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Old 07-20-2009, 02:22 PM   #1
rico567
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Default The Shrink-Ray Hits The Propane Cylinder

Note: I'm fairly sure this has been posted somewhere before, but I can't find it, and it may be in the wrong area...and if so, the moderators can move it.

I started to brew AG a month or so ago, and so it became necessary to move outside, and for fuel to the good 'ol 20 lb. propane cylinder. At about the same time, our bulk propane supplier quit filling the 20 lb. cylinders....which may be the only reason I discovered this problem when I did.

The problem: Some propane suppliers (and at least one exchange company, AmeriGas) is not filling the cylinder with 20 lbs., in fact some aren't even close.....can you say "half?"

I had two cylinders filled at Sunbelt Rentals, that had a VERY attractive price ($12, with a fill-4-get-5th-free card). When I arrived home and carried the cylinders into the garage, they felt significantly light. When I weighed them, both came to 28.5 pounds. One has a tare weight of 17.5, the other 18.2. The fact that both filled cylinders came to the same weight indicated that the filling to that level was purposeful, and I then thought back and remembered the individual using a platform scale when filling the cylinders, I just never paid any attention, assuming I was getting a full fill on the cylinder.

I've been too busy to go back to Sunbelt, but sure enough, the tank I hooked up only had 2 lb. left after 2 boils, and I use about 4 pounds total for each session. I took that tank to an AmeriGas exchange at a local supermarket (first time I've ever used AmeriGas) and took my scale along. Weight of "full" cylinder = 33.5 lbs.! When I asked the individual who unlocked the cage, she knew that they were only filling to 15 pounds, and sure enough, fine print on a placard on the cage stated that. Then I noticed a coupon in a plastic envelope on the cylinder, a rebate for $2.50. It came as no surprise to read inside that "-unfortunately,some of our customers felt that they were not sufficiently informed when we went from our former 17 lb (!!!) fill level to 15 lbs, so we enclose this rebate coupon-"
The placard droned on about the high price of propane, and their desire to sell for the same price, but given the fact that they just tried to sneak this in under the radar (if they hadn't, there would be no rebate), it's no different than the game played inside the supermarket that we're all familiar with, where the pound of bacon transforms into 12 oz. And the 14.1 oz. box of cereal into 11.578378374739 oz., but the price remains the same.

This significantly jumps the cost of my propane, so I'm going to have to consider buying a few more cylinders to make economical to go to a bulk supplier who will actually FILL them. Either that, or have my bulk supplier run a propane line from our 1K gal. bulk tank to the garage (it's less than 50 ft. away), and run the burner and grill from that. Actually, it wouldn't be bad to have a propane catalytic heater out there, either.....

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Old 07-20-2009, 02:28 PM   #2
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. . . This significantly jumps the cost of my propane, so I'm going to have to consider buying a few more cylinders to make economical to go to a bulk supplier who will actually FILL them. Either that, or have my bulk supplier run a propane line from our 1K gal. bulk tank to the garage (it's less than 50 ft. away), and run the burner and grill from that. Actually, it wouldn't be bad to have a propane catalytic heater out there, either.....
you can also get filling adapters that will let you fill from tank to tank. (they have adapters to refill small propane bottles too)
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:52 PM   #3
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you can also get filling adapters that will let you fill from tank to tank. (they have adapters to refill small propane bottles too)
Except that it may be challenging to turn that thousand pound tank upside down in order to get liquid propane out of it instead of the vapor.

It's time to start boycotting Amerigas, Blue Rhino and any of the others that are doing the short fill thing. What ever happened to the bureau of weights and measures? Is't that their job to prevent this sort of crap? I refuse to do the exchange thing. They should have raised the price if necessary, but the short fill scam is really, really evil.
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:04 PM   #4
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There was a thread on this just the other day... RedOctober gave a pretty complete rundown on what he found & what some of the different store's policies are:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/prop...0/#post1425302

It's a worthwhile read.

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Old 07-20-2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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There was a thread on this just the other day... RedOctober gave a pretty complete rundown on what he found & what some of the different store's policies are:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/prop...0/#post1425302

It's a worthwhile read.
because of that I went to UHaul this past week and got my 2 tanks filled by the gallon. less than $25 to fill both tanks. Although 1 wasnt completely empty.
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:49 PM   #6
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..., or have my bulk supplier run a propane line from our 1K gal. bulk tank to the garage (it's less than 50 ft. away), ...
Another alternative would be to have your propane guy install a wet leg in your big tank and you can refill your own 20# cylinders.
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Old 07-20-2009, 10:13 PM   #7
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so can you take an AmeriGas tank to U-haul to fill? Or do you need to buy a new tank?

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Old 07-20-2009, 10:23 PM   #8
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so can you take an AmeriGas tank to U-haul to fill? Or do you need to buy a new tank?
Not sure about your local Uhaul, but mine doesn't give a **** whose tank it it, they'll fill it, Full too.
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:35 AM   #9
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If you are a BJ's member, check them out. Will also fill them no matter the make. Mine charges by the gallon instead of the pound, so you don't have to worry about the guy screwing you if you have different tare weights.

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Old 07-21-2009, 12:46 AM   #10
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The problem: Some propane suppliers (and at least one exchange company, AmeriGas) is not filling the cylinder with 20 lbs., in fact some aren't even close.....can you say "half?"
Lots of the exchange places like Blue Rhino have reduced the amount of propane to 15# with fine print on the sign. I get mine exchanged at my local grocery store and they fill with 17#. The big problem is many of them are light from 1 to 4 pounds.

I solved my problem with this digital luggage scale.



I look at the Tare weight stamped on the tank and add 17. If it does not add up to within 1/2 pound I reject the cylinder and try another.

I also use it to verify my CO2 tank exchanges. It also comes in handy to make sure my daughter's luggage does not go over 50# too.
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