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Propane tanks in France: Installation, Suppliers and Prices in 2019

Among all the ways to get gas at home, one of them is through a propane tank. These tanks are particularly common and useful for households living in rural areas which aren’t connected to mains gas. Since these are a considerable investment to make, choosing and installing the right type requires to take an in-depth look at many factors. Below is a guide to propane cost, tank installation, and suppliers in France in 2019.

Could a propane tank be right for me?

While propane tanks can work very well in some types of housing and have definite advantages, they won't be compatible with all housing types. Find out more below.

Recommended energy depending on housing and gas connections

Depending on the size of your apartment or house, it will be more or less interesting to get a propane tank installed for your household.

What energy should I choose to heat my house ?
Housing type Connection to natural gas Connection to propane gas Which energy should I choose?
Small apartment Both can work Both can work Electricity
Medium-big apartment or house Yes No Natural gas
Medium-big apartment or house No Yes Propane gas

Do you want to get more information and guidance about getting a propane tank installed? Call our English-speaking advisors at 09 87 67 37 93 or get a free callback (Monday - Friday 8am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm) or request an estimate (in French).

Advantages and drawbacks of propane tanks

propane-gas-truck

If propane seems to be the appropriate energy for your housing, before you go ahead to purchase and commit to a propane tank, there are a few additional factors, both positive and negative, to consider.

  • A big advantage to propane is that it can be delivered anywhere across France, even to isolated and cut-off areas. It is thus a great option for households living in mountain regions, in the countryside and for big family homes in rural areas.
  • It is a relatively safe energy source, as it is non-toxic, and does not emit much smoke.
  • It can keep functioning in very extreme sub-zero temperatures, down to -44ºC.
  • A propane tank installation can benefit from a reduced VAT rate and is eligible to an energy tax credit (CITE).
  • This said, propane is not a renewable source of energy, and it is estimated that propane supplies are limited to a few decades only.
  • It is also an imposing structure and not the most aesthetic (you can however decide to bury it underground but this means further costs and works) and requires to have sufficient outdoor space to stock it.
  • Households that are already connected to mains gas need to stick to this source of energy and will not be able to switch to a tank.

Getting a tank at home: steps and prices in France

Having a propane tank installed at home is a pretty hefty investment, so it is important to select your provider and offer cautiously. Find out all about the tariffs and steps to follow to install a tank below.

Comparing the price of propane tanks in France

Factors affecting the price of propane

Several factors will affect the price you pay for propane gas, and it is highly recommended to compare all available offers in order to strike an optimal deal. In particular, you should pay attention to the following factors which may affect how much you pay:

  • The propane supplier chosen
  • The type of contract chosen, in particular its duration (longer contracts can give right to reductions on the price of propane)
  • The location of delivery (the more remote and hard to reach a home is, the more expensive propane will be)
  • Whether or not the rental of the tank is included in the propane tariff, or if it’s a separate subscription
  • The time of year/season(tariffs for propane are lowered during summer)
  • The terms chosen for delivery - either automatic, in which case propane is sent off when best suits the supplier, or upon order
  • The quantities shipped - obviously the higher the volume of propane purchased, the higher the price.
  • The various promotions that propane suppliers can issue at the beginning of a contract. This can enable prices to be fixed for set periods of time (1 to 3 years for instance) and protect the customers from potential propane price rises.

Finding the cheapest propane tank offer

Just to give you an idea of propane prices in France, the average household consumes 1.2 tons per year, for a yearly bill adding up to around €1,900. This said, as stated above the propane supplier you choose will make this vary quite significantly. Below as the prices currently set by the main propane providers in France:

propane-providers

(Price of propane gas per tonne, for an underground tank with a 1,100 kg capacity and with an annual consumption of 1,240 kg. Tariffs are for France, excluding Corsica, without subscriptions and additional fees.)

To compare prices, request an estimate for propane gas (in French), call our English-speaking customer service line at 09 87 67 37 93 or get a free callback (Monday to Friday).

