Aluminum LP tanks? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-04-2010, 03:20 PM   #1
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I've been wanting to mount a second LP tank on the front of my Scamp, but was a little concerned about tongue weight (and weight in general). I just became aware that there are aluminum tanks available. Does anyone use them? Any drawbacks or concerns? I know they're pricey...

Jeff
NW WI
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:32 PM   #2
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Jeff I don't know about the aluminum tanks but there are also available fiberglass tanks ( designed primarily for the sailboat contingent ). They are also a little pricey. I have handled them and can testify to their light weight. Maybe some who respond to your thread can enlighten us about the fiberglass tanks as well. I am considering purchasing one for our Uhaul but info as to their feasibility would be helpful. Lee
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:04 PM   #3
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Jeff I don't know about the aluminum tanks but there are also available fiberglass tanks ( designed primarily for the sailboat contingent ). They are also a little pricey. I have handled them and can testify to their light weight. Maybe some who respond to your thread can enlighten us about the fiberglass tanks as well. I am considering purchasing one for our Uhaul but info as to their feasibility would be helpful. Lee
I am very interested in getting the see-through composite (fiberglass?) tanks. But I read somewhere that you can't get them filled everywhere you can get the regular propane tanks filled.

Does anyone know if that's true? It sure would be nice to have lighter tanks that you could actually see the propane level in.
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:14 PM   #4
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We have never had difficulty getting ours refilled. (We have them for the boat, not the trailer, because of the rust/safety issues in the saltwater environment.) I think early on, some refillers had never seen the composite tanks, so there were issues for tank owners in more remote areas. Our composite tanks are stamped and certified.
Our composite tanks are also taller and more narrow than the standard lp tanks, weigh less, and are more expensive (though marine grade aluminum tanks are very pricey, as well, even more so.) It is nice to be able to see the exact level of lp in the tank, though with two tanks, with a full spare, this is not such a big deal.
You will want to make sure they fit beneath your tank cover or cowl, and may have to adapt brackets to hold them properly because of the varying dimensions. I believe the first major use of composite tanks was in Norway, where many of these tanks are still manufactured. We've had them several years.
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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One thing to keep in mind, since you are considering the aluminum or composite tanks in order to reduce tongue weight, is that they are not all that much lighter than steel tanks when they are full (or nearly full). That's because the propane still weighs the same amount no matter what type of tank you have it in.

Now, I'm not saying they're not lighter, or that they are a bad purchase, but just know that once you have a full tank, the percentage that they are lighter goes way down.

Here is some data for 20# tanks:

Type.................empty (tare) weight...............full weight
Steel......................16.6 lbs..............................~36 lbs
Aluminum...............14.2 lbs..............................~34 lbs
Composite..............12.8 lbs..............................~32.5 lbs

Steel and aluminum data from Worthington Cylinder and composite data from Lite Cylinder.

So to my mind, the greatest benefit to steel's alternatives are as follows:

Aluminum: Doesn't rust and slightly lighter when empty (but not very much)
Composite: Doesn't rust, lighter when empty, and you can see the fuel level easily

Another consideration with the composite tanks is that they are shaped differently, and your current bracket/hold-down may or may not work on them. Also, I don't believe the upper rim provides the same strength (if your straps attach there).

Aluminum is usually shaped like steel so the fit is the same.

I'm not advocating for -- or against -- any type of tank; just nice to have more data going into the decision (I found this out when I was looking for a new tank to replace my steel one with the old style valve).

Raya

PS: I agree that the issue of getting them filled has probably become minimal these days. After all, they make composite tanks for forklifts now, so they are no longer an exotic. At one point in time I read that the last state that might have had issues was.... maybe Louisiana? That may not be accurate, as I'm going on memory, but the upshot was that it was the exception.
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:50 PM   #6
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SherryNPaul and Raya, thanks so much for the feedback on the composite tanks. I think I will put them on my "someday" list because I would like to see my propane level, especially when we are going to be out for a while. Just one less thing to worry about.

We're planning to leave for Florida for a month or so around the middle of February. Unfortunately, not in an egg... maybe next year!



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Old 02-04-2010, 08:51 PM   #7
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...thanks so much for the feedback on the composite tanks. I think I will put them on my "someday" list because I would like to see my propane level...
I have not tried this yet myself (had two tanks in the past so not as critical), but I understand you can pour hot water on a metal tank and you'll see a "sweat line" showing the propane level. (The propane is cold.)

Maybe with that technique you won't have to wait until you have composite tanks

Raya
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:05 AM   #8
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As Raya points out, the majority of the weight of a propane tank is in the propane it's holding. A composite or aluminum tank will weigh less, but not so much less as to make it practical. I think their major advantage composite tanks have is being able to see the propane level inside, not their lighter weight.

After thinking about getting the composite tanks for a while I've decided I'll stick with steel. Two reasons why: I can exchange a steel tank at Walmart and many other places if I run dry and can't find a place to refill my tank (going to a filling station is much cheaper), and I won't cry if my steel propane tank gets stolen. Swear, yes, cry, no.
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