Propane tanks - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-03-2007, 06:08 PM   #1
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I have several propane tanks with guages and opd valves . even though the guages say that the tanks still are about 1/4 to 1/2 full and the feel like there is propane in them nothing comes out if the valve is opened .
I just took my 40# tank in thinking it was empty and it only took 3.7 gal well short of the 9.4 or so it should have . so I got dinged for a minimum charge of $15 even though it only took about $9.50 worth of propane I thought the young kid working the pump was in a hurry and just tried to overcharge me $4.05/gal instead of $2.59 but the guage says its full now ?
Do opd valves let the tanks completely empty? my 30# has the same problem and my two 20# tanks don't have a guage but don't feel empty ...but open the valve nothing ?
Any Ideas?
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:51 PM   #2
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I had same concern.When tank was not hooked up and valve open nothing came out.I thought tank was empty.I now hooked up tank and open valve and lots of propane going to stove.I think tank has to be hooked to let gas out.
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:59 PM   #3
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The newer tanks do have to be connected for the gas to flow.

To determine the exact amount of fuel left, I weigh the tank on a bathroom scale. The empty tank weight (tare weight or TW) is stamped on the collar of the tank. A 20 lb. propane tank is usually about 17 lbs. when empty. Subtract the TW from the total weight shown on the scale and you will know exactly how much fuel is left in the tank.
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Old 07-03-2007, 07:38 PM   #4
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There are at least three ways to have this sort of problem...

A QCC connection (OPD or not) normally has a shutoff valve which is pushed open by the nose of the hose fitting inserted into it, so as Chester and Will said, it won't flow unless hooked up.

A flow limiter may be included, especially with a QCC connection and again regardless of the presence of an OPD. With this, there should be a very brief high flow (not none at all), then the limiter chokes it off; this is intended to prevent major incidents due to leaks, while allowing enough flow for appliance use.

If the tank fill level is determined from a gauge which screws onto the tank outlet, it will be meaningless - they're just pressure gauges, and in the absence of flow the pressure depends on nothing but ambient temperature (not level). As Will said, content of tanks without real level gauges is determined accurately only by mass (and weight is the practical way to determine that); having a real float-based level gauge is one advantage of tanks which are more sophisticated than the 20-lb capacity "barbecue" tanks most of us use. (I assume the 30lb and 40lb tanks in this case have real level gauges).


An Overfill Prevention Device (OPD) is just a float-operated valve. As long as the tank is upright and there isn't liquid above the 80% volume level to push the float up, it will allow flow in or out; it doesn't care about pressure and doesn't "know" if the tank is empty.
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Old 07-04-2007, 08:49 AM   #5
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The 100% solution to wondering if you have sufficient propane is this:
Lite Cylinder. Pretty dang coool. I saw one at the last Northern Oregon Gathering!

We discussed the lite tanks here: Lighten Up, New Composite Propane Tanks!

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Old 07-04-2007, 10:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
The 100% solution to wondering if you have sufficient propane is this:
Lite Cylinder. Pretty dang coool.
I just read in today's paper business section of this cheaper alternative:
NEW 20 Lb Propane Tank Scale



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The drawback to this approach is that it CANNOT be a permanent installation, for the shock of the trailer's over-the-road bouncing will destroy the strain guage under the weight of the tank. It can only be used while camped, and [b]must be stored elsewhere while traveling.
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Old 07-04-2007, 11:15 AM   #7
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The 100% solution to wondering if you have sufficient propane is this:
Lite Cylinder. Pretty dang coool. I saw one at the last Northern Oregon Gathering!

We discussed the lite tanks here: Lighten Up, New Composite Propane Tanks!

This is probably the best, but most costly solution to "how much propane is left." I've found that this one works pretty well too. I started looking for one these after seeing one on Donna's propane tank. It's work good for me.
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Old 07-04-2007, 04:32 PM   #8
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Most cylinder gauges work on gas pressure, not on a liquid float, so are pretty much worthless except to the people making and selling them because as long as there is just about any fluid in the tank, the gas pressure will look good until the level is very low.

Spend your money instead on a Steak Saver to which you can hook up the one-pound cylinders as a reserve. Then you don't have to carry a second 20-lb cylinder as a spare...
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Old 07-05-2007, 01:22 PM   #9
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The scale is the best way to measure the amount of propane in the tank, but it is a pain with most clamps to pull the tank out and set it on the scale. Any bathroom scale works fine if you just subtract the weight of an empty tank.

The gadget on the side is presumably a thermally sensitive strip. Vapourizing propane takes heat, that chills the propane in the tank, and where there is liquid the chilling is more readily felt. It should work fine while using propane at a sufficient rate, and says nothing useful when the propane is not flowing. Personally, I would rather not fire up the stove and run it for a while just to check propane level before leaving on a trip, but many people do find this useful; maybe they are organized enough to check just before shutting off at the end of each time they use propane?

