How can you tell how much propane is left in a tank?

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On 1/25/2012 2:17 AM, Robert Green wrote:

Bobby, I can sympathize with the wrist problem because every square inch of me hurts depending on how hard I work but I have to weigh refrigeration tanks and I found a very handy scale at a Radio Shack store for around $7.00. It will hold the max weight reading after I put the tank down so I don't have to watch it while lifting. It's sold by Amazon too.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)27497964&sr=8-6
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6nz2org
TDD
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I'm not at that level of pain, by far (knocking wood), but I did order that scale ... Thanks for the hint!!
--
Best regards
Han
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was
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the
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but I

Yep, I am afraid that may, as they said in Aliens, be "the only way to be sure." I'd sure rather have an accurate gauge in the $20-25 range. (-: I still have some hope left in the frequency analysis of a hammer tap on the tank, which turn out to be pretty easy for me to do with all the digital recorders I have lying around.
-- Bobby G.
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wrote:
Be careful with that torch.
The first day I bought mine I used it to burn some weeds in my backyard. A few days later my wife asked me if I had dumped something into her garden.
I asked her why and she told me to go look at some of the plants with big broad leaves near the edge of her garden. They were white and wrinkled like they were dying.
At first I didn't know what had happened to them then I remembered that I was burning weeds with the torch right next to that section of her garden. The heat blast must have cooked the leaves and it wasn't noticible for a few days.
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why worry about how much remains in the tank? its easiest to buy a spare tank or two so you always have a full tank in stock ready to go........
tanks are amazingly easy to find, empty ones are everywhere.....
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True All my spare tanks were left out on the road attached to old BBQs. I even picked up a couple of nice old BBQs, cleaned them up donated them for a nice donation receipt from the Salvation Army.
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<stuff snipped>
<< Be careful with that torch. The first day I bought mine I used it to burn some weeds in my backyard. A few days later my wife asked me if I had dumped something into her garden.>>
My wife's attuned to the rocket engine exhaust sound of the burner. She's already "caught" my friend and I making mischief with it. I won't be burning weeds with it because the heat envelope it creates is impressive. While working the stairs I hit exactly the right angle to hit me with the blowback. It was very, very warm.
<<I asked her why and she told me to go look at some of the plants with big broad leaves near the edge of her garden. They were white and wrinkled like they were dying.>>
Probably why flamethrowers aren't used in close-in fighting much anymore. Hard to be precise.
<<At first I didn't know what had happened to them then I remembered that I was burning weeds with the torch right next to that section of her garden. The heat blast must have cooked the leaves and it wasn't noticible for a few days.>>
The worst thing I did was come close to melting a plastic flowerpot sitting on the porch. Well, the worst thing I did was torquing the burner up just before midnight on a very quiet, snow-blanketed night. If you think it's loud in the daytime, try it at night.
-- Bobby G.
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HF ice melters are pretty cheap, buy a second one with spare tank. 20 to 30 bucks
when you run out just swap systems.
keep each one on its own cart for easy moving it around
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We're in a very small house. Selling one tank and wand to SWMBO was hard enough, especially after there were several local news reports about workers setting houses on fire melting ice dams with very similar looking torches. If it was a mission critical endeavor, I'd do that but if we run out, there's always kitty litter. We just don't like it tracking all over the house and the ice melting torch avoids that. I just don't want to run out if we have a long run of icy rain like we did last year. Once I get an idea of how many minutes of "burn time" I get from an average tank, this won't be so much of an issue. The only types of propane I've used up until recently have been the Coleman stove size and the Bernz-o-matic torch size. I even spun the connector clockwise for a quite some time before realizing it was reverse threaded. Anyone know why?
At least I know one of my friends is getting senile faster than I am. He insisted I could just mount the huge, round 40LB tank on my back and ditch the cart. There aren't many 40LB loads *less* suitable for back packing in the world, especially on an icy porch. (-:
-- Bobby G.
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If you have the tank on a cart, simply install a modest priced bathroom scale on the cart for it to sit on. The bath scale could even be marked off to read the 15 pounds content of the tank. Most bath scales are good to a half pound or so precision.
Joe
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wrote:

they used to sell these liquid crystal magnetic stickers to put on the side of the tank,and the temp difference would show you the level of the propane.
too bad they can't make a tape of the LC stuff and it could be applied to tanks of different sizes.
--
Jim Yanik
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wrote:

side
I think they do. The next time I visit my sister, I am going to stop by the huge Suburban propane center that's on the way. If anyone knows, they should. They've got every size of propane tank up to railroad car-sized.
The problem, IIRC, with the temperature method is that it only works after you've fired off enough gas to cause a temperature drop in the tank. I think the scale idea's going to work out just fine, though.
-- Bobby G.
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if your home has natural gas you could install a outdoor gas outlet commonly used for gas grills and get a longer hose for the torch, no carrying tank at all........
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wrote:

