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How Much Gas Is In My Portable Propane Cylinder?

Posted: May 10, 2021

propane grill level north carolinaMay is National Barbecue month – which means it’s time to get out and cooking on your propane grill! Just be sure you have enough propane to get you through a busy summer of outdoor cooking.

If your grill is built-in and connected to your main propane tank, that means keeping an eye on your fuel gauge and scheduling a propane delivery when it gets to about one-quarter full. But if you use a 20-pound portable propane cylinder, things get a little more complicated.

That’s because 20-pound propane cylinders generally don’t have a gauge – which means you’ll have to find another way to judge how much propane is in your tank.

How To Check Your Propane Level

Here are three simple ways to do that.

  1. Use warm water. The FIX IT Home Improvement Channel shared this safe and simple trick to determine how much propane is left in your tank. To do it,
    • Fill a small bucket with warm to hot tap water.
    • Pour the water down the side of the tank.
    • Run your hand along the side of the tank and feel for a cool spot.

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

  2. Weigh the tank. Most propane grill tanks come with two numbers stamped on the handle – the water capacity (“WC”) and “Tare Weight” (TW – the weight of the tank when it’s empty). Most grilling tanks weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of gas.

    To measure how many pounds of propane are left in your tank, simply weigh it on a scale and subtract the TW number. For example, if a tank weighing 27 pounds has a TW of 17 pounds, there’s about 10 pounds of gas left – a little more than half a tank.

  3. Install an external gauge. External propane tank gauge options include:
    • Inline pressure gauges install between the gas line from the grill and the cut-off valve on the tank, measuring pressures to determine how full the tank is.
    • Analog propane scales look like luggage scales and are pre-set to take your tank’s TW into account.
    • Digital propane tank scales provide a digital readout of remaining cook time and gas fill percentage. Some even come with smart phone apps.

    Pick the gauge you like and give it a go!

How Much Cooking Time Do I Have?

So what does all of this mean when it comes to planning your meals this summer?

As a rule of thumb, a medium-sized grill on high heat will use approximately two pounds of fuel per meal. Following this rule, a 20-pound propane tank will provide 18-20 hours of cooking time on a medium grill. A larger grill can burn through 20lbs of propane in as little as 10 hours.

Remember – these are only estimates, so be sure to plan ahead!

Don’t get burned by your propane cylinder – follow these tips to know how much gas is left in your tank before your next summer cookout!

If you need a propane cylinder refill, please visit one of our Cherry Energy Dealer Locations for an exchange.

If you have a built-in propane grill, be sure to keep enough propane gas on hand to keep it running all season long. Contact Cherry Energy today to schedule a propane delivery in eastern North Carolina today.