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Helium Tanks: Should You Rent or Buy?

Planning to decorate your party, wedding, or special event with floating balloons? You'll need a helium tank for that!

The question is, are you better off with renting a tank or buying a disposable one? It depends. Read on to find the solution that's best for you.

Various types of helium tanks and people using them to fill latex balloons.Like this comparison of renting vs buying helium tanks? Pin it for later or share with a friend!

Renting Helium Tanks

If you are planning an event where you'll be giving away balloons to your guests, or if you'd like to create such an amazing balloon ceiling as seen in the picture below, you need more helium than you'll get with a disposable tank.

Ceiling decoration with colorful helium-filled latex balloons with ribbons.Want to create a balloon ceiling like this? Renting a helium tank is your best option for filling so many balloons [Image source:].

Helium suppliers rent tanks in various sizes. The smallest ones fill about 50 x 12" latex balloons, and the largest ones over 500.

Prices vary, but you can expect to pay about $80 for the smallest size, and $450 for the largest. That's for the cost of filling the tank. In addition, you'll have to pay a rental fee, either per day for short term needs or per month.

Typical Helium Tank SizesTypical Helium Tank Sizes [Image source:]

Special Tip: To find a helium tank supplier in your area, search for "helium tank rental near me" or "helium tank rental [your city name]" at Google or another search engine.

They typically require a cash or credit card deposit that ranges anywhere between $100 and $200. The deposit is returned to you when you bring back the tank in working, empty condition.

Check with your supplier if the required valve, pressure gauge and nozzle for filling your balloons are included with the tank rental, or if you need to rent them separately.

If you are planning to fill mylar balloons, you'll need a different type of nozzle, so make sure to ask the supplier about it. 

Alternatively, you could purchase your own valve and the required foil balloon adapter. Here's a selection of helium tank valves on eBay:

Will you need to move the tank around in your home or at the event venue? We recommend that you rent a so-called cylinder dolly or hand cart. These are carts specifically designed for the cylinder shaped helium tanks.

Of course this will add to your expenses, but it makes it much easier and safer to move the tank around.

Many helium suppliers offer delivery, but you can also transport the tank yourself. Don't forget to ask by when you need to bring the tank back, as you'll be charged extra for late returns.

Now, how do you use the tank? How do you attach the valve and operate the nozzle? The video below explains this very well. 

Buying Disposable Helium Tanks

Renting a tank can be quite a hassle. First, you'll need to find a supplier in your area. You have to drive there, pay a deposit, transport the tank and bring it back after the event, typically within 2 to 3 days.

Buying a disposable helium tank is much simpler. You'll get them for example at Walmart or Target. Or you order them online. They come with the nozzle attached to it. 

If you don't have a special balloon type or color in mind, you can go super easy and purchase a complete kit with tank, 30 assorted 9" balloons and white curling ribbon

Or you order the disposable tank on its own, and get the balloons (foil or latex) separately. This 14.9 cubic feet tank fills approximately 50 x 9" latex balloons, 27 x 11" latex balloons or 27 x 18" mylar balloons.

Prices vary, depending on the supplier, but you can expect to pay about $70 for either the balloon kit or the slightly larger disposable tank that comes without balloons. If you are buying online, make sure to check the shipping costs!

If you close the valve securely, no helium will leak out. So you can keep this tank for months, and keep filling your balloons (assuming that you just need a few balloons, e.g. to make a beautiful balloon bouquet).

Unsure how to use the disposable tank? Watch the explainer video below.

Renting vs Buying? The Verdict

While you need more cash outlay up front, you'll get more helium for a lower price when you are renting a tank as opposed to buying a disposable one.

If you have more than 50 x 9" or more than 27 x 12" latex balloons to fill, renting a tank is your best choice. It's also better for the environment because these tanks can be refilled and used for a long time.

If you need to fill fewer balloons for a one time event, take the easy route and purchase a disposable helium tank or get your balloons filled at a party supply store.

Helium Tanks: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which size helium tank to buy?

The size of the helium tank you need will depend on how many balloons you want to inflate. As a general rule, a 9-inch balloon will require about 0.25 cubic feet of helium and an 11-inch balloon 0.50 cubic feet.

Determine the total number of balloons you need to inflate and calculate the size of the tank accordingly.

The Qualatex Helium Chart lists gas capacity and how many balloons a large tank can fill for many different foil and latex balloons.

How long does a helium tank last?

The duration of your helium tank depends on its size and the number of balloons you inflate. On average, a small disposable helium tank will fill approximately 30 11-inch balloons, while the largest helium tanks can fill up to 500 balloons.

Can I refill my helium tank?

It depends on the type of helium tank you have. Disposable helium tanks, which are commonly used for party decorations, cannot be refilled once they are empty and must be disposed of properly.

However, reusable helium tanks can be refilled and are a more environmentally friendly option as they help reduce waste. If you plan to use helium regularly, a reusable tank is a better choice as it can be refilled multiple times.

Who fills helium tanks?

Helium tanks can be filled by professionals at party stores, welding supply stores, and gas companies. They have the proper equipment and expertise to safely fill and handle helium tanks.

Where can I rent helium tanks?

You can rent helium tanks from party supply stores, welding supply stores, and gas companies. Be sure to check with the rental company about their rental policies, including the rental fee, deposit, and pickup/drop-off process.

How much does a helium tank cost?

The cost of a helium tank varies depending on the size, type, and location of purchase. Disposable helium tanks typically range from $70 to $80 (including the helium), while reusable tanks can cost anywhere from $50 to $400 plus the cost of the helium. 

Instead of purchasing a reusable helium tank, you can also rent it. Rental fees for helium tanks vary widely. For short term rentals I've seen offers between free for up to 4 days to $95 for a small tank for 3 days. 

Be sure to compare prices and options from different retailers to find the best deal for your needs.

Which helium tank is best?

The best helium tank for you depends on your specific needs. Consider the size of the tank you need, the number of balloons you plan to inflate, and whether you want a disposable or reusable tank. Reusable tanks are more environmentally friendly, so whenever possible go with this option.

You can also get your balloons filled at a party store. Even large supermarkets like Walmart offer this service at selected locations (but only if you purchase the balloons there).

Can I transport my helium tank in my car?

Yes, you can transport a helium tank in your car. However, it is important to ensure that the tank is properly secured and does not move around during transport.

Will a helium tank explode in a hot car?

Helium is a so-called noble gas, which means it's stable and not flammable. So it's unlikely that a helium tank will explode in a hot car.

However, if the temperature is hot enough and you leave the tank long enough in the car, there's a risk that the helium tank will explode. To minimize this risk, a standard helium tank should have an approved burst or rupture disk. 

The disk is at the tank top close to the handle. If the gas pressure in the tank gets too high, the rupture disc will release some of the helium in a safe way that will prevent the tank from an explosion.

How do I know if my helium tank is empty?

A helium tank is empty when it no longer has enough pressure to inflate a balloon. You can tell if the tank is running low by the size of the balloon it inflates or by using a pressure gauge.

Do I need any special equipment to use a helium tank?

You will need a regulator or inflator to attach to the helium tank and inflate the balloons. There's also a special adapter required for filling foil balloons. 

You can purchase these separately or as part of a kit.

How do I dispose of an empty helium tank?

Empty disposable helium tanks should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility or a local scrap metal recycling center for proper disposal.

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