Propane question

I have two propane appliances. One is a Bosch range top, fed from an outside 114 gal propane tank. The other is a Vermont Castings grill, fed from a 20# bottle. Both of the tanks are outside.
At this time of year, when I go to grill, there is barely enough propane coming out to get the grill to 250 degrees, even with four burners on high. The grill DOES need cleaning (boy, howdy, it really does), which may be part or all of the problem.
But, the two feed off tanks that are outside at the same temp. The cooktop line, though, comes through the garage and a heated portion of the house, so gets some heating up along the way, but the regulator and tank are still outside.
Just how does propane function with relation to outside temperatures, and when is it just too cold to grill outside? Temps here during the questionable episodes were 40-45 deg. F at max coldness, so not down there around freezing. There was some wind, and in the past that does blow the flame around a lot.
After a thorough disassembly and cleaning, what can I expect from propane use outside in 40ish temperatures?
Steve
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Steve B wrote:

Hi, During my camping days 4 seasons, all I know is there is winter blend propane just like gasoline for cars. In extreme cold summer blend can even freeze.
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it should still heat well, i have grilled at near zero, after bringing the 20 pound tank indoors in hot water to warm it up a bit.
your burner may be clogged, or a spider may have made a nest in a orfice or line. might be a bad regulator
inspect the burner its probably clogged or may be rusted or burned out.
i love my very old lava rock grill. i put parts of it in my self cleaning oven to degreae it..... on the shortest cycle possible.. the lid slumped a bit, it must of started to melt
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On 2/18/2012 6:01 PM, Steve B wrote:

Just how does propane function with relation to outside temperatures, and

I see propane boils at -44 deg. F. so temperature is not your problem.
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There's more to the situation than the boiling point of propane.
It comes down to how many btu's/hr you need to get into the liquid propane in order to vaporize enough propane at reasonable tank pressure to satisfy the appliance demand.
That's why when frost starts to form on an "in use" propane tank, the heat transfer is "barely working" and the appliance is likely being starved.
cheers Bob
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Frank wrote:

Don't forget that propane functions as a refrigerant and drawing large amounts of gas from a small tank with cool the contents considerable. Note how frost forms on the outside of the tank matching the liquid level inside. The much larger tank feeding the home will chill far less for a given flow rate, and a kitchen range also requires less flow than an outdoor grill. Hook the outdoor grill to the big supply tank (or manifold a couple smaller tanks for the grill) and your problems will disappear.
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On 2/19/2012 8:55 AM, Pete C. wrote:

Right but I did not think restriction would be that great. STP gas pressure should only be down by maybe 10%. No personal experience as I don't use my grill in cold weather ;)
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Frank wrote:

I was running a small LP "salamander" heater last weekend in 31F weather pulling from a 20# tank, and there was a really nice frost band around the tank after it had been running for a while.
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I have the $99 special I bought at Home Depot about 10 years ago. I'd buy a nicer one but some heathen would prolly steal it. Anyway, works fine down into the low low 30's...no problem.
Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

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I never had a problem in the cold using my grill. I have had issues with regulators. I have never tried to use the grill around zero degrees. I have gone through 3 regulators on the same grill.
Greg
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wrote: SNIP

...... If this cold tank thing was a problem, then how could you heat homes with propane tanks that are outside when it's below 0F?...........
It's not a cold tank problem or strictly a temperature problem per se
it's an issue of how much vaporized propane the grill needs and how much vaporized propane the tank can provide.
Larger tanks (depending on fill %) have larger wetted areas and can provide enough vaporized propane even in very cold weather. It's the wetted areas draw heat from the environment even at 0F or lower. That's why the propane companies require snow (insulation) to be cleared from the tanks, that and the concern that leaked gas could be trapped.
Like a heat pump, the heat transfer doesn't work as well at lower temps.
Big tank (250 gallon / 1000 lbs) at 1/3 full in cold weather with residential load.....no problems Small tank ( 5 gallon / 20 lbs) at 1/3 full in cold weather possible problems.
Performance all depends on bbq size / burner demand and number of burners on. Elevation of installation (5000 ft+) also an issue.
cheers Bob
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I don't know how your grill works but my Weber grill has a safety feature where it lowers gas flow if you turn the burners on before opening the valve on the propane tank. Could that be the issue?
Because I use a 20 lb tank and regularly bbq when it's 20F outside and while it may not get quite as hot, nor heat up as fast, it's still plenty hot enough to grill.
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