Should I Rent or Buy a Helium Tank?

For those planning events, or for businesses requiring a steady supply of helium, the decision to rent or buy a helium tank is an important one. In this article, we weigh up the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a helium tank to help you decide which one is best for your specific situation and requirements.

But first, let’s look at the current state of the helium market.

The Helium Market

In recent years, the helium market has experienced fluctuations due to an increase in demand because of its diverse number of applications. Increased energy prices, as well as a helium shortage and a disrupted supply chain, have also influenced demand and price across the board. This is important as a fluctuation in demand and price can impact industries that rely on helium, such as medicine and entertainment, which can influence the decision to rent or buy a helium tank. We’ll explore this in more detail below. 

Renting a Helium Tank 

Cost

Renting a helium tank is an economical option for those who only require helium as a one-off, such as for special events or seasonal promotions. Instead of investing in a tank that might end up sitting idle for extended periods of time, renting allows you to pay for the helium you use. Renting also provides the option to choose the appropriate tank size based on your specific needs for each event, which is ideal for customers with varying helium requirements.

Convenience

Rental companies also tend to handle tank maintenance and safety checks, ensuring that the equipment meets industry standards. This relieves the responsibility of maintaining and inspecting the tank as the rental team will often check, deliver and collect the tank (though safety protocols will still need to be adhered to). 

balloon being filled up with helium

Buying a Helium Tank 

Cost

While renting may seem cost-effective for sporadic use, the cumulative cost of renting can surpass the upfront investment of purchasing a helium tank. If you use helium often, then buying is the more financially sensible decision in the long run — in particular if you opt for a refillable tank, which saves you the hassle of buying a brand new tank every time. 

In the event that you no longer need your helium, owning a helium tank gives you the option to sell or lease the equipment. This potential for resale adds an extra layer of reassurance to your investment.

Convenience

Renting also means relying on the availability of helium tanks from a rental team, which can be challenging in times of high demand during helium shortages. Owning a helium tank puts you in control of your own supply and, through establishing a relationship with your manufacturer or distributor, may mean you’re able to receive helium regardless of the demand. For example, at Worldwide Gas, our extensive network means we can always deliver helium, even when other suppliers face shortages. 

On the flip side, purchasing a helium tank does mean you are responsible for maintenance and safety checks, which requires a commitment to adhere to industry standards. You will also need to have adequate storage space to keep the helium tank.

However, it is also possible to purchase disposable helium tanks. This puts you in control of your supply — even if just for a one-off event — but doesn’t mean you need to keep or maintain a helium tank. Instead, you can dispose of your tank or canister after use, according to local and manufacturer regulations. 

Customisable

You can purchase retail ready cylinders with a recognisable in-house brand, or work with our expert design team to customise helium tanks with your branding, logos, colours and packaging (with pre- and post delivery marketing support). This is perfect for businesses, such as party shops, event planners or retailers, looking to have a professional and cohesive brand image. Indeed, a personalised helium tank can help to improve brand awareness, build trust and recognition among your target audience, increase marketing opportunities and otherwise help you stand out from your competitors.

Customisation also allows you to align the helium tank with sponsors for events or specific promotional campaigns. 

This is often not possible when you rent a helium tank, as the tank will be reused for other businesses or applications. 

Uses

if you require helium for a more advanced application which requires more helium over a longer period of time, such as welding or cyrogenicsthen purchasing a helium tank could be the better option. You should consider the availability of helium suppliers in your area though; if there are reliable suppliers who can deliver helium or refill your tank with ease, then buying is the more convenient option. 

Final Considerations 

The decision to rent or buy ultimately comes down to the specific needs and circumstances of the consumer. If your helium needs are intermittent, renting may be the most practical and cost-effective option. However, you may face issues when helium is facing high demand or shortage. On the other hand, if you have consistent and frequent helium requirements, buying a helium tank can lead to long-term savings and enable you to have a constant supply, even during periods where there is a helium shortage. Just make sure that you will use the helium, and that you have adequate storage before making a final decision. 

