In 1905, the world’s first gas station (also known as filling station) was built in St. Louis Missouri.
Over the past century, the United States has seen a significant increase in vehicles manufactured, and so, gas stations have had to grow and change alongside the industry. Modern gas stations have seen an increase in the type of gasoline sold, and many also include a convenience store that carries snacks, drinks, and car related necessities (such as windshield washer fluid).
Number of Gas Stations in U.S (2014): 152,995
Gas Stations with Convenience Stores: 82.2%
Percent of Sales – Regular Gas: 50.72%
Percent of Sales – Diesel Fuel: 14.87%
Percent of Sales – Mid-Grade Gas: 7.2%
Percent of Sales – Premium Gas: 5.31%
Highest Gas Sales Per Capita (States): Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa
Gasoline Storage Tanks
Gas stations all over America have the gasoline delivered and stored onsite in tanks. At most gas stations, these tanks are not visible to the customer due to the fact that they are buried underground. Each can hold several thousand gallons of gas. Typically a gas station will have two tanks, each designated to hold a different type of gas.
The primary function of the gasoline tanks is to store the gasoline until the customer purchases it, by pumping it into their vehicle. To get the gas from the underground tanks, into a car at street level requires a bit of engineering. A submersible pump is placed underneath the surface of the liquid. That pump has an impeller (which is similar to a propeller) that pushes the fuel in an upward direction. From there, a suction pump forces the gas to move into a pipe, which leads into the dispenser above ground.
The electric power it takes to get the pumps working at any local gas station is consumed from the electricity grid servicing the area. Some states do require gas stations to own a backup generator in case of power outages.
Types of Fuel
There are several types of gas that customers can pump into their vehicle. The most common types in North America include,
Regular Unleaded Gasoline: This is the most common type of gas used in around the world. It does not contain lead, which makes it environmentally friendly.
Diesel Fuel: This type of fuel is similar to gasoline in that it converts into energy that then gets a vehicle to move. The main difference between the two is in how that energy is produced. Gasoline relies on spark plugs whereas diesel has a much hotter or powerful compression process. Many large transport trucks run on diesel fuel.
Premium Unleaded Gasoline: This type of gas is much better for a vehicles engine as well as the environment. Similar to regular gas, it also does not contain lead, which is incredibly harmful to the environment.
Gas Stations as a Small Business
Many gas stations within the United States are owned by an individual(s) or an organization. In fact, one person can own one to many gas stations in the same area, and so can an organization. As most gas stations also provide services via a convenience store, they are considered to be a small business.
Like most small businesses, utility needs such as, water or electricity are required in order to help employees get through their day and run their business. Those same utilities also help customers to purchase goods and services from a gas station. For example, many gas stations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To help keep customers safe, these gas stations keep their bright lights on at all the time.
Keeping the lights on for such an extended period of time can significantly increase the amount gas station owners pay on their energy bills. The good news is, owners living in energy deregulated states have the option to choose their energy supplier. This means that based on competitive rates, plans and services, gas station owners can select the supply services that works best with their needs. They can also switch to another retail energy provider at any time, without any disruption in service.
Electric Charging Stations
Electric Charging Stations are a relatively new concept in the United States. Instead of gas, these stations provide a way to power vehicles that run via electricity instead of gas or diesel. These vehicles include,
- Plug-In Hybrids
- Plug-In Electric Vehicles
- Electric Cars
- Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
As of 2013, 5,678 charging stations had been installed in many states including, California, Texas and Washington. While gasoline is still the dominant fuel for vehicles around the world, electric car purchases are starting to see an increase. The primary reason for this shift is because using less gas also decreases the pollution generated from burning that particular type of fuel.