Types of Oil Tanks Explained

Selecting an oil tank can be a daunting process as there are many different types of oil tanks to choose from, with multiple shapes, sizes and capacities to consider. To help you decide on the best oil tank for you, we’re going to explain the differences between the four main types of oil tanks, as well as offering some guidance on the best size and construction of oil tank to opt for based on purpose and usage.

Types of oil tanks:

1. Single-Skinned Oil Tanks

One of the many types of oil tanks you can choose from is a single-skinned oil tank. As single-skinned oil tanks only offer one layer of protection against an oil leak, they’re usually installed in a secondary containment system, such as reinforced concrete or masonry bund.

Although single-skinned oil tanks are less expensive, they have an increased risk as they don’t have built-in protection from oil leaks. This means that the clean-up resulting from a potential oil leak can be expensive and reduce your overall savings in the long run.

Here are some conditions that need to be met for single-skinned oil tanks:

  • The capacity of the oil tank must be less than 2500 litres
  • No other potential environmental hazards nearby
  • The tank isn’t located within a Ground Source Protection Zone
  • Cannot be installed if the tank is within 10m of controlled water (stream, river, septic tank etc.)

2. Double-Skinned Oil Tanks

Double-skinned tanks (aka, twin-walled tanks or dual containment tanks) have two layers. The two layers provide secure containment of chemicals and liquids, along with helping to protect against an oil leak in the case of a tank failure. It is recommended that double-skinned tanks are also installed in a secondary system.

3. Integrally Bunded Tanks

Integrally bunded tanks offer the best protection against an oil leak, as the attached bund can hold 110% of the inner tank’s capacity as well as the fittings. Bunded heating oil tanks are usually made out of steel or plastic, however, some are steel/plastic hybrids.

An integrally bunded tank is considered to be the best oil tank on the market. This is because they offer the very best protection from any oil leaks and condensation due to the insulation provided by their air gaps in the bund.

4. Underground Tanks

Oil tanks are not limited to being installed outdoors. If compliant with building regulations, oil tanks can also be installed indoors and underground.

Underground tanks require professional construction and may require planning permission. The benefits of installing a tank underground are that they can significantly save you space, and they have a reduced risk of being targeted by thieves due to being out of sight.

However, the disadvantage of underground tanks is that they can be difficult to maintain due to being underground. For this reason, most households install their tank outdoors.

The Best Oil Tank Material – Plastic vs Steel

Oil tanks can be made out of both plastic and steel. Plastic tanks require less maintenance and aren’t as vulnerable to failure and rust in comparison to steel tanks.

However, steel tanks are arguably more secure as thieves can easily drill into plastic tanks to siphon off oil. Also, as steel tanks are heavier, they’re more difficult to steal.  

Best Oil Tank Sizes - What size oil tank do I need?

  • 650 litres to  100 litres – are usually utilised in 1 to 2 bedroom houses
  • 1000 litres to 1550 litres – are usually utilised in 2 to 3 bedroom houses or small commercial buildings
  • 1650 litres to 2500 litres – are usually utilised in 3 to 4 bedroom houses or larger commercial premises
  • 2500 litres plus – are usually utilised in homes with 4+ bedrooms or larger commercial premises

Rix has a huge selection of tanks that are suitable for a variety of different purposes to suit all needs and tastes. Choosing the best oil tank for you can be quite a daunting experience, so if you are new to heating oil or are thinking of getting it for your home, please read our guide for more information. Alternatively, contact your local Rix customer service team who are fully trained and happy to help with any questions you may have.