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Old 11-21-2012, 11:07 PM   #21
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Well, they will short you. The exchange companies will fill a tank up to the month of expiration and then put it out to the public. If you got that tank and tried to get it refilled the next month, it would not be filled. I have no problem exchanging an out of date tank as I paid for use of the tank when I first got it. I actually think of that payment as lifetime rental(my life not the tanks) because I can exchange that tank regardless of the date. In fact, I do not know if they recertify the tanks, but I suspect not due to the cost of a new tank in bulk for them.

One thing to remember about using propane is that you can freeze the regulator and the gas will stop. The conditions have to be right for this and it does not always happen, but it has happened to me so I always have a spare.

Also a banjo burner will not use all of the tank. That is another good reason to get a refill vs exchange as you may have as much as a third left.
I DO exchange my tanks every other year, I use my tanks for a lot more than just brewing beer. Every other year is probably overkill but I work in the oilfields and I'm scared to death of pressurized hydrocarbons.

I think part of the problem with propane is it has a high boiling point, say 35 F, so I would guess the warmer the tanks is the more you can use out of it. But yeah, what you say is right, if you exchange your paying for a whole tank of gas, if you refill you pay for what it takes to fill it up and no more. Fill ups are about 13 bucks here.

We use brush burners at work to thaw out lines sometimes and the tanks and hoses freeze up QUICK like that.
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:56 AM   #22
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In round numbers, 20lb of propane is about 400,000 BTU. If you had a 50,000 BTU burner it would last 8 hours if we assume 100% efficiency and 100% drawdown on the tank.

What are the real numbers? Dunno...my WAG is 70% and 90%. That would mean about 5 hours in this example.

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Old 11-22-2012, 03:22 PM   #23
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I made a "chimney" out of 24" flashing to surround the burner/brew pot, then just domed a piece of flashing for the top. This has significantly reduced my propane usage by keeping heat in and wind out. Added bonus, I reach boiling in about 10 minutes.

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Old 11-23-2012, 01:48 AM   #24
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I made a "chimney" out of 24" flashing to surround the burner/brew pot, then just domed a piece of flashing for the top. This has significantly reduced my propane usage by keeping heat in and wind out. Added bonus, I reach boiling in about 10 minutes.
I'm planning to do this as its winter here and windy. Do you have pics? Where did you get the equipment?
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:18 AM   #25
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I made a "chimney" out of 24" flashing to surround the burner/brew pot, then just domed a piece of flashing for the top. This has significantly reduced my propane usage by keeping heat in and wind out. Added bonus, I reach boiling in about 10 minutes.
Yeah good idea, as mentioned some pics if you get a chance?
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:24 PM   #26
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I only get 2 - 2 1/2 batches out of a 20lb tank. That's running it 30 minutes to heat my strike water, another 30 for the spare. Sometimes takes up to 45 mins to get a rigorous boil going and finally the 60-90 minute boil.

By the time I'm boiling my tank has frosted up and sometimes need to swap out the unfrozen spare to get a good gas flow towards the end.

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Old 11-23-2012, 03:26 PM   #27
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I have thought of putting the tank in a water bath to see if I could stop the freezing but easier to have a spare than something else to trip over.

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Old 11-23-2012, 03:38 PM   #28
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Just finished 7 all grain 5 gallon batches on one 15 lb tank. Considering pushing it and going for one more. Maybe a 30 boil experiment.

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Old 11-23-2012, 03:44 PM   #29
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We normally brew 22 gallon batches and use three propane tanks when we brew. We use fresh tanks each time (We have 10 tanks). When most have been used we take them done to the local U Haul and have them refilled. 10 tanks refilled is about $100. If we exchanged it would be at least double that. Of course, there is a lot of propane left in the tanks when we refill. The price is discounted when you reach a certain volume. You do need to check where you are refilling. Some places do charge a flat fee to refill a tank (much like the exchange) and not by volume. Also there is the empty weight along with the date on the handle of a tank. I just went out and looked at 2. One had an empty weight of 18 while the other was 16.6. So a "full" tank on one would be 38 # and 36.6 on the other. Good way to check if you are being shorted on an exchange. I also had seen people trying to get a "heavy" tank by feel at the exchange. With the tare weight being so different, that is not a good method.

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Old 11-23-2012, 05:04 PM   #30
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Basically screwed together 4 sheets of 20" roof flashing, plus a removable top. I put the burner on patio pavers spaced a bit to allow air from underneath.

http://s1169.beta.photobucket.com/us...tml?sort=3&o=1

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