Fight the MA Clean Heat Standard Today! - LEARN HOW

How can I tell how much gas is left in my propane BBQ cylinder?

Make sure you don’t run out of propane when grilling

propane tank
Yay, it’s grilling season! What are you going to make first? Burgers and hot dogs? Barbecued chicken? Kebabs? If you don’t have enough propane in your propane grill cylinder, you won’t be making anything but a phone call for takeout.
But how do you know if there’s enough propane left? It can be a challenge since most 20-pound propane barbecue cylinders do not come with a gauge. But we’ve got some tips for you!

The warm water trick

This is an easy, and safe, way to see how much propane is left in your cylinder. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Fill a small bucket with warm to hot tap water
  2. Pour that water down the side of your propane cylinder
  3. Immediately run your hand along the side of the tank, feeling for a cool spot

The top of that cool spot? That’s where the fill level of your propane cylinder is. This works since the liquid propane inside your propane cylinder absorbs the heat from the water. That makes the metal of the cylinder cool to the touch.

Weigh the tank

If you look at the handle of your propane barbecue cylinder, there should be two numbers stamped on it. One is for water capacity, or “WC.” The other is for tare weight, or “TW.” Tare weight is the weight of the cylinder when it is empty. Most propane cylinders for grills weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of propane.

Here’s how you use weight to measure how much propane is left in your cylinder:

  1. Put it on a scale and note the weight
  2. Subtract the tare weight number

That number will tell you how many pounds of propane are left in the cylinder. For example, if your tank weighs 26 pounds and has a tare weight of 17 pounds that means there are about 9 pounds of gas left. That’s just under half of a tank.

Install an external gauge

You can find an external gauge for your propane grill cylinder at most hardware and home improvement stores, or you can go online at Amazon and find one. You have a few options:

  • Analog propane scales, which look like the luggage scales you see at the airport and are pre-set to take your tank’s tare weight into account.
  • Inline pressure gauges, which are installed between the gas line from the grill and the cutoff valve on the cylinder. These measure pressures to determine how full the cylinder is.
  • Digital propane cylinder scales not only provide a digital readout of your cylinder’s gas fill percentage, it will also give you an estimate of the remaining cook time. There are even some that have apps you can use with your smartphone!

Frank Lamparelli’s propane cylinder kiosk makes it easy

You don’t have to wait for your home improvement store, hardware store or convenience store to open to get a full propane barbecue cylinder. Our self-service propane cylinder kiosk at 1026 Turnpike St. in Canton is open 24/7 for you to restock your propane cylinder supply. You can either exchange your empty cylinder for a full one, or buy a new cylinder.

Learn more about propane tanks by contacting the propane tank experts at Frank Lamparelli today!