Above Ground vs. Underground Propane Tank

If you’re considering the use of propane as a heating fuel source for your home or business, you will need to install a tank to store the fuel reserves. Your choice essentially boils down to two options: an above ground or underground propane tank.
backyard propane tank

By evaluating several factors, you can determine which type is best for you and your property. Please note that it’s unsafe and often illegal to install a propane tank designed for above ground use under the ground. In any case, you should check to make sure your tank complies with all applicable EPA regulations and local zoning ordinances prior to installation.

Factors To Know Prior to Propane Installation


If you’re like most property owners, appearance is extremely important. Many view a propane tank as an unsightly eyesore that can reduce a property’s aesthetic and curb appeal. If you’re unable to install an above ground tank in a discreet location that is not easily seen, you might want to choose an underground model.


Cost is always a consideration when choosing between an above ground or underground propane tank. An underground tank requires the installation of additional protective equipment to prevent corrosion and possible groundwater contamination. When combined with the digging and backfilling involved with the site excavation, the total projected cost of an underground tank can be up to three times the cost of an above ground unit.


An above ground tank poses certain security risks that don’t exist with underground tanks. For instance, a highly visible above ground tank can be susceptible to vandalism, making it less desirable for property owners in high-crime areas. If your tank is located near a roadway or parking area, it can also be vulnerable to vehicle collisions.
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Underground tanks are better suited to handling extreme temperatures, particularly colder climates. Unlike above ground tanks, underground tanks are warmed by the earth, enabling them to continue to function at a high level even when the temperature dips well below zero.
Can A Propane Tank Freeze? >>

Floating Issues

There’s the possibility that an underground tank will float. This typically happens when the water level in the hole where the tank is buried rises above the level of the fuel inside the propane tank. Installing an underground tank on a concrete slab can minimize the floating risk. However, if you live in an area that is prone to flooding, an above ground tank may provide a better solution.


Above ground propane tanks are generally easier to maintain than underground units. Underground tanks contain an anti-corrosion component that must be inspected and tested on a regular basis, resulting in an additional cost to the owner. An improperly functioning anti-corrosion component will also need to be replaced.

Contact Foster Fuels to Learn More

Foster Fuels is a full-service propane heating fuel provider that has been in business since 1921. Contact us if you need help weighing your options regarding an above ground vs. underground propane tank installation.

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Post updated on January 14th, 2019

5 thoughts on “Above Ground vs. Underground Propane Tank”

  1. Miguel says:

    I want to install an above ground tank to feed a power generator

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thank you Miguel. We would be happy to help. Call us or contact us and send us your information and we will follow up with you.

  2. Ashley Turns says:

    Thanks for talking about how an underground unit is more capable of handling extreme temperatures. My husband and I are planning on getting a propane tank for our new home and are unsure whether to use an above ground one or an underground one. Since we are prone to get extremely cold winters in our area, my husband and I will definitely pick the latter choice for our propane tank.

  3. Kayla says:

    My brother and family just moved into their new house and there’s no energy source yet. It was stated here that underground tanks are a better choice than above ground. Moreover, having the tank underground poses only a few threat to security.

  4. Joy Butler says:

    I’m grateful for your advice about securing our propane tank. In my opinion, keeping valves turned off when not in use will help. But my concern is, how about if there is a smelly gas even if it’s already closed? And there no noticeable damage to it? What do we need to do?

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