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Old 11-03-2004, 08:00 PM   #1
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How full is the propane tank?

I'm still pretty new to the use of propane. I was using the oven the other evening & it quit working - the propane tank was empty. We took it to our local propane place & they replaced the valve on top & filled the tank. I asked the serviceman if there was a gauge or something we could purchase that would indicate the amount of fuel remaining in the tank. He said there was not. Beside physically removing the tank & shaking it, is there any way to tell about how much is left?

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Old 11-03-2004, 08:36 PM   #2
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Do you have one tank, or two? On my trailer I have two propane tanks, and a regulator/switch that draws gas from one tank. When that tank is empty, it automatically draws from the second tank, and shows a "red flag" to indicate that it has switched over. That is my signal to turn off the empty one, disconnect it and get it filled while the second tank supplies my needs.


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Old 11-03-2004, 08:46 PM   #3
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I have horizontal tanks and they have a gage on each of them. They give ballpark readings they came with the 94 trailer. I haven't seen them on upright tanks but then I haven't looked either. I put the regulator to the side I am using and only turn on one tank at a time. A 40# tank of fuel usually lasts me about 3 weeks when using it steady. When the tank is empty I switch the regulator and turn on the other tank, remove the empty one and get it refilled. The problem I have with leaving the regulator in the automatic positon is that I have emptied both tanks with out realizing that either was out of fuel.
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tarheel
The problem I have with leaving the regulator in the automatic positon is that I have emptied both tanks with out realizing that either was out of fuel.
You must not look at them very often! Even with putting about 12,000 miles on the trailer this last year, using the oven, and using it all of the Texas winter, I only managed to empty two 30# tanks.

I look at the red flag each time I turn off the tanks when putting the trailer in storage. If a tank has gone red, I take it with me and fill it. I could forget to look at the flag for almost 6 months and still never run out of propane.

BTW, both the gages and the monitor panel inside the trailer show empty long before the regulator switches. Since they get a flat fee for a refill, I don't refill until it actually goes red. It's the Scot in me.
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:46 PM   #5
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My '01 Safari did not have gauges on the tanks. I really didn't consider that a problem. Normally I ran with only one tank opened up. Once weather got cold and the furnace started running frequently, I would go out to the tank and look for condensation on the tank. That condensation would clearly point out the liquid level in the tank. Once it got down pretty low, I would turn on the other tank and occasionally check the indicator as described in a previous post. Once it was red, I would close off the valve on the empty tank and get it filled. Never ran out of gas. I would use about one tank a season. On the Classic that I just winterized, I'm still on the first tank of gas.

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Old 11-04-2004, 10:40 AM   #6
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to check tank

BJ, The cheap way to check your tank is to pour very hot water over the tank and wait a couple seconds and run your hand down the side and where the tank turns cold is where the propane level is. Camping world sells a thing to check it with too. I don't know how much they are, I just remember seeing them. Marvin
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Old 11-04-2004, 02:56 PM   #7
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Also, you can tap on the tank and when the sound changes, you've found the level.

We've gone through 1.5 tanks so far, mostly cause we got the Safari in December and dry camped in it a few times until spring. One night it was cold and snowy. The snow was blowing nearly totally horizontal. Warm and toasty inside...thank to propane...though after I filled the tank, I found out how expensive propane has become.
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Old 11-04-2004, 03:32 PM   #8
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Some Flying J's will sell you propane by the gallon. You can take a partially filled tank and have it topped off. It would be nice if all propane retailers did this, but abuse in the past probably put the kabash on it. The attendent at Flying J told me someone brought a 20# tank in and he topped it off with 25 cents worth of gas.
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Old 11-04-2004, 03:42 PM   #9
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Thanks to all who responded with the suggestions. 1) Someone asked how many tanks we have. We have two. We had the valve replaced on one & filled when we bought the A/S but continued to use the partial old one that didn't have the special valve. That's the one that ran out (in the middle of my cornbread!). We have now had it updated. 2) I don't know about any "red flag". Possibly the old one didn't have one & maybe the new one will. Where is it supposed to be? 3) I don't have anything on my monitor panel indicating anything for the propane tanks.

Actually, I use very little propane since the water heater has been converted to electricity & I prefer to do any heating with an elec space heater. I do however keep the refrig running while we're on the road. I just wanted to avoid another supper disaster. Thanks again for the suggestions. Betty Jo
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Old 11-04-2004, 06:07 PM   #10
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I went to an RV show last year and noticed that an SOB trailer had one 30 lb. steel tank with a rectangular shaped gauge on it. I checked and it was a new OPD valve but I was not able to check out the maker of the tank. It looked like just the ticket for those wanting a steel tank with a gauge. I've been kicking myself ever since because this topic comes up from time to time.

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Old 11-05-2004, 11:21 AM   #11
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Walmart (again?) sells a propane gas meter in their grill section. I installed one on my grill and it works fine tho like the red/green signal on my trailer tanks, the Walmart gauge doesn't say much till it turns yellow/red. I think my orig. equipment gauge on the trailer is quite sufficient. Let the indicator go red, automatically switching tanks, and then pull one out and refill it.
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Old 12-09-2004, 02:32 AM   #12
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Old 12-09-2004, 11:04 AM   #13
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You said: "I don't know about any "red flag". Possibly the old one didn't have one & maybe the new one will."

The "red flag" is part of the regulator and is separate from your tanks. If you follow the hose/tube from each propane tank, they will converge at a device that automatically switches between the two tanks. Attached to the switching device is the pressure regualtor. It is usually circular and about 3" in diameter.

If both tanks are connected and the valves open, this device will switch your gas supply from the one that ran dry to the full one. At the same time it will display a red "flag" inside a window. As discussed in other posts here, you can close the valve on the empty one, remove it and get it filled while maintaining the gas supply to the trailer.

Close examination of the device will reveal some sort of switch. One I just looked at has a sliding switch, and the word reserve" shows at one end. The tank that is functioning as your backup will be connected to that side. If the slide is moved toward that direction, "reserve" will show up from under the other end. This switch is to be changed AFTER the empty tank has been filled and installed. Really a neat device. Other designs may have arrows and a knob to turn, but it does the same thing.

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Old 12-09-2004, 12:24 PM   #14
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Well, it's a bit more complicated, but you can use the same method that a filler (like myself) might use.

Every tank has several stamped-in markings, among them, the following:

TW (followed by a number)
WC (followed by a number)

The figure after TW is your empty (or TARE) weight in pounds (=no propane). The number after WC (WATER CAPACITY) is multiplied by .42 to get the propane capacity of the tank in pounds.

To make things easy for you, the usual RV tank (seven gallon) will have a propane weight of ~30 pounds. Add that to the TW, and then put the tank on your bathroom scale. If the weight is close to the TW, then it's darned near empty. If the number is close to TW+30, then you're close to full.

If you're not sure that your tanks are the usual seven-gallon variety, then do a one-time multiplication of (WC X .42) to make sure.

Also note that the TW of steel tanks and the TW of aluminum tanks are not the same, for obvious reasons.

Take care!!


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