Because inherent dangers are present with propane, the location of the tanks is regulated by many communities and by various government safety agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These regulations are in place for one purpose: to protect the health and safety of everyone near a propane tank and in surrounding areas. People involved with the storage or handling of propane should familiarize themselves with the placement safety guidelines.
Setback Restrictions From Buildings
OSHA has defined minimum distances between a propane tank and a building or dwelling. Any tank that holds up to 500 gallons must be at least 10 feet away from a building. A tank that holds 501 gallons to 2,000 gallons must be 25 feet away. A tank that holds 2,001 gallons to 30,000 gallons must be 50 feet away if buried underground and 75 feet away if above ground.
Bear in mind that these are OSHA mandates. Local communities may set ordinances that are stricter, such as a 500-gallon tank being required to be 100 feet away from a building. Check with your local building department before setting a tank.
Property Line Restrictions
Most, if not all, communities have property line setback restrictions for propane tanks. These stipulate the minimum distance between a tank and a property line. According to the National Fire Protection Association, tanks with a capacity of 501 gallons to 2,000 gallons cannot be placed closer than 25 feet to a property line. Again, local building department ordinances may have stricter guidelines. Check with local authorities on the setback restrictions.
Space Between Tanks
OSHA has specified the space between tanks, if multiple tank setups are used. The space between two or more tanks holding between 251 gallons and 2,000 gallons can be no less than 3 feet. The space between tanks of 2,001 gallons to 30,000 gallons can be no less than 5 feet. Again, local ordinances may supersede these minimum requirements.
OSHA does not allow stacking of tanks. This is a strong mandate, with no exceptions. If larger capacities of propane are needed, then the smaller tank must be removed and a larger single tank installed.
Tony Oldhand has been technical writing since 1995. He has worked in the skilled trades and diversified into Human Services in 1998, working with the developmentally disabled. He is also heavily involved in auto restoration and in the do-it-yourself sector of craftsman trades. Oldhand has an associate degree in electronics and has studied management at the State University of New York.