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Overthrowing Propane Feudal Overlords: minimum sized outdoor propane tank to run cook range?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by pybyr, Sep 10, 2008.

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  1. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Hello all-

    long story short, when I first gave my 35 year old electric cook range the heave-ho and switched to propane for cooking (in 1999), I got my tank and supply from a [then] local family owned company [Gauthiers], who assured me I'd _never_ incur any kind of "tank rent" It was a "handshake deal" as that's all that those country gents ever did, and it was clear that they were good for their word 'til their dying (or retiring) day.

    my propane use is only for my cookstove (propane burners + propane oven, no pilot lights in either- electric ignition in both), and it gets used a lot some times of year, or some years, and not all that much or often other times-depending on the rest of life.

    3 years later, the owners of the local propane company retired, and sold their company to a regional company [Blue Flame], which, a few years later, was bought by some huge propane holding company owned out of Texas "Heritage propane" still doing business as/ hiding behind "blue flame" -- which is now trying to charge me quarterly tank rent of about 7.50 every three months.

    $30 a year in propane tank rent won't, by itself, send me to the poorhouse, but in these days of escalating energy prices, and simultaneous soaring profits of fossil fuel suppliers, it's insult to injury, and the intolerance in my blood to this kind of feudal absentee exploitation without consent is what got my ancestors kicked out of Europe for trying to overthrow some despotic monarchs, and then caused them to join in tossing the Brits outta here.... and I'll be d___'d if I'll submit to it.

    I know that the law is on my side, in that the absentee propane feudal lords from Dallas TX can't change a preexisting contract/ course of dealing without my consent.... but their 1-800-"customer service" flunkies [what a total BS term unless you think of it in terms of a bull servicing a cow, with the customer being the cow] keep acting dumb and acting as if I have no choice but to pay it no matter how many times I point out that they can't change an existing contract/course of dealing without my consent.

    I was at Tractor Supply last week and saw that they sell "100 pound" propane cylinders for about $120.

    I know that propane tanks, especially when outside in the cold, need a certain minimum volume to maintain enough vapor pressure to create adequate flow for indoor propane appliances.

    But if a 100 pounder would work to run my cookstove (or better still, a pair of smaller ones), I'd rather buy, hoist and truck a hundred pounder to get refilled occasionally than to submit to this kind of deliberate effort to screw consumers by changing a deal mid-stream after 9 years.

    Would a "100 pounder" be big enough to run a large propane 4 burner range with propane oven during the temps in a VT winter? Would something smaller than a 100 pounder work?

    If so, I'm ready to issue a formal written "notice against trespass" against the new arrogant absentee interloper bastards to stay away from my existing tank that originally came from the [now retired] decent local guys, and stay entirely off 'a my property unless they want to meet a consumer fraud action and/ or some other unwelcoming things, then I'll let it run 'til it's empty, and meanwhile buy myself a 100 pounder tank to get filled privately and hook up when the existing cylinder runs out. then someday buy a second 100 pounder so that I can rotate and switch off cylinders.

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  2. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    You can run your stove on any size tank I believe. they all have the same operating pressure and regulator pressure. I would get one that is a bit more manageable than a 100 pound-er. I am with you with being fed up with the gas Nazis's. I had the same thing happen to me and had to switch out in the middle of winter quite a while ago when my ma and pa gas company retired. Now that I am just gonna be running the gas oven and range I am waiting to see if my co-op is gonna try to charge me a "rental" fee on my 500 gallon tank too. Its at 50% and will prolly last me 3-4 years I would bet.
  3. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    Threaten to notify the Vermont Attorney Generals Office. They like Maine's are usually well known with any business or customer service for being pit bulls for sticking up for consumers.

    Now to answer your question - lol

    All I have is a 100lb. (LP) tank from my company and I run my cook stove/oven, clothes dryer, and Jotul. So that is plenty big enough. I am no expert, but I doubt you would get adequate pressure from a 20lb. tank.
  4. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Thanks- I remember being told, by an independent "gas man" that the smaller tanks, when outside the house (the safest place to have them be, of course) and in the coldest weather (which is pretty cold for those of us in the northern tier of US states), don't develop enough "vapor pressure" to push enough gas through the line to meet the fuel needs of a couple of burners plus an oven. Supposedly, as outdoor temps drop, more and more of the propane stays liquid and less and less of it turns into vapor to push its way through the regulator, into the piping, into the house, and into the end-use appliance.

    I would be VERY GLAD to have that de-bunked by someone with the right experience and know-how- or at least someone who can tell me how small a tank is OK to supply enough pressure for supplying a 4 burner gas range with gas oven and no pilot lights.

    'Cause the deal-changin absentee profiteering greedheads are gonna git outta here whether they know it or not-- it's only a matter of figuring out what size tank I can use to meet my needs without their late-breaking, deal-changing BS tank rent.

