Last summer I wrote about how I was loving my new Weber Baby Q Grill:
This little grill is great. It took all of 5 minutes to unpack and assemble. I can use standard propane cylinders on it (much like I would for a small torch) and the lighting mechanism has worked flawlessly so far. Temperature control is straightforward. The only thing I might add is a decent grill thermometer, but so far I'm getting along quite well without.
It turns out that I haven't found the need for a thermometer yet.
The only thing that has bugged me since then is having to use those little propane tanks on it. I've probably gone through 10 of them since then and you can't refil them. That means you're wasting metal that nobody seems to want to recycle. And, of course, it seems to always run out while you're cooking something.
So I went looking for a hose that'd allow me to use the more normal 20 pound tank that you might see on a full-size grill. It turns out that Weber sells one. Weber part #41455 is the hose you need. The hose is available on Amazon.com for $20.
Thanks to Mom & Dad, I got said hose and a tank for giftmas. Now I just need to find a place that'll fill it up for me.
Posted by jzawodn at February 20, 2005 10:38 PM
Ooh! And there's one of those REALLY close to my place. :-)
That's my pet peeve, I always run out of gas in the middle of cooking, it happens even on the 20lb tanks. I asked my propane supplier if there wasn't a good solution, maybe a pressure gauge to tell you how much gas was left. He said to just weigh it on a bathroom scale to see how much gas was in it (get a tare weight when the tank is empty). I was not satisfied with that answer, it's too much work hooking and unhooking the tank. He suggested I get a second tank so I could switch when I ran out. Somehow I knew he would propose a solution that involved spending more money on propane gas and tanks.
I saw a gadget at the hardware store, it's a sort of magnetic strip like a refrigerator magnet, but it has a built-in color changing thermometer strip. You slap it on the side of the tank, and supposedly it can tell where the liquid level of the tank stops and the cooler gaseous level starts. I asked the hardware store guy if these gadgets work well, and he said "not really."
That's great dude. Wish my Mommy & Daddy had a special gift holiday for me. What are you cooking anyway?
Charles, just buy an elcheapo walmart scale and leave it under your tank all the time ;)
Thrown on a piece of tape with the "empty" weight and your gold.
Perhaps overkill for what you are trying to do, but if you have natural gas nearby, have you considered converting your grill from LP->NG? Detailed instructions and pictures on how to do it can be found at http://www.komar.org/bbq/mm/convert/
In general, U-Haul sucks. I won't give them any of my money if I can avoid it.
Specifically related to filling propane. U-Haul says they only charge you for what they put in the tank (and charge per pound.) Sounds great, but in these parts (New England) that comes out to about $20 to fill my tank when it is empty (and since I have 2, I always run them completely out) vs. $12 at the local Agway. And then there is the fact that U-Haul sucks.
I used to get my tank filled, when I lived someplace that was really convenient for doing so. But anymore, it costs me about $3 more to exchange the empty tank for a refurbished full tank than to simply get it refilled. And I can do it at the Grocery store.
And I also keep an extra tank handy, JIC I run out in the middle of cooking. It's not a bad $35 insurance policy.
BTW, Jeremy, I finally got a digital thermometer with probe (that Alton Brown is always preaching the virtues of), and I use it all time for chicken titties and pork chops. It's also wonderful for baked potatoes. another $35 investment that is well worth it.
We solved the empty tank problem by buying two. The refills are easily (and inexpensively) obtained at our local bulk LP gas distributor for less than half of what the local U-Haul wants.
Now, there are still times when you can find yourself with 2 empties, but we know who's fault that is :-)
There is a way to do it by feel if you can notice the temperature differences in the tank (some people pour warm water on their tanks to assist in this).
Not sure how to describe it, but if you notice somebody doing it someday they'll readily tell you how to do it if you ask. :)
You're better off getting a little sticky meter though.
Those little strip things on the sides of the tanks probably work just fine when the ambient temperature is 72 degrees. But who keeps their propane tank indoors?
I just always keep two tanks around.
I don't get how come you manage to write 3 blog entries, 100 lines each, on 30 minutes (first on 10:08 to 10:38).
Were you a typewritter on your previous job?... ;-)
Weird. I always thought of myself as a slow typist.
Thanks for putting this together. Great blog. I put together a similar blog together as my wife and I bought a house about a year ago and we wanted to share what we learned. I trackback'd your site.
