Cooking with propane while camping is a fairly common activity. After years of experience, you start to get a good idea of cooking times and the levels of propane in you tanks and canisters. Many first time campers will end up with a 16.4 oz propane cylinder, how long does it last before needing to be replaced and can they be refilled?.
In this short article we will be taking a further look into these highly popular portable propane canisters and trying to help you determine how long each 16.4oz cylinder will last you.
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So How Long Does A 16 OZ Propane Tank Last?
There is no one answer suits all with this question. But the general consensus is that a 16.4 oz propane tank will last an hour of cooking on high. But remember, this is not a one size fits all here.
There is an easy way to determine how long one cylinder will last you if you know the BTU rating on your portable stove, coffee maker, tent propane heater etc.
One Gallon of propane equates to roughly 92,000 BTU’s. Without getting too technical, BTU’s stand for British Theramal Units. They are a measurement of energy used to warm a lb of water from 39 to 40 degrees. So it’s a way of gauging things like propane.
So a 1 gallon propane tank weighs 4.24 lbs and contains 92,000 BTU’s. These 16.4 OZ propane canisters equate to roughly 1 pound. To work out how much BTU’s are in these tanks it’s just a matter of dividing 92,000 by 4.24= 21698 BTU per 16.4 OZ bottle.
What Does This Tell You?
What this equation tells us is this: what your cooking appliances BTU output is, will determine how long your tank of fuel will last.
Most campers at some point in their life will own the Classic Coleman Propane 2 Burner stove. It’s a simple to use and affordable cooking solution for small families. So it’s reasonable to say many people would have used or will use a stove like this.
Anyways, this classic propane stove has a maximum BTU output of 20,000 BTU’s. 10,000 to each burner. Going back to our very in depth mathematical equation we worked out that a 16.4oz propane canister contains roughly 21,698 BTU’s.
Back to the classic Coleman stove. It’s rating is 20,000 BTU’s per hour. So with both burners going on high you can expect to chew through 20,000 BTU’s.
This basically means you can get just over one hour of cooking on high from one canister with 2 burners going. The more output your camping equipment demands, the quicker you will go through a 16 pound propane tank.
Can You Refill 1Lb Propane Cylinders
It is said to be illegal to refill 1 pound disposable or one time use propane tanks like the common ones you use for camping. While there are ways you can achieve this through adapters and such, it is not a method I am encouraging.
As you can see in this video below, it can be very dangerous filling up a one time use 1lb propane bottle. This person was using a 20 pound bbq bottle to fill up a 1 pound disposable tank. The leading propane caused a horrific explosion once it came into contact with the burning element.
Refillable 1Lb Propane Tank
Due to the high dangers involved with refilling a 1lb disposable propane cylinder, it make sense to look deeper down the rabbit hole for some actual legal refillable 1lb propane tanks. The tanks can legally be filled as they have been fitted with the safety mechanics the throw away bottles do not. Once the throw away bottles have been re-filled, there is absolutely no guarantee there wont be leaks. Which as you know can lead to very dangerous situations.
However buying refillable 1 pound propane tanks is harder than you think. Well, in terms of options it’s pretty scarce. There is the Nash Fuel 1lb Propane Tank available on amazon which has some decent feedback. The biggest gripe is that it is not light.
But at 3 pounds and having the ability to refill rather then continuously buy disposable canisters, the heavier weight is worth it. Plus it will save on people polluting lakes and forests with throw away propane canisters. Please don’t litter!.
A 1 Pound Propane Tank Will Last 1 To 2 Hours On Average x By 5
Whatever you are using your propane tanks for, be sure to check the BTU specifications. This will give you a better idea on how long your 16 oz propane bottles will last. In terms of buying a refillable or trying to refill a disposable 1 pound canister yourself, I would avoid it altogether.
Stick with a 5lb propane tank, especially if you are camping for multiple nights with a few family members. A 5 pound tank by Flame King will give you plenty of gas to survive the trip with no explosions. Safety first, especially if you are bringing the kids camping. Using a bigger refillable tank also saves the environment because so many people just litter their empty 16 oz disposable propane cylinders all throughout camp sites. Remember, we came here to escape the mess in our lives. Not add to it!.