    The old tank from the decent handshake-dealing guys is gonna stay here, even if I retire it and use it for some unrelated project or sell it for scrap steel; I'll be darned if I'll let the absentee profiteering creeps take it away, at least not without a farewell blaze of glory out in the meadow from an armor piercing round + a tracer chaser.

    If I seem angry, I absolutely am. It's enraging to see situations with things like this where regular folks are literally going under from meeting rising energy bills while distant exploiters find new and (factually and legally) unjustified ways to stick the greedy knife in deeper.
  5. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    Well if you are going to keep the darn thing, then use that! Just have a different propane delivery company come and fill it up as needed. Tell them you just bought the house and 'inherited' it.

    Btw, I would love to see a pic of your "Wonderfully Absurd Russian Motorcycle with sidecar". I am not particularly interested in motorcycles, but your description has me intrigued.
  6. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Thanks- you're right on target, except, and I hate to admit this given the apparent but obvious low general public repute of my profession, but I'm a lawyer, and in fact work for a different branch of the VT AG's office.

    I not only brought the situation to the attention of my consumer protection AG colleagues, but told the absentee propane greedheads that I'd done so.

    The greedy arrogant absentee bastards that took over my propane contract still ignore the clear legal points that I am making, and as far as I can tell, still totally ignore the consumer protection efforts of my colleagues who I've made very aware of this, and, I hope, are indeed being pit bulls like you describe in going after these kinds of change-the-contract after the fact scams.

    see my other post about the fact that my existing tank, once sourced from some decent people who give a handshake and live by it, is not gonna leave here in the hands of the absentee greed-meisters.... it'll sooner appear on YouTube with an aesthetically-pleasing mushroom cloud created by an armor-piercing round + tracer chaser. It'll be my salute to what this kind of corporate feudalism that exploits people when they're most vulnerable deserves.
  7. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    thank god you are not a Federal employee :p
  8. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    part of what has me [apparently noticeably...] irate about this is not just whether _I_ can afford an unjustified $30/year charge that I can sorta (barely) absorb (having gone through a divorce and being subject to a current and seemingly indefinite salary freeze due to the prevailing economic conditions that we all know all too well)--

    -- it's that I have enough education and assertiveness to know my rights, and to not be shy about asserting them, and the absentee propane greedmeisters still won't relent about their new, outta the blue, exploitative tank rent--

    and so it PO's me immensely to know that there are other folks out there who are having an even harder time making ends meet, and who may have a lot less formally-credentialed horsepower, or knowing how legal and contractual matters work, to fully assert themselves, that these same absentee greedmeisters are also shamelessly squeezing in these increasingly tough times.
  9. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Hey Trevor, I have a small LP tank that I get refilled every 10 months or so. When it starts to smell in the kitchen is when I call. Just had a delivery of 22 gals. @ $3.99 a G. Not sure of the weight though. RVs use the small tanks to power their stoves and refrigerators so size shouldn't be an issue. Even those monster grills. I was told that the higher price and low gal. usage helped defray tank cost. Just buy a new of gals and call around for the best delivered price and tell the company to come and get your old one.
    Will
  10. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    You could get away with 2 twenty pounders coupled together for sure. The colder/ less gas pressure info is on target. I do have the experience to tell you that. One nice size tank that is easy to handle is a sixty pounder. A pair of those would last a while. As far as the old tank goes, cancel the contract, and give them back the tank. It is part of the assets they bought when they bought the company. Don't give them the ammo to return fire.
  11. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    thanks dunebilly- it just galls me when a company that has a motto of "relationships matter" :
    http://www.heritagepropane.com/default.asp
    proceeds to try to screw the pants off of existing customers of prior propane providers who clearly said no tank rent would ever apply- and given the way that these greedheads, in my opinion, have proven themselves unworthy of any trust given their approach with me to date, I do not trust them to provide me with a refund for the gas in my tank if I tell them to come take away the nearly-full existing tank
  12. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    it's klutzy to show you a photo of my particular bike, but you might get a grin outta this demo video of these motos:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN5PAwc1ns8

    mine's a 1995 with a lot of CCCP vintage parts :)
  13. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    If you are an attorney why don't you send them a letter with your card in it that states very politcally that you are not going to pay to pay no stinkin' tank rent because of afore mentioned contract with previous owners.Or put an ad in the local paper that states, WANTED: Calls from people who have done business with ABC Propane Co in regards to tank rent. CALL ATTORNEY PYBYR 555-555-5555 They will see this or someone will tell them about seeing it and they will sheet their pants.
  14. retiredff

    retiredff Member

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    In my area, LP is priced different if only for cooking or heating. For heating this year my price per gallon is $2.79 ($1.79 last year), that includes $.10 per gallon lease on a 500 gallon tank. I don't know the price for non heating. I am required to use 750 gallon per year if LP is used for heat. I am installing a Regency F2400 9/18/08 and don't know yet what they will do if and when I use less than the required 750 gallons.
  15. backpack09

    backpack09 Minister of Fire

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    Will they refund you current market value for the propane left in the tank?
  16. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    with the way that the new absentee owners of this propane co have treated me in their dealings with me over this tank rent (imposing it out of the blue, and totally refusing to acknowledge the fact that they cannot change a contract made by their predecessors that there'd be no tank rent, and which (no tank rent) is confirmed by 8 years of course of dealing where no one charged me tank rent) I wouldn't trust them in that regard at all.

