How To Tell How Full (or Empty) Your Propane Tank Really Is

How To Tell How Full (or Empty) Your Propane Tank Really Is by Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

Nearly everyone has the typical 20-pound (5-gallon) barbecue grill propane tank, and many people have stocked up with extra tanks for various reasons – but how do you accurately know how empty or full your propane tank really is?

Here’s the best way to find out how much propane is left in your tank:


Weigh The Propane Tank

All propane tanks have 2 weights stamped onto the top handle (the collar). One represents the tank’s empty weight and the other represents its full weight (full with water… see below).


TW (T.W. Tare Weight)

This is the weight of the tank itself when empty.

WC (W.C. Water Capacity)

This is the weight of the water required to fill the tank (yes, water).

The typical 20-pound (5-gallon) barbecue grill tank will hold 47.6 pounds of water.

Regulations limit the propane level to not exceed 42% of the water capacity of the tank.

Long story short – The safe maximum weight of propane in a typical barbecue grill tank is 20 pounds (42% of 47.6 = 20 pounds).

So, what do we do with this information to discover how empty or full your propane tank is?

Simply weigh your propane tank and subtract it’s tare weight.


For example, I just weighed my bbq grill tank and it weighs 32.6 pounds. The tare weight stamped on the collar is 16.6 pounds.

32.6 – 16.6 = 16 pounds

20 pounds is considered full, so 16 pounds is still pretty full. 4/5 full.

You can use any scale. A floor scale, or a hanging scale.

There are several clever scales on the market whereby you can push a ‘tare button’ (very useful). I’ve been using the H-100 hanging scale (multiple uses), for my 20 & 30 pound portable propane tanks (bbq and RV).

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Ken Jorgustin

Ken Jorgustin’s survival blog focuses on a wide variety of preparedness topics varying from short to long term actions and solutions for wide-ranging scenarios of preparation… for daily life, disaster, or even SHTF collapse. Subjects include situational and risk awareness, the dangers, systemic risks, and avoidance of dependence upon the major ‘modern’ systems that we take for granted, topics of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and practical solutions to live a way of life while surviving these uncertain times. Modern Survival is Preparedness For Life Preparedness is a process and will become a way of life – one in which you have more control over your own destiny. Being better prepared will help liberate you from “the system” which in many ways is designed to hold you down and keep you “dependent”. Modern Survival Blog has been committed since JAN-2010 to produce a wide variety of information to hopefully provide you with ideas for your own preparedness.