You can rent or purchase helium tanks in various sizes, depending on your needs. At Worldwide Gas, we offer helium tanks and cylinders in the following sizes:

  • Mini: 1L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 15 balloons.
  • Essential: 7L Steel & 2.2L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 30 balloons.
  • Jumbo: 13L Steel & 3.3L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 45 – 50 balloons.
  • Mega: 22L Steel  –  Inflates 100 balloons.
While smaller cylinders are convenient for a small gathering or event, larger tanks are typically used for inflating a larger number of balloons, such as for weddings, large parties, or corporate functions. For businesses or organisations who need helium in bulk, including for applications that aren’t balloons (such as in medicine or science), helium manufacturers and wholesale suppliers may also be able to provide larger quantities helium at competitive prices. 
 

Worldwide Gas are the largest manufacturer of wholesale helium and nitrous oxide gas cylinders, tanks and accessories in the world. Our distributors have access to our design team, with pre- and post-delivery marketing support. Choose your branding, logos, colours and packaging, and work with our experts to bring your custom helium or nitrous oxide products to life. 

Want to work with us, or have another question? Contact our friendly team via email, WhatsApp, or video chat

The Ultimate Guide to Helium Balloons

Helium has a wide range of use across various industries, including manufacturing, science and medicine. However, what helium is best known for is inflating balloons — and for good reason. Helium is perfect for inflating balloons because its molecules are smaller and lighter than the air around us, allowing balloons to stay buoyant and airborne for long periods of time. Helium balloons also come in various shapes, sizes, and colours, providing a versatile option for several different occasions.

In this article, we’ll answer the most asked questions on helium balloons, including the different types of balloons available, how to inflate them, the different types of helium canisters, and the important safety precautions to follow.

Types of Helium Balloon

Helium balloons come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Each type of helium balloon has unique properties which make it suitable for specific occasions.

1. Latex Balloons

Latex balloons are the most common type of helium balloons. They are made from natural latex rubber and have a longer inflation time compared to regular balloons. 

You may also come across pearl or metallic latex balloons, which have a pearlescent or chrome-like finish. 

Regular latex balloons are not to be mistaken with helium latex balloons; regular latex balloons are typically filled with air, whereas helium latex balloons are filled with helium (as the name suggests). As a result, regular, air-filled latex balloons are not buoyant and will not float, whereas helium balloons rise and float, and can float for a period of time.

2. Foil Balloons

Foil balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, are made of aluminium-covered nylon, and have a shiny, reflective surface. Foil balloons are less elastic than helium balloons, meaning they are not made to expand and contract, and can be more vulnerable to deflating or bursting due to fluctuations in temperature.

Foil balloons are most often used for different shapes, such as numbers and letters, which make them a popular choice for special occasions and themed events where specific shapes or characters are desired. 

3. Giant Balloons 

It is possible to get giant latex and foil balloons which are oversized versions of regular latex and foil balloons. These can reach up to 55 inches in height, and are often used for parades, grand openings, product launches, large events or special occasions. 

4. Bubble Balloons 

Bubble balloons are made from a clear, stretchy plastic, and once inflated, are a round beach ball shape. Bubble balloons tend to be filled with confetti, feathers, foliage or other balloons for special occasions, such as weddings, baby showers or parties. 

Choosing the right helium balloon for you depends on the occasion and any specific requirements you may have, such as the event’s theme or the ideal floating time.

How to Inflate Helium Balloons

Inflating helium balloons requires a few essential tools and some careful considerations to ensure that your balloons float. You will need:

  • Helium Tank or Canister: You can rent or purchase a helium tank or canister from a party supply store, or via an event planner. The size of the tank or canister will depend on the number of balloons you plan to inflate.
  • Helium Regulator: This device attaches to the helium tank or canister and allows you to control the flow of helium into the balloons.
  • String, Ribbons & Weights: You’ll need string, ribbon or weights to attach to the balloons and anchor them in place.
  1. Before inflating the balloons, make sure they are clean and free of any dust or dirt.
  2. Attach the helium regulator to the helium tank or canister following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Hold the balloon by the neck and place it over the nozzle of the helium tank or canister, and gently release helium into the balloon until it reaches the desired size. Be careful not to over inflate the balloon, as this can cause it to burst.
  4. Tie the balloon securely at the neck, using a knot or ribbon. Foil balloons are often self-sealing, so there is no need for tying in this instance.
  5. Attach your string, ribbons or weights if required. 
  6. When you have finished inflating balloons, close the valve on the tank and store as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Safety Precautions for Helium Balloons

When storing and handling helium, it’s important to follow strict safety guidelines. 

