View Full Version : Filling propane tanks at home?


StaggeringGoat
09-18-2012, 10:30 PM
I really want to convert my truck to run on propane, at $1.61/gallon, 9mpg on premium gas is killing me. If I did that, I would want to buy a bulk propane tank for my house, and fill the truck up myself. How can I do such a thing? I've refilled the little green propane tanks before but that requires a freezer and a scale. Is there any way to do it without a pump like they have at the gas station? Is there such a thing as a propane pump that doesn't cost thousands of dollars? How do you know when the propane tank is full...without being able to weigh it?

chris142
09-18-2012, 10:53 PM
you need to heat the big tank to get the fuel to transfer into your pickup tank. the tank is full when fuel squirts out of the dip tube vent. where do you find lpg that cheap?

StaggeringGoat
09-18-2012, 10:56 PM
you need to heat the big tank to get the fuel to transfer into your pickup tank. the tank is full when fuel squirts out of the dip tube vent. where do you find lpg that cheap?

Yeah...that's what I do when I fill the little tanks, but how would I heat a ~500 gallon tank? That's what I have been told the price is from a local propane distributor, at the gas station it's still like $2.79. :dunno:

chris142
09-18-2012, 11:20 PM
wrap the big tank with an electric blanket? propane is $4+ a gallon here. don't forget that your 9 mpg pn gas will be about 6 mpg on propane.

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 02:44 AM
don't forget that your 9 mpg pn gas will be about 6 mpg on propane.

I made a spreadsheet that compares the cost of gas and propane per 100,000 BTU. Right now that's $3.63 for premium and $1.76 for propane!:) The other thing is I can just barely get it to run on premium, if I turn my timing way down. I may get around the same MPG on propane just because it isn't running very great on gas. (very high compression)

While we're talking about it, does anybody know what the requirements are for locating a big propane tank? Does it have to be a certain distance from the house? I'm not sure if I have room for one...

jwillis
09-19-2012, 03:28 AM
I have to wonder what kind of truck do you have? what are you using it for? Propane gas on the highway is not very practical. And do you really want a big tank like that sitting in your back yard?

coldfusion21
09-19-2012, 03:50 AM
City/county will have easement requirements for the tank, but they vary.

Call your local propane place and telling them what you wanna do (fill a tank) they should be able to get you all squared away. They'll have all the info and can set you up with a tank and all that. Basically you need a dip tube or a way to draw liquid propane from your big tank. It's under pressure from the vapor so it gets forced out into your smaller tank. Provided your smaller tank has a vent or something you can leave that open till you get liquid, then your full.

The freezer deal is because you can't vent the smaller tank so once the pressure from the incoming liquid equalizes with the big tank your not going to get any fluid transfer. That's where the pumps come in. They do things faster and even if the temperature isn't in your favor. Not required in every situation though.

There are also hand pumps rated for liquid propane iirc.

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 03:52 AM
I have to wonder what kind of truck do you have? what are you using it for? Propane gas on the highway is not very practical. And do you really want a big tank like that sitting in your back yard?

It's a 1973 Chevy K20 with a 350 and big tires. It's my daily driver. :) Why do you say it is not very practical? The only problem I see is filling up away from home would be a hassle.

I'm thinking the tank could go in my side yard where I have a derelict boat sitting now, need to get rid of the boat. Wouldn't be able to see it over there, but I could drive up to fill my truck.

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 03:56 AM
Basically you need a dip tube or a way to draw liquid propane from your big tank.

Is that normal for a big residential tank, or do I need a "special" one?

crazytrain
09-19-2012, 04:05 AM
A lot of tunnels and bridges have restrictions for propane. So you might run into some trouble with that. You may want to check you local laws and highway system rules and regulations.

coldfusion21
09-19-2012, 04:12 AM
Is that normal for a big residential tank, or do I need a "special" one?

I'm not sure, from what I gather it's in place but usually doesn't have a valve attached, but older tanks occasionally even had the valve in place. There is nothing special about the tank per se.

