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Should you use the propane exchange

When your propane tank is empty and you need to get it filled you normally have two choices the propane exchange found outside most hardware and grocery stores and some gas stations or finding a place that will fill your tank. So, should you use a propane exchange?

small propane exchange

Most of the time the propane exchange is much more convenient as with every convenience you end up paying more for it and in this case it is a lot more.

Propane prices including tax as I write this:

Exchange : $24.53
20lb. Tank Fill : $24.55

The prices look competitive at first glance right? You need to look a little closer at those numbers.

The 20lb tank fill is 18 pounds of gas (room needs to be left for expansion) up to $1.36 per pound while the exchange is 1.63 a pound. That is 28% more just for the convenience and your getting less propane. So essentially you end up paying $29.34 for the same amount of propane from the exchange.

While you may think that you do not have to drive as far to exchange your propane tank. You also have to consider that eventually you will have to make an extra trip to the exchange verses filling station. 

In either case you will normally have to wait for someone to exchange or fill your tank. Filling it only takes a few minutes.

propane filling station sign

While often
tucked away finding a propane filling station is as easy as Googling the word Propane.  As an added bonus they are typically run by a small locally owned business while normally you will find propane exchanges at large chain retailers.

The two main players in the propane exchange game have been accused of collusion (for dropping the amount of propane in the tanks) by the FTC. One company that owns some of these exchanges are beginning to use a proprietary valve that only they can fill. 

The propane exchange does have it's uses though:

If your tank runs out in the middle of a cook and you can get back before your grill cools down.

If your tank begins to rust or show some wear. Tanks at the proapne exchange are well taken care of and a new empty propane tank will cost you almost $50.

If you need propane after the filling station has closed.

If any of these happen to you by all means use the propane exchange.

It is important to note that a few years back the propane exchange used to fill the tanks with 18 pounds of propane not the 15 they are currently using now.

Also they will occasionally go on sale for as low as $18 making it much more worth your while.

About the author: Mike is the owner of, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.

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