Proper Storage of Propane Gas Containers

Stocking up on propane? Here’s how to store your propane cylinders that are waiting to be used or are ready to be refilled.

The information in this guide was gathered from the National Fire Protection Agency, NFPA, Pamphlet 58, Chapter 8 Storage of Cylinders Awaiting Use, Resale, or Exchange.

This pamphlet refers to propane cylinders of 1000 lb (454 kg) of water capacity or less, which may be filled, partially filled or empty in these scenarios:

– Cylinders that are not connected to an appliance and are at a consumer location or dispensing station

– Not in use and kept in storage by a re-seller or to be exchanged by a dealer

Important Storage Tips for your Propane Container

Guidelines for areas to store gas cylinders

  • Propane tanks are affected by exposure to excessive temperature increases. It is best to keep the cylinder in a temperature-controlled location that is also safe from receiving any physical damage, such as being banged into, objects falling on to it, etc.
  • Store gas cylinders out of the way of heavy traffic areas used by people, including stairways, entryways and exits.
  • If storing a gas container with a water capacity more than 2.7 lb (1.1 kg), ensure that the pressure relief valve is in direct contact with the vapor space of the cylinder.
  • Gas containers that are empty though were previously used for LP gas service, these need to be considered as though they were full while stored indoors, using the same safety precautions.
  • To limit exposure to extreme heat and direct sunlight, do not store gas cylinders on the roof of a building.

Guidelines to store propane cylinders inside a building:

Heavily trafficked buildings:

  • For buildings that are frequented by people or have residents, the regulation is cylinders must not contain more than 200 lb (91 kg) of gas nor a water capacity of above 2.7 lb (1.1 kg)
  • For restaurants and food service areas, there is a limit to the number of butane 10 oz (283 g) non-refillable containers. The limit is no more than (24) containers can be stored in one area. Another (24) 10 oz. butane non-refillable containers can be stored in another location in the building that is separated by a minimum 2-hour fire wall protection.

Buildings not intended for public use:

  • The amount of gas in a storage area cannot exceed 735 lb (334 kg) of water capacity.
  • Storage of gas cylinders on the same floor must be separated by a minimum of 300 feet.
  • If service vehicles are carrying gas cylinders and are parked at the facility, this quantity is not considered part of the max quantity allowed because they are separated in the garage. These service vehicles are not allowed to carry more than three cylinders that must be under 100 lb of gas total.

Guidelines for storage within special buildings and rooms:

  • For this designation the maximum amount of LP gas that can be stored is 10,000 lb (4540 kg).
  • These designated rooms or buildings to store this capacity of LP gas must not share a property line with schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields or other areas meant for public gatherings.
  • Before constructing a designated location to house this capacity of LP Gas please refer to Chapter 10 of the NFPA Pamphlet 58. Other guidelines to follow include:
    • Proper ventilation that is specific to the top and bottom of the building and is 5 feet in distance away from any building opening.
    • Referring to Section 6.20, this building will be designated for the strict purpose of ignition source control

Guidelines for storage within residential buildings:

  • Referring to the basement, garage or designated storage area in a residential building, gas cylinders must not exceed 2.7 lb (1.2 kg) of water capacity. For smaller containers stored in each living space, the total amount must not exceed 5.4 lb (2.4 kg) of water capacity.

Guidelines for storing gas cylinders outside of a building:

  • There must be a distance of 5 ft. (1.5 m) between the gas cylinder and any opening to a building that is trafficked by the public and has two exit ways, as defined by the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.
  • If a building has only one exit way, the gas cylinders need to be at least 10 ft (3 m) away from the opening to the building.
  • A distance of at least 20 ft (6.1 m) is required at an automotive service station fuel dispenser.

While storing gas containers outside of a building the following need to be considered:

  • The distance from the closest building(s) of importance
  • Distance from the nearest property line that may be built on
  • The distance from a heavily trafficked walkway or sidewalk
  • The distance from adjacent property for schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields or other areas intended for public gatherings
  • The distance from a dispensing station

Cylinders exempt from these regulations are those in the process of being filled.

Guidelines for protecting the cylinder while in storage:

  • Please refer to section for the proper enclosure required for gas containers that are stored in a location that is open to the public. Gas containers may also be locked in a ventilated metal locker to deter and prevent tampering with the valves or the container itself.
  • Another important factor is protection against any possible vehicle impact by safeguarding the cylinders through engineering practices.

Alternative location and storage protection:

  • In the event that previously mentioned guidelines are unattainable at construction sites or with buildings undergoing major renovation or repairs, alternate storage must be approved by the jurisdiction in authority.

 Guidelines for protecting the valves of the cylinder while in storage:

  • The cylinder outlets must remain closed during storage whether they are full, partially full, or empty containers. All screw caps must be placed on and secured.
  • For containers with less than 108 lb (49 kg) water capacity, valve outlets must be sealed per
    • Please refer to sections and to be in accordance with regulations on protecting valves in storage.

 Protecting against fire:

An approved portable fire extinguisher with a minimum capacity of 18 lb (9.2 kg) of dry chemical with a B:C rating, must be stored in the area where the gas cylinders stored total a quantity of gas that exceeds 720 lb (327 kg)

This fire extinguisher must be within 50 ft (15 m) from the storage facility of gas cylinders.