If you lease a tank from the propane co they should be able to set it up for exactly what your after with no worries.


Also related to transportation thing, propane is not taxed as road fuel soooo... keep that in mind. Hence why I suggested you tell the propane co your filling tanks, vs filling tanks to run an on-highway vehicle.

crazytrain
09-19-2012, 04:33 AM
Check out this site and some of their statistics. http://www.gotpropane.com/p1.html


From their website.


Street Legal Propane Conversions.

Fuel mileage is 90% of what you would get on gasoline. That is a 10 % LOSS in mileage.



Each and every kit we sell is perfectly at home on the street. In fact, this is the original application for these parts. The propane conversion for vehicles has been around for a long time. With the introduction of fuel injection and lower gasoline prices, auto manufacturers as well as the government have made it very complicated and expensive to do these modern , E.F.I. vehicles.
There is no reason however that older, carbureted engines should not benefit from the advantages of propane.
If you have an older, carbureted vehicle, and your local emissions laws allow it, this kit is perfectly legal to run on the roads. Each and every component in our kit is D.O.T. approved and as long as it's installed according to our instructions, meets NFPA 58 installation standards for vehicle use.
Fuel mileage is expected to be 10 percent less than gas for street conversions.
We sometimes recommend the dual fuel kits for street use as it gives you the ability to switch back to gasoline if you run low on propane.

Jason280
09-19-2012, 04:44 AM
Personally, this seems like a lot of work to realize only a very small (if any) return.

58Yeoman
09-19-2012, 05:31 AM
I used to fill propane tanks at work our lift trucks. We had a 500 gallon tank, and it had a pump to fill the tanks, hot or cold. We would just fill the tanks until liquid came out of the vent, which actually is not right. You are supposed to fill them to 80%, not full. Our system was removed, probably because of the emissions. Now, we get full tanks hauled in and exchange them (YAY).

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 05:55 AM
Personally, this seems like a lot of work to realize only a very small (if any) return.

Think of it this way:
20 gallons of premium gets me 180 miles and cost about $82.

If I get 10% less mileage on propane it would take about 22.5 gallons to get the same 180 miles and cost $36.

That's a savings of $46 every time I fill up! If I fill up twice a week that's a savings of over $1100/year.

Also the price of propane seems a lot more stable than gas, I like the idea of having a 500 gallon tank of fuel that doesn't go bad.

theoldwizard1
09-19-2012, 06:02 AM
As stated, the easiest way to transfer LP is by heating one tank and/or cooling the other. A hot water bath would work.

It take 1.35 gallons of LP to have the equivalent amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GGE)

LP weights about 4.2 lbs/gallon so a 20 lb "BBQ" tank holds 4.76 gallons. I just paid $16 for a refill so $16/4.76 = $3.36/gallon.

LP also has an octane rating of over 90.

Lippyp
09-19-2012, 06:03 AM
I have a bulk LPG (Propane) tank at home for heating and cooking and its very safe although it does have to be a certain distance from the house. I also have an 01 Blazer that runs on both gas and LPG (Propane) It is possible to have a bulk tank at home to fill the car but it has to be set up differently from the tank for my heating as that draws off gas rather than liquid fuel. The blazer does pretty much the same MPG on propane and the fuel here is much cheaper. It works for me, only restriction I've come across in the UK is the channel tunnel does not accept propane fuelled vehicles.

theoldwizard1
09-19-2012, 06:10 AM
... $1.76 for propane! ...
Per pound or per gallon ?

At the pump or delivered to your home tank ?

Either way, that is really cheap !

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 06:14 AM
Per pound or per gallon ?

At the pump or delivered to your home tank ?

Either way, that is really cheap !

