts of the code to consider are the tank size and the set-backs from primary buildings, roads, equipment, and propertylines.
7. Manufacturer’s plate--Be careful to take care of the plate which was attached to the tank at the time of manufacture. If the plate is missing or comes off, you do not have a propane tank. It is hard to convince an inspector that the loose plate actually came from the tank you said it came from. Information on the tank gives specifications such as steel thickness, year, Board number if any, serial number, capacity in water gallons, manufacturer, length and diameter.