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Filling Propane Tanks

by Peter

Most grills and small campers use standard 20 lb propane tanks. A 20 lb tanks holds 20 pounds of propane, right? Not necessarily. "Blue Rhino" and similar exchange tanks are charged with only 15 to 16.5 pounds of propane. If you notice, none of their displays say that you are getting 20 pounds of propane. You're not.

If you go to a gas dealer or hardware store, where they actually fill your personally owned, 20 lb tank, they will fill the tank completely - until OPD (overfill prevention device) clicks off - and charge you for 20 pounds. So you get - and pay for - 20 pounds of propane, right? Not necessarily. Most tanks that are refilled are not completely empty but, if they're filling a "20 lb tank" they will charge you for "20 pounds" whether they actually delivered 20 pounds or not. And they usually are not.

The only place where you get what you pay for is a dealer or hardware store that charges you for the actual amount of propane delivered - usually in gallons - as reflected on the the meter on their delivery system.

How do you know if the dealer that you just walked into charges by the pound or gallon? You ask them when you first walk in the door. You can say something like, "I have a tank that's about one quarter full but I want it filled up. Do you charge by the gallon or just by the size of the tank?" If the person has no idea what you're talking about, they charge by the size of the tank. Go elsewhere unless you're desperate

Comments for Filling Propane Tanks

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Dec 14, 2012
30-lb.Tank vs. 20-lb. Tank
by: Anonymous

I have both 20 and 30 lb. tanks. When I get them refilled, each get the same amount of fuel (6.8 gallons]. Why? two different size tanks same amount of fuel. I'm confused. What should a 20-lb or 30-lb tank hold? It's getting expensive and confusing and I'd like the answer.

Oct 27, 2011
Propane Refills
by: Anonymous

The propane company I have do my refills uses a scale and charges you by the weight of the propane added. Simple!

Dec 30, 2009
Overfilling and underfilling propane tanks
by: Anonymous

"New" (triangular valve handle) propane tanks have a built in overfill prevention valve. "Old" (round valve handle) tanks, without this feature, are no longer refillable and haven't been for some time. Folks fill the tank until the overfill valve closes and no more can go in. This insures the maximum, correct fill quantity and no more. No thinking involved. Blue Rhino tanks have this same safety valve but are filled with less than this quantity. A person pays for a "20 lb" tank of gas (what ever the actual weight is) and expects he/she got the correct amount; ie he maximum, safe amount the tank can hold. This is not what you get with Blue Rhino. But, to say the truth, none of their literature says what you are getting for your dough. The assumption is that the tank is full but it is not.

Dec 27, 2009
20Lb tank
by: Anonymous

Regulations state that pressure vessels can only be charged to 80% of their capacity. Blue Rhino is doing what they are supposed to do. The people who fill your tank until the relief valve blows are putting your safety at risk. Pressure vessel codes and regulations are written to keep people from being hurt or killed.
Kudos for Blue Rhino...

Dec 17, 2009
Propane Gas
by: Anonymous

They most all charge you a minimum 5 gallons also. Never fill a half empty tank as the price goes up for what you get. Here it's now at $3.15 a gallon with most asking $5.00 at the least. I have 3 tanks and only fill the one that is 100% empty.

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