Propane Cylinder Filling Methods

Propane cylinder filling methods vary by company and region.

Filling Propane Cylinders By Weight

Along with a visual inspection of the exterior, the cylinder filler will look for two weights stamped on the cylinder prior to setting the cylinder on the scale and connecting the fill hose. These two weights are the water capacity and tare weight. The water capacity (WC) is how much water the propane cylinder will hold in pounds. The tare weight or empty weight indicated by a “TW” is what the cylinder weighs when empty.

The cylinder filler will generally have a cylinder filling chart that converts water capacity to pounds of propane that he will refer to before filling the cylinder. The chart will show, for example, that 47.6 pounds of water converts to 20 pounds of propane. With a tare weight of 18 pounds the scale would to be set to 38 pounds (20 lbs + 18 lbs = 38 lbs) to match the weight of the cylinder when it is full.

After the scale is set and the hose end nozzle is hooked up to the cylinder, the attendant may open the bleeder valve, reset the meter and begin pumping propane into the cylinder. The attendant will stop the pump when:

  1. The bleeder valve starts to spew liquid
  2. The scale indicates the cylinder has reached its capacity
  3. The OPD (Overfill Protection Device) valve stops the flow of propane into the cylinder

Some fillers may load your filled cylinder into your vehicle while some will not for liability reasons. So don’t be offended if you have to load your own cylinder.

Filling Propane Cylinders By Meter

In many places propane cylinders are simply filled using a meter on the pump much like the fuel pump at a gas station. The fill is charge by the gallon as indicated on the meter.

The attendant will stop the pump once:

  1. The bleeder valve starts to spew liquid
  2. The meter indicates the cylinder has reached its capacity
  3. The OPD (Overfill Protection Device) valve stops the flow of propane into the cylinder

Filling and Charging a Flat Fee

Charging a flat fee is a common industry practice, especially on small 5-gallon cylinders where the cost of labor is more than any profit made from selling the propane. You should know in advance that you may be charged the full amount even if the cylinder isn’t completely empty.
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