That's the price I calculated for 100,000 BTU. (more than a gallon) A local propane place is selling it for $1.61/gallon delivered, or at least that's what I have been told. I still have to call around and find the best price. At the gas station they're charging $2.79, quite a markup!

hydramatic
09-19-2012, 06:27 AM
sell that POS and get a Diesel. my 98 dodge 2500 and the 05 2500 gets 25 MPG all day long.. keep it below 1800 RPM. and your fine..damn a gas burner..

lilredex
09-19-2012, 07:06 AM
That's the price I calculated for 100,000 BTU. (more than a gallon) A local propane place is selling it for $1.61/gallon delivered, or at least that's what I have been told. I still have to call around and find the best price. At the gas station they're charging $2.79, quite a markup!

Think you'll find that price difference includes a road tax.


See here also:

http://fuelsforum.rasoenterprises.com/

sberry
09-19-2012, 08:08 AM
A 500 gallon tank is too small, holds 400 and if you want to fill at 20% its 320, and you really need a pump for this. I have a small one for filling small bottles, forklift,, BBQ tanks etc. The guy I got it from was a mail guy, he finally bought electric but you do this you are liable for road tax, its one they really take seriously. They can install liquid tap in large tanks, not a problem.

rlitman
09-19-2012, 01:23 PM
The freezer deal is because you can't vent the smaller tank so once the pressure from the incoming liquid equalizes with the big tank your not going to get any fluid transfer. That's where the pumps come in. They do things faster and even if the temperature isn't in your favor. Not required in every situation though.

I freeze my CO2 paintball tanks to fill from a 20# siphon tank. It works ok, but you still only get about 80% of the fill that a proper pumped filling station can do. Remember that as you fill, the tank will rise in temperature quickly.

What I think you want, is a forklift tank. They have a vent cap made just for this purpose. You fill with the cap open, until it spits. Then close the valve and cap. With the vent at the correct height when the tank is sitting level, you're guaranteed to be filled to the correct level.

luvit
09-19-2012, 01:35 PM
look, i dont' think i see the right answer in this thread - sberry's pump is the right answer, of course, but see the alternative to the pump:
i refill 20# propane tanks on the farm with a special valve that pulls liquid propane from the bottom of the tank. -- i don't believe this is included with many bulk tanks.
the valve needed in the diagram is labeled as "liquid withdraw valve"

while i transfer the propane to the 20# tank, I open the threaded bleeder valve on the 20# tank using a stright-slot screwdriver.
i close the bleeder valve when the 20# tank weighs an additional 16lbs on a bathroom scale.
http://www.milespropane.com/images/domesticdiag.gif
http://cdn.airforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=24613&stc=1&thumb=1&d=1174104851

mackwrench
09-19-2012, 02:07 PM
I'd be damm sure of the LP price....I get my home 500 tank filled from a local bulk supplier, Shop every body within driving distance to fill it. It dont get that cheap down here in florida

38Chevy454
09-19-2012, 02:19 PM
That propane price is most likley a summer rate, and paid on delivery. No account billing. In winter the price will go up just because people use more propane for heating.

Professur
09-19-2012, 02:19 PM
I've been wanting to take my '85 Parisienne to dual fuel .. but I can't get the Quebec equivalent of the DOT to talk to me about road certification. UPS trucks here are all run on propane, and there's a local station set up for vehicles, so I know it's doable.

The big hassle is the tank. On a pickup, you can either bed mount it or find some space under the bed. With the Parisienne, it would have to go in the trunk for a dual fuel. That's my sticking point. The rest of the conversion is simple. A petrol shut off solenoid to cut the gas flow. The atomizer to go on top of the quadrajet. Some bracketry and hard lines .. that's pretty much it.

sberry
09-19-2012, 02:20 PM
My pump is plumbed to the liquid line. You can pump, make liquid flow without venting vapor, bleeding it on is slow and wasteful. I often time the day where the pig has been in the sun and my small bottle is in the shade, when its cool out if I can help it. On small bottles without gages,,, and even with them, I crack the bleeder when near full a pinch and fill till spits a little juice. I don't weigh them.

As far as I know they can install a tap on most pigs, doesn't need to be empty. BTW,,, one gallon liquid = 270 vapor. Great drawing, note the checkmate valve.

