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Old 10-13-2008, 11:59 AM   #1
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Propane Tanks - How Full are they?

Is there a simple way of determining how much propane is left in the tank? Are there any sorts of guages or such available, or some simple trick to give one an idea of how much propane is left?
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:09 PM   #2
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That's an easy one. Pour some warm water down the outside of the tank. You will see a condensation line form where the propane level is.
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:13 PM   #3
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Is it that easy? Cool! Thank you! I wonder if I can train one of my dogs to do that so I don't have to leave my warm, cozy, dry trailer!
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:36 PM   #4
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In this forum, you learn something new every day. Would you had ever guessed about pouring warm water on the tank?
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:31 PM   #5
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The next time you get them filled pour the warm water on them before you use them. The liquid level in a full tank is not all the way to the top so get a point of reference to work from.

A more accurate way is to weight the tank and compare the weight to those on the neck.

As a general rule if you can find a Flying J or other filling station that will sell by the gallon not the weight you will pay quite a bit less per fill up. Another point is you can fill a partially full tank and only pay for what you need not a complete fill up.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:39 AM   #6
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I don't know how reliable or costly it is but I see Costco has a gauge you can insert in the line out from the tank.
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Old 10-17-2008, 12:31 PM   #7
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I found out that once you warm the tank with water, you can feel where the propane is because it is cold. The metal of the cylinder where there is no LP behind it will be warm.
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Old 10-17-2008, 01:26 PM   #8
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Those $20 pressure gauges are about worthless. The vapor pressure of propane is the same no matter how much liquid is in the tank. The pressure only changes with temperature. They might give you a minute or two of warning right before the gas runs out.

You need a tank with a float type device to measure the liquid level in a propane tank.
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Old 10-17-2008, 02:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The next time you get them filled pour the warm water on them before you use them. The liquid level in a full tank is not all the way to the top so get a point of reference to work from.

A more accurate way is to weight the tank and compare the weight to those on the neck.

As a general rule if you can find a Flying J or other filling station that will sell by the gallon not the weight you will pay quite a bit less per fill up. Another point is you can fill a partially full tank and only pay for what you need not a complete fill up.
Pricing (that is, charging for) propane is quite a bit different from the safety considerations on filling, which is covered by various state laws, which, in turn, generally come from the regulations in the National Fire Protection Association propane book (see NFPA 58 at www.nfpa.org).

Safety considerations, again, coverered by state law and inspections in most areas, require that one fill either by weight (using a state-inspected scale) or by volume (using a bleed valve). The preferred method in many locations is by weight because filling by volume inevitably requires one to vent some propane into the atmosphere. (A few states around have sophisticated recapture devices fitted to the cylinder.)

Now, charging is pretty much anybody's story: Some outfits charge by the gallon; other outfits charge by the pound; others still have a flat rate for a given size of cylinder. In most places, it's pretty much whatever the dealer can get away with in a given competitive market; about the only level at which the state gets involved is with measurement devices (scale or gallon counter) to make sure that the dealer isn't cheating people. You'll see the same thing at gas stations: The little tag on the pump.

THE most accurate way to access the fill state of a cylinder for the vast majority of purposes is by weight.

Hum. I got carried away again!


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Old 10-17-2008, 04:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The next time you get them filled pour the warm water on them before you use them. The liquid level in a full tank is not all the way to the top so get a point of reference to work from.

A more accurate way is to weight the tank and compare the weight to those on the neck.

As a general rule if you can find a Flying J or other filling station that will sell by the gallon not the weight you will pay quite a bit less per fill up. Another point is you can fill a partially full tank and only pay for what you need not a complete fill up.
I don't understand. Aren't you always getting what you pay for regardless of paying by the pound, gallon etc? My local RV place charges by the pound and we can do top offs.

Thanks,

yakman
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:50 PM   #11
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I don't understand. Aren't you always getting what you pay for regardless of paying by the pound, gallon etc? My local RV place charges by the pound and we can do top offs.

Thanks,

yakman
Many places charge a flat rate for a size cylinder. In that case, it's important to know if the cylinder really gets filled as much as you are paying for.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:19 PM   #12
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Is it that easy? Cool! Thank you! I wonder if I can train one of my dogs to do that so I don't have to leave my warm, cozy, dry trailer!
Sorry, no. You have Labs not Border Collies.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:39 PM   #13
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I don't understand. Aren't you always getting what you pay for regardless of paying by the pound, gallon etc? My local RV place charges by the pound and we can do top offs.
Thanks,
yakman
Generally speaking, if an outfit charges by the (tenth of a) gallon or pound, you're probably getting a better deal.

Of course, if you've got a dead-empty cylinder, then an outfit that charges by the size of cylinder won't necessarily charge you that much more. However, it's been my experience that most cylinders do have a little left in them even after they fail to run RV appliances.

By the way, I personally haven't seen any outfits that actually charge by the pound; it's always been by the gallon. That's how we do it here on the park, for example. On the other hand, I've heard folks tell of places that charge by the pound -- though, of course, those folks may be confusing filling by the pound (a safety concern) with charging practices.


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Old 10-17-2008, 06:26 PM   #14
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I don't understand. Aren't you always getting what you pay for regardless of paying by the pound, gallon etc? My local RV place charges by the pound and we can do top offs.

Thanks,

yakman
Propane by the gallon is generally cheaper than any shop that sells it by the pound. Around here a campground may charge as much as $32.00 for a 30 pounder. I left that campground and stopped at Flying J and filled a completely empty 30, a 3/4 empty 30 pounder and added 5 lbs to my 10 pounder for a total of $41.45.

You do the math.

Another advantage to those of us using diesel is the pumps at Flying J the truck islands pump about 4 times as fast as diesel pumps at many stations and much faster than the RV island.
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