How Long Will My Grill Tank Last?

Written on: October 10, 2022

Where to Get Convenient Propane Cylinder Refills and How to Avoid Runouts

propane refill texas Whether you’re having your crew over for the Cowboys game and some BBQ, or you’re just grilling something for family dinner, you don’t want to run out of propane. But how can you tell how long will your grill tank last? A standard 20-pound portable propane tank should last about 18 to 20 hours…but who keeps track of how many hours they use their grill?

Even though most of the portable cylinders that you’d hook up to your grill don’t have a gauge, there are easier ways to make sure you don’t run out than pulling out a stopwatch every time you grill.

Here’s four ways to make sure you never run out:

  1. The Water Trick: Fill a small bucket with hot tap water and pour it down the side of the cylinder. Then run your hand down the side of the tank and find the point where it turns cool. That’s the level of the gas!

    The liquid propane inside the tank absorbs heat from the water, which makes the metal wall of the tank cool to the touch.

  2. The Weight Check: Check the cylinder for markings that let you know the “tare weight” or TW, the weight of the tank when empty. A 20-pound tank usually weighs about 17 pounds when empty. To calculate how much propane is in the tank, place the cylinder on a scale—a basic bathroom scale will work—and subtract the tare weight from the amount shown on the scale. So, if your 20-pound cylinder weighs 27 pounds, and the tare weight is 17, you have 10 pounds of propane left. Or simply pick up a digital propane tank scale at your local hardware store or online retailer like Amazon. Most come with a digital app to let you know when it’s time for a fill-up.
  3. Add a Gauge: You can buy a gauge to install between the gas line from the grill and the cut-off valve on the tank. It will measure the pressure and show you how full the tank is.
  4. Keep a Spare: The easiest way to make sure you always have enough propane on hand to fire up the grill is to keep an extra tank on hand. Come to a Pico location and we’ll make sure to help you out with exactly that.

Should I Refill or Exchange My Tank?

What’s the difference between refilling or exchanging your portable propane tank? It’s mostly a matter of preference. Some people appreciate the swap-and-go convenience of our cylinder exchange. But savvy customers love the ease and the savings they get by refilling.
When you own your propane tank and refill it, you can save money in a few ways.

  1. First, you’ll save on the price of the propane. The difference can be up to $1.75 per gallon!
  2. You also save because you’ll pay only for the propane you use. When you choose to refill your propane tank, you’re only buying the propane to fill the rest of your cylinder. With a cylinder exchange, you’re charged for all the propane in the cylinder—including the propane left in the tank when you take it to be exchanged.

Think about it: When you see your propane cylinder is starting to run low, your instinct is to take it in to exchange before you run out. So, unless you run them until they’re completely empty, you could be wasting half a tank or more over the span of a few exchanges!

Where to Get Easy Propane Refills or Exchanges in Texas

Pico makes propane tank refills and exchanges easy, with nine convenient locations across Texas and one in New Mexico. We offer propane tank exchange and refills for a variety of sizes, including 20-pound cylinders most folks use for grills, patio heaters, mosquito traps, and various outdoor equipment, and the 30- and 40- pound cylinders for RVs.

Ready to fire up the grill? Contact us to learn more about our propane refill stations today—chances are we’ve got a convenient location near you!