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Three Ways to Tell How Much Gas Is Left in Your Propane Barbecue Cylinder

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We’re at the height of outdoor living season here in Connecticut – time to get out and cooking on your propane barbecue grill! Just make sure you have enough propane to get you through your next summer cookout.

There is one small problem, however: as any veteran propane griller knows, most 20-pound propane barbecue cylinders don’t have a gauge – which means you will need some other way to assess how much fuel is left in your tank.

Here are three simple ideas for you 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 (your local hardware store has them; so does Amazon) and give it a go!

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 soirée! If you run out of propane, don’t panic – just visit one of our convenient Connecticut showrooms for a propane cylinder refill!