I was on your side for a while, but I gotta disagree with you here. ;-)
If you've got the device out on the icy porch, it's because you are about to use it right?
A small additional amount of water in an area that you are about to torch - and I assume dry up - won't make any difference.
In fact, it will melt the ice before you even put the torch to it, thereby saving propane. Do the math. ;-)
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wrote:

<<I was on your side for a while, but I gotta disagree with you here. ;-)
If you've got the device out on the icy porch, it's because you are about to use it right?
A small additional amount of water in an area that you are about to torch - and I assume dry up - won't make any difference.
In fact, it will melt the ice before you even put the torch to it, thereby saving propane. Do the math. ;-)>>
Dude, I'm old and grey. Any extra "mission requirements" involve potential risk. In particular, why should I bother even taking the tank outside to test it with hot water if I have a way to inspect the rig and determine I'm out of propane? I'm sure it's a wonderful technique for a porch barbecue where's you're likely to have water nearby, and I am certainly going to get one of those LCD strips but I just don't see myself as Bob the Bapist. A line has to be drawn between the sacred and the propane.
(-:
-- Bobby G.
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re: "In particular, why should I bother even taking the tank outside to test it with hot water if I have a way to inspect the rig and determine I'm out of propane?"
umm...Not for nothing, but if you run out of propane while the rig is inside, you've got a problem - namely a leak.
If you *don't* have a leak and the tank shows empty, then it must have run out while you were using it and you'd already know it's empty.
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wrote:
<stuff snipped>

Well, that's certainly one reason SWMBO doesn't like the idea of storing the tank inside the house. If the tanks leaks outside on the porch, it's not likely to cause any trouble. Storing it inside, where the gas can build up, represents more of a danger. I am thinking now of building a small rolling table for the porch that allows me to conceal the propane tank and scale within its base.

I'm going to get out my electric drill and put a sight glass in the tank. (-" (Just kidding - I thought I'd mention it just because of some of the craziness being discussed in other threads.)
I am actually quite happy with the embedded scale method because I want to make sure I've always got at least enough propane around to melt the steps so I can get out to more propane. The reality is that I'll probably end up doing what Mr. Haller suggested and buying a spare tank. We've got a crawl space under the front stoop that will fit a spare tank. I figure that it's better to have a spare on premises than risking driving around in icy weather to acquire a replacement. Last year, when the city plow dumped a ton or so of icy snow boulders in front of the house, we were "ice locked" for almost a week.
As reluctant as my wife is to have a number of propane tanks lying around, she was very impressed at how well it melted the ice the first time we used it. It's a question of balance. Is the risk of having lots of propane around more or less than the risk of someone (especially us!) cracking their heads open on icy steps? I've taken one bad fall on the ice that fortunately was buffered by landing on my big butt. It could have easily been the back of my head that hit the ground.
-- Bobby G.
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re: "Is the risk of having lots of propane around more or less than the risk of someone (especially us!) cracking their heads open on icy steps?"
That one's pretty easy. I don't think we even need a cite for what I'm about to proclaim.
First off, a couple of 20 lb tanks (and I mean 20 lbs TARE) is not what most folks would consider "lots of propane".
Second, compare the number of gas grills, smokers, space heaters and ice melting torches that require small propane tanks, the number of houses/trailers/workshops that use a large propane tank as the main source of fuel and the number of people who have a spare tank hanging around to the number of people who slip on an icy surface. I'd say the risk is much higher of a fall than any damage from a propane tank.
You just don't hear headlines like "House destroyed by spare propane tank stored on deck" or "Occupants overcome by propane fumes" very often. Yes, it happens, but not very often compared to the number of tanks out there.
However, we often hear about friends and family who slipped and fell on ice, usually sustaining minor injuries, but sometimes getting really hurt. Those incidents don't usually make the headlines, but I think we can all agree that ice related accidents happen more often than propane related accidents.
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-snip-

Uh-- is your range safety officer wife really letting you bring a 40lb propane tank into the house? Anything over a pound is a no-no as far as I know.
Jim
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with two 20 pound tanks on site you dont need the weighing unit.
begin with 2 full tanks, run first one out and swap, get first tank filled.
this elminates altogther the weighing unit, which adds weight to haul around.......
this is what the vast majority of people do for gas grills...
store tank outdoors in a secure spot.
when propane leaks its heavier than air, and will act like water.
so make certain theres free air space under the spare tank
you can buy a screw on gauge if you want, it may give you a idea of how much gas is in the tank, but it really doesnt matter if you have a spare tank on site
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