Just guessing, but another way to see how much is left is to observe the
condensation on the outside of the tank after the grill's been on for a
little while. If the humidity's so low that you observe no condensation,
feel the tank carefully and notice where the cold begins.
Look for the letters "TW" (tare weight) stamped near the top of the tank.
Right after that is stamped the empty weight in pounds.
The barbecue sized tanks are nominally 20 pound capacity tanks,
which means that you can put in slightly less that 20 pounds of
Typical numbers might be (YMMV): 19 pounds empty, 38 pounds full.
If it really matters, the next time you have an empty tank, take the
bathroom scale outside and set the tank on the scale. When you fill
it, weigh it again. If your scale won't function at that low weight
step on the scale holding the tank, subtract your weight from the
reading, repeat with filled tank. HTH
Just curious - why do you want to know?
Really - just curious - the answer could be interesting.
I had two tanks in my garage. They felt too heavy to be empty, but not
heavy enough to be full. Turns out my "arm scale" is wrong; the bathroom
scale says they are empty.
std "grill/BBQ" tank aka 5 gal or 20 lb tank
17 lb to 18 lb empty, 35-40 lb "full"
add 4.24 lbs per gallon in the tank, 4.8 gal is about the
limit with an OPD valve. Need space at top of tank for
expansion on hot days.
tricks, use electronic platform scale, place empty tank, hit
"zero", get it filled and read how many pounds remain, +/-
if tank temp is hot or cold. we use this on our small shop
I have found that it is always good to know how full/empty they are before
taking them in, just so you know you aren't being overcharged. Some places,
too, have a minimum charge. With gas prices going up, no sense paying even
The last one I had that was empty weighed exactly 17 lbs. 14 oz. on my
refrigerant scale which is fairly accurate. The new one weighed 37 lbs. 4.5
oz. full, and the tare weight is listed as 17 lbs. Which gives a net of 20
lbs and 4.5 oz. of propane which is interesting because it's sold as 17 lbs.
net weight, as many exchange cylinders are now (Blue Rhino, etc.).
It's deceiving. IF the geek fills your tank by the book, they don't fill it
to 100%, but rather 80 or 85 to allow for thermal expansion if the tank gets
hot. This coupled with filling a partially full tank, and trying to do the
math on the fly with those meters that all seem to be ancient can give some
They usually ask two questions ...... you want it ........ or not?
You must live in a very backwards area. Around here where everybody gets past
the 3rd grade before they turn 16, they use a scale when filling propane tanks.
Set the tank on the scale, note it's weight and then fill it until it reaches
it's "full" weight, which is stamped on the tank. Very complicated.
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