Need4racin
09-19-2012, 03:33 PM
You're better off finding a parts truck and swapping an overdrive trans and vortec 350 in. Or swap one of GMs old diesels in and run off waste motor oil.

91bronc300
09-19-2012, 03:49 PM
I think the price of motorfuel propane is different than non-motorfuel propane. If you have someone come to your house and fill your 500 gallon tank you would have to be sure they don't know it's for motorfuel or I doubt you will get that price.

RVDan
09-19-2012, 03:54 PM
So many opponents of propane with no real reasons.

My F250 has been on propane as long as I've owned it, I've never found any road that doesn't allow propane powered vehicles. Propane isn't as widely available as gas, but neither is diesel in my part of the world. Every motorhome has a frame mounted propane that has the same automotive filler as a tank for automotive use, they buy their propane somewhere. Propane has a higher octane rating than gas, when you tune your engine to run correctly on propane the mileage and power difference are negligible.

I actually run a 10.9:1 compression ratio, so I see better mileage and power than my old truck that had a similar drivetrain on gasoline.

You can gravity fill your truck from a large tank as long as the liquid level in the big tank is higher than the top of your trucks tank.

lilredex
09-19-2012, 06:43 PM
I've been wanting to take my '85 Parisienne to dual fuel .. but I can't get the Quebec equivalent of the DOT to talk to me about road certification. UPS trucks here are all run on propane, and there's a local station set up for vehicles, so I know it's doable.

The big hassle is the tank. On a pickup, you can either bed mount it or find some space under the bed. With the Parisienne, it would have to go in the trunk for a dual fuel. That's my sticking point. The rest of the conversion is simple. A petrol shut off solenoid to cut the gas flow. The atomizer to go on top of the quadrajet. Some bracketry and hard lines .. that's pretty much it.

Visit that link I posted. Frank, the guy that runs it has one like yours on propane.

nehog
09-19-2012, 06:55 PM
...
If you have an older, carbureted vehicle, and your local emissions laws allow it, this kit is perfectly legal to run on the roads. Each and every component in our kit is D.O.T. approved and as long as it's installed according to our instructions, meets NFPA 58 installation standards for vehicle use. ...

Sad they don't tell you everything.

I think their claim of only a 10% loss of economy is, shall we say, optimistic.

I doubt you can fill your truck unless you invest in a pump. And a pump is likely to be expensive. Add to that the issues of road tax, and as soon as you pop up on the 'radar' you will find yourself liable for that too... Also, I doubt you can get propane for under $2 a gallon, but I could be wrong.

An excellent (less biased) information source is: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byfuel/BifuelLPG2001.shtml and the site shows that there is a slight reduction in operating costs. What is not shown is that the cost of the conversion, and supporting equipment if you are refueling using your own facility will make this cost jump, especially if you are not driving a huge number of miles.

And an unmentioned benefit of propane is that the engines run cleaner, and probably last longer with lower maintenance costs. My guess is that the initial conversion costs will make this project infeasible.

sberry
09-19-2012, 07:23 PM
I have a forklift and 4 V8 engines I run on LP. I dont have real good pics of the moment of them in place but put 1000 gallon tanks on a couple, one is on a 500 I have sitting on a trailer that could be moved and at some point in the summer when prices look as low as it gets I jack a 1000 and another 500 full for the season. One I changed oil in this season, LP is clean enough I usually dont bother till they need to come in for something. I modify oil pans with site glass, hold 10 qts.

sberry
09-19-2012, 07:30 PM
Ok, here is one sitting out, a 383

thightower
09-19-2012, 07:36 PM
I would check with your local propane place, they will head you in the right direction. I know years ago the farmers with propane tractors would do the same thing. I don't think they used a pump, all I ever seen was just a hose from the tank to the tractor.

sberry
09-19-2012, 08:00 PM
Watch a delivery from the truck, pumped.

StaggeringGoat
09-19-2012, 08:08 PM
You're better off finding a parts truck and swapping an overdrive trans and vortec 350 in.

