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Propane Tanks

How to Tell if Your Propane Tank is Empty

Man checking gas meter
Customers often wonder how to tell if a propane tank is empty. Here are 5 simple methods they can perform at home to check propane levels.

The most common home-use propane containers come in two forms: cylinders and bulk tanks. Most 20-pound cylinders do not have a gauge, and these customers often wonder how to tell if a propane tank is empty. Bulk tanks come with a gauge installed and can be fitted with technology that allows them to easily check their tank levels. Every propane customer needs to know exactly how much propane is left in the tank to determine if they have enough for their current needs, or if they need to order a propane tank replacement.

There are few safe, at-home tests Pinnacle Propane customers can follow to see how much propane they have left in their cylinder before a barbecue or in their bulk tank. Here are 3 simple steps to take which will answer how to tell if a propane tank is empty.

How to check your above ground or underground propane tank

Checking above ground or underground propane tanks is done using a few simple methods. Bulk propane tanks come equipped with devices such as a gauge that make keeping track of your propane levels a breeze.

Method 1: Telemetry

Telemetry forecasting allows you to check the levels of your above ground or underground propane tank with your mobile device. The main advantage of this technology is peace of mind because you don't need to worry about your propane levels; Pinnacle will be monitoring your levels for you and will refill the tank automatically when levels are low. Telemetry can be installed by Pinnacle Propane to help you.

  • Check the current levels of propane in your tanks.

  • Check your complete history and your latest delivery date.

  • Order propane refills on your smart device or computer.

Learn more about Telemetry from Pinnacle Propane here.

Method 2: Check the Meter

The second method you could use to check the levels of your bulk tank, especially if it does not count on telemetry, is by simply taking a look at the meter on the top of tank. The gauge will be located under a lid at the top of your tank. Open this lid and take a look at the gauge. The numbers on the gauge express how full your bulk tank is as a percentage. Your tank will never be filled to 100% because propane needs room to expand. At 80%, your tank is full. When the needle is on 40%, the tank is half full. Any reading less than 40% and you should consider ordering a refill of propane. 

4 signs your propane bulk tank is low

The above methods for checking your propane tank levels make monitoring your bulk propane tank easy. In fact, with telemetry, Pinnacle Propane can do it for you. Still, here are 4 signs your bulk tank is low:

  • Your telemetry system sends you an alert

  • Your meter on top of the bulk tank is reading low

  • If you notice your propane appliances sputtering or not working

  • If you do not have enough heat in your home


How to check your grill's propane tank level

How to tell if a propane tank is empty is easy using three simple methods. Each method listed below varies regarding accuracy and each requires equipment to complete the step.

Method 1: Check the propane tank level with water

Here is a simple trick customers can perform at home to check their propane tank level with water. To begin, first disconnect your propane cylinder and make sure the valve is turned to OFF. Then, to perform the test, simply:

  1. Fill a glass with warm water

  2. Pour the water down the side of the tank

  3. Feel for cool spots with your hand

The liquid propane inside the tank (if there is any) will absorb the heat from the warm water, so the tank will feel cool to the touch where there is propane and warm where it is empty. This method is a good way how to tell how much propane is in tank by knowing the level, but it will not tell you exactly how much propane you have. For that, you will need to follow the other methods.

Method 2: How to check propane tank level by weight

This method for how to tell if a propane tank is empty requires a scale. Most propane tanks come with two numbers stamped on the handle: The water capacity ("WC") and tare weight "TW" (tare weight is the weight of an empty propane tank).

Then the first question is: “how much does an empty propane tank weigh?” Most portable propane cylinders weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of propane gas.

To measure how many pounds of propane are left in your tank, simply weigh it on a scale and subtract the tare weight number. For example, if a tank weighing 24 pounds has a tare weight of 17 pounds, then there is about seven pounds of propane left in your tank.

Method 3: Install an external gauge

When you buy propane for your home or RV, how to tell if a propane tank is empty is best answered by installing an external gauge. Once installed, you will be able to simply look at the gauge to see how much propane you have left.

External gauges for propane tanks are available online or at your local hardware store. Once you choose your gauge, you will:

  • Attach gauge between the propane tank and the connection hose.

  • Simply read the gauge to tell how much propane is left in your tank.

4 signs your propane BBQ tank is low

Before you use any of the above methods for how to tell if a propane tank is empty, you need to know some signs your propane tank is low. Here are 4:

  • Your gauge tells you it is low.

  • The tank feels light.

  • The tank fails the hot water test.

  • Your barbecue will not light.

Pinnacle Propane provides the convenient option of refilling empty cylinders at numerous locations. At the bottle dock, an attendant will aid you in the process, making it an affordable and efficient solution. This method is particularly useful for RV owners requiring large cylinder refills. For locating the nearest refill location, visit our propane location finder.

Get your propane cylinders and tanks refilled with Pinnacle Propane

Now that we have answered how to tell if a propane tank is empty, we hope that our customers will use this guide to help manage their propane usage. Using these simple methods above, hopefully you will never run out of propane when you need it.

The best way to meet all your propane needs is by becoming a Pinnacle Propane customer. Our customer service is second to none, and we make it easy to refill cylinders with us! Contact us to learn more about us and about propane pricing.