When You Should Top Off Your Propane Tank

Aug 19, 2016

Quite often people don’t think about refilling their propane tanks until it is too late. Your tank isn’t quite empty yet but once you start trying to use it to fuel your grill our outdoor heater, it runs out. We’ve all been there at least once. In order to prevent this, here’s how to know when you should top off your propane tank.

top off your propane tank

When Your Propane Levels Are Getting Low

There are 4 methods you can use to determine how much propane is left in your tank. Using any of these, you can calculate when to run over to your local U-Haul store to top off your propane tank.

1) OPD Valve and Level Gauge

top off your propane tankMost U-Haul Propane Tanks come equipped with an OPD (Overfill Protection Device) valve and a level gauge. If your tank is equipped with both, the level gauge will give a visual representation of the amount of propane in your tank. By checking the gauge on the OPD valve, you can simply watch for when you need to top off your propane tank.

2) Weigh Your Tank

You can use the weight of your propane tank and calculate the amount of propane left yourself. All propane tanks have a tare weight marked, “T.W.” on their collars. This number tells you how much the tank weighs when completely empty.

  • Step 1: Weigh your tank. Make sure to zero out your scale before weighing to ensure accurate results.
  • Step 2: To convert this number to gallons, divide by 4.2. 1 gallon of propane weighs 4.2 pounds.

The final number in gallons is how much propane is left in your tank. If you need more than this amount, you should top off your propane tank.

3) Smart Propane Tank Gauge

top off your propane tankUsing the weight of your propane tank, the Smart Propane Gauge can easily calculate the amount of fuel available in your tank. There are 2 ways you can use this tool to determine if you should top off your propane tank.

  •  To check the fuel levels of your propane tank at home, simply tap the sensor on the gauge. An LED reading of the gas level will appear on the gauge. If the reading does not show up green, your tank needs to be refilled. Even if it does show up green, look at that level in relation to how much fuel you will be needing for any upcoming plans.
  •  No matter where you are, you can use your smartphone to check your propane fuel levels. The Smart Propane Tank Gauge connects to the Wink smartphone app. This will give you a clear visual representation of how much fuel is in your tank.

4) Warm Water

If you don’t have access to these other tools, simply pour warm water down the side of your tank. The liquid propane inside the tank will absorb the heat from the water, causing your propane tank to feel cool to the touch where there is propane and warm where it is empty. You will not obtain a specific number of gallons like you can using any of the other 3 methods, but you will be able to easily feel if your tank is very full or very empty.

When You Have Upcoming Plans

top off your propane tankLet’s face it, sometimes you just need more propane than others. Once you have determined how much propane you have in your tank, think about how you are planning on using it. Here are some occasions in which you should consider top off your propane tank or even purchase a back-up tank:

Also, consider that certain tools use up propane faster than others. To determine how quickly your appliances will eat up your propane, read this article on How to Find The Right Propane Tank For You. This is based on the BTU rating of the tool you are using in relation to the amount of propane in your tank. 1 gallon of propane is equivalent to 91,500 BTUs (British Thermal Units). Using the formula, (1 gal of propane/91500 BTUs) x (X gal of propane/your appliance’s BTU rate), you can see if you’ll need more propane to fuel your appliance.

When You Use Propane Regularly

top off your propane tankTopping off your propane tank isn’t any different in cost compared to refilling your tank as a whole. Propane is charged by the gallon so you are only paying for how much new propane is added. To find out what propane costs by the gallon in your area, search for a location refill location near you here. Choosing to top off your tank allows you to use your propane tank without worrying if it is going to go empty soon. This is one less stress in prepping to have guests over for a BBQ or getting all of your items together for an upcoming camping trip. For someone who uses their propane more regularly for frequent grilling or to add some outdoor heating, topping off your tank allows you to do these as often as you would like without potentially running out mid-use.

People can get busy and forgetful at times. We’re only human after all. Topping of your propane tank gives you one less thing to panic about at the last minute when you really need it.

Have you ever run out of propane at the last minute? Share with us why you wish you would have topped your tank!


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