Storage

Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Helium canisters should also be placed upright and anchored in place, to avoid being dropped or knocked over. 

Transportation

Helium should be in an approved container or cylinder, and should be firmly secured during transport. Always transport helium cylinders in an upright position, ensure that the vehicle or storage area where helium cylinders are transported is well-ventilated, and that the cylinder valve is  closed and securely sealed during transport.

You should also protect the helium container from exposure to extreme heat, direct sunlight, and flames, as this can lead to cylinder rupture. 

Keep in mind that local and national regulations related to transporting compressed gases can differ, and you may require a permit or licence to purchase and transport helium. 

Ventilation

When inflating helium balloons indoors, ensure that the area is well-ventilated. Helium displaces oxygen, and in a poorly ventilated room, this can cause health issues. 

You should also avoid inhaling helium as, when it displaces oxygen, it can cause nausea, dizziness, unconsciousness or even death. The majority of serious health issues and deaths related to helium inhalation involve inhaling helium from a pressurised tank, rather than a balloon – though both should be avoided. 

Disposal 

Dispose of empty helium tanks or disposable canisters according to local and manufacturer regulations. 

Types of Helium Tanks

Your choice of helium tank depends on the quantity of balloons you need to inflate. Helium tanks tend to come in a range of sizes, for both small and larger-scale events and applications, in both disposable and refillable variations.

At Worldwide Gas, we offer helium tanks and cylinders in the following ranges:

  • Mini: 1L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 15 balloons.
  • Essential: 7L Steel & 2.2L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 30 balloons.
  • Jumbo: 13L Steel & 3.3L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 45 – 50 balloons.
  • Mega: 22L Steel  –  Inflates 100 balloons.
While economy products are convenient for blowing up a small number of balloons for a small gathering or event, larger tanks are typically used for inflating a larger number of balloons, such as for weddings, large parties, or corporate functions.

Where to Find Helium Balloons

Looking for helium balloons? Here are some options to consider. 

Party Supply Shops

Local party supply stores often carry a wide range of helium balloons, including latex and foil varieties. Some party shops will also sell helium tanks, so you can inflate your balloons at home. 

Event Companies

If you’re planning a large event, you might consider contacting event companies. They often provide helium tank rental services and can assist with balloon arrangements, arches, and other decorations.

Retailers

Other online retailers will sell balloons, accessories, and helium canisters that can be delivered to your business or home. 

For businesses or event planners who need balloons in bulk, helium manufacturers and wholesale suppliers may offer cost-effective solutions, providing large quantities of balloons and helium canisters at competitive prices.

Worldwide Gas are the largest manufacturer of wholesale helium and nitrous oxide gas cylinders, tanks and accessories in the world. Our distributors have access to our design team, with pre- and post-delivery marketing support. Choose your branding, logos, colours and packaging, and work with our experts to bring your custom helium or nitrous oxide products to life. 

Want to work with us, or have another question? Contact our friendly team via email, WhatsApp, or video chat.

Helium vs. Air-Filled Balloons

balloon being filled up with helium

Although helium and air balloons are often used for the same purpose (parties and events), whether a balloon is filled with helium or air has a significant impact on how it can be used. 

The biggest difference between the two is that helium is lighter and less dense than air, which means helium balloons float, whereas air balloons do not. This is because air-filled balloons are heavier than the surrounding air, making them not buoyant and unable to float; they will remain in the location where they are placed, whereas helium balloons will rise. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the other pros and cons of helium vs. air-filled balloons, to help you better understand the difference between the two and make an informed choice about which one is best for your needs.

1. Lifespan

Helium is lighter-than-air, so helium balloons stay afloat for longer than air-filled balloons. Air-filled balloons, on the other hand, have a much shorter lifespan and will require reinflation if longer-term decorations are needed.

Keep in mind that helium balloons’ float time can be affected by temperature variations, such as extreme heat or being stored in a cold environment.

2. Ability to Float

Due to their ability to float, helium balloons can be used to create impressive floating decorations and centrepieces. On the other hand, air-filled balloons can’t float and therefore don’t have the same visual effect. However, they can still be used as a cost-effective option for decorations, such as part of a grounded balloon bouquet or arch.

