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Can You Lay a Propane Tank on Its Side? (Answered)

Propane has gained its fame in households and industries for its utility and versatility. For hot water, room heater, pool heater, generator, barbeque grill, dryer, and fireplace, this is an essential component. Propane tanks are used both inside and outside. Generally, a propane tank comes in a cylinder or tank. It is a very flammable and dangerous product with a high risk of fire accidents.

So, while transporting or installing you should know the proper way of handling it to avoid causalities and fire accidents.

Lay a propane tank on its side

A propane tank shouldn’t be carried or stored horizontally, otherwise; the seal can easily impair due to pressure. It must always be transported in a vertical, upright position. Whether the propane inside the tank is in gas or liquid form, the pickup point should be above the gas or liquid level.

Propane tanks should always take the upright position. Their relief valve should never be out of direct contact with the container’s vapor space. Tanks that are manufactured to store in an upright position will have the relief valve located on the top to communicate with the vapor space.

About the tank relief valve, it is very crucial to keep the valve away from anything which can come into contact in case of an outbreak of propane to avoid causalities and fire risks. If the cylinder is stored in a horizontal manner, the safety relief valves, located on top of the tank, can open at any moment and the liquid propane can escape from the chamber in the blink of an eye.

Let’s see the potential dangers of laying the propane tank horizontally in different scenarios_

During transportation:

The propane tank is at the highest risk while transporting via truck or car. Due to the bumpy road and thrust, the relief valve can get loose, and the propane gas may escape. In an SUV or sedan, never carry tanks more than four. The capacity of each tank should not exceed 45lbs.

Always carry the tanks in a vertical position. Keep space in between and secure them with ropes and wrappers. You can use old milk crates to secure the tanks in a vertical position and to tie the knots easily.

Forklift cylinders are designed to position them in a horizontal position. But while transporting you should carry them vertically, in an upright position. If transported sidewise, there is a risk of rolling the tank and shifting the pressure relief valve from top to the bottom, in the liquid propane.

For 30 minutes:

If a vertical tank is laid horizontally for 30 minutes, the tank will allow the propane liquid for entry to the tube. This is not good news considering only the vapor is designed for the lines and regulators.

The horizontal laying creates intense pressure on the relief valves from the bottom. If the tank were in the proper position, gravity would pull off the pressure and keep the valves safe. But if the liquid is sidelined, the pressure moves horizontally.

For 30 minutes, the risk is not that heightened, but can’t be ignored as well. If the tank is laid on its side, move it to vertical position and give it a rest before releasing the valve.

To move:

While moving the tank, it is recommended to move them vertically. But due to the shape, it is not always viable. In such a situation, you can move the cylinder horizontally. But make sure to wait for 10 minutes after placing them correctly for the liquid to settle.

Can you lay a 100lb propane tank on its side?

It is very dangerous to lay a 100lb propane tank on its side. Propane tanks possess a relief valve that opens under severe pressure due to overfilling, fire, or any external influence. The relief valve must be in contact with vapor inside the tank but not the liquid inside.

If the relief valve opens in contact with liquid due to horizontal transportation, it will expel from the tank with the liquid propane. Liquid propane tends to expand and transform into gas at the ratio of 270:1. While in contact with air, considering the ratio of 10:1, you get the highest level of flammability.

So, you have 2700 ounces of vapor that is flammable from one ounce of liquid propane. Imagine the ounces of flammable vapor a 100lb propane tank can create. That is why in countries, they have made it illegal to lay or carry 100lb tanks horizontally.

What happens if a propane tank lays on its side?

The danger intensifies the minute you lay the propane tank on its side. Out of many misconceptions, one is that the propane inside the tank will be damaged. That is not true at all. The propane will be safe, but the relief valve will have a hard time cooperating.

Let’s find out the reasons for why you can’t lay a propane tank horizontally_

For proper utilization of relief valve.

When you don’t lay the tank vertically like it is designed, the pressure relief valve can not work properly. The upright position ensures the relief valve is not submerged in the liquid. Also, it makes sure that the relief valve is located in the vapor space, as per the requirement of the manufacturer.  If the valve fails to work, the internal pressure can rupture the tank and spill the propane. 

Bottom of the tank might fail:

In most scenarios, the propane tank explodes due to main two reasons. One is when the valve at the top fails, and the second is when the bottom rusted through. If a full, pressurized tank fails, a leak on the tank can convert the tank into a rocket. In such cases, it is more dangerous if the propane tank were laid on the side.

Rocket takes off sidewise:

If the tank was halfway full of liquid propane, then the liquid would be beneath the outlet of the top of the tank. So, in a normal scenario, the pressure inside is not mounting per se.

But if the full tank fails to comply, the ultimate consequence is rocket takeoff. So, when the tank is in the upright position, the rocket will take off vertically. But if you lay it on its side, the takeoff will be horizontally causing more chaos and disaster.

How do you transport a propane tank in a car?

A propane tank is at utmost danger while in transportation. The bumps and thrusts make an ideal scenario for an explosion and fire accident. So, you must know the proper way to transport the propane tank in a car to avoid any potentiality of accident.

Always maintain the limit:

In a SUV or sedan, you can’t carry more than four tanks in one go. Each tank should weigh 45lbs or less. Total weight should not be more than 90lbs.Make sure the keep a certain distance between the tanks and they are secured in upright position.

If the tank exceeds 50lbs, you should carry them in open truck or minibus for transportation. In an open trailer or pickup, the maximum weight you can carry is 1000lbs.  

Use propane tank stabilizer or holder:

According to your car model and size, you can find different types of holders in market. The holder will fit the tanks and secure them tightly.

Another good option old milk crates to secure the tanks inside car. But you need good quality of rope or twine to fix the tanks vertically. If the car has an anchor point, the securing with the rope will be easier.

Tie the tanks securely:

After you load the tanks in the car, find the anchor points of your car. Now, with rope, ratchet straps, or twine, firmly secure the tanks from the base. Now drag the rope on the top and give it is swirl. Then, near the foot right to secure the tanks in upright position.

Give the tanks a rest:

When you transport the tanks in a vehicle, the liquid inside moves and shakes. So, after unloading the tanks, it is important to give them a rest for 10 minutes before plugging them in with the appliance.

Final thoughts:

A propane tank should not be carried, transported, or placed on its side, horizontally. the relief valve must always be in contact with the vapor space, not the liquid. Even if the forklift tanks are designed for horizontal placing, you should move them in the upright position while transporting.