Filling propane tanks

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Tom R

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Ask them how they know if there isn’t already some gas in there if they aren’t weighing it. You just can’t pump some arbitrary amount of gas in there and hope it fits. You aren’t allowed to use the “spitter gauge” to determine a tanks “fullness” because there is no way to know if the dip tube has been compromised or is even in there.
The amount added to the tank is metered, just like on a 1960's gas pump.
I got 8.1 gallons divided between two 20# tanks today. And that's what I paid for.
 

camonick

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The amount added to the tank is metered, just like on a 1960's gas pump.
I got 8.1 gallons divided between two 20# tanks today. And that's what I paid for.
I understand that and I’m fully aware of how that works, but unless they weigh that tank they have no clue if there is already something in it. You just can’t take a customer’s word that it is empty without verifying it.
 

Tom R

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I understand that and I’m fully aware of how that works, but unless they weigh that tank they have no clue if there is already something in it. You just can’t take a customer’s word that it is empty without verifying it.
I often have partially empty tanks topped off, just like today.
They add propane until it starts bleeding out somewhere on the valve body (I can't tell where). The they tighten a screw to stop the bleeding. A short blasty of propane exits from a hose several feet from the filling station.

Maybe I should stand farther away when they are filling my tanks....
 

MaxStout

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I guess that’s up to the individual company and their policies. At our company, if you bring us a 20 pound bottle we charge you for 20 pounds no matter how much goes into it because there’s more to it than just pumping propane into the tank. We do a visual inspection and check the certification dates on every tank because that is required by law. We have to determine the tank’s tare weight (TW) and water capacity (WC) then refer to a special chart that tells us what the water capacity is in pounds, then do the math conversion to figure out how much we can pump into that specific tank to reach the final gross weight after we have taken a beginning weight before the fill. We inspect the valve, replace any damaged or missing dust caps, and replace any damaged or illegible warning labels which are also required to be on there by law. If you bring us a bottle that has a plastic shrink wrap label like AmeriGas and blue rhino, we cut those off and replace them with adhesive stickers because those plastic wrap labels collect condensation underneath and rust the tank which is a disqualification for the visual requalification. If we find a tank that is out of qualification and a visual inspection indicates that it is OK to refill, we have to do another step and apply our inspection label and record that, including the tank’s serial number, tank size and technician’s initials in our records to indicate that that has been done. So, if a legitimate company is doing everything correctly and not taking shortcuts, I don’t see any reason why anybody could complain about paying for a full fill if you know you are receiving something safe in the end that has passed all the legal requirements. That doesn’t even to begin to touch the hours of certification training and millions of dollars in liability insurance we are required to accumulate and to carry. I don’t consider us to be unscrupulous.

Edit: punctuation and spelling

Your company is providing those same "extra services" and applying the same professional certifications and liability coverage to all customers, regardless of whether they bring in an empty tank or one that has some propane remaining.

If I bring in a 20# tank with 5# remaining, you are really giving me with 15# but you charge me for 20. That's a cheat, regardless of how many times you tell yourself your company is providing "extra services." After that wall of text outlining all those things you do, at the end of it all, your company is still pinching the customer. Because you would do all that extra stuff for the customer with the empty tank, too.

Maybe it's legal because it's "customary" in your company's line of business, and therefore your state's Weight and Measures board doesn't view that as a per se violation, but that does not negate the fact that it is taking advantage of those who don't receive a full 20 pounds.

Yes, it is unscrupulous.

I'll stick with the vendor who charges me for actual propane received.
 

camonick

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I don't get this.
At any location near me in WA, they always fill my 20# tanks by volume. The pump measures in gallons, I've never seen it sold by weight, there is no scale to be seen.

Maybe this a WA state thing?
Nope it’s a national thing.
“Propane tanks can be filled by weight or volume.But according to DOT regulations, propane tanks with less than 200 pounds capacity must be refilled by weight. The proper refilling procedure is detailed in the CETP handbook.”
I have to issue a correction on my above quote. The caveat to that statement is “DOT regulations”. Those apply to companies transporting those containers in commerce, ie blue rhino, amerigas, etc. That does not include John Q. Public, Many states also adopted the same regulations to make things more uniform. @Tom R , Washington state is not one of those states. The state of Colorado where I live is. I was misunderstanding what I was being taught in my CETP classes. I thought DOT regulations were a blanket federal policy for everyone. My apologies.
 

camonick

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Your company is providing those same "extra services" and applying the same professional certifications and liability coverage to all customers, regardless of whether they bring in an empty tank or one that has some propane remaining.