Asking for quotes for a propane tank

propane-gas-contract

In France, you have a choice of 5 main propane suppliers: Antargaz, Butagaz, Finagaz, Primagaz, and Vitogaz. As shown above, Antargaz and Finagaz are the cheapest on the market at the time of writing (excluding promotions and prices of subscriptions and added-on services).

It is well worth getting quotes from several providers, comparing their tariffs and seeing how much these can be negotiated. Although a discount on prices can be agreed upon,some rates cannot be negotiated - namely, the price of transport which is solely dependent on the distance between your home and the distribution centre.

Checking for exclusivity clauses (clause d'exclusivité)

Be very cautious of the exclusivity clauses set by the various suppliers. Indeed, some contracts will tie you to their services for long times stated above. A benefit of this is that the duration of a contract can have a strong impact on tariffs, and longer contracts can significantly reduce how much you’ll pay each month.

However, over this exclusivity period (typically 1 to 9 years), the downside of this is that the customer is bound to the supplier and can only be supplied by this company (a padlock may be installed on the tank to ensure this). So be careful to look at how long this clause is, and whether you are sure to need propane in your home for the whole duration.

Also note that you won’t be able to move home, change your contract (even if you are unhappy with the provider and its service) or renegotiate prices over the exclusivity period, unless you are ready to pay hefty early cancellations fees. So, while signing on for 9 years may sound like a very attractive option, make sure it’s going to definitely fit with your situation, now and in the years to come.

Buying vs renting vs putting down a deposit for a tank

Another thing to consider is whether you want to own the tank or rent it out. Here are your options:

  • Buying your own tank, which means you will be able to choose your supplier freely without being tied down to long contracts, and will pay less for propane gas. Just bare in mind that a tank costs on average around €1,000 to €2,000 depending on the type of tank you want (underground tanks are usually more expensive). You will need to find a supplier willing to provide you with the tank and install it for you at a reasonable price.
  • Renting out a tank and paying a supplement for it, via a subscription or though your monthly propane bills.
  • Paying an upfront deposit, which will be returned to you at the end of your contract period.

Generally speaking, suppliers prefer to encourage their clients to rent out a tank rather than buying one, as this makes it easier for them to build loyalty and get them to subscribe to a longer and exclusive contract.

If you decide to rent a tank, you will need to first contact an agent from your chosen provider, who will come to your home and determine whether it is indeed possible to install a tank where you live. You will then sign the exclusivity clause which binds you to the provider to supply you and install your device.

Getting the tank installed

propane-installation

The installation of a tank is often free, and if not it remains relatively cheap - typically between €100 and €300. There aren’t many restrictions to installing a tank in your outside space and they have great advantages:

  • Tanks can work in all sorts of areas - cobbly, steep, muddy, rocky… They can be adapted to function in many environments.
  • They can be buried or fixed overground, it’s up to you.
  • They can work in extreme temperature conditions - there are no risks of the gas freezing.

However, a French regulation sets a minimum distance between your tank and your home, as well as between your tank and your neighbour’s home.

Setting up the delivery of propane

Propane providers in France give you a choice when it comes to your gas deliveries:

  • Self-checking: in this case, it’s up to you to supervise you tank’s level and to call your supplier once it goes down to 20% of its capacity.
  • Automatic deliveries: in this case, the provider will calculate how much you need based on your annual consumption (taking weather conditions into account). You will then be delivered supplies automatically. This option is highly recommended and gives you a total peace of mind, as you won’t have to fear ever running out!

You can then pay for your deliveries either per delivery, or on a monthly basis during 10 months, after which the cost will be adjusted according to the actual number of deliveries that occurred over that payment.

You can pay via direct debit, cheque or documentary collection.

Sorting out the propane tank maintenance

Tanks are pretty low maintenance, and their servicing is left up to your propane provider. Indeed, every time a technician comes around to deliver gas to you, their job is also to monitor the state of your tank and check for any defaults. Note that it is also mandatory in France to carry out an in-depth control of your tank every 3 years.

Propane and safety Propane gas is non-toxic, and its combustion does not create any dangerous emissions. As it is odourless, a smell is artificially added to it, so as to detect any potential leaks. However, propane remains highly flammable and it is thus crucial to carry out the safety checks regularly to prevent explosions or fires.

