How Much Propane Does a Stock Tank Heater Use? A Comprehensive Guide

A stock tank heater can use approximately 1 to 8 gallons of propane per month, depending on the weather conditions and the size of the livestock water tank. The Stock Tank Heater, a patent-pending hydronic heating system, uses a computerized system to maintain efficiency and pump a food-grade fluid through a serpentine-type heat exchanger. This system has been tested to use an average of 1 gallon of propane per week during 19 days of testing in freezing temperatures, maintaining an average water temperature of 43°F.

Understanding Propane Consumption in Stock Tank Heaters

The amount of propane consumed by a stock tank heater can vary significantly based on several factors, including:

  1. Weather Conditions: Colder temperatures and longer periods of freezing weather will require the heater to run more frequently, resulting in higher propane consumption. In mild climates, the heater may only need to run occasionally to maintain the desired water temperature.

  2. Tank Size: Larger livestock water tanks will require more energy to heat and maintain the desired temperature, leading to higher propane usage compared to smaller tanks.

  3. Insulation and Heat Loss: Proper insulation of the stock tank and the heater lines can significantly reduce heat loss and, consequently, the amount of propane required to maintain the water temperature.

  4. Heating System Efficiency: The efficiency of the heating system, such as the Stock Tank Heater’s computerized control and hydronic design, can impact the overall propane consumption.

To provide a more detailed understanding of propane usage, let’s explore some specific data points and scenarios:

Scenario 1: Small Livestock Tank in Mild Climate

  • Tank Size: 100 gallons
  • Average Outdoor Temperature: 40°F
  • Propane Consumption: Approximately 1 gallon per month

In this scenario, with a relatively small tank and mild outdoor temperatures, the stock tank heater may only need to run intermittently to maintain the desired water temperature, resulting in a low propane consumption of around 1 gallon per month.

Scenario 2: Medium Livestock Tank in Cold Climate

  • Tank Size: 300 gallons
  • Average Outdoor Temperature: 20°F
  • Propane Consumption: Approximately 4 gallons per month

In this scenario, with a medium-sized tank and colder outdoor temperatures, the stock tank heater will need to run more frequently to keep the water from freezing. The propane consumption in this case can be around 4 gallons per month.

Scenario 3: Large Livestock Tank in Extreme Cold

  • Tank Size: 500 gallons
  • Average Outdoor Temperature: 10°F
  • Propane Consumption: Approximately 8 gallons per month

In this scenario, with a large tank and extreme cold temperatures, the stock tank heater will need to work harder to maintain the desired water temperature. The propane consumption in this case can be as high as 8 gallons per month.

It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and the actual propane consumption may vary depending on the specific conditions and the efficiency of the heating system used.

Handling Freezing Temperatures and Water Flow

how much propane does a stock tank heater use

When using a propane stock tank heater, it is essential to consider how to handle the lines during freezing weather. There are two main options:

  1. Blowing Out the Lines: When the heater is not in use, the lines can be blown out with compressed air to remove any remaining water and prevent freezing.

  2. Maintaining Continuous Water Flow: Keeping the water flowing through the lines 24/7 can help prevent freezing. However, this option can be challenging, as the heater is typically activated by water flow. Plumbing the heater lines into the filter plumbing can help maintain water flow, but it may also increase the risk of freezing if the filter lines are not adequately insulated.

For those using propane heaters in a stock tank pool or hot tub, it is crucial to ensure that the lines are adequately insulated and that the system is designed to handle freezing temperatures. A continuous-duty pump running 24/7 on a separate loop can help maintain water flow and prevent freezing. Additionally, temperature controls and heating strips can be used to keep the water at the desired temperature, even during extended periods of non-use.


In summary, a stock tank heater can use between 1 and 8 gallons of propane per month, depending on various factors such as weather conditions, tank size, insulation, and heating system efficiency. Proper insulation, temperature controls, and water flow management are essential to ensure efficient and safe operation of a stock tank heater using propane.

By understanding the factors that influence propane consumption and implementing the right strategies to handle freezing temperatures, you can optimize the performance and efficiency of your stock tank heater, ensuring that your livestock or hot tub water stays at the desired temperature throughout the year.