How to Measure Propane Level in a Tank Without a Gauge

Written by mary lougee
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How to Measure Propane Level in a Tank Without a Gauge
Empty propane tanks can be traded in for full tanks at many locations. (YAKUMO DIGITAL CAMERA image by b1sch from Fotolia.com)

Propane tanks without a gauge can be a disappointment when planning a large backyard barbecue for family and friends. Most outdoor cooks know about how much propane it takes to cook all foods on the grill during a certain time period. If the propane tank does not have a gauge, a determination needs to be made whether to buy a new tank or hope that there is enough fuel to complete a meal. There are two easy methods to determine the propane level in a tank; one is the observation/temperature method, and the other is the weight method.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Small pot
  • 2 cups water
  • Scale
  • Pen and paper

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Instructions

    Observation/Temperature Method

  1. 1

    Place 2 cups of water in a small pot.

  2. 2

    Put the pot on a stove burner and bring it to a boil.

  3. 3

    Remove the pot and pour the boiling water on one side of the propane tank near the top of the tank.

  4. 4

    Feel the tank on the side where the boiling water ran down the tank. The area that is warm at the top will meet an area that is cooler farther down the tank side. The point where the temperature changes to much cooler is the height of the propane level in the tank. This method gives a visual idea of a tank's contents as half-full, one-quarter full, and so forth.

    Weight Method

  1. 1

    Place the propane tank on a bathroom scale. Record the total weight on a piece of paper with a pen.

  2. 2

    Subtract the empty propane tank weight from the current weight. This number is on the tank after the letters "TW" for "empty tank weight." For example, if the total current weight of the tank is 13.6 Kilogram and the tank has "TW18" on the side, subtract 18 from 30 to get 5.44 Kilogram of propane remaining in the tank. A standard 20-pound tank for a gas grill containing 5.44 Kilogram of propane is 60-percent full.

  3. 3

    Convert pounds into gallons by dividing the number of remaining pounds of propane by 4.23. In this example, 5.44 Kilogram divided by 1.92 Kilogram per gallon of propane equals 2.84 gallons of propane remaining in the tank.

Tips and warnings

  • Pouring boiling water on a propane tank will warm the exterior of a tank that contains air, while the bottom portion that contains propane will not warm.
  • A gallon of propane weighs about 1.92 Kilogram.

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