How to Tell if You Need to Refill or Replace Your Propane Tank

If you’re an avid griller, changing the propane is something that you will have to deal with (unless you have a natural gas hookup), but how do you tell if you need to refill your propane tank? How do you tell if you need to replace your propane tank? Knowing how much propane you have left, and other safety factors are an important part of your regular grill maintenance.


How To Tell If You Need A Refill

There are a few ways to tell if you need to refill your propane tank. Rather than running out of propane in the middle of grilling – been there, done that, - you should check your propane levels before you start cooking. You don’t need to do this if you filled the tank a couple weeks ago and have only grilled a few steaks and burgers. However, if you’ve done a few roasts and grilled every night for a week, you will want to check.


Did you know that you will get more propane into a cylinder when the air around the tank is cooler? (Not freezing temperatures, but a nice temperate day vs. days that are 86°F / 30°C.)


Check by Weight:

This method can be inaccurate if you are just picking up the tank itself and testing the weight by how heavy it feels. Although you can get answers that are a little bit more accurate if you weigh the propane tank on a scale. Generally the regular propane tanks you see at gas stations and hardware stores are the “20 lb.” tanks. The tare weight (empty weight) of a cylinder is approximately 17 lbs. / 8 kgs. They hold roughly 20 lbs. / 9 kgs. of propane when filled. To figure out how much propane you have left in your tank, weigh the tank and subtract the tare weight. You can find the tare weight of your propane cylinder on the handle of the tank.


The Water Test:

Do you need to know if you have enough propane to cook dinner tonight? Fill a cup with hot tap water and pour it down the side of the tank in question. Feel the side of the tank. It will be cold to the touch where there is propane. The top of the cold indicates where on the tank your propane level starts.



Napoleon recommends - every time you change/reinstall your propane tank - that you double-check the seal on the propane tank for cracks and breaks or missing pieces before fitting the regulator back on and then perform a leak test.


How To Tell If You Need To Replace Your Propane Tank

You may not realize it but your propane tank has an expiration date on it. It is between 10 and 12 years from the date of manufacture as seen on the handle of the tank – near where you find the tare weight. This depends on the legislations where you live. Tanks may be re-qualified by licensed professionals this adds about five years to a tank’s lifespan before it needs to be re-qualified again.


  • A propane tank that is expired, dented, or rusty should not be refilled.

  • Old/empty propane tanks will have residual propane in them and need to be disposed of at hazardous waste collection sites.

  • Do not throw old propane tanks into your household garbage or recycling.

  • This goes for the portable propane cylinders as well.



Using propane is a convenient way to power your Napoleon Grill. As part of your regular grill maintenance, inspecting and changing your grill’s propane tank is an important part of that. Knowing how much propane you have left is vital to avoiding the embarrassment of getting a refill in the middle of cooking. Tell us your propane stories by sharing on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #PropaneBBQ and #NapoleonGrill.