How Can You Tell How Full Your Propane Tank Is?

We’re in the midst of outdoor living season in Connecticut, which means it’s time to fire up your propane BBQ grill! Simply ensure that you have extra gas for your next summer BBQ.

However, as any veteran propane griller knows, most 20-pound propane barbecue cylinders lack a gauge, which means you’ll need to figure out how much fuel is left in your tank in another method.

Here are three easy ideas to get you started:

1. Make use of warm water. This safe and straightforward method for determining how much propane is left in your tank was given by the FiX IT Home Improvement Channel. To accomplish this,

  • Fill a small bucket halfway with warm to hot tap water and set aside.
  • Pour the water down the tank’s side.
  • Feel for a cool location around the tank’s side using your hand.

The fill level of the tank is at the top of the cold spot (it’s cool because liquid propane inside the tank absorbs heat from the water, making the tank’s metal wall cool to the touch).

2. Check the tank’s weight. On the handle of most propane grill tanks are two numbers: the water capacity (“WC”) and the tare weight (TW), which is the weight of the tank when it is empty. When empty, most grilling tanks weigh around 17 pounds and store around 20 pounds of gas.

Simply weigh your tank on a scale and subtract the TW number to find out how much propane is left in it. If a 27-pound tank has a TW of 17 pounds, there’s about 10 pounds of gas left, or little more than half a tank.

3. Install a gauge on the outside of the building. Options for external propane tank gauges include:

  • Installed between the gas line from the grill and the tank’s cut-off valve, inline pressure gauges measure pressures to determine how full the tank is.
  • Analog propane scales resemble luggage scales and are pre-programmed to account for your tank’s TW.
  • A digital display of remaining cook time and gas fill percentage is provided by digital propane tank scales. Some even have apps for smart phones.

Choose a gauge that you like (they’re available at your local hardware shop and on Amazon) and try it out!

Don’t let your propane cylinder burn you.

Before your next summer party, use these ways to figure out how much gas is left in your tank. Don’t panic if you run out of propane; simply visit one of our Connecticut showrooms for a propane cylinder refill!

What is the capacity of a full propane tank?

If you check your tank gauge on a regular basis, you may have noticed that the number never reaches 100%, even after you receive a delivery from us. However, this is absolutely for the sake of safety. This is why.

The propane in your tank is kept in liquid form. Before leaving the tank, the liquid turns into gas. That is why it is referred to as liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

When the temperature of propane rises, it expands like any other liquid. The difference with propane is that it expands a lot and quickly, roughly 17 times the volume of water when the temperature rises by the same amount.

This is why your Wilson Oil and Propane delivery driver must leave enough room in your tank for propane to expand safely. Because underground propane tanks are insulated against the heat, they can be filled slightly higher than aboveground tanks. The additional tank space acts as a cushion against the pressure that builds up inside the tank. A 500-gallon tank, for example, filled to 80% capacity will safely hold 400 gallons of propane.

In warmer weather, when liquid propane expands the most, the so-called “80 percent rule” is especially significant. It’s important to remember that the volume of gas in the tank doesn’t change during expansion and contraction; only its density alters. Don’t be concerned if the tank gauge reading varies slightly during rapid temperature variations (hot day, cool night), this is entirely natural.

Because propane gas expands, you should never paint your outdoor propane tank a dark color, as dark colors absorb more heat.

What is the best way to read a propane tank level indicator?

If you have a propane tank for household energy, you’ve probably seen that the tank indicator displays 80 percent following a propane delivery.

Don’t worry, you’re not being duped, and your tank or gauge are in perfect working order. Although you utilize propane as a gas, it is stored in your tank as a liquid to allow it to expand and contract when the ambient temperature changes. The maximum fill percentage will always be set at 80%.

To figure out how much gas is in your propane tank, do some easy math. Simply multiply the tank’s capacity by the tank gauge reading.

For instance, if your 500-gallon tank has a gauge reading of 60%, it implies you still have 300 gallons of gas in your tank (500 x 0.6).

If you don’t want to do the math, here’s a chart that will tell you how much gas is left in your propane tank based on the size of your tank and the reading on your gauge:

Is there a propane tank gauge?

Your propane tank has a gauge on it, regardless of its size, so you always know how much propane gas you have on hand and when it’s time for a propane delivery. But keep in mind that reading propane tank gauges is not the same as checking your car’s gas gauge.

How long would a 20-pound gas tank keep you going?

Grills, water heaters, and fireplaces all use small, portable propane tanks, often known as DOT tanks. They can weigh anywhere from 20 to 100 pounds. Its lifespan is determined by the size of your grill and how frequently you use your heater or fireplace.

A medium-sized grill on high heat will use about two pounds of fuel per meal as a rule of thumb. On a medium grill, a 20lb propane tank will give 18-20 hours of cooking time if you follow this rule. In as little as 10 hours, a larger barbecue can burn through 20 pounds of propane.

When a 20-pound propane tank is full, how much does it weigh?