If I bring in a 20# tank with 5# remaining, you are really giving me with 15# but you charge me for 20. That's a cheat, regardless of how many times you tell yourself your company is providing "extra services." After that wall of text outlining all those things you do, at the end of it all, your company is still pinching the customer. Because you would do all that extra stuff for the customer with the empty tank, too.

Maybe it's legal because it's "customary" in your company's line of business, and therefore your state's Weight and Measures board doesn't view that as a per se violation, but that does not negate the fact that it is taking advantage of those who don't receive a full 20 pounds.

Yes, it is unscrupulous.

I'll stick with the vendor who charges me for actual propane received.
Dude, I’m just a peon truck driver who does what he’s told to do and what I’m trained to do. I’ll be sure to pass it along to my boss that we’re a dishonest piece of shi+ company despite operating under the regulations of our state.
 

kartracer2

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Dude, I’m just a peon truck driver who does what he’s told to do and what I’m trained to do. I’ll be sure to pass it along to my boss that we’re a dishonest piece of shi+ company despite operating under the regulations of our state.
Hey I just want to say thanks for sharing your knowledge and insight. I learned a thing or two and people like you help the community as a whole. Thanks again for you input.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 

InspectorJon

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And anyone exchanging tanks at blue rhino, amerigas, etc. is getting screwed too. All those exchange places only fill their bottles with 15 lbs
I guess that’s up to the individual company and their policies. At our company, if you bring us a 20 pound bottle we charge you for 20 pounds no matter how much goes into it
Blue Rhino does not charge for a full tank, they charge a flat rate for 15 pounds in an inspected tank regardless of what is in the tank being exchanged or the condition of the exchanged tank. Charging a flat rate for 20 pounds is a very similar business business model. The only diffference I see is that Blue Rhino assumes the risk regarding the condition of the exchanged bottle and you don't. Whether or not that is a rip off is up to the consumer to decide.

Every successful business has to calculate how they price and sell their products or services. There are a lot of different was to do that. Customers can choose which businesses to use. That is what makes our economic system work. Buying from a propane company that charges a flat rate to fill a tank regardless of the amount of LPG going into the tank is not significantly different than using one of the exchange services. Many customers are happy with that kind of service. It appears to be a successful business model. The place I buy propane from uses a certified meter and charges for what they put in the tank. They do enough of an inspection to have rejected my tank a few years ago and if I bring in a half full tank I only get charged for what they put in to fill it.

The propane company that fills my large tank for the house decided not to fill what they call BBQ bottles anymore, not just here on site but also at the shop if I bring one in. They apparently did not find it profitable to pay a guy to go out and run the pump and inspect bottles. That is their business model. I just found it disingenuous that they blamed it on Covid. Now I go to the feed store, which turns out to be closer anyway.
 
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camonick

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If you ask your propane company they will usually fill small tanks when they come fill the big one as long as you make it convenient for them and they just add the gas to the ticket.
My propane company stopped filling BBQ bottles when they fill the big tank due to . . . COVID. Go figure.
Nope it’s a national thing.
“Propane tanks can be filled by weight or volume.But according to DOT regulations, propane tanks with less than 200 pounds capacity must be refilled by weight. The proper refilling procedure is detailed in the CETP handbook.”
@InspectorJon & @smcinco , I have been mistakenly misinterpreting the phrase “DOT regulations” to mean a national standard. My above comments were under that impression that every state followed the same rules in that quote which is what Colorado does. Your states are apparently in the group that don’t.
 

