More than 10% of US homes use propane gas for cooking or other heat-generating appliances. The gas is supplied to the homes in safe, metal tanks. But can these tanks be refilled before they’re empty, considering they’re pressurized?
You can refill a propane tank before it’s empty. The tank doesn’t need to get completely empty before a refill. However, you should keep in mind the amount of remaining gas and space in the tank before refilling it to avoid overfilling.
Further in this article, we’ll see why it’s okay to refill a propane tank before it’s empty, why you should avoid emptying it to the bottom, and when it’s the right time to supply your tank. On top of that, I’ll give you three things to keep in mind.
Why Is It Okay To Refill a Propane Tank Before It’s Empty?
Propane tanks are generally filled up to 80-85% of the total capacity because propane gas expands in a warmer climate or direct sunlight. The gas quickly fills up the remaining space when it expands.
It’s completely fine to refill your tank until it’s up to 80% of total capacity. The remaining space works as a cushion against the pressure build-up as the gas expands.
To know the net capacity of your propane tank, multiply the container’s total capacity by 0.8. The sum is the amount of propane when the container is full.
To know the current amount of gas left in the tank, subtract the weight of an empty container from the current weight. The sum is the amount of propane available in the container.
Now, let’s see it in a simple example. Suppose the tank’s total volume is 100 lbs (45.36 kg). There should be 80 lbs (36.28 kg) of propane with 20% of empty space for expansion.
If you have used 50% of your total propane, then you can refill your tank with 40 lbs (18.14 kg) of gas before waiting for it to get empty.
Why Should You Avoid Emptying Your Propane Tank to the Bottom?
I advise you to avoid emptying your propane tank because it runs out suddenly during use and creates an emergency for a refill. If it runs out during the night, you might not be able to heat your room in the cold nights or cook your favorite dish for dinner.
You should avoid emptying your propane tank so that it saves you from sudden runouts and unnecessary hassle. As your provider charges just for the added amount of propane, It also saves your expenses on transportation and your valuable time later on.
On the other hand, our propane consumption has also increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as we’re spending more time at home.
A study examined how our food choice has also changed from junk to healthy and home-cooked food in recent years, resulting in increased demand for propane.
Although it’s not a rule to keep a certain amount of propane in the tank, I advise you to refill it before it’s empty. I have the following reasons for this claim:
To Avoid Sudden Interruption of Gas Supply
Imagine yourself cooking a hot meal. All the prep work is done, your whole family is starving, and when you turn the gas on to cook the main dish, there’s no flame on the stove.
This incident occurred because you ignored refilling your propane tank last Sunday as there was enough gas left for a few more days.
Next time you think there’s a little leftover in the tank, refill it instead of waiting until there’s no gas left. This little alertness will avoid sudden interruption in supply in the future.
To Keep Your Propane Storage Up for Extra Usage
During winters, we start using propane in multiple ways. Apart from cooking, other appliances such as home furnaces and heaters require additional fuel.
Get your containers refilled beforehand if you want to prepare your home for the upcoming cold season and avoid cold nights due to propane shortage.
To Save Extra Bucks on Transportation
Believe it or not, you pay extra bucks every time you rush in an emergency to get your propane tank refilled.
If you’re looking forward to saving a few pennies on transportation, don’t forget to take your propane container to the provider when crossing the same route on your way to work.
You Are Charged Just for the Purchased Amount
Your propane provider charges you just for the added amount of propane. Financially, it doesn’t matter whether you refill it after emptying or halfway.
So, I advise you to get your tank filled whenever it’s convenient. It saves you from a last-minute hassle, and you’ll never run out of propane if you’re mindful.
When Is the Right Time To Refill Your Propane Tank?
One size does not fit all. There is no perfect time for everybody as we all have different consumption levels.
In general, the right time to refill your propane tank is when the gas is below 10%. It’s better to refill your tank sooner than later to avoid being caught without any propane for cooking.
Two things can help you know the right time to refill your propane tank:
- Record of your last refills. It gives you an estimation based on the previous months’ consumption.
- A good quality gauge indicator. It shows when the propane level goes down in the tank.
No matter how little or big your need for the propane is, you should keep your propane storage up to avoid emergencies. You don’t need to wait for the gas to finish at the last moment of cooking your favorite dish. Then, how do you know the right time of filling?
Here are a few suggestions to know the perfect timing:
When a Low Flame Comes Out
When you turn on your heat appliances and a low or sputtering flame comes out, or there’s no gas at all, it’s high time to get your stock replenished.
Low or sputtering flame can also result from clogging due to garbage in the pipeline. If that is not the case, you must have run out of propane.
When Gauge Indicates the Low Level
Most propane tanks come with a gauge indicator. If it shows propane levels below 20%, you should get the supply back as soon as possible to avoid running out.
If your propane tank is not intact with a good quality analog gauge indicator, you can purchase the DOZYANT Propane Tank Gauge Level on Amazon.com. This one piece of equipment can save you a lot of trouble because it has a colored gauge and a handheld grip for easier installation.
When Its Been a While
We generally know how long it takes to run out of the tank according to our personal needs. If it’s been a while since you last filled the tank, take it with you next time you cross a propane station.
As mentioned above, a proper way to use this method is to maintain a record of your tank refills. If you see a steady number of days over a few months, you can predict when your tank needs refilling.
Cheat Sheet to Help You Remember When to Refill Your Propane Tank
I have a simple cheat sheet to help you recall when to refill your propane tank more easily. Remember the Triple-S Checklist (SSS) – Safety, Supply, and Savings. Make sure to keep the following in mind:
- Keep the 80% fill rule in mind. Don’t overfill the propane tank.
- Keep the gas supply steady. Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Don’t forget to take your tank together while crossing a station. Save extra bucks on transportation.
The propane tank is safe to be filled up to 80% of the total capacity. The remaining 20% of space works as a cushion against the pressure when propane expands in a warmer climate.
You’re advised to refill your propane tank when about 20% of the total propane amount is still left. It would be best not to wait until the tank is empty.
Replenishing your container before emptying it saves your precious time and hard-earned money. It also keeps you away from worrying about the last-minute hassle.
- EIA: More than 10% of US homes use heating oil or propane
- Amerigas: Propane Tanks & The 80% Fill Rule
- Frontiers: Changes in Food Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Kauffman Gas: 7 Signs It’s Time for a Propane Refill
- EIA: Beyond natural gas and electricity; more than 10% of U.S. homes use heating oil or propane