questionsdo you refill or exchange your grill's propane…

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I started out doing the replace unit deal. In my experiences, the replacement tanks aren't actually full.

If I fill up at the gas station nearby, it will last for almost a year of grilling. Where as the replacement tanks last for only two to three months. (We grill A LOT).

So, I exchanged until I got a nicer/newer tank, and I just refill it now.

Also, it's $22 to do an exchange, it's $16 to fill here locally. So, there's a big savings for me

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It depends upon how hard it is to get a propane tank filled where you live. Usually (almost always) it is cheaper to buy the tank and get it refilled. However, it can be a royal pain in the rear end to do that in some places, look around and ask around.

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@bogie21: how long is a tank good for? i assume it has to be certified every so often. and how much does re-certification cost? or is it just cheaper to buy a new tank?

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I have no idea. The tank I have now, I've had for 4 years. I know SCUBA tanks need hydro testing every 5 years.

If my tank starts looking bad, I'll just exchange it for a new tank until I get another nice one. Then, keep that one for a few years.

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I used to exchange my tank, until my dad suggested that the exchange tanks weren't filled properly and you get less than a full tank. The last time I needed propane, I refilled the tank and it has lasted a lot longer than the exchange tanks, and refilling them costs less too.

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@capguncowboy: what do you mean not filled properly? if they put in less propane in the exchange tank, wouldn't it cost less?

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I get them filled for 2 reasons.

1. Exchanges fill tanks to 15 lbs where fill up locations fill them to 18 lbs. Save $1 but in the long run you come out behind.

2. The tanks are always in worse condition then my tank. You have a new/newish tank and go there to scrapped up tanks with some rust on the stand (note not main tank, the metal to make it stand upright).

So I get a tank is bad condition and less propane, doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

vote-for4vote-against

Where I am from an exchange tank has 15 pounds of propane. When you refill you get a full tank or 20 pounds. Some exchange tanks have more but 15 pounds is usually the norm for an exchange. Also, I have never seen a full exchange tank.

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@carl669: Tanks have a date stamp on them - next time you refill ask the attendant to show it to you and how to read it - I actually had one that was EOL and they suggested doing the Blue Rhino swap to get a new one.

Blue Rhino tank exchanges are only 15 pounds on purpose - see their website.

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@carl669: Just checked - propane tanks older than 12 years cannot be distributed (or refilled).

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On Blue Rhino's FAQ about how full they fill their tanks:

"Inflationary pressures, including the volatile costs of steel, diesel fuel, and propane, have had a significant impact on the cylinder exchange industry. In 2008, to help control these rising costs, Blue Rhino followed the example of other consumer products companies with a product content change. We reduced the amount of propane in our tanks from 17 pounds to 15 pounds.

To ensure our consumers are properly notified, Blue Rhino clearly marks the amount of propane contained in our tanks, right on the package."

I found it interesting. I had assumed they didn't fill to full because of the potential heat, expansion and all, but I guess not...

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at least they're honest about how much is in the tank. apparently, even with a full tank (19-20 lbs), there's still 20% left over to account for expansion. so, it looks like the only reason to only fill to 15 is to keep the cost down.

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Everything is Blue Rhino around here now. It's inconvenient to find places that will refill. That said, the cost to replace with a Blue Rhino is actually less than I recall paying to refill about 10 years ago.

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Within NY City it is illegal to fill tanks so unless one drives to one of the neighboring counties (Nassau or Westchester), it is exchange only.

My gf (who lives in Nassau County) refills her tank and the last time I did it for her it was $20 (including tax), though that was two years ago (her son has been doing it since then).

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I used to fill my tanks at a local U-Haul where it would cost <$10, exchanges were going for ~$14 at the time. Slowly the fill cost rose until it got to ~$20, at that point I noticed Blue Rhino ads for $15 exchanges(sometimes $12.99 with coupon) so I stopped refilling and haven't looked back yet.
I always ran my tanks totally empty and I assume they were filled to the max, I never thought of the idea that exchanged tanks were less than full :( Now I've got to rethink my plan!
Oh as to the original question, you still need to purchase your first tank(full or empty and have it filled) they generally don't come with new grills. Sams or Costco seems to sell empty new ones for less than others although I don't know how purchasing a new empty tank and exchanging it would compare to purchasing a full one at a Blue Rhino.....

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@jjeff: the only thing i can think of is that if i get a full one at blue rhino, it'll be used and the time left on it (before it needs to be recert'd) could vary. at least if i buy a new one at costco or sams, the tank will have a good 11-12 years left on it.

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if the tank is getting old or rusty/crusty looking, I'll exchange, otherwise it's about $6-$8 cheaper to refill. I'll also exchange (blue rhino) at CVS if it's after hours or sunday or I'm in a real hurry, since CVS is 3 blocks away. Blue Rhino's tanks have always been in excellent shape when I've gotten one, and it seems to work out to an almost-free new tank.

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I have a propane distributor about 1 mile from my house, so I always refill.

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I always refill my propane tanks in Seattle WA. I think if mine works great why swap it out? Maybe every third time I get mine filled I'll change it out! http://www.apppropane.com/Residential-PropaneTanks.html