InspectorJon

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@InspectorJon & @smcinco , I have been mistakenly misinterpreting the phrase “DOT regulations” to mean a national standard. My above comments were under that impression that every state followed the same rules in that quote which is what Colorado does. Your states are apparently in the group that don’t.
As KartRacer2 said, we appreciate the educated information you have brought to this discussion.
 

camonick

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The only diffference I see is that Blue Rhino assumes the risk regarding the condition of the exchanged bottle and you don't.
We do. I didn’t mention in all my previous posts that we also have bottle exchange stations at other independent locations that aren’t owned by us. We get a whole bunch of crap tanks that we have to “eat” if the other peons at the other locations don’t do a good job of looking at the tanks they are exchanging. The biggest culprit is people exchanging tanks with noncompliant valves that we have to replace to put back in service. The flat rate is what we charge at our main location where the fill station is located.
I’ll see my way out.
 

camonick

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Hey I just want to say thanks for sharing your knowledge and insight. I learned a thing or two and people like you help the community as a whole. Thanks again for you input.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
As KartRacer2 said, we appreciate the educated information you have brought to this discussion.
Thank you.
 

Murph4231

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Don't know how much of an analogy it is to what OP is doing, but a while back I bought one of those $10 adapters to fill 1# disposable bottles from a 20# tank. I wanted to refill the little bottles for a camp stove. You hook it up, turn the 20# tank upside down and open the valve. At best, it fills the smaller bottle about 1/2 way.

More trouble than it's worth.
I refill #1s that way also. IME freezing the little bottles first allows them to receive more volume. Works for me. I use quite a few bottles soldering and weed burning. Saves a few bucks and I have full bottles waiting til needed.
 

smcinco

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@InspectorJon & @smcinco , I have been mistakenly misinterpreting the phrase “DOT regulations” to mean a national standard. My above comments were under that impression that every state followed the same rules in that quote which is what Colorado does. Your states are apparently in the group that don’t.

:rock: Brew/rock on. Former propane dealer here in CA (oh my, I guess we're not awash in red tape over everything, but to those leaving because of it, don't let the door hit ya in the ass!)
 

superiorsat

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Maybe someone can comment on this as a possible solution. I live in a State that gets a good amount of frost in the ground and when a new house is built and is ready to go in winter that needs propane you see a temporary heavy duty black hose from the tank to a regulator attached to the house. The OP said he would have to trench through rock and need permits, etc. and that it would be expensive. Years ago I considered doing a flexible gray hose tapped off my natural gas heater feed line in my brewing garage to run the burner but switched to electric before I pulled the trigger. Is there any reason he couldn't just have a valve added with a QD that he could hook up a flexible temporary line on brew day and disconnect when not in use?
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, my tank is hard-piped straight through the adjacent wall, but I think there might be a code limiting the tank size allowed for that technique.
Our vacation house in NH has a ~300 gallon tank that had to be buried 50' away and is hard-piped underground...

Cheers!
 

InspectorJon

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As we have seen, codes aren’t the same or interpreted and enforced the same everywhere. Where I live, and I think US country wide, there is a size limit for how large of a tank can place directly adjacent to a house. The 120 gallon tanks discussed above push to the edge of that limit. They let me put two of these, hooked together next to my house but not a 250 gallon tank. In my jurisdiction a larger tank must be at least 15 feet from the house.
1646498309030.jpeg
 

InspectorJon

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Is there any reason he couldn't just have a valve added with a QD that he could hook up a flexible temporary line on brew day and disconnect when not in use?
Maybe something like this? I might have to look into that for my situation.
QD gas hose.
Edit - This hose is for natural gas only, not propane. I’ll look for one made for propane.
 
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DosGatosBrewing

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I have a 200-300 gallon propane tank buried in the ground that was installed by the previous owners for gas logs, etc. We hired someone to run a new line to the kitchen (works great), and a branch to my brewing patio (not so much). The pressure is something like 11" water column, and you get a flame, but not nearly enough pressure. There seems to be a regulator at the tank, and another at the house? IDK. I can't find anyone around here who knows enough about it to tell me how to boil 13-14 gallons of wort on my Bayou Classic banjo burner straight from the big tank.
 

PCABrewing

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For what it is worth, this is what it looks like in California. No scales.
View attachment 762516
So are they just filling until the OPD float stops the flow?
You can hear the pump dead-head when it gets full. That makes weight a moot point.
Once the valve closes you aren't putting any more in there.
Key is the tank has to be sitting on flat ground.
 

