How Can I Prevent My Propane Tank from Freezing?

Whether you’re on the jobsite, tailgating before the game, or taking your RV out in winter months, you’ll need to put your trust in your propane tank to keep the operation rolling. 

Propane, sometimes referred to as liquid petroleum gas, is an eco-friendly, safe, and low-cost option for powering your home appliances or business operation. Propane is multifunctional, stores easily, and has a long shelf life. It’s still crucial, though, to store propane tanks or cylinders properly to keep you and your propane safe all year long. 

This year, be prepared when colder weather arrives. Cold temperatures often have adverse effects on equipment and materials like propane tanks, especially when the job requires every moving part to go smoothly. Without an effective solution to these freezing temperature problems, the project stops, time and money are lost, and you suffer. 

Learn how to keep propane tanks from freezing and make the most of your propane tanks pressure by preparing it for cold weather conditions.

Does Propane Freeze?

Technically speaking, yes, propane can freeze. The propane isn’t what you should be worried about, though, but rather the tank. If liquid propane falls below -306°F, it will freeze. Inside of the tank, propane is found in a liquid form. Luckily, propane tanks are built to protect propane and utilize its heating capabilities in its gas form.  As liquid propane leaves the tank, it reaches its boiling point (-44°F) and returns to a gaseous state, powering your grill, water heater, or other appliances. 

While it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find yourself or your propane tank in temperatures this cold, your tank and its functions will still be affected by general cold weather. Low pressure, minimal production, and weathered or deteriorated tanks are a few of those effects. Read on to learn some helpful tips for protecting your propane tanks from freezing conditions. 

Keep It Full

What’s one of the best ways to prevent your propane tank from freezing? The answer’s simple: keep it full. Skip the exchange and refill your tank more often. Not only is it cheaper, you’ll save yourself from the inconvenience of a frozen tank. According to U-Haul, a company that many are surprised to learn offers propane refill services, you can save an average of $1.76 per gallon if you refill your propane tank instead of exchanging it. Not only that, you won’t let any propane go to waste if you choose to fill it up before it’s completely empty.

Keep Up the Pressure

Propane contracts as temperatures drop, so the colder the ambient weather, the slower the flow will be. This change in the rate of pressure can cause your tank to “freeze up”. As the temperature drops, the total volume of liquid propane in your tank drops, and so does pressure. In conditions as high as 60°F, you may have noticed an obvious change in the pressure of your propane tank. 

There are more than a few ways to avoid low pressure propane tanks. One of those is by keeping it full as often as possible. Depew Energy suggests that you keep your propane tank at least 30% full at all times to maintain positive pressure. 

The warmer your propane tank is kept, the higher your pressure output will be. Refer to the chart below to determine the ideal temperature for your desired PSI. 

When utilizing an option like a heated blanket to keep your propane tank warm, it is important to know how many watts are necessary to obtain the PSI levels desired or required. If it is not possible to calculate this yourself, you will want to look for a solution that can provide that information for you before you make the investment. 


Propane tank temperature efficiency

Check out this article for more helpful information on propane pressure upkeep. 

Ways to avoid pressure problems:

  • Keep propane tanks and regulators clear of snow
  • Maintain propane tank warmth using a heating blanket
  • Keep the tank full, never let it drop below 30%
  • Always store propane cylinders in an upright position, never upside-down or on their side
  • Protect your tank from freezing due to outdoor elements, but always keep it outdoors in a well-ventilated area
  • When not in use, be certain that the propane tanks gas valve is turned to “off”

Keep It Stored

Where should you store your propane tank? It’s best to store your propane tanks in a well-ventilated and cool area. While it can be tempting to keep your propane in a temperature-regulated area like a garage or a basement, the potential dangers aren’t worth the risk. 

The ideal place to store your propane tanks is outdoors in a shaded, dry place. Rain, snow, and humidity cause rusting which deteriorates the tank and decreases its lifespan. 

What sort of temperatures can a propane tank withstand? According to Amerigas, you should avoid storing propane tanks at or subjecting them to any temperatures above 120°F and below -40°F. While those are both extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum, it’s wise to take extra care by never storing your propane tanks in direct sunlight and always keeping them clear of ice and snow.

Keep It Warm

Depending on where you work or live, storing propane tanks outdoors means keeping them in freezing conditions. We get that it’s not an ideal situation and likely a recipe for low tank pressure and a bad headache. There are plenty of solutions, however, for when you need to store propane tanks outside in winter conditions.

To avoid tank freezing and low pressure, keep the tank free from any ice, sleet, or snow buildup. If it snows, clear off the tanks, valves, and regulators immediately. Not only will this keep them warm and well-pressurized, you’ll save them from rust and unnecessary wear. 

Another solution would be to utilize propane tank heating systems. Try to find a heating method with safe heat, such as a heating blanket or insulated blanket, depending upon the amount of pressure needed. Look for a heating solution that offers consistent heat and complete coverage. Keeping liquid propane at warmer temperatures will increase the pressure output and save you the headaches that come with low PSI. This constant regulation of tank temperature could be what saves your bacon during winter conditions.

Need to protect your propane tank from freezing? Give us a call and talk to a Powerblanket heating expert today. 888-316-6324, or visit our Propane Tank Heater page HERE.