Propane suppliers in France in 2019

There are 5 main suppliers to choose from in France - find out more about them and how to switch from one to another.

The main providers of propane for tanks in France

The propane gas market is structured similarly to an oligopoly in France, with Antargaz, Butagaz, Primagaz, Vitogaz and Finagaz providing 90% of contracts for gas tanks and propane bottles sold in the country.

Because of this, prices remain fairly high and competition is maintained low. What’s more entry barriers are very strong, since any new actor on the market would need access to propane in very high quantities, and have the means to operate on a national level. This explains why smaller and independent propane suppliers are dying out today.

Here is a short rundown of these providers and their characteristics:

  • Butagaz: the French leader in propane supply, with a low price policy, a variety of propane solutions and offers a very good presence nationwide. The company now also offers natural gas and electricity.
  • Antargaz: a historical French provider, which offers propane and natural gas to individuals and professionals).
  • Primagaz: also a historical player in the sector, which puts emphasis on transparency by disclosing its price lists online.
  • Finagaz: formerly Totalgaz and a subsidiary of the Total group. It offers its tailor-made delas for propane, but discloses only very little detail online.
  • Vitogaz: the smallest of the 5 major propane players in France, with a partial coverage of the territory and greater market share for the sale of LPG fuel than in propane tanks.

How to change propane supplier

It is possible to change propane supplier even if you are still tied to a contract, although this will come at a cost. Cancellation fees will decrease overtime, so the longer you have been tied to a contract, the less you will pay to get out of it. In some cases, it may even be possible to negotiate with your new provider for them to refund your cancellation costs to your former supplier. Below is a comparison of these fees per provider.

Comparison of cancellation fees set by the main French propane suppliers
Supplier Butagaz Antargaz Primagaz Finagaz Vitogaz
Cancellation fees Up to €600
Pumpback fees for a tank under 2 tonnes: €75
Fees for an anticipated cancellation (ex: €777 for a 1 tonne overground tank)
Pumpback fees (ex: €158,40 if there are under 500kg left in the tank)
Fees for tank withdrawal (ex: €360 for overground tanks with the Visipack offer)
Fees for an anticipated cancellation (ex: €771,13 stated online)
Pumpback fees (€209 stated online)
Fees for an anticipated cancellation (ex: €777€ for a 1 tonne overground tank)
Pumpback fees (ex: €158,40 if there are under 500kg left in the tank)
Fees for tank withdrawal (ex: €360 for overground tanks with the Optimiz offer)
Fees for an anticipated cancellation (ex: €919,39 stated online)
Fees for tank withdrawal (€780 stated online)

For more information about propane providers and finding the offer right for you, call our English-speaking advisors at 09 87 67 37 93 or get a free callback (Monday - Friday 8am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm) or request an estimate (in French).

Understanding a French propane contract

French propane contracts and bills can be quite difficult to decipher if French is not your mother tongue. Here are a few tips to help you understanding these.

Important words in French

Below is a list of a few important words that you need to know in order to understand propane bills and contracts:

Key French propane-related terms
French Term English Translation French Term English Translation
Propane Propane Citerne Tank
Devis Quote Consigne Deposit
Fournisseur Supplier Facture Bill
Clause d'exlusivité Exclusivity clause Location Rental
Livraison Delivery Entretien Maintenance

Understanding a propane bill

So, you receive a propane bill. It might look a little complicated at first, but once you understand its structure and all the differents fees that compose it, it will be much clearer.

It works like so:

  • The first element concerns the price of propane gas itself, calculated in €/tonne for the delivery. If the contract includes the installation of a gas meter on the outside of the gas tank, the total charged will be that of the amount of kWh of gas consumed, not that of the amount of tonnes of gas delivered.
  • The following elements may be added to the total price: fees for the method of payment used (if paying with other means than direct debit), staggered payment of the gas bill, transport fees in case of a failed delivery, etc.
  • The gas bill also then includes costs related to the price of the gas tank and tank maintenance: commissioning, installation, removal, relocation, neutralization, technical control, decadal requalification, pumping... These fees are paid by the customer in the form of a monthly subscription, or a deposit.