InspectorJon

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We hired someone to run a new line to the kitchen (works great), and a branch to my brewing patio (not so much). The pressure is something like 11" water column, and you get a flame, but not nearly enough pressure.
This sounds like either a regulator issue or a fuel type issue. Propane burns at a different temperature than natural gas. If an appliance is set up for the other fuel (propane or natural gas) it will not burn properly. If the regulator is not matched to the appliance it will not work properly. You need a gas burning appliance technician. Maybe someone that works on RVs or someone that does outdoor kitchen construction. Really, any plumber should know unless propane is unusual in your area.

The bayou classic should have its own regulator. Perhaps there is some issue with the second regulator at the house not being compatible with the banjo burner regulator. Have you tried the banjo burner hooked directly up to a small propane bottle and it works?
 

day_trippr

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Depending on the model BC burner one can usually find NG jetted orifices to switch from propane - which is the usual default jetting.
To be sure, the optimal orifice diameter is significantly different moving from propane to NG...

Cheers!
 

DosGatosBrewing

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This sounds like either a regulator issue or a fuel type issue. Propane burns at a different temperature than natural gas. If an appliance is set up for the other fuel (propane or natural gas) it will not burn properly. If the regulator is not matched to the appliance it will not work properly. You need a gas burning appliance technician. Maybe someone that works on RVs or someone that does outdoor kitchen construction. Really, any plumber should know unless propane is unusual in your area.

The bayou classic should have its own regulator. Perhaps there is some issue with the second regulator at the house not being compatible with the banjo burner regulator. Have you tried the banjo burner hooked directly up to a small propane bottle and it works?
The burner works great on a small propane bottle. Always has. Just when we hooked it up to the home size propane tank, it didn't work.

Apologies; I should have stated that it always worked on propane. Natural gas was never in the picture here, sadly.
 

InspectorJon

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I would be tempted to try and bypass the regulator that comes with the burner. There is already a regulator between the house and propane tank.
 

camonick

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I have a 200-300 gallon propane tank buried in the ground that was installed by the previous owners for gas logs, etc. We hired someone to run a new line to the kitchen (works great), and a branch to my brewing patio (not so much). The pressure is something like 11" water column, and you get a flame, but not nearly enough pressure. There seems to be a regulator at the tank, and another at the house? IDK. I can't find anyone around here who knows enough about it to tell me how to boil 13-14 gallons of wort on my Bayou Classic banjo burner straight from the big tank.
The burner works great on a small propane bottle. Always has. Just when we hooked it up to the home size propane tank, it didn't work.
It won’t work when connected to the household plumbing. The regulator you have on the buried tank reduces the tank pressure (11-200 psi vapor pressure depending on ambient temperature) down to around 10 psi. That flows to the secondary regulator at the house that reduces it down again to 11” water column (WC) which is about 0.4 psi. All household propane appliances are designed to operate at 11” WC. The Bayou burners are designed to operate at 30 psi and that’s what their regulators are meant to provide. A 20# bottle at 70 °F will have a vapor pressure of about 145 psi. Assuming it can vaporize (boil) fast enough, you’ll have enough pressure to operate the burner, and that’s why it works well when connected to the small bottle.
 

camonick

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The burner works great on a small propane bottle. Always has. Just when we hooked it up to the home size propane tank, it didn't work.

Apologies; I should have stated that it always worked on propane. Natural gas was never in the picture here, sadly.


You would need a specially designed “low pressure” burner to do what you want with the household plumbing. It might not even work if it’s hooked up after the secondary regulator that supplies 11” WC… it looks like it requires about 1 psi.
 

Dr_Jeff

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The place I go to always checks the date on the bottle.
Having been in Alaska for two years, some of my bottles are now out of date.
The last place I lived, they never check the date on the bottles and would just fill whatever I brought.
 

JeffersonStateBrewing

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The place I go to always checks the date on the bottle.
Having been in Alaska for two years, some of my bottles are now out of date.
The last place I lived, they never check the date on the bottles and would just fill whatever I brought.
I buy garage/yard sale propane tanks when the price is nearly free. Then I take them and exchange at blue rhino for an updated certified tank. The cost difference for fill vs yard sale and exchange is nill, so worth it IMO. Plus the local fill station will fill the exchanged tanks cheaper than exchange rate, this equates to buy savings over buying either an exchange tank at blue rhino or (shudders) a NEW tank. I usually have 6-8 full tanks at a time. I just changed over to electric brewing so my still full tanks will last a while on the bbq and will likely end up in a yard sale, to continue the cycle lol
 
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