Whether you’re firing up the grill, going out on a camping adventure, or switching on a heater, you might well be looking for some propane to fuel your appliances.
There are many different sizes of propane tanks out there for different needs, but exactly how many gallons are there in a 5 lb propane tank?
A 5 lb propane tank is one of the smaller sizes that you can find. A 5 lb propane tank can hold around 1-1.2 gallons of propane which makes it very portable while still holding enough for multiple days of use, depending on the appliance.
This article will go into detail about exactly how much fuel a 5 lb propane tank can contain, how to tell how much fuel you have left and where to top it up again, as well as some ideas about how long this tank might last you so that you know whether or not a 5lb propane tank is right for your needs.
How Much Fuel Can a 5 lb Propane Tank Hold?
One of the smaller standard sizes of propane tanks that are readily available, about 1 gallon of propane fits into a 5 lb tank, but it can be as much as 1.2 gallons. In liters, this equates to between 3.7 L and 4.5 L.
Although this is certainly on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to fuel quantity, it is a very portable amount that will go further than you think.
On top of this, your propane tank can easily be refilled as many times as you want, and you are much less likely to have unused fuel lying around.
How Big is a 5 lb Propane Tank?
If you’re looking for something portable that is not going to weigh too much, a smaller tank may well be the way to go. The dimensions for a 5 lb propane tank are:
- Width: Approximately 8 inches
- Depth: Approximately 8 inches
- Height: Approximately 12 inches
When it comes to weight, how heavy your tank is will depend on how much fuel it has inside. The 5 lb weight of the tank, which is around 2.3 kg, tells you the approximate weight of the propane that the tank can hold but each tank will also have a “tare weight”, or TW, which tells you how much the tank weighs when it is empty.
Usually, you will find this TW number engraved on the side of the tank. The empty weight of a 5 lb tank is generally somewhere between 6.5 and 7 lbs, so the overall weight will vary from this amount up to around 12 lbs if the tank is completely full.
How Long Will a 5 lb Propane Tank Last?
It can be hard to figure out exactly how long your propane tank is going to last because it depends entirely on what you are using it for.
Some appliances burn through fuel a lot more quickly than others and for certain uses, a 5 lb tank might run out quite fast.
For reference, a medium-sized grill will usually use around one pound of propane per hour. If you are using a larger grill or cooking on a higher heat, then you are going to use up more fuel. In comparison, the average home furnace uses around one gallon of propane per hour.
If you are taking propane with you for a camping trip, however, you are likely to only need around ½ lb of propane per day. With those measurements in mind, a 5 lb propane tank will last for approximately:
- Home Heating: <1/2 hour
- Large Grill: 2.5 hours
- Medium Grill: 5 hours
- Camping: 10 days
Rather than buying a number of smaller, 1 lb propane tanks for a camping trip, a single 5 lb tank may well last you the whole vacation.
On the other hand, a 5 lb tank likely doesn’t have the capacity you would need for bigger appliances and it is certainly not enough for heating your home.
What is the BTU Content of a 5 lb Tank of Propane?
When you are looking at how long a propane tank is going to last for different appliances, you will often see BTUs being used as a unit of measurement. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it is one of the ways of measuring heat.
Essentially, rather than measuring how hot something is, it measures how much energy is needed to heat something up. 1 BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.
This is useful when you are dealing with fuel because it allows you to measure how much heating a certain amount of fuel is going to provide.
Every appliance that you fuel with propane will have a BTU output. This number will tell you how many BTUs the appliance will use in a certain amount of time.
For example, a propane grill might burn around 12,000 BTUs in one hour.
One pound of propane is equal to 21,600 BTUs. In comparison, one pound of coal is equal to approximately 12,500 BTUs.
This means that a 5 lb tank of propane, that will contain 1-1.2 gallons of fuel, provides between 91,000 BTUs and 109,200 BTUs.
Should You Refill or Exchange a 5 lb Propane Tank?
If you’re thinking that a 5 lb tank looks like the right size for you, but you think it might run out, don’t worry! 5 lb tanks may not be the largest and they will empty a little quicker than others, but you have multiple options when you start to run low on fuel.
Rather than buying a whole new tank, you can take your empty tank to a refilling station or a propane tank supplier and exchange it for a full one. You can also refill your tank instead of exchanging it, which usually costs less.
The average exchange cost for a full tank is between $5.00 and $6.00 for every gallon, whereas refills are normally closer to $3.00 or $4.00 per gallon, and you don’t waste money on the small amounts left in the bottom of your tank!
Can You Refill a 5 lb Propane Tank?
Refilling a propane tank is easy to do and much more efficient than buying a new one. A 5 lb propane tank uses the exact same adapter as larger 20 lb tanks do, which means that you can refill in many different places.
Anywhere that campers, van dwellers, grillers, smokers, or anybody else that might use propane lives, you will find refilling stations.
Many gas stations offer propane refilling services, as do a lot of hardware stores, camping supply retailers, and vehicle repair shops. There are even dedicated propane refilling and tank exchange locations that are managed by companies like AmeriGas, which you can search for in your local area.
You might be surprised to hear that U-Haul actually has the largest network of propane filling stations in the United States.
They offer their services at more than 1,100 locations across the country, so there is bound to be one near you.
How Can You Tell How Full A 5 lb Propane Tank Is?
If you are wondering whether or not it is time to get your 5 lb tank refuelled, you will want to check how much is left in the bottom.
The easiest way to do this is by measuring the weight of your tank as it is, and then comparing that to how much it would weigh if it was completely empty.
To do this for a 5 lb tank, all you need is a set of bathroom scales and the empty weight of your tank.
- Find the empty tank weight, which is usually engraved on the side as the tare weight (or TW).
- Place your tank on a set of scales to find the total weight, including the fuel that remains inside.
- Subtract the empty tank weight from the total current weight of your tank to find out the weight of the remaining propane.
- One pound of propane contains 21,600 BTUs, so you can multiply the weight of your propane by 21,600 to find out how many BTUs you have left in the tank.
For example, a 5 lb tank might have a TW of 6.7 lbs. If that tank currently weighs 8 lbs then the weight of the propane inside would be 8 lbs minus 6.7 lbs, which is equal to 1.3 lbs of propane. 1.3 times 21, 600 equals 28,080 BTUs, which is how much is left in the tank.
So, how many gallons of propane are there in a 5 lb propane tank? A 5 lb propane tank can hold 1-1.2 gallons of propane, which is equal to between 91,000 BTUs and 109,200 BTUs.
A 5 lb propane tank is ideal for camping and fuelling smaller appliances. A tank of this size might fuel a medium grill for around 5 hours and it could last for more than a week if you take it camping with you.
You can easily exchange or refill a 5 lb tank that has started to run low at many different locations across the country. These tanks might not be the largest, but they are certainly among the most portable and easy to use.
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