If you love camping, you probably know that propane gas canisters are just about the best and safest tools for cooking, heating, and other activities when you’re out in your camp.
As much as they’re handy, throwing out your canisters or propane tanks every time they run out can be quite stressful, expensive, and honestly, not the best for the environment.
But, can these camping propane tanks be refilled? Which tanks can be refilled and which tanks cannot be? Let’s find out all you should know about refilling camping propane tanks.
Can Camping Propane Tanks Be Refilled?
Yes. Camping propane tanks can be refilled. It is also common to find people refilling these canisters on their own or visiting vendors who offer such services. However, there is an existing concern with refilling camping propane tanks.
These camping propane tanks aren’t primarily considered recyclable for several reasons, especially the fact that they almost always have leftover gas contents that are potentially explosive.
The United States Transportation Department has warned against filling DOT 39 cylinders like the 1lb. camping cylinders as the containers are not designed to handle the frequent process of being emptied and refilled.
British Columbia laws also prohibit refilling propane camping tanks, which they classify as single-use propane cylinders because refilling these tanks, especially without the needed skill can lead to overfilling and cause burns or explosions.
So, although it is advised against in some places and also considered illegal according to some state laws, if you want to refill a camping propane tank, you do that safely using a 20 lb. propane tank.
One safe way to fill your propane camp tanks is to get the tanks weighed when full from the factory and note down the weight. When you want to refill, you ensure to put in an amount that is less than what the tank can carry, to avoid overfilling it.
It is also important to get the air out of the tanks before filling them up with gas.
What Propane Tanks Can Be Refilled?
Are there any propane tanks that can be refilled? The answer is Yes. There is a distinction between propane tanks that can be filled and those that can’t.
First, a propane tank that can be refilled is one that has a triangular valve. This valve holds a protection device against overfilling.
Some valves have the letters ‘OPD’ (overfilling protection device) printed on them, but some older versions don’t. However, the presence or absence of the valve lets you know whether or not you can safely fill the propane tank.
Different sizes of propane tanks can be filled, including 20-pound cylinders 30, 40, 50, or even 100-pound cylinders.
Although propane tanks can either be filled by volume or weight, the U.S Department of transportation stipulates that propane tanks below 200 pounds must be refilled by weight and not volume.
It is also required that propane tanks below 100 pounds should have a customer warning label or tag.
Propane tanks must always be inspected by an attendant and must meet certain requirements before they can be filled. They include:
- The absence of dents, corrosion, and damaged valves.
- The presence of valve protection.
- Within validity date. Out-of-date tanks cannot be refilled but can be recycled.
Can Camping Propane Tanks Be Refilled?
Yes, they can. However, the smaller the camping propane tank, the less likely it is to be refilled safely.
Most camping tanks are convenient handy propane tanks that range between 1 and 100 pounds in size, with smaller sizes between 1 and 20 pounds more popular amongst campers.
Although you can find propane gas filling stations to refill all your camping tanks, many 1-pound tanks are not rated for refilling due to their small size.
Simply put, all refillable propane tanks can be refilled legally without any issues. Those that are tagged as disposable can also be refilled, but not without great risks and possible consequences.
If you decide to refill a disposable propane camping tank, you are doing that outside the safety lines.
Can You Refill Green Propane Tanks?
Yes, you can, but you must be careful going about it.
Many people are opting for refilling their green propane tanks rather than throwing them out and purchasing new ones because refilling saves money.
You can refill your green propane tanks using a larger tank, but you must first freeze your tank before carrying out the refilling process.
How Long Does One Camping Propane Tank Last?
How long a camping propane tank lasts depends on several factors; the size of the tank, what it is being used for, and the BTU. Let’s explore some estimates.
A 1-pound propane tank will last between 1 hour 30 minutes and two hours on average, especially if used on full flame with a stove that’s 7,500 BTU.
A 5-pound tank will last about 5 times as long, which is 8-10 hours on average, but usage and consumption is also a determinant.
You can expect a 20 pounds propane tank to last between 18 and 20 hours when used on an average-sized grill. The same quantity of gas could get expended in just 10 hours if you’re using a large grill.
The easy way to tell how long your camping propane gas tanks will last is to do a simple calculation that includes the BTU content in that tank and the consumption by the appliance.
For instance, a 20 pounds propane tank contains 430, 588 BTU of energy. A small grill often consumes 30,000 BTU per hour. With simple division, you can tell how long it will last, which is about 14 hours.
Let’s look at the table below and how it represents the camping propane gas tank sizes and how long they last:
|Tank size (lbs)||80,000 BTU/h||70,000 BTU/h||60,000 BTU/h||50,000 BTU/h||40,000 BTU/h||30,000 BTU/h||20,000 BTU/h||10,000 BTU/h|
|1||16 min||18 min||21 min||26 min||32 min||43 min||1.07 h||2.15 h|
|5||1.35 h||1.54 h||1.79 h||2.15 h||2.69 h||3.59 h||5.38 h||10.76 h|
|10||2.69 h||3.08 h||3.59 h||4.31 h||5.38 h||7.18 h||10.76 h||21.53 h|
|20||5.38 h||6.15 h||7.18 h||8.61 h||10.76 h||14.35 h||21.53 h||43.06 h|
|30||8.07 h||9.23 h||10.76 h||12.92 h||16.15 h||21.53 h||32.29 h||64.59 h|
|50||13.46 h||15.38 h||17.94 h||21.53 h||26.91 h||35.88 h||53.82 h||107.65h|
|100||26.91 h||30.76 h||35.88 h||43.06 h||53.82 h||71.76 h||107.65h||215.29h|
That’s all you need to know about refilling propane tanks. Whatever you do, safety is important, and getting a skilled person to refill your propane tanks is the best thing to do.
In the end, you can enjoy your camping better, spend less cash, and ensure that your propane tanks are always filled by exploring the refilling option available to you.