 

Get the Propane Guide

 

Learn More About Propane Tank Heaters

Product Spotlight: Gas Cylinder Heaters

Do you store gas in cylinders? If so, then you know how the cold can affect them, even during this mild winter. In order to keep your storage from being compromised by a drop in temperature, you need a solution that can both insulate and heat. This is where Powerblanket® Gas Cylinder Heaters come into play.

 

Pressure and Depletion

Let’s face it, this is one of the mildest winters North America has seen in a very long time, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t getting cold enough to affect equipment and resources left out in the dropping temperatures, even though they aren’t dropping as low as usual. As far as gas storage goes, if you’re storing it in gas cylinders, you’re likely keeping it outside, and if it’s outside, it’s going to lose pressure—causing depletion and problems with extraction.

When you store pressurized gas in cold temperatures, or any temperature below ideal, then the pressure in your tank is going to be far less than efficient. This is simply due to the molecules of gas moving closer together, just like in your car’s tires. And of course, as the molecules move closer together, the pressure drastically drops. This means when it comes time for extracting the gas from your tank or cylinder, you’re going to run into troubles; it’s going to seem like there isn’t as much gas in there.

 

Powerblanket® Gas Cylinder Heaters

Powerblanket® Gas Cylinder Heaters solve this problem by adding a protective barrier that both insulates and heats your tank or cylinder to the ideal temperature needed for optimal pressure maintenance. Powerblanket offers a range of gas cylinder heaters equipped for maintaining temperatures of propane, butane, nitrogen, oxygen, and other compressed gases. Powerblanket® Gas Cylinder Heaters offer uniform heat distribution across the entire cylinder. This revolutionary heating solution reduces costs by optimizing container temperatures and increasing cylinder efficiency.

What’s more, the Powerblanket® product line is designed for any heating job. Every product is built using a rugged vinyl shell that is safe to use in temperatures as low as -20° F. So in other words, Powerblanket products can keep your equipment protected well below freezing.

 

Standout Features

  • Increases performance and efficiency of gas cylinders
  • Provides even heat distribution
  • Saves money by optimizing gas and material usage
  • Safety certified by UL/CSA/CE
  • Eliminates unnecessary cylinder refills in cold weather

 

 


Welding Preheating

Welding Preheating

Prepping pipes and other surfaces for welding can be a real challenge since metal surfaces often need to be hot before you begin. If the metal isn’t hot enough before you start welding, it will affect the cooling rate. If a weld cools too quickly, the metal could go into shock and cause fabrication hydrogen cracking. There are many metal preheating methods. Some of these include: furnace heating, torching, electrical strip heaters, induction heating, and radiation heating, and welding preheat blankets.

Why Preheat Metal?

When you preheat and post-heat the metal, it allows for better hydrogen diffusion; up to 1000 times more diffusion at 250 °F (121 °C) than at room temperature (68 °F, 20 °C). Cracking risks reduce as more hydrogen diffuses after the weld is complete.

man in helmet welding pipes

Types of Heat Transfer

There are 3 main types of heat transfer: convection, radiation, and conduction. All 3 methods are useful in different applications. Let’s take a closer look.

Convection

Convection transfers heat around a space by the movement of molecules. For example, the rolling circular motion within a pot of boiling water is convection heating.

Radiation

Radiation is the transfer of heat through electromagnetic radiation. Radiant heating is what you can feel in the air when you sit around a campfire.

Conduction

Conduction transfers heat through direct surface contact. This is the most efficient heat transfer method to use when preheating a wide variety of metal surfaces for welding. Radiant heat will waste time and energy heating the air around the metal instead of the metal itself. Direct contact will ensure even, consistent heat over the surface of your welding materials.

Let’s compare 2 different welding preheating methods. Induction heating using radiation and heating blankets using conduction.

Induction Heating vs. Heating Blankets

Induction heating involves coiling a conductive metal object around the surface or container that needs to be heated. Electromagnetic currents then circulate and heat the object they surround. Once these metal coils are in place, they are not easy to remove and re-install. Induction heating is well suited for objects needing continual applied heat in a fixed, controlled location. Induction is commonly used in factories, where long strips of piping are continuously fed through the center of inductive heating coils.

However, for field work welding and on site repairs, induction is not a practical solution, especially in colder weather. Welding in a dynamic environment requires more portable and flexible preheating options. High temperature heating blankets are flexible enough to conform to and heat any metal in need of welding. They also use conductive heating that evenly distributes across the entire metal surface.

Powerblanket diagram on heat transfer in heating blankets

Welding preheat blankets are easily installed, removed, stored, and placed in another welding location.

Powerblanket Welding Preheating Solutions

High Temperature Heating Blankets

Powerblanket specializes in innovative heating solutions that fit a wide variety of surface shapes, and can be used in a myriad of locations. Our portable heating blankets come in every shape and size to accommodate any welding job.

Powerblanket diagram showing even heat distribution in our heating blankets blankets

Thick insulation and efficient heating spreading technology drive heat downward into your welding surface, eliminating hot and cold spots.

At Powerblanket, we also provide heating blankets that are certified to be used within hazardous locations. Safely preheat metals in C1D2 locations, so you can weld wherever needed.

Gas Cylinder Heaters

Our gas cylinder heaters and propane tank heaters are the perfect fit for tank welding jobs. With a large selection of sizes available, Powerblanket can fit and preheat any sized tank, even when welding in the coldest of conditions.

Contact us to find the perfect preheating solution for your welding needs at 866.945.4203 or [email protected]