Does Cold Truly Affect a Propane Tank Level Gauge?
Similar to the majority of other kinds 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 that reflects the level on the propane tank. Usually, this occurs whenever a homeowner checks the gauge in cold conditions and sees the amount of the tank level before and after delivery. Depending upon the weather, the level on the tank might not go up as much as expected.
Propane Tank Level Gauge
The propane tank's gauge shows you what portion of the tank is full. Usually, tanks are not filled more than 80% so as to allow the gas to expand during warm temperatures. Like for example, a 500 gallon tank, at a reading of 80% at normal temperatures reflects approximately 400 gallons of propane in the tank. This is roughly how much can be stored.
The website 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% of capacity on a day when the temperature is near 60 degrees, then a 500 gallon tank would have roughly 250 gallons of propane. If the temperature that same day is a lot lower than 60 degrees, the gauge would read lower. Similarly, if the temperature is a lot higher than 60 degrees, the gauge will actually read higher because the gas expanded.
Effect of Contraction and Expansion
Based on the information given by the propane industry website, the amount of energy contained in the tank does not actually change as the gas expands or contracts. 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 would receive approximately 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 will 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 will cause a smaller increase reading on the propane gauge.