How to Read a Propane Tank Gauge

Reading a propane tank isn’t that straightforward as there are tanks of different sizes. To ensure all the appliances in your home as well as business run flawlessly, you must know how to read the tank so that you can ask your propane provider to refill it before it’s empty.

When you look at the tank gauge, it only tells you the percentage of total fuel it currently has. That doesn’t tell you exactly how much fuel the tank holds. Herein, you need to calculate considering your tank size to know the exact fuel amount.

In this article, I'll cover how to accurately read the propane tank gauge along with some important aspects related to it.

What is a Propane Tank


As you know, propane is a type of gas which has lots of aspects of usages. When you get a propane tank for your home or business, know that the tank is not filled with propane gas. Propane gas is compressed and stored in the form of liquid inside the tank.

But the thing is, you cannot power your appliances using that liquid. The liquid inside the tank boils when the inside temperature is -44°F. When it boils, it turns some amount of liquid into vapor or gas, and you use this vaporized gas to run your appliances.

Whenever the liquid boils and turns into gas, it decreases certain liquid from its total amount. And when you read a tank gauge, that tells you the amount of liquid left inside.

For example, if the gauge is showing 50% of propane is left, that means you already have used 30% of propane as the tank always fills to 80%.

Why Your Propane Provider Never Fills the Tank over 80%

Why Your Propane Provider Never Fills the Tank over

If your propane provider only fills the tank to 80% and you always ask them to fill it to 100%, know that you are not the only one making such demand. It sounds strange, but not a single provider would deliver a tank full of propane to their customers ever.

When you know the reason behind why they do so, it will make more sense to you. It’s for your own safety. The gas is stored under pressure in a liquid state which expands when the tank is hot. Inside the tank, additional space provides necessary room for the liquid propane to turn into a vapor.

If the tank is full all the way to 100%, there will be no space for propane liquid to expand into gas or vapor and it will cause issues. That's the reason why no matter how large the capacity of your tank is, the provider will fill it with 80% of propane.

Propane gas is greater in volume than its liquid form, and this is why the gas requires more space to store it. Therefore, every propane tank is filled to 80% and leaves at least 20% for the liquid to evaporate and store gas at the top of the tank.

Your home appliances are run using this gas. As you continue to consume the gas, the liquid then boils faster and evaporate more vapor to replace the old gas.

How to Read a Propane Tank Gauge?

Usually, propane tanks used throughout every household and business have the capacity of holding 120, 150, 200, 250, 500, or 1000 gallons of propane liquid. Depending on the size and considering what percentage the gauge is showing, you can know exactly how much propane is left inside the tank.

Now, let's see what the gauge on a 1000-gallon propane tank shows.

When the gauge shows;

  • 80%, there is 800 gallons of propane left
  • 70%, there is 700 gallons of propane left
  • 60%, there is 600 gallons of propane left
  • 50%, there is 500 gallons of propane left
  • 40%, there is 400 gallons of propane left
  • 20%, there is 200 gallons of propane left
  • 10%, there is 100 gallons of propane left

Note that, the gauge never reads 100%, as 80% is considered full.

That was how you need to read the gauge of a 1000-gallon propane tank. But not everyone has a tank of such huge capacity. So, here I’m showing you how to read the gauge and calculate the exact amount propane the tank has regardless of the capacity.

All you need to do is, multiply the percentage that the gauge is showing by the total capacity of the tank.

For example, if your propane tank has the capacity of 500 gallons, and the gauge is showing there is 60% left, the exact amount of propane inside the tank would be 500 x 0.6 = 300 gallons.

Now that you know how to read a propane tank gauge, you can easily calculate and find the exact amount of propane a tank has no matter what the tank size is.

Regardless of the capacity, every propane tank has a fill pipe, a regulator, an emergency vent, a shut-off valve along with a gauge.


When is the Time for Refilling?

When is the Time for Refilling

You don't want your appliances running out of power suddenly. To prevent such an unexpected situation from happening, you need to make sure the tank has enough amount of propane. Therefore, it's suggested to ask your propane provider to refill the tank when the gauge reads below 30%.

Hopefully, this time you will not feel frustrated by seeing you are delivered a tank filled with 80% of propane.

