How to tell how much propane is left

How to tell how much propane is left
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Empty propane tanks are heavy, so it can be tough to figure out if you have enough propane to last a cookout. Try some of these tips to see how much propane you have left in your tank.

Get a Gauge

There are all sorts of devices available. At the inexpensive end of the scale are paste on strips that will display the temperature change at the surface where the liquid propane is. On the other end of the scale are hand held ultrasonic tools that detect where there is liquid or gas inside the tank. In the middle range are mechanical or electronic tank scales that may be built-in or separate from the grill and can be calibrated to tell you how much propane you have left with an analog or digital display.

Weigh it

Most propane tanks weigh around 18.5 pounds when they are empty. Place your tank on a household scale and subtract 18.5 from that number and you can determine how much you have left. An average size (500 sq in) grill will use about a pound and a half of propane an hour cooking medium to high so you can have a sense of how much longer you can cook from that.

Pour Water on It

Turn off the valve on your tank and disconnect it from your grill. Put a small bucket of warm water and pour it from top to bottom on the side of the tank. Then feel the tank — it will feel cooler where there is propane and stay warm where there’s no fuel. This method is not the most accurate, but it can give you an idea if you need to get more propane.

Tip: 1 1/2 pounds of propane = 1 hour of cooking time.

11 thoughts on “How to tell how much propane is left

  1. I went camping with my family yesterday, and we woke up in the morning to make a nice big breakfast. I cooked the eggs on a stove, but I was worried about my propane running out, as I have had that certain tank for a while. I was just curious how I could know how much there was left, and after reading it looks like I just need to get a gauge to get an exact reading. Thanks for sharing this information, as I will now be on the lookout for one!

  2. Wow, great tips! I had no idea that there were so many simple ways to tell. That 18.5 pounds average weight you gave, what size tank is that for? Because I know propane primarily comes in three sized tanks, and the middle one is definitely the most common. I assume that’s the one you’re talking about, but how much of a difference is there between it and the smaller/larger tanks?

  3. Char-Broil, I have one of your larger Stainless Steel Grills and my door’s have gotten rusty and are falling off of the grill. My spark ignitor is not working either, I have tried several “new batteries and to no avail it still does not work! Help! What can I do? Thank You, Bob Singley

    1. Try checking the igniter. They do ware out over the years. Easy to get a new one, east to rrplace

  4. These are some great tips for trying to find out the level of my propane tank. Sounds like the best option to is to have a gauge. But I like that there are other options to finding out. Thanks for sharing!

  5. When checking tank with water is it nessecary to turn off valve and disconnect ? I have a camper trailer that has 2 cylinders on it do both tanks need disconnected?

    1. Hi Nancie, to check your propane tank using the water method you would want to turn off the flow valve and disconnect your tank in order to check for how much propane is left. The same would apply to the 2nd tank if you plan on checking both.

  6. Hello, will the Char-Broil universal gauge work (bought it at Walmart) on a travel trailer where the gauge connects to the tank, but there is a hose before the regulator since it is mounted away from the tank? Thanks

    1. Hi Tony, the Char-Broil Universal Propane Tank Gauge works with duel, Type 1 OPD valve connections and 20 lb propane tanks.

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