When to Refill a Propane Tank – All You Need to Know

Rodney Nestor
Rodney Nestor
Research Writer
Rodney holds a Master’s degree in Arts and apart from working as a freelance writer, is a rather successful author of science fiction stories published in several literary read more
Last updated: September 02, 2023
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Having a propane tank in your yard means warm showers and perfectly cooked food. However, not many people know exactly when to refill a propane tank.

Once all the propane is used up, you are left with two options: spend more and buy a replacement or save a lot of money and get a refill. The advantage is obvious, isn’t it?

Why Propane Tank Gauge Should Never Fall Below 20%?

If you’re wondering, when should I refill my propane tank? Think of it as having the fuel gauge of your car at low. It’s not empty, but you get a refill anyways.

That is not a mere instinct, there are many reasons behind it. Just like the car, if your propane tank gauge falls below 20%, it is a safety hazard. In addition, it will be an inconvenience to you and your family.

However, the propane tank is designed to emit an odor once the level drop. The smell is somewhat similar to rotten eggs, so you cannot miss it. Day to day life is busy as it is, and keeping the propane levels in check is difficult to keep up with.

Therefore, the rotten egg odor ensures you notice your propane tank needs a refill and take action in time.

Furthermore, running out of propane in winter raises the risk of your pipes freezing or bursting. Shivering and discomfort are the minimal to worry about in such cases. Also, propane when mixed with oxygen becomes highly flammable.

That is to say, once the gas runs out on open lines, refills will leak out. The air and moisture that finds their way into the tank will cause rust and weaken the tank. Rusting will then lead to the cancellation of the rotten egg odor, which means no gas leaks will be detected anymore.

The leaked gas may reach an ignition source and the consequences can be fatal. Finally, if the levels are below 20% the gas will not expand as much. The low pressure reduces the efficiency of the appliances that require propane.

How to Read a Propane Tank? – Alternatives to Gauge

Gauges tell you when to fill a propane tank and most tanks come with this gauge. However, if yours didn’t or it isn’t working properly for some reason. There are alternative ways to read your propane tank.

  • Weigh the Tank – The method is as simple as it sounds. Try lifting the propane tank to see how heavy it feels. Your tank should have two numbers displayed on the side, one for water capacity and one for tare weight (when the tank is empty). Therefore, subtract the tare weight when weighing.

On the other hand, this method is only applicable to smaller tanks.

When to Refill a Propane Tank - All You Need to Know

  • The Water Test – The water test is a more creative method. Grab a cup of hot tap water and pour it down the side of your tank. Now, carefully feel the side of the tank with the tip of your finger. The cold position will indicate where the propane is and that is where your levels start.

When to Refill a Propane Tank - All You Need to Know

Best Time to Refill Your Propane Tank

Once you are familiar with reading gauge levels and all the safety precautions, you are saving yourself a lot of trouble and funds.

There’s more you can save with your propane tank refills. To clarify, the time you purchase your refill matters a lot.

Early fall is the best time to get a refill. It is simple, early fall is not peak season, and there is a comparatively lower demand for propane. The low propane demand leads to low prices, whereas it is highest in late fall and winter.

When winter is around the corner, there is so much you plan. In other words, grills and steaks, family time, or just cozying up inside your home. At this point, worrying about the high prices of propane due to demand or going through the trouble of scheduling a refill can be an uncomfortable inconvenience.

Furthermore, even if it is early winter you should expect weather shifts and it can get cold at any time. If that happens and you have an empty tank, it will not be a fun experience to shiver in the cold. Having your propane tank filled at this time will provide the coziness you need.

To sum up, getting an early refill does not only save you a lot of money and unnecessary hassle in peak months but also well-prepared for sudden weather shifts.


Having a propane tank for a house or facility requires a certain degree of attention. In other words, checkup often if you want to know when to refill the propane tank. A recommendation would be to consider a refill for your propane tank when about 2 pounds of propane is left.

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