8 Reasons to Prefer Propane-Powered Appliances Over All-Electric Appliances

Propane-Powered Appliances

Nowadays, propane based heating home appliances and energy packages are delivering utmost comfort and power efficiency solutions compared to all-electric heating home appliances. Here are some of the fields of using propane that brings great advantages.

  • Energy Efficiency

About 79% of the people who have propane energy pod have said that energy efficiency was one of the key factors that influenced them to adopt propane appliances.

  • Space Heating

When it comes to any kind of heating appliances, propane outperforms the all-electric ones. Propane boilers, as well as furnaces, are great for providing consistent heat and comfort.

  • Water heater

You will never run out of water if you use propane powered tankless water heaters. It can save about $150 per year.

  • Cooking

Propane cooktops and ranges offer instant and precisely controlled cooking compared to 10 different heat levels of most electric cooking appliances.

  • Easy Installation

82% of propane pod builders think, propane-fueled home appliances are easy to install than conventional electric appliances.

  • Higher Home Value

According to the builders, propane pod homes will have around 7% higher selling price compared all electric.

  • Fireplaces

Propane indoor fireplaces provide real fire experience without doing any hassle of collecting woods while saving 91% of the energy.

  • Clothes Drying

Cloth dryers fueled by propane gas save about 20% energy costs compared to electric ones annually.

Propane Tank Safety Tips

As you are dealing with a gas tank, you must handle such a tank carefully. Here are some essential tips for the safety of your propane tank to prevent any accident from happening;

  • Turn off the propane tank when not in use.
  • Keep any flammable items away from the propane tank.
  • Disconnect and safely store the appliances when not in use.
  • Consider getting a propane gas detector to take steps immediately when there is any leak on the tank.
  • Inspect the tank once in a month. If the tank is stored for a long time, regularly check for tear and wear on the rubber tube. If you find any issue, replace the rubber tubing.
  • Make sure you store the tank outdoors. Never store it in enclosed space such as a basement or garage.
  • The tank needs to be stored in an upright position to avoid any source of heat such as direct sunlight.
  • Don’t attempt to repair or modify the regulator, valve, connector or other parts of the tank.
  • When you transport the tank, be sure to keep it in an upright position and secure it using a rope. Keep metal chain away from its body to avoid producing sparks.
  • Don't leave the tank in a vehicle for a long time. If you have to keep it inside the car for a while, make sure the windows are open.

Safety Tips for Propane-Fueled Appliances

Safety Tips for Propane-Fueled Appliances
  • Avoid using the gas when it comes to BBQ grills.
  • Don’t use propane ovens and stoves for space heating.
  • Keep portable electric generators outside the building.
  • Contact a qualified technician to connect appliances and examine leak.

What If You Smell Gas?

What If You Smell Gas

God forbids, if you ever smell propane gas nearby the tank, then it must be a leak on the tank. In such a case, make no delay to call your provider as soon as possible and make sure you follow the instructions below –

  • Turn off the tank valve and keep all smoking and flammable materials away.
  • Keep all the doors and windows wide open.
  • It the smell gets worse, cover the tank with a wet fabric and call local firefighting department as soon as possible.
  • Get everyone outside of the area while firefighters/provider are coming. Don't come near the area until firefighters and propane provider is here for help.

How to Examine a Propane Tank Leak?

How to Examine a Propane Tank Leak

You need to examine the tank if there is any leak on its rubber tubbing. It’s also recommended to examine for any leak when you get a new tank.

To do that, mix detergent or soap with water. Then, dip a cloth on the soapy water or detergent solution you made, and wipe the washcloth on the rubber tubing.

If bubbles come from the rubber tubing, know that there is a leak on it. Don’t patch the leaks. Purchase a replacement instead.

To Conclude

After reading the article, you will be able to accurately read the gauge and tell how much propane inside the tank is left. Also, be sure to follow the safety tips to avoid any injury or accident.

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One Comment

  1. It was helpful when you explained that we can multiply the percentage shown on the gauge by the tank’s capacity to figure out how many gallons of propane are left. My husband and I just purchased a small cottage home that uses propane to fuel the heating system and appliances. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips we can keep in mind to ensure we order a propane refill at the right time.

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