Long term I'd like to swap in a big block and burn even more fuel. :lol: I plan on being buried in this truck. ;)

What is not shown is that the cost of the conversion, and supporting equipment

I figure about $1000 to convert the truck and $1000 for the bulk tank, don't know about a pump though. I've seen kits on craigslist for cheaper. I think that would have a pay back in just a couple years, depending on where fuel costs go.

The major plus for me is the high octane. I'm in the 10:1 compression neighborhood and I still get some pinging with premium gas.

fishheds
09-19-2012, 08:14 PM
There are old school hand pumps available.The seals do need to be replaced fairly often though.
You'll have to get the liquid withdrawal valve from your LP company.It's a specialty valve,with a plunger for opening the backcheck on the liquid withdrawal.They may set you up with one if they think you're going to burn enough gas.
If you want to get serious,look at dual fuel conversions.It 's always nice to have gasoline on standby.

Need4racin
09-19-2012, 09:09 PM
Long term I'd like to swap in a big block and burn even more fuel. :lol: I plan on being buried in this truck. ;).

Whatever you do go fuel injected, and get an overdrive transmission. I'm tempted to even say go MAF and obd2. Carbs are like drum brakes, out dated junk.

kbs2244
09-19-2012, 09:17 PM
That $1.61 vs $2.79 is called road taxs.
To be legal you would need to track what you put in the car and pay up.

RocketKing
09-19-2012, 09:32 PM
I manage a propane company and we have recently installed a dual fuel system on our company truck. The dual fuel system is set up to burn gasoline until the engine reaches 100 degrees, then it automatically switches to propane. If at any time there is a problem or if you run out of propane the system will automatically switch back to gasoline or you can switch it manually with just a touch of a button while driving down the road. There seemed to be problems with the old pure propane systems with start up and these new dual fuels eliminate those old issues.

Being a new truck the entire system, tanks and all, cost $4800. The older the vechicle the cheaper the system I have been told from our installers, but I unfortunately do not have those numbers. When the truck ran on gasoline I was getting around 16mpg, now on propane it will get only around 12mpg, however with our current propane price at 1.609 and gasoline at 3.80 it balances out quickly. I drive around 24,000 miles per year and with these figures the savings would calculate to around $200 per month, therefore the system would be paid for in two years at these numbers. Of course miles per year, miles per gallon and cost per gallon will affect all these numbers. You will also have to check state laws to see if they require permit or road tax fees and there are federal road taxes to consider getting around, these are figured into our current price but I do not know how that would affect your situation of home fill.

You will need a pump to best fill your tank. If your truck tank is empty and house tank full it will "gravity fill" to a certain point but it will be slow and not very affective. It will flow until the pressure equalizes and then you will have to heat one or cool the other in order for the pressure to unequalize and re-establish flow. As I said, it is not very effective, it is hard to fill BBQ bottles like this, let alone a motor fuel tank. The metered pumps are thousands of dollars but you can buy a transfer pump for much less, it will not count the gallons that are being put into your truck tank but you will use a fixed outage gauge that is installed on you tank to let you know when you reach 80% and a fuel gauge on the tank itself (not very reliable) and you should have an OPD (overfill prevention device) installed inside the tank valve that should prevent overfilling.

There are lots of variables to check out to see if it is something that is viable for your situation. But I can tell you that it is an extremely clean burning fuel and I have been surprised that I have no loss of power and the truck runs just as good if not better on the dual fuel system. I don't know if it will work in your case but this the best on hand knowledge I have...hope it helps.

StaggeringGoat
09-20-2012, 12:00 AM
That $1.61 vs $2.79 is called road taxs.
To be legal you would need to track what you put in the car and pay up.

Fuel tax is roughly $0.25/gallon state and local. The difference is a lot more than 50 cents. As far as I know propane sold at gas stations does not have tax included.

Yes, technically tax needs to be paid on top of the fuel, but then again, it's no different than using biodiesel or waste motor oil in a diesel. Nobody pays tax on that either.