How to get rid of metal nobody will recycle because it resembles something? I had that problem with an 18"x36" scrap gasoline tank (off a car). Nobody would touch it because it might contain gas. However they were fine with 6" squares of sheet metal :)
I would recommend getting a different grill. Weber Grills are known for their poor craftsmanship and can even be dangerous. visit this site for true stories from weber users: http://www.webbernation.com
I live in Austin, TX and recently won a Weber Baby-Q grill as a door prize from my comany. The only thing is, that was back in June '04 and my husband and I still haven't been able to find the right propane tank that'll fit. The only kind we've found so far is the Coleman (little green tanks) and those definitley do not fit.
Regarding finding propane bottles to fit the Weber Q Grills, go to the Plumbing department in any hardware store. They sell the tall bottles for propane torches. I got mine at Home Depot.
You can convert it to the larger tank size by buying a hose that fits into the tiny bottle spot on the grill and will fit a large free standing propane tank on the other end. It works great. I also got mine at home depot.
I just read a comment somewhere else on how to tell how full the tank is. Pour hot water down the side of the tank. Wait a few seconds after that and feel the side of the tank. The propane will disperse the heat faster then the empty part and you will feel the difference. Imagine a glass of ice cold water in the summertime and the condensation on the glass.
Hi there, found this blog looking for a solution. I have one of those new type tanks on the RV and it seems to have stopped working. It has weight to it so I figure there is gas in it but it won't come out at the valve. Has anyone ever heard of such? Wow this seems to defy logic. But I am sure there is a good reason. Hmmmm
Just had to say thanks for the hot water trick for checking the propane level. It worked like a charm. Now I know I have 1/3 of a tank left, but my question becomes is that enough for me to deep fry a turkey tomorrow? :) Ah well, I'm gonna get it refilled anyway.
I have had a Baby Q for a couple of years now. I had a minor problem and called them. It's guaranteed for five years, so make sure you send in your warranty. They sent me the part that very day.
I have a couple of spare tanks. I went to the public works department in town. They collect them for disposal. I got two that were almost brand new. When someone moves, they can't always put it in the moving van and have to dispose of it.
Does anyone actually KNOW the EMPTY and FULL WEIGHTS of a standard 20-lb propane bbq cylinder? The scale method for checking how much gas is left sounds great, but without the actual WEIGHTS it's kind of useless. Please could someone post the full and empty weights. Thanks!
Just looked it up. 20 lbs empty, 40 lbs full.
May want to double check that next time you have a fresh tank tho.
I personally don't like gas grills. I prefer charcoal, or sometimes when camping good old wood. I just bought a very compact grill to use when camping. It's called a Grilliput and I got it at http://www.vat19.com/dvds/grilliput-portable-bbq.cfm The think looks like a flute, but I swear it's cool.
There are lots of products out there to determine how much propane is left in the tank. The warm water method work well, but you have to go get warm water and pour it on your tank. There are magnetic strips and pressure gauges and scales, but the best one I've seen is at http://www.thetankonline.com/ It's a standard 20lb. tank with a built-in LEVEL gauge. Pressure gauges depend on the temperature, but level gauges don't. It would work great with that Weber adaptor, too.
Whats the price of an additional tank like $24 at Home Depot? Not a huge investment. Consider this: The dude at the propane supply store told you correctly. "Somehow I knew he would propose a solution that involved spending more money on propane gas and tanks." Ah, if you run out you still have to buy the gas so how was he trying to sell you more? I could see your logic if he was trying to sell you some 500# "I live in the boon docks with no utilities" tank. They hardly make money off selling a standard 20# tank. So you could sit around staring at temperature strips trying to figure out if there was in fact a color change or pouring warm water over your tank or heck go to a witch doctor and have him throw down some bones to see if you have enough propane to finish those $8/pound ribeye steaks. Or you could just do the easiest thing and just pop a full tank on and get your other tank filled at your convenience and not while your guests are waiting.
BTW I tried the strips and still cannot figure it out because it has to be running while you test it and as somebody mentioned earlier it has to be like room temperature and the strip is like 6 inches long so with a standard tank of like 18 inches in height you might have to move it around and again wait for the color change that might not even happen.
I just refilled my 20-lb propane tank within the hour. It took 4.2 gals. (1 gal. weighs 4.2 lbs.) The guy at the fill station said 4.7 gals. is "empty". When I got home, I did the math: full tank weighs 37.0 lbs. on my electronic bathroom scale. Empty tank must weigh 37 - (4.7 x 4.2) = 17.26 lbs. So, when your tank weighs between 18-19 lbs., you should refill it.
The weight of the empty tank is stamped at the top. No contorted calculations required.
Oh, and something else. There is an adapter available which allows you to refill the small tank from a 20lb tank (I bought mine from the u-haul website but they may be available elsewhere). The small tanks are not designed to be refilled and it is illegal to transport a refilled small tank (to my understanding) but I have had no problems so far.