The pressure gauges also respond indirectly to temperature... when the level gets really low while propane is being used at a sufficient rate the remaining propane gets cold enough to lower the pressure enough to pull the gauge reading down. I suspect that this works much better as an "about to run out" indication for barbecues than for more modest demands, such as a stove. I doubt an RV refrigerator running draws enough propane to produce any useful indication.
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Old 07-05-2007, 01:25 PM   #10
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Spend your money instead on a Steak Saver to which you can hook up the one-pound cylinders as a reserve. Then you don't have to carry a second 20-lb cylinder as a spare...
That's a great solution if you don't mind having your propane use interrupted. If you are depending on it to keep your refrigerator cold while you're out, or heat the trailer overnight, there may be an unpleasant surprise waiting.

An auto-changeover regulator with a one-pound cylinder as the backup would be light and reliable... as long as you notice that the changeover has occurred. There's no perfect solution to this one!
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:02 PM   #11
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Again, camping styles and preferences influence what we do. I only use LP for the range top and the heater, neither of which is on all night (although I could run my heater 6-8 hours on a one-lb cannister), so in my case the interruption would be worst if I was making my stovetop coffee <g>.

OTOH, those with LP reefer, all-nite furnace, water heater, etc., would clearly benefit from dual tanks with auto-switch and a SteakSaver as emergency backup.
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:29 PM   #12
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The gadget on the side is presumably a thermally sensitive strip. Vapourizing propane takes heat, that chills the propane in the tank, and where there is liquid the chilling is more readily felt. It should work fine while using propane at a sufficient rate, and says nothing useful when the propane is not flowing. Personally, I would rather not fire up the stove and run it for a while just to check propane level before leaving on a trip, but many people do find this useful; maybe they are organized enough to check just before shutting off at the end of each time they use propane?
It's not as easy to use as the clear tanks are. I don't feel the need to constantly monitor my propane level. I only check it a few times a year. To check it you heat a teapot of water, poor it over the LCD strip. If I think I might be getting a bit low, I'll heat the water on the trailer stove while I'm getting the trailer ready the next trip. Check it, then I know if I need to stop and fill the propane tank on the way out. Cheap and easy.
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:45 PM   #13
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I guess the main reason I haven't gone to using one of these thermal strip arrangements is that I don't check very often, either; however, I would like to check before leaving on a trip (and I'm not using the propane then). That's when I might pull the primary tank off and check the weight.

Filling up on the way out is not a great option around here, since I will be charged the same flat rate for a tank fill (Cdn$12 at most places recently, cheapest is Costco at Cdn$10) regardless of how much is left in the tank... if a few dollars matters, you don't want to refill before you need to.

Having said that, a decent argument could be made for having a single 20-lb tank, no gauge of any kind, and a refill-before-trip-departure-and-then-forget-it policy. A one-pound cylinder and Pete's adapter could be kept around for emergencies. If a trip never needs more than 20 lb of propane, the $10 per trip is probably cheap compared to the hardware, weight, and hassles of any more sophisticated solution.
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Old 07-05-2007, 10:32 PM   #14
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I guess the main reason I haven't gone to using one of these thermal strip arrangements is that I don't check very often, either; however, I would like to check before leaving on a trip (and I'm not using the propane then). That's when I might pull the primary tank off and check the weight.
I do everything I can to avoid pulling the tank off. I have no need to remove the tank. It stays put. I removed it once. That was when I ran out about time to start cooking breakfast and then only because I didn't want to hook up, go get the tank filled, return and reset up.

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Filling up on the way out is not a great option around here, since I will be charged the same flat rate for a tank fill (Cdn$12 at most places recently, cheapest is Costco at Cdn$10) regardless of how much is left in the tank... if a few dollars matters, you don't want to refill before you need to.

Having said that, a decent argument could be made for having a single 20-lb tank, no gauge of any kind, and a refill-before-trip-departure-and-then-forget-it policy. A one-pound cylinder and Pete's adapter could be kept around for emergencies. If a trip never needs more than 20 lb of propane, the $10 per trip is probably cheap compared to the hardware, weight, and hassles of any more sophisticated solution.
Good heavens, 20lb per trip??? In cold weather I might use 3 or 4 lbs per trip. If I filled it up every trip, my friends at the local gas station would start giving a bad time. We only pay for the tank takes, just like your TV gas tank. I've topped off for as little as $1.50 before I bought the LCD gauge. I can pretty well guess now about when I need to fill it, the LCD just confirms my guess.
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