3. Reusability

Helium balloons are not typically intended to be reused. Once you inflate a helium balloon and it begins to deflate, it’s difficult to reseal it. If the balloon is still in good shape, you can refill it with more helium gas to make it float again, but this tends to only be possible with mylar balloons, rather than latex balloons.

Air-filled balloons, on the other hand, can be deflated and reused, especially if they are made from a durable material.

Keep in mind that the helium itself can come in both refillable and disposable tanks, depending on you or your customers needs. 

4. Design

Both helium and air-filled balloons can be enhanced with written messages and custom images.

However, helium balloons come in a wide range of shapes, size, colours and textures, allowing for more creative possibilities depending on the occasion. These tend to be made from foil, and might include shapes, numbers, letters, animals, characters, food, drink, and themed or everyday objects, such as footballs or pumpkins.

If you’re supplying the helium, custom branding can also be added to the helium cylinders themselves, to make them uniquely yours. 

5. Event

On a similar note, you should consider what you need the balloons for. If you want to create eye-catching ceiling or floating table decorations, helium would be best to create the desired effect. You can also tether helium balloons using decorative ribbons and weights, for a professional design with an effortless float.

That said, for a grounded or wall decoration, air-filled balloons will do the job. 

6. Ease of Use

Filling balloons with air is generally more accessible as air is available everywhere. However, filling balloons with helium offers several advantages – the main one being that helium-filled balloons float, which helps to create more unique and eye-catching decorations and displays.

Helium is also available to rent or buy in canisters, cylinders and tanks in a range of sizes to cater to your needs. Whether you need balloons for a small or larger-scale event then, there will be a convenient helium solution that makes it easy for you – or your customers – to fill balloons. 

7. Cost

Helium-filled balloons are typically more expensive than air-filled ones. However, helium balloons tend to be a more worthwhile investment depending on what you need the balloons for, and how long you need them to last.

For example, if you want to decorate an event with floating balloons that last, you will need helium balloons. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective option for a grounded decoration, air-filled balloons will suffice.

If you’re an event planner, party shop owner or other retailer, selecting the right type of  balloon can impact your success. Consider the factors mentioned above when deciding between helium-filled and air-filled balloons, and make your choice based on the specific requirements of your event or business.

 

At Worldwide Gas, we are the largest manufacturer of wholesale helium and nitrous oxide gas cylinders, tanks and accessories in the world. Better yet, our distributors have access to our design team, with pre- and post-delivery marketing support. Choose your branding, logos, colours and packaging, and work with our experts to bring your custom helium or nitrous oxide products to life.

Want to work with us, or have another question? Contact our friendly team via email, WhatsApp, or video cha

9 Important, Everyday Uses of Helium

Helium, with the chemical symbol He and atomic number 2, is the second lightest and second most abundant element in the universe. It is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-toxic gas, which has the lowest boiling point (-268.3°C) amongst all elements. It also remains in a gaseous state at most temperatures and pressures on Earth. 

Although helium is best known for inflating balloons, these unique properties make it suitable for a range of other applications. In fact, helium plays a crucial role in various scientific, industrial, and medical applications, from healthcare to flight. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different uses for helium in more detail, and explain why this noble gas is brilliant for inflating balloons — and much more.

1. Balloons

Helium’s low density makes it an excellent choice for inflating balloons. Its molecules are smaller and lighter than the air around us, so it easily fills the balloon’s interior, allowing it to stay buoyant and airborne for long periods of time. In fact, due to its unique properties, helium balloons can stay afloat for up to several days, depending on the size and type of balloon.

Helium balloons tend to be available in a wide range of colours, shapes, and sizes, which makes them perfect for parties, promotional events, parades, and other festive occasions. The gas is commonly stored in pressurized helium cylinders which can be rented or bought, and allows for easy inflation of balloons on-site.

2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Helium plays a crucial role in the operation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. An MRI machine includes coils, a magnet, and wires that conduct an electric current. In order to function, a coolant is required to cool down the superconducting magnets. 

Helium cools low-temperature superconducting materials and low-temperature superconducting magnets to a temperature close to absolute zero, so that the electrical resistance of superconductors drops abruptly to zero. Thus, liquid helium is used to cool the superconducting magnets in MRI machines, allowing them to operate at extremely low temperatures without any electrical resistance. The more powerful magnetic field also results in radiological image scans in much greater detail. 

