THREE WAYS TO FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH IS LEFT |
The average full-size gas grill goes through about 1 pound of propane for every 30 minutes of cooking time. But how many of us cook with a stopwatch? There are a few simple ways of determining how much propane is left in the tank.
1 The bathroom-scale method.
A normal-size 20-pound capacity
tank weighs 17 to 18 pounds empty, and 34 to 35 pounds after being filled. To
determine how much gas is left, weigh the tank and subtract 18 pounds for the
tank; multiply this number by 30 to determine approximately how many minutes
of grilling time are left.
(weigh the tank -- 18 * 30 = minutes
of grilling time are left)
2. The gadget method.
A gauge, such as the Gasgard unit shown (above) costs about $20 and will give
you a constant readout on how much gas is left,
in the tank.
3. The seat-of-the-pants method.
Pour hot water over a section
of your o o tank, then run your hand up and down
ii' the side. The part of the tank that turns warm is empty; the part that
feels cool is full. You can get an idea of how much propane is left based on
At least one propane-exchange company - Blue Rhino - includes a disk on its tank
that, with the help of hot tap water, will let you know when there's less than
2 hours of grill time left. Tapeon gauges, like the one shown (above), are also
If you still need backup insurance, you have three options: Keep a filled spare
propane tank on hand, convert your grill to natural gas, or buy a product like
the Flame Saver tank, which provides an extra 60 minutes of grilling time with
the flick of a switch when your main tank runs out.
The National Fire Prevention Association has mandated that tanks sold or refilled
as of April 1, 2002, have an overfill-protection device (OPO). An OPO limits
a tank to 80 percent of its capacity to allow room for the propane to expand
safely in higher temperatures without releasing gas. As an added precaution,
gas won't come out of a tank with an OPO unless it's attached to an appliance.
Tanks with an OPO have triangular-shaped hand wheels with three lobes; non-OPO
tanks have round or star-shaped ones (see below left).
All tanks have a date of manufacture stamped on or near the collar. Once a tank
reaches 12 years of age, the Department of Transportation requires it either
be taken out of circulation or be recertified and restamped, lengthening its
potential life span another 5 years. Never dispose of an old or damaged tank
in the Overfill-protection device (OPO) or not? What your hand wheel tells you.
garbage or at a landfill. Bring it to a cylinder-
, exchange location where it can be disposed of
properly; some places charge a fee, others don't. When you reconnect your refilled
tank, check for cracked or brittle grill hoses. Check to make sure all of your
connections are tight using soapy water or a special leak -detection solution.
Open the tank valve, but leave the grill off while testing.
When you're done grilling, turn off the grill and close the valve on the tank. Ii
A FEW TIPS ON REFILLING AND STORING
When it comes to summertime grilling, some people are "overnighters" and
some are "weekenders;' while others are strictly "Fourth-of- Julyers." Regardless
of how often you grill, sooner or later you need more propane.
Here are a few
The simplest, most convenient way to transport your tank.
- When you haul your tank to the refill station or exchange center,
transport it in an old milk crate. It's just the right size to hold the tank
snugly upright and will protect your tank and valve from being damaged ( or
damaging other objects) by rolling around.
Store excess tanks outside, in the shade, in an upright position away from
the grill or other heat sources. And never leave a tank in a hot trunk or car.
Tank-exchange programs usually
save time and hassle and don't cost much more than a refill (unless you exchange
a tank that has propane left in it). Most exchange centers (there are over
50,000 of them in the u.s.) will
take any tank in good condition for trade. Some will charge an upgrade fee
to those trading in an outdated tank.
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