Propane pricing has fluctuated in recent years. This has left Americans to wonder if there is something that they can do to insulate themselves from a potentially expensive winter. There are some suppliers that can offer a ceiling or fixed rate but not all of them will do that.

When you miss on those fixed rates, it can be slim pickings as far as your choices. But what about owning your own propane tank? It can be cheaper, but it depends on the initial costs of your tank and the rates currently in your area.

What are Your Options?

When it comes to your propane consumption, there are really only two options: rent or buy. There are rent-to-own agreements out there, but they are pretty rare to find. Each side of the equation has its pros and cons.

Average Cost of Propane Tanks

National Average Cost $1,411
Minimum Cost $35
Maximum Cost $4,500
Average Range $560-$2,480

Owning a Tank Gives You the Ability to Get Better Rates

When you don’t own a propane tank, you are stuck. Your options are limited and getting locked into a rate you don’t like is more than likely going to happen. But when you own your own tank, you can shop around.

If you are renting your tank, you are stuck using that supplier and whatever rate they may be running at that time.

But when you own your own tank, you can shop around and find the best current rate. That alone can be enough to save you some money in the long run if you can consistently find the lowest rates around.

No Rental Costs or Minimum Annual Consumption Costs

While renting may not have the initial upfront costs involved that buying does, there are hang-ups that you need to be aware of. When you rent, there will be rental fees involved and could even be minimum consumption fees.

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It doesn’t matter if it is a line item on your bill, that rental cost is a way for the supplier to recoup on that asset that is sitting on your property. They can also race their prices by gallon to above what you would be able to get if you owned your own tank.

If you use your propane tank on a regular basis, it is probably a better idea to purchase your own. Yes, the initial costs are there but you may potentially save in the long-run because of the fees that can be associated with renting a tank.

Tank Customization

This might not be quite as important to some as others, but when you own your own propane tank you can do whatever you want with it. This can mean choosing whatever color you want as a decoration or even paint it up yourself.

The really creative types can put some stickers or paint up a cool design to really make it stand out. It is one of those smaller things that some people don’t think about, but it can be one of those little benefits to owning your propane tank. Besides, who doesn’t want a yellow submarine or something as cool in their yard.

The Size You’re Comfortable with

One of the great things about owning your own propane tank is that you can stay within the size range that makes you most comfortable. When you rent, you could end up getting stuck with a size that is either too big or too small and it will bug you every time that you see it.

When you are left to choose the tank that you want, you can even time is to buy in the summertime. This means that you can get rates at the lowest they will typically be, providing a big incentive for owning your propane tank.

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There are Cons

Like anything else in life, when there are plenty of good things to be aware of there are also bad things, too. Sure, owning your own propane tank can have plenty of benefits but there are also quite a few downsides to be aware of before making your purchase.

If There’s a Leak, You’re Stuck

When you rent your propane tank, you can turn to the supplier when there are issues. And unfortunately, leaks can occur. But when you own your own tank, there is no one to turn to other than yourself.

Worse than that, when you have a leak, that just means you are losing propane. That can really add up, especially if you don’t notice that there is a leak happening. This can be an expensive problem to have to deal with.

Initial Costs

One of the biggest reasons that people rent instead of buying is due to the upfront costs. On the low end, you are looking at $500 or so for a tank. And you generally don’t want to go cheap just for the sake of going cheap.

A tank will more likely run you over $1,000 and many people don’t simply have that kind of money accessible. Even if you do, you likely want to spend it on something other than a propane tank. That initial cost can be very off-putting to people looking into propane tanks.

If you’re in an area that doesn’t have much in the way of natural gas options, you can also get stuck with needing a propane tank. When you don’t have the option, it can be especially unfun to have to shell out that kind of money.

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When you Move, so does the Tank

Generally speaking, it can be pretty tough to get the buyer of a property to take the propane tank. There are some instances where they will take the entire property, tank and all, but there is a possibility that they will not.

If you can’t find a buyer that is willing to take the tank with them, you could be stuck having to move it or sell it to someone else. This presents stress and uncertainty that no one wants to have to deal with.

You Take on Liability

When you decide to purchase your own propane tank, make sure that you get insurance. If you are renting the tank, the supplier is liable should anything go wrong. When you own your tank, however, all of the liability falls on you.

Accident happen. That is why they are called “accidents.” Leaving yourself open to liabilities is a risk and a dangerous one at that. Protecting yourself means investing in the cost of insurance, adding to the total costs in the long run.

Is it Cheaper?

The short answer is “it depends how long you have it.” If you have a tank for a decade or more, saving on the various fees can be enough to offset the initial cost of purchasing the tank.

But, if you plan on moving sometime before that initial decade, it likely is cheaper to just rent. There are many perks to be had on both sides of the fence and it all depends on your commitment to that area and your options.

Going with natural gas is generally easier, but not everyone has that option. Take these factors into account before making your purchase or deciding to rent; the costs can be substantial either way you cut it.