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Last Updated on October 29, 2021
Grilling outdoors is a beloved pastime, whether on the back deck of your home, at the local park, or while camping. When enjoying these moments, the last thing you want is to run out of propane for your grill and leave uncooked food stranded on the grates.
Planning for your propane needs is as essential as choosing the food for your grilling menu. Propane tank sizes vary, from portable versions to heavy 40 lb. tanks, with the mid-size 20 lb. tank being the most popular option. Knowing how much propane you need can help you choose the best tank size for your grill.
Common Grill Propane Tank Sizes
While you’re limited in the size of propane tank you can use with your grill, there are options to meet the needs of every novice and grillmaster. Here are the most common propane tank sizes for grills available today, starting with the largest.
40 lb. Propane Tank
The sheer volume of the 40 lb. propane tank makes it less convenient for many grillers. However, it does have some advantages over smaller tanks. Ideal for commercial grills with a high volume of customers, the 40 lb. tank can also ensure you have propane all summer without having to worry about running out. You also won’t need to monitor the propane levels continuously.
Holding approximately 9.5 gallons of propane, this tank weighs in at around 70 lbs. when full, making it somewhat difficult to maneuver. Its size may be cumbersome if you don’t have the space available to store it next to your grill. Another disadvantage of this size is the reported difficulty of finding a tank exchange.
30 lb. Propane Tank
If you often grill for large groups, the 30 lb. propane tank is a good option. It holds about 7 gallons of propane. The downside is the tank weighs around 54 lbs. when it’s full and will be challenging to move around. Another reported issue is the potential lack of tank exchanges for this size. You may need to purchase a tank and have it filled instead.
While the larger tanks are unsightly to some, you can tuck them inside a combination tank and trash bin, and many have wheels allowing you to disconnect and store them away from the grill. These storage bins also work well with built-in grills, keeping the tank safe and out of sight until you need to change or fill it. When that happens, you roll out the bin and easily remove the used tank.
20 lb. Propane Tank
The most popular size propane tank is the 20 lb. option. Most consumer grills come with a grill cabinet that fits this standard size tank. It holds 4.5 to 4.7 gallons of propane, which should provide you plenty of grilling time before needing to refill. Tank exchanges for this size are common in most areas, so this is the most convenient choice for your propane grill. Still, it weighs around 37 lbs. when full, so carrying it may be an issue for some people.
An additional advantage of the 20 lb. tank is that you can also use this tank with turkey fryers and other small devices in addition to your grill. Expect around 19 hours or more of grilling time with this size tank. Use a propane tank gauge to ensure you always know exactly how much propane you have left before you cook.
11 lb. Propane Tank
Although suitable for backyard grillers, the 11 lb. propane tank won’t last long. Somewhat lightweight at 24 lbs., this tank is portable and can be taken along with portable grills to the park or events. It can also serve as a backup for your regular size tank as long as you have the correct connector.
This tank holds 2.6 gallons of propane, enough for a few good meals or one large group meal. Again, the most significant downsides with this size are the lack of tank exchanges and potential issues with locating a suitable tank connector for your grill.
5 lb. Propane Tank
The 5 lb. propane tank is the perfect size to take with you to cookouts and smaller events, along with your portable grill. It weighs just 14 lbs. when full and gives you approximately 1.2 gallons of propane.
1 lb. Cylinder
For camping or picnicking grills, the 1 lb. cylinder is a popular option. You can usually find these in outdoor gear shops or the camping sections of big box stores. These pre-filled tanks are for one-time use only, unless the manufacturer states otherwise. Lightweight, convenient, and easy to set up, these are the best option for small portable grills.
Many factors may come into play when selecting the correct size of propane tank for your grill and usage level. Fortunately, you have plenty of choices, and if the standard 20 lb. size is too large or small, you can find another option that fits your grill better.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Propane Tank Size
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when choosing the size of propane tank you need for your grill.
- How often do you grill?
- How much food do you typically grill at one time?
- What type of food do you grill most often?
- Do you take a propane grill with you camping or picnicking?
- What type and size grill do you currently have?
Most grills come with a storage area suitable for a 20 lb. tank, so if you go with a larger tank size, consider how you will set this up and store it. Update the connection to accept larger or smaller tanks, and always follow the grill manufacturer’s recommendations.
Shop to Meet Your Grilling Needs
While the 20 lb. propane tank is considered the most practical choice for backyard grillers, the size you select depends on your needs and grilling style. Be sure to consistently handle your propane tanks with care and keep safety in mind while enjoying all the benefits of a day in the sunshine, grilling your favorite foods.