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Old 09-17-2012, 07:25 PM   #1
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Propane questions

How many gallons of propane does a 20 lb. tank hold? How much does a gallon of propane weigh? Does a 20 lb. tank hold 20 lbs of propane, or is that the weight of the fuel plus tank? Finally, is there such a thing as a fuel gauge for a 20 lb tank that works? My dealer says not really, but geeze we put a man on the moon (once upon a time), how hard could it be to make a simple gauge that lets you know if you've got enough fuel for your next trip without having to top off the tank just to be sure? Any input appreciated, thanks.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:42 PM   #2
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A 20 gallon tank holds about 4.7 gallons, but they are not to be filled beyond 80 - 85% so most fill to 4 or 4.5 gallons. A gallon weighs about 4.2 lbs.
The propane in a 20lb tank weighs 20 lbs if completely full hence the 20 lb designation, but here again 16 to 18 lbs would be considered about full. The Blue Rhino exchange tanks only have 15 lbs of propane in them, you`ll get more propane with a refill of your tanks for less money in most places.
There are some gauges available but I`ve never used them, if it feels light to me I fill it. But we do not use that much propane, maybe 30lbs in a season.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:43 PM   #3
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Google says 4.2 Lbs per US Gallon. Thus 4.1 Gallons per 20 Lb. cylinder The 20 Lbs does not include the weight of the empty cylinder.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:16 PM   #4
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How many gallons of propane does a 20 lb. tank hold? How much does a gallon of propane weigh? Does a 20 lb. tank hold 20 lbs of propane, or is that the weight of the fuel plus tank? Finally, is there such a thing as a fuel gauge for a 20 lb tank that works? My dealer says not really, but geeze we put a man on the moon (once upon a time), how hard could it be to make a simple gauge that lets you know if you've got enough fuel for your next trip without having to top off the tank just to be sure? Any input appreciated, thanks.

We got burnt twice this year by running out of gas. We thought it was weird and brought it in for a possible leak but they said all is well. That's why it's ideal to have a dual tank setup so that way if one runs out you can just switch to the next tank and then fill the empty tank when you get home. This was one of the main things we looked for in our new camper.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:18 PM   #5
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There are gauges out there that are supposed to tell you the propane level, but they do not work IMHO. I am not an expert, so if I have this a little off someone correct me....but there is liquid in the bottom of the tank and you are pulling off the gas. The pressure of the gas remains pretty constant until the end. Some of our motor home folks can chime in, but I think they have a special sensor in the tank that gives the level reading - but those tanks are permanently mounted. The 20 and 30 lb tanks dont have it I imagine because it just adds to the cost.

Here is my trick - I tap on the tank with finger and wedding ring....as you move down the tank the sound changes and I can tell about where the level of liquid starts.....not exact, but gives me a rough estimate. Granted my ring is not really round anymore...and has a crack in it...but hey...after 20 years of marriage you would expect a few cracks
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:02 PM   #6
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Here is my trick - I tap on the tank with finger and wedding ring....as you move down the tank the sound changes and I can tell about where the level of liquid starts.....not exact, but gives me a rough estimate. Granted my ring is not really round anymore...and has a crack in it...but hey...after 20 years of marriage you would expect a few cracks
..."after 20 years you would expect a few cracks"....I agree...and also a few on your head...especially after 41 years. Good method, fishy...it works as well as anything else.
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:31 AM   #7
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Best way to gauge, weigh your empty tank, then weigh your full tank. You can get really small weighing devices at sporting good stores that are for weighing fish.

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Old 09-18-2012, 09:27 AM   #8
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I use a good old fashion clothes line pin clipped around the propane hose being used. When it runs out I move the pin to the other line... Otherwise I forget which one to switch to. I try to take the empty one to get filled right away.

Then I usually forget which one gets the clothespin - the one that is full or the one that is empty - its fun getting old...

Since i stopped running the furnace so much I get a long life out of two 20LB propane tanks on my POPUP trailer...
We also cook alot on the Coleman Roadkill grill which uses the 1lb canisters...

I too have those in-line gauges and everytime I look at them when I open the valve they always read full or green...
Dont have much faith in them...
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:46 AM   #9
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your tank will be stamped with a weight when full. I think mine are stamped 40.2 lbs. That the 20lb of propane plus the weight of the tank. On a side note... and I just learned this. By law exchange tanks such as blue rhino and amerigas are only allowed to be filled to 15 lbs. So do yourself a favor and never exchange out your own tank because although they are 20lb tanks they cannot be filled to 20 lbs therefore you get ripped off 5 lbs. And there more expensive.

For checking the level, I pour hot water over the tank and then run my hand down the side of the tank until you feel the metal cold. Where the metal changes from warm to cold is the level of propane inside the tank.
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:38 PM   #10
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My trailer has an auto switching valve. I just check the tanks when I usually fill up at a flying j. When empty the valve goes from green to red, and starts to pull from the full tank. I then switch to the full tank and fill the empty one. I ten know I am good to go for a while.
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