    That's why I'm pretty adamant that I want the existing cylinder to stay, at least 'til I completely use up its existing contents that I already paid for
  17. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Definitely use the gas first. There is no such thing as a refund in the compressed gas business.
  18. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    We use relatively little propane at our seasonal house, and so I get hit with a $50 tank rental per year plus a higher rate than if I owned my own tank. And that's the best deal of the 3 or 4 companies in that area. But last I checked there weren't any $120 tanks available there, or I would have jumped at it. They were talking $800 and probably a lot more now. This summer I heard my propane company got bought out by a big chain like yours, so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  19. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Wow, Trevor; tell us what you are really thinking... :bug:

    LP basically acts like a refrigerant as it is being vaporised. It needs to absorb heat and it cools while it is vaporising. As it cools, the tank pressure goes down and eventually you can't get anymore gas out of the tank. At about -40 there will be no pressure at all. Assuming it is consistently above -40 you should be able to boil a pot of water, but for extended burn times you need to keep the tank warmer. It has to stay outdoors, but sitting it in the sun may be enough. The 20 pounder may be big enough in the summer, but more tank is better in cold weather. How big is enough? No idea, but I suspect 2 20 lb tanks manifolded together would be enough. If you have a gas grill, try burning it full tilt on a very cold day and see if it keeps up. A range and a gas grill are about the same BTUs.

    The problem as I see it is one of liability. Whoever owns the tank is responsible for its upkeep. Rental absolves you of any of this and if the tank rusts out, the propane company replaces it. If you choose to buy your own and your provider thinks the tank is unsafe, they will refuse to fill it. This is probably the biggest reason for the small tank exchange programs for gas grills. Many of the small providers have gotten out of the business for liability's sake.

    You might check into purchase options at a welding supply store as many of them supply bottles for the roofing business. I suspect that the actual fuel will be more expensive, but it's worth a call. Also ask yourself if it is worth your valuable time to haul the tank somewhere and fill it. My attorney won't even answer the phone for $30/hr. :smirk:

    I know... It's the principle of the whole thing...

    Chris
  20. natnyer

    natnyer Member

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    I had a mom and pop propane company which I dealt with cause my parents used them for 50 years. I have a propane fireplace that I like to use for heat and ambiance at times.The mom and pop sold out to a larger company here in new york . so I did what I always did and called when my 200 pound tank was 30 percent full. They filled it and when I got the bill I was charged double the previous rate.I called and was told that because I didnt use all that much propane I was charged that much. Needless to say I negotiated a little bit of a decrease when I expressed concern of not being notified of the change of hands and policy. when the tank was empty I had it removed and I bought a 100 pounder at home depot. The 100 pound tank when filled is a little awkward to handle but manageble .it holds about 24 gallons of propane.It works great and I don't have to get propane delivered. If you do do this and youre not very strong i would suggest you have a friend go with you to help you lift it onto youre truck. All the propane companies in my area jacked up the price of propane so this was the only reasonable way for me .I refuse to pay double the going rate for delivery on smaller yearly amounts.
  21. zionadams

    zionadams New Member

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    The fact that you have never been assessed a fee for the tank 'rental' says that you were told none would exist. Having said that, I'd bet there's nothing you can do about it but pay the darn fees.

    We have a 120gal tank that runs our water heater and, if we used it, our propane furnace. If we just use it to run the water heater then we go through about 200 gal a year, at about $2.70 a gal right now. The company we rent our tank from ($50 a year) is responsible for the condition of the tank and comes out to fill it as a courtesy. We get our BBQ tanks refilled at the same time. I'd never go to natural gas, I don't think, but we're about to go to a tankless water heater that will cut down on our LPG usage by over 85%.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that the tank rental price sounds fair but doing it without concession to past agreements seems wrong.
  22. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    We've run our kitchen stove off the standard 20lb. gas grill propane tank for years. There is a
    nearly horizontal run of approximately 20 feet of gas line from the exterior wall and up through
    the floor of the kitchen to the stove. With average stove use, a tank lasts about 2 to 3 months.
    I use them for homebrewing too, so there is always a full one around in case I run out and forget
    to refill the spare.

    I haven't noticed any issues with pressure in comparison with other gas stoves I've operated.
    If there is a difference, I expect its very small.
  23. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I sent the _______ f'ers packing.

    I did my homework.

    they have no documentation that anyone that they even merged or acquired with ever owned my tank

    they admit that

    they have nothing in writing from me to say that I agreed to tank rent

    these are ugly times on jobs, money and energy

    I will do my daily best to treat those who deal with me with honor and kindness to return the same

    I will also do my daily best to run the F'ers who don't, fleeing in panic
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