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Refilling small propane tanks

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    Refilling small propane tanks

    I originally posted this 3/9/22 and got great feedback from members so I have revised it on 3/11/22.

    I use standard large 20 gallon/5 pound refillable and exchangeable propane tanks on my large gas grills.

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    I also use small, 1 pound propane tanks on the igniter for my Weber Charcoal Performer, on my Ooni Pizza Oven, on my Otto Grill salamander, on my Searzall for searing or crème brulee, and on my camping stove, lamp, and space heaters. You can buy 1 pound tanks with propane in them like these from Coleman but the price per gallon can be 10 times the price of the fuel in a 20 pound tank.

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    If you have 1 pound tanks like these that you have emptied, you should not refill them. They are not designed to be refilled, it is possible to overfill them and they can explode, and for that reason it is illegal. But you can buy empty 1 pound refillable tanks by Flame King at Amazon and many sporting goods or hardware stores. They cost a bit more, but you can refill them scores of times, buying refillable tanks produces less environmental waste, it is safer, and it is legal. Alas, they are hard to find right now but I just bought some for $16 after some serious Googling.

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    To fill them you need to buy device that connects to the 20 pound tank to the 1 pound tank. Flame King sells a kit with a stand and a rigid connector with a valve. I prefer a propane refill hose with an on-off valve like this one for about $25 https://amzn.to/2TBJMjj. You can then place the refillable tank on a scale while you are refilling and add exactly one pound.

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    Here’s how to do it: Go outdoors. Do not do this indoors or in your garage because there can be some vapors escaping. Put out your cigarette. Put on gloves because escaping propane is extremely cold. Start with a 20 pound tank that is at least 1/3 full. Remove the cap from the small tank, attach the small tank to the hose and turn the valve off (perpendicular to the hose). Turn the large tank upside down on a table so the liquid is over the valve and attach the other end of the hose. Hand tightening is good enough. Open the large tank’s valve. Then open the pressure relief valve in the neck of the small bottle with the allen key that comes with the tank. Place the small tank on a digital scale and then open the valve on the hose. You can hear the fuel moving into the smaller cannister. When the scale hits one pound, turn off the valve on the hose, close the escape valve with the allen key, and remove the smaller tank. Listen and sniff around the ends of both tanks to make sure they are no leaks, put the cap back on the small tank, and if you have more small tanks to fill, go to it. If you have no more tanks to fill, close the valve on the large tank before removing the hose. There will be a small puff or propane that is in the hose between the valves.

    Beware: If you are tempted to cram more fuel into the tank by chilling the small tank in a freezer or by lifting the emergency relief valve so more liquid can go in by pushing out air, you will be stressing the capabilities of the tank. Don’t do it. Also, there are some under $10 adapters that directly connect the large tank to the small tank like the one below, but I don’t recommend them. They screw into the 20 gallon tank counterclockwise and into the 1 gallon tank clockwise, so it is possible that you can loosen the connection to the big tank when attaching the small tank and create a dangerous leak. The refillable tanks have an easy way to open the pressure release valve with a hex key, and it is a lot easier to do this is you are using a hose. Buy the hose.

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    Last edited by Meathead; March 11, 2022, 02:22 PM.

    #2
    I do this as well.

    Comment


      #3
      Great tip. Thanks

      Comment


        #4
        Quick tip.....put the 16oz canisters in the freezer for a bit prior to refilling them (or in the winter, bring the big boy in the house for a bit) this creates a pressure differential that more fully refills the canisters.

        Comment


          #5
          So, you don’t have to bleed any air out of the little one by opening that little valve on the 16oz?

          Comment


          • xaugievike
            xaugievike commented
            Editing a comment
            "have to" - no. But doing so will also ensure a fuller refill.

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            On DOT 39 non-refillable tanks, you should not do that.

          #6
          OR, you could use this Click image for larger version

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ID:	1187220 Click image for larger version

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ID:	1187221 Click image for larger version

Name:	A3E6C342-E00E-4E50-BE64-1F899DD729C1.jpeg
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ID:	1187222 Picked up on Amazon. Check out propane refills. There are a number of styles.

          Comment


          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            Problem with that is it is awkward to get at the main valve. And I like having the valve on the hose.

          • FireMan
            FireMan commented
            Editing a comment
            I was cheap. 🕶

          • Dan Deter
            Dan Deter commented
            Editing a comment
            I have one similar to this, but has an angle to make the connection easier. I don't have to do it very often...

          #7
          https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulatory...pane-bottles-0

          Comment


          • Steve B
            Steve B commented
            Editing a comment
            Alrighty than. That’s making my Decision on getting one a little more interesting.

          • captainlee
            captainlee commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for posting that information. Not worth the potential ramifications of a serious injury to save a few bucks.

          • bbqLuv
            bbqLuv commented
            Editing a comment
            Actually, I used to refill small 1 pounders designed to be refilled, but they were outlawed back in the 80's

            Go figure.

          #8
          TIP: Weighing your empty canister and weighing it again after filling will help you verify you got a full 16 oz refill.

          Comment


            #9
            Here is a legal refillable 1lb. tank.

            Their website.
            Last edited by JimLinebarger; March 9, 2022, 06:06 PM.

            Comment


            #10
            I have seen this. On my to-do list. Thank you Meathead

            Comment


              #11
              I looked in to doing this awhile ago but all I read was that these canisters weren't designed to take the stresses of filling and refilling so I'm kind of surprised that so many people here do that. For those of you that refill the 1lb tanks, about how many times have you refilled a single tank and do you ever cycle them out?

              Comment


              • Andrrr
                Andrrr commented
                Editing a comment
                Attjack xaugievike I get it, I was more wondering if it was like every 5 fills? 10? Or "I can't remember the last time"?

              • FireMan
                FireMan commented
                Editing a comment
                Ditto to xaugievike. How many, do’t know, a few of em more than 5, ten ehhh.

              • Attjack
                Attjack commented
                Editing a comment
                I think you could write the date on your tank and cycle them through at set intervals like each year. Or I suppose you could keep a refill tally on the canister and cycle them out after so many refills.

              #12
              Meathead I have previously volunteered to edit for no fee: In your first line, should read: '20 pound/5 gallon tank.' A 20 gallon, 5 lb tank would be a great invention, however. 😬

              Comment


                #13
                I haven't worried about number of fills, but rust. A few of my refills live out at a camp (in a cabinet), so if I discover rust on the threads, that's when i discard them. I would guess some of my 1# bottles have been refilled 20 times.
                Always check with soapy water after refilling

                Comment


                  #14
                  You lost me at "put out your cigarette". 😜

                  Or maybe I'll lose me when I ignore that bit of advise. Tough call.
                  Last edited by willxfmr; March 10, 2022, 06:48 AM.

                  Comment


                    #15
                    I need to do this. I have a couple of devices - a lantern and camp stove, and my Weber Performer - that use these small cylinders, and I ought to buy the hose and quit tossing empty cylinders in the trash. Problem is, I go through at most 1 or 2 per year, so it will take a bit of time to recoup the investment in the refill kit...

                    Comment


                    • Dan Deter
                      Dan Deter commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Thats me as well, I've got 1 empty, 1 partial, and 4 new full right now, I think. So I'm not too worried about over stressing them...

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