To weight the 20# tank, I used Berkley fishing weight scale (diginal readout) for about $20. Max weight will take is 50#. I brought it from Wal-Mart.
Get a "Grill Gauge." It is a hand-held, simple scale that measures the weight of the propane in your tank plus the "tare weight" of the tank. I'm amazed somwething so simple works so well!!!
Their website is www.grillgauge.com but I bought mine from an online dealer - just look up "Grill Gauge" on Google!
My 17lb propane tank quit working. I thought it might be out of propane , but I can fell the sloshing of propane in the tank when I pick it up. It feels about 1/4 full. ( This has happened before a few times. ) This time I screwed a hose connector to the tank and opened the valve , still nothing comes out. I assume that , It must be a check valve inside the tank that’s not letting the propane out when it gets to a certain pressure. There’s no 1-800 number on the take ( like there should be ) And American Gas web site is misleading , with no customer help links.
All I got to say is that this is disturbing. I have propane gas left in my 17lb cylinder , but it wont come out! It would take a lot of hot water to heat up the propane and cause more pressure , beyond that I don’t know what else to do.
It seems to me that many times when my propane heater seems to need more propane in the tank, that there is still a lot of "something" sloshing around in the tank.
what is that something? is it just less volitle flamable gas which has a lower vapor pressure but still considered Propane. I never seem to have an empty tank.
I'm not sure if you have found a solution to finding out how full your 20lb grill tank is yet, if you have great, if not they make an adapter that screws onto the cylinder between the valve and your grill hose. The ones that I have been able to purchase measure the pressure in your tank. When your pressure begins to drop your tank is getting low. This is not an exact science since propane pressure in your cylinder will vary with temperature, but after you've used it a couple of times you'll get a feel for when it's close to empty. I usually recommend to our customers either buying a spare cylinder or just stopping in to get the cylinder "topped off" before going on a camping trip. Any propane retailer (not the gas station or walmart exchange places) can easily weigh the cylinder for you. When customers come in and need their cylinder "topped off" we simply weigh the tank then fill it and only charge them for what is needed to fill it.
As for the guy(falker)who can't the gas out of his cylinder. It sounds to me like the excess flow has shut off the valve. I can't know for sure, but there is something you can try. I usually turn OFF the tank and disconnect it. Then I use this thing called a QCC1 or green nut. With the valve closed, I screw it onto the tank and the excess propane is shot out of it. This should release the excess flow. When you reconnect the tank and go to turn the valve on be sure to turn the valve slowly so as not to reactivate the excess flow. I hope this helps.
I just wanted to say that I read that you disconnect the hose from the tank, turn all burners on & let sit for 2-3 minutes( still unhooked from tank). Then shut off burners & reconnect hose to tank. Then SLOWLY open the tank valve so that you don't get an inrush of gas & slam the excess valve shut which is on the BBQ. Thanks to each & everyone who contributed info to help the rest of us. Sure is nice seeing perfect strangers helping one another! That tells a lot about you. Also, the color strip on the side does NOT work, the hot water does and a friend switched to natural gas but changed back, it was too confining. JIM
This is one of the more interesting propane blogs I have read and wanted to share a few facts for the consumers out there. First, propane levels when stored in cylinders is only accurately known by weight. You can often see a 'frost' line when the liquid level is low and the vaporization rate yields a cool outside below the liquid level. Second, if you are ever tampering with hoses please be sure they are UL listed for LP Gas service. Also be sure they are rated for the pressure of the application. If the hose is ever used upstream of the regulator, be sure it is rated for a minimum 240 psig. If downstream of the regulator be sure it is rated for a minimum 10 psig. Finally, although there are adaptors on the market to 'refill' the small 1 lb size cylinders you see at retail stores, these cylinders are not designed for refill and any licensed dealer would discourage you from trying to refill them. If you need more storage capacity, please consider moving up to the 20 lb DOT cylinder (eg. BBQ cylinder) with the right hose/fitting/regulator for your application. Happy safe grilling everyone.
Thanks for the tip! I definitely needed a 20lb tank for it since day 1.
I have a small Weber Q grill. A 10 lb propane gas tank seem like a nice size for the grill. Can anyone tell me why a 20 lb tank is around $30 and a 10 lb tank is around $100? Does anyone know a place where I can get a 10 lb tank for around $30? Thanks!
Just bought a Master Chef 3 burner.. Applied tank from old BBQ... I will guess its half empty..This grill won't get any hotter than 400 with all 3 burners at max. Did last grill's regulator change pressure in tank? Did I lose enough pressure between being half empty and change over to limit performance? Man, I could cook up a storm with the old one. I am back to being a novice and not happy. HELP?!