The most popular size of BBQ propane tank is 20 lb. It can also be used to fuel a number of propane heaters and even propane generators.

The dimensions of a 20-pound propane tank are 8 inches length and 4-inches wide. According to the 80 percent safety guideline, a 20 lb propane tank can hold a total of 16 lb of propane.

The empty 20-pound propane tank weighs around 13.5 pounds. Aluminum 20 pound propane cylinders are lighter than steel cylinders.

On average, a full 20-pound propane tank weighs 29.5 pounds. To determine the total, add the 16 pound of propane to the empty weight (13.5 pound) of the 20 pound propane tank.

Overall, a 20 pound propane tank has a lot of BTUs. What is the precise number of BTUs in it?

344,470 BTUs are contained in a 20 pound propane tank. That’s enough to keep a 10,000 BTU/h heater running for several days (34.4 hours, to be exact).

In a 20-pound propane tank, how much propane is there?

Find a location near you to buy or exchange a 20-pound tank. Grill cylinders are 20-pound propane tanks that store 4.6 gallons of propane when fully charged.

How much does a full propane tank weigh?

The collar also has a month and year on it, showing when the tank was constructed. For 20-pound propane tanks, you have 12 years from the date of manufacture to re-certify the tank with a new date stamped on it. Re-certification simply adds 5 years to the time between re-certifications. Almost always, the cost and hassle of re-certifying outweighs the cost of a new tank.

Is it possible to overfill a propane tank?

We turned on the propane when we got to our campsite and didn’t notice anything was amiss. We turned on the furnaces in the evening when the temperature dropped into the lower 40s. The RV was frigid when we awoke, and the furnaces refused to turn on. Mark checked our propane stove, which had turned on but was functioning strangely, so he turned it off. The fill indicator was buried past the ‘full’ line when he examined the propane tank! That’s not how it’s intended to be!

Propane canisters should only be filled to 80% of their capacity to allow for expansion. Depending on the temperature, the same amount of propane can take up more or less area. When it’s hot outside, the extra space in the tank acts as a cushion against pressure that builds up inside the tank.

“A propane tank that has been overfilled might explode, inflicting damage and perhaps harm. The risk of overfilling is exacerbated by the fact that the liquid in the tank expands when the pressure in the tank rises in warmer weather. The tank could also open the relief valve, spilling propane into the ground.

When an RV propane tank is properly filled, it should not overfill because all tanks are equipped with safety measures that prevent this. But, because it did happen to us, this is what we did to rectify the situation.

  • We started by calling Mark’s brother, who has a propane tank and setup comparable to ours. We also did some research and reached out to members of the Tiffin Motorhome Owners Facebook page. A couple other people had experienced the same thing. We felt confident moving forward to handle the matter on our own because our propane tank included a pressure relief valve to relieve excess pressure.
  • We made sure there were no ignition sources near the propane tank because propane is heavier than air (open fire, someone smoking, etc.). We gradually opened and closed the bleeder valve. You’ll get a SOLID stream of near-liquid propane if the tank is overfilled. You get a mist of propane that is primarily vapor if the tank is at or below 80 percent. Mark noticed a steady stream of liquid propane coming from the bleeder valve.
  • We started with the propane stove because it has a lower flow pressure need. To burn off the gas, we turned on all of the stove burners. The stove burners restored to normal after 15 minutes.
  • We then turned on our propane furnaces, which immediately began to operate. We turned on the gas water heater, which also functioned properly. Then, to help reduce the propane in the tank, we ran everything for a long time. We did this on and off for the following few days. Our propane tank contains 36 gallons, as it turns out.
  • We kept an eye on the propane indicator on the tank and on our inside panel, which showed that the level was dropping. It took roughly a week for it to reach the 80 percent mark.

If this happens to you and you are unsure how to proceed, we recommend contacting someone who does, such as a mobile repair professional, an RV dealer, or a reliable propane seller.

We had a great day and wanted to share with you how vital it is to be educated and aware, especially when it comes to propane.

Heidi Bodette and her husband, Mark, are the proud owners and operators of the excellent blog Loving the RV Life. Sign up to get notified when this fascinating pair publishes new content.

How low should your propane tank be drained?

Don’t be alarmed if your propane tank gauge reads 20%. While this means it’s time to restock, you probably still have a few days of propane left. To avoid running out of propane, call your propane provider and plan a supply.

Reduce your propane usage as much as possible until your tank is refilled. If at all possible, avoid turning off your pilot lights. If your propane tank gauge falls below 10%, your technician will be forced to perform a safety check, which may incur an additional fee.

A professional propane supplier will do everything possible to have your delivery scheduled as soon as possible. Just keep in mind that you might have to buy a certain amount of gallons or pay a higher price if you buy less.

If you must use alternative fuels while waiting for propane, make sure all propane valves are closed. Make sure your space is well ventilated. Carbon monoxide and soot can be released into your home if you burn your fuels in an incomplete manner, especially if you use wood or coal.