Does Cold Affect a Propane Tank Level Gauge?
Similar to nearly all other types of materials, propane is affected by cold temperatures. As the temperature goes down, the propane gas contracts. That reduced level of gas in the tank is reflected by the gauge which reflects the level on the propane tank. Often, this comes into play whenever a homeowner checks the gauge during cold weather conditions and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending upon the conditions, the tank level might not rise as much as anticipated.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The gauge on the propane tank would show what portion of the gas tank is still full. Tanks are usually not filled over 80% full because this will allow for the gas to expand during hotter temperatures. Like for instance, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80% at normal temperatures reflects around 400 gallons of propane in the tank. This is around how much could be stored.
The propane industry manages the popular website Propane 101, that considers the propane reference point to be an exterior temperature of 60 degrees. 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 will have around 250 gallons of propane. If the temperature that day is much lower than 60 degrees, the gauge would read lower. In the same way, if the temperature is much higher than 60 degrees, the gauge will actually read higher because the gas expanded.
Effect of Expansion and Contraction
According to the information provided by the propane industry web site, the amount of energy contained in the tank does not really change when the gas contracts or expands. The amount of propane itself has not changed, but just the density of the gas has changed.
The homeowner who orders 100 gallons of propane will receive around 424 lbs. of propane. With the delivery of 100 gallons, the homeowner with a 1000 gallon propane tank can expect the guage to go up by 10%. These numbers would be correct if the temperatures were near 60 degrees at the time of delivery. If the delivery took place during colder weather, these chillier temperatures would result in a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.