Before you start up your BBQ Grill and throw your food on the rack, you will need to know how much gas you have prior to you get started.
Here are five techniques you can use to tell if your propane tank has enough fuel to cook your food. No matter what tools you have available, you can figure it out with one of these four simple techniques.
1. Use warm water.
The Toronto BBQ Cleaning & Repair YouTube Channel shared this safe and simple trick to determine how much propane is left in your tank. To do it,
Fill a small bucket with warm to hot water.
Pour the water down the side of the propane tank.
Run your hand along the side of the tank and feel for a cool spot.
The top of the cool spot that you feel with your hand on the side of the propane tank is the fill level of the tank (it’s cool due to the fact liquid propane inside the tank absorbs heat from the water, which results in the metal wall of the tank cool to the touch).
2. Weigh the tank.
Most propane grill tanks come with two numbers stamped on the handle – the water capacity (“WC”) and “Tare Weight” (TW – the weight of the tank when it’s empty). Most BBQ tanks weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of fuel.
To measure how many pounds of propane are left in your tank, just weigh it on a bathroom scale and subtract the TW number. For instance, if a tank weighing 27 pounds has a TW of 17 pounds, there’s around 10 pounds of gas remaining – a little more than 50 percent.
3. Put in an exterior gauge attachment.
External propane tank gauge options include:
Inline pressure gauges install in between the gas line from the bbq grill and the cut-off valve on the tank, measuring pressures to estimate how full the tank is.
Analog propane scales look like luggage scales and are pre-set to take your tank’s TW into account.
Digital propane tank scales offer you a digital readout of remaining cook time and gas fill percentage. Some even come with cell phone apps.
Choose the gauge you like (your local hardware retail store has them, so does Amazon) and give it a go!
4. A little math goes a long way.
In being able to estimate how long one propane tank will last. First, consider that one gallon (3.8 liters) of propane produces approximately 92,000 BTUs. Divide that number by the BTUH (BTUs per hour) rating of your grill. This leaves you with the number of hours it will take for you to use one gallon of propane at the grill’s maximum heat setting.
Finally, multiply the number of hours by the number of gallons in the tank. A full 20-pound (9-kilogram) propane tank holds 4.7 gallons (17.8 liters) of propane. If your grill has an output of 32,000 BTUH, you would get approximately 13.5 hours of cook time out of a standard propane tank if you were cooking at maximum heat. If you’re only using two out of four burners, you could estimate that the approximate cook time would be double.
5. By Cook Time:
While this strategy is still just a rough approximation, it’s helpful to keep track of cook times and heat settings. But if you overlook to write it down someplace, you can pair this strategy with one of the five above techniques to estimateing roughly how much cook time is left in a tank. For example, if you weigh a tank and have 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of propane left, you would have just about 6.75 hours of cook time left in the tank at full heat.
Do not get burned by your propane cylinder – stick to these 5 tips to know how much gas is left in your tank just before your next BBQ cooking!