An MRI unit requires approximately 2,000 litres of liquid helium to keep the magnet cool enough to operate. Additional refills may be required over the lifetime of the unit. However, manufacturers have been putting helium reclamation units in MRI scanners since the 1990s to recycle helium and avoid a shortage. 

3. Cryogenics 

As well as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), helium’s ability to exist in a liquid state at ultra-low temperatures also makes it useful for preserving biological materials, including sperm, eggs, embryos and tissues. It can also be used for studying the properties of matter at very low temperatures, by cooling instruments and equipment in research settings. 

However, this list is far from extensive. Helium is used as a super coolant for lots of cryogenic applications, such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES), particle accelerators and magnetic levitation transport.

4. Welding

Helium’s high thermal conductivity and non-flammable properties allows for precise and efficient welding and cutting processes, resulting in cleaner and higher-quality welds with fewer defects. 

As helium might enable higher flow rates, this could increase welding speeds in some circumstances. Although helium can be more expensive, that cost is often offset by the faster weld speeds and higher-quality result.

In addition to this, the high ionisation potential of helium enables the plasma arc welding of exotic metals such as titanium, zirconium, magnesium and aluminium alloys used in construction and aerospace. 

5. Leak Detection

Helium is widely used for leak detection in various industries, but is most often used where gas or liquid leaks could pose safety hazards, such as in aerospace, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and electronics manufacturing. 

Helium is chosen as the tracer gas because it has the smallest molecular size and can therefore detect leaks at extremely low levels. In addition to this, helium will not react with any of the materials within the part that is to be tested, and is considered safe to use. 

A leak is detected through the helium leak test by charging helium gas and passing the leaked gas through the mass analyser tube to detect helium only. In most helium leak testing applications, a mass spectrometer is used.

6. Space Exploration

Blimps, airships and high-altitude scientific balloons, such as weather balloons, take flight with helium. Helium is the second lightest element after hydrogen. However, unlike hydrogen which has flammable properties, helium is a safe and non-combustible option. 

Helium is also used in spacecraft and satellites for various other purposes, including pressurising propellant and fuel tanks, and cooling instruments. For example, helium has been applied in pressure purging operations to maintain pressure in liquid oxygen fuel in Delta IV rockets, to prevent them from collapsing.

7. Deep Sea Diving

For professional divers in water depths below 30m, helium-enriched breathing gas can be used to keep them safe. Helium has extremely low solubility in water and blood and is less narcotic than nitrogen, reducing the risk of nitrogen narcosis or the build-up of nitrogen in blood. Helium is also less dense than nitrogen, which enables faster gas exchange and minimises decompression time. 

In addition to this, helium is non-flammable and non-toxic, making it a safe choice for use in high-pressure environments. It also doesn’t cause corrosion to the diving equipment. 

8. Lasers

Helium-neon lasers are a type of gas laser that emit a highly visible, red light, often used in laser pointers, barcode scanners, and alignment devices. These lasers are known for being stable and coherent, which make them valuable tools for various applications, from scanning and printing to retinal scanning systems and scientific research.

Helium-neon lasers operate by exciting a mixture of helium and neon gases within a sealed glass tube. An electrical glow discharge excites helium atoms, which transfer their energy to neon atoms during the collisions.

9. Thermal Spraying

Helium is used as powder carrier gas for fast thermal spraying (sometimes known as metal spraying), a versatile industrial process used for applying protective coatings, and repairing or enhancing the properties of various materials and components.

Helium is used as a cooling gas to maintain the stability of the process and prevent overheating, and to improve coating quality by allowing for better control over the cooling and solidification of the molten particles. 

Image via The Open University, Thermal Spraying (2018).

At Worldwide Gas, we are the largest manufacturer of wholesale helium and nitrous oxide gas cylinders, tanks and accessories in the world. Better yet, our distributors have access to our design team, with pre- and post-delivery marketing support. Choose your branding, logos, colours and packaging, and work with our experts to bring your custom helium or nitrous oxide products to life. Want to work with us, or have another question? Contact our friendly team via email, WhatsApp, or video chat.