How To Read Your Propane Tank Gauge

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Reading the propane tank gauge is a skill that should be part of every homeowner’s bag of tricks. Even if you’ve signed up for automatic delivery, which we highly encourage, knowing how much fuel is in your tank is a good safety measure. And if you are monitoring your own tanks and calling for deliveries, knowing what the gauge says will avoid a run-out. While there is no magic involved, (although there may be some math), understanding what the numbers on the gauge mean can be confusing. So, follow the simple steps below.

Step 1: Open the Lid

Start by opening the lid on your propane tank. Most open on a hinge and will stay open while you locate the gauge.

Step 2: Identify the Propane Tank Gauge

The propane tank gauge is a circular dial that has a red or black needle indicating the fuel level. One of the most important things to understand is that the gauge shows you the fuel level as a percentage of the capacity of your tank, not the total amount of gallons in the tank. That’s because most gauges are “float gauges” (like your car’s gas gauge). The gauge reads the level of liquid propane in the tank via a floating arm. As the level drops, so does the float gauge.

Step 3: Understanding the Numbers

No doubt you have noticed that after a propane delivery, the tank gauge reads 80%. No, your delivery company didn’t neglect to fill it all the way. This is the maximum percentage that propane tanks can be filled to. Because although you use propane in gas form, it is stored as a liquid in your tank to allow it space to expand and contract as the outside temperature rises and falls. Therefore, a “full” propane tank’s gauge will read 80%.

With that in mind, look at the number the gauge needle is pointing to. Once you know the percentage, you can use a simple math formula to determine the number of gallons. For example, if the gauge reads 60%, and you have a 120-gallon tank, multiply 120 by 0.6 (120 x 0.6). The answer tells you there are 72 gallons of propane remaining in the tank.

But just so you don’t have to open the calculator app on your phone or use math equations you haven’t practiced since high school, the chart below will tell you at a glance how much propane is left in your tank based on your tank size and the gauge reading. You may want to keep it handy.

Propane Tank Gauge Chart

Gauge Reads 120-Gallon Tank 250-Gallon Tank 500-Gallon Tank 1,000-Gallon Tank
80% 96 gallons 200 gallons 400 gallons 800 gallons
70% 84 gallons 175 gallons 350 gallons 700 gallons
60% 72 gallons 150 gallons 300 gallons 600 gallons
50% 60 gallons 125 gallons 250 gallons 500 gallons
40% 48 gallons 100 gallons 200 gallons 400 gallons
30% 36 gallons 75 gallons 150 gallons 300 gallons
20% 24 gallons 50 gallons 100 gallons 200 gallons
10% 12 gallons 25 gallons 50 gallons 100 gallons

Important to know:

If you are monitoring your own tank levels and calling for deliveries, don’t let the tank level drop below 20%. The propane level can diminish very quickly if the temperature outside gets cold or your appliance usage increases unexpectedly. Propane companies recommend calling when your propane tank has about 30% left so there’s time to get you on the delivery schedule. Running out of propane is not only inconvenient and uncomfortable, it also means you’ll have the expense of a service call. By law, a pressure and leak check must be performed by an experienced technician on any propane tank that runs out of gas.

Trust Levco

So, the trick is to keep an eye on your propane tank gauge and know when you need a delivery. Better yet, if you haven’t already, set up automatic propane delivery with an experienced and reliable company like Levco.

Levco is a leader in helping customers understand and adhere to industry standards for the safe LP-Gas storage, handling, transportation, and use of propane. Give us a call at (203) 533-8249 or contact us today!

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