Is It Safe to Refill 1lb Propane Bottles (Is It Legal)

Propane is the spice of RV life. Without it you may not be able to run a lot of your major appliances. But there may be a time when you do not want to hook up and use a 20 or 40-pound propane tank. Those situations are where the 1 pound propane tanks come in handy.

Is It Safe to Refill 1lb Propane Bottles? If you have common sense, then yes it is safe, to a degree, to refill a 1 pound propane tank. The next question that needs to be answered is, is it legal? The answer is yes and no. It is against federal law to transport a refilled container.

That is unless you use Flame King’s legal refillable propane tank. These specially designed tanks meet federal regulations and can be refilled for 12 years. To learn all you want about 1 pound propane tanks just continue to read our article.

It has the information you need to make sure you refill those 1 pound propane tanks safely and without breaking the law.

Can you Refill 1lb Propane Bottles

Yes, you can if you have the right adaptor. All it takes is a little common sense and the ability to maneuver the tank into the right position. The key to remember is that because of the expansion rate of propane you can only fill the tank 80% full.

The tank will weigh about 1 1/2 pounds when you reach that level. Also, propane expands at the 270 to 1 ratio. That means a one-pound propane tank will fill 270 gallons of air if the tank leaks.

A 10-pound tank will fill up 2700 gallons of air and if it explodes, you will have a little trouble on your hands. But the reasons to refill them may outweigh that possibility.

These tanks are handy, easy to use, and do not take up a lot of space. They also help power vital appliances, etc., so refilling is always an option over purchasing new. In addition to that, refilling protects the environment.

The temptation to refill, based on those reasons is great. But...

Is Refilling 1lb Propane Tanks Dangerous

Propane is a very volatile gas. It doesn’t take much to set it off and cause a lot of damage through the ensuing explosion. With that in mind, the answer to the question is yes. It is dangerous to refill a one-pound propane tank.

There are several reasons that bring that positive answer. First, most 1 lb propane bottles are not made to be refilled. Usually, they are one time use only propane sources.

The next reason is that these bottles are prone to leak. That issue opens you up to a lot of sources for explosions and fires, etc. Here are those sources that may cause you a few problems if they are near your leaking propane bottle:

  • Open fires and those people who are smoking nearby
  • Enclosed or non-ventilated rooms or other areas
  • Overfilling may cause leaks or an explosion
  • Hot bottles. That means bottles that have been warmed by the sun or other heat sources. Wait for a cold day to do your refilling or keep your bottles away from heat
  • Keep them stored outside and not in compartments or rooms in your RV or underneath it

Is it Legal to Refill 1lb Propane Bottles

The key word in the federal statute is transportation. It does not refer to the actual filling of the bottles but if you are transporting them or if you have an adapter inside your vehicle, you could be arrested.

The federal fine is up to $500,000 and the criminal penalty is up to 5 years in jail. The reason for this stiff penalty is that the 1 pound bottles are not DOT approved, except for one model that we know of.

The Flame King company has designed at least 1 one-pound propane tank that meets DOT standards and can be refilled legally. The kit comes with its own adapter valve making refilling from a 20 or 30 pound tank safe and legal.

How to Refill Disposable Propane Tanks

The first thing you need to do before refilling your small propane tank is to check its integrity. You want to make sure there are no leaks as leaking propane may not be too hospitable if it connects with the wrong item.

Next, you need a good adapter and you can find them online at Amazon or other LPG outlets. These adapters are not expensive and can save you a little money over time. Once you get the adapter on your 20 or 30 pound tank, turn your tank over so the valve is at the bottom.

Attach the 1 pound tank and then open up the larger one to start the refilling process. If there is any air inside the tank, you need to use the release valve to get rid of the air. When you see gray smoke, then the air is out of the smaller tank.

When you see the gray smoke, just close the valves and remove the 1 pound tank from the adapter. Put on the safety caps and check a second time for leaks. With that step, you are done.

Refilling 1lb Propane Tanks from 20lb

If you follow the simple steps in the previous section, you should be good to go when trying to fill a 1 pound propane tank from a 20 pound one. The key is to make sure there are no leaks and that all your connections are secure and very tight.

Make sure to listen to the transfer so you can hear the liquid moving from one tank to the other. Another fact to be aware of is that the pressure inside the tank remains the same no matter if it is full or near empty.

Also, you should make sure that the smaller tank is lower than the larger one. The 20-pound tank does need to be turned upside down because you are transferring liquid and not gas. The pressure inside the tank moves the liquid and not the gas that is also inside the tank.

Refilling using the Pressure Relief Valve Method

Refilling the small 1 pound tank through this method is not much different than the procedure mentioned above. The key to the transfer will be the pressure relief valve. You will need one that comes with a 1/4 inch turn valve and a street elbow that lets you angle the bottle just right.

A tire valve tool can open and close the valve but the problem here is that if you do not get the valve back to its factory setting, and it is difficult to do, the relief valve may not work.

Attach the valve to your tank and close the 1/4 turn one. Turn the tank upside down and attach your 1 pound propane bottle. Open the valve and wait till the smaller bottle is full before closing it.

You should hear a click once the valve is fully closed. This is also done after venting. Then disconnect the two bottles.

Adapter to Refill 1lb Propane Bottle

There are a lot of adapters on the market today. You should not have any trouble finding one as they are sold on Amazon and do not cost a lot of money. There are also one-time use adapters you can throw away when you are finished your transferring task.

One of the main problems with using an adapter is that once you have connected it to the tank, it may be hard to open the tank’s valve. Also, you need to use an adapter that is made from brass. Any other metal may spark and cause you to have a bad day.

DIY 1lb Propane Refill Adapter

To make your own adapter you need a few supplies. The list of what you need is as follows:

  • 1/4 inch brass elbows
  • 1/4 inch brass pipe nipple- 6 inches long
  • 1/4 inch brass ball valve
  • 1 Mr. Heater F273756, Soft Nose POL with Handwheel x 1/4″ male pipe thread
  • 1 Mr. Heater F273754 1″-20 female throwaway cylinder thread x 1/4″ male pipe thread

The part F273756 screws into the larger propane tank and into one of the brass elbows. The other end of the elbow screws into the pipe nipple. Turn the tank upside down with the nipple pointed at the floor, screw the valve into the other end of the nipple. Then attach part number F273754 into the valve. Make sure to use Teflon tape and check for leaks.

Where to Refill 1lb Propane Tank

The best place to refill your 1 pound propane tank is outside on a cool to cold day. It would not be good doing it inside your home or your RV. Or you can use a well-ventilated room that is not part of either.

Nor should you store these tanks indoors or in your RV’s storage compartment. You should keep the bottles cool and out of the heat as well as outside whenever possible. Because of the possible legal ramifications and the dangerous nature of refilling propane tanks, especially the smaller ones, you may not be able to take it to your local LPG company and have them refilled.

Safety is the key issue and the other key issue is that most 1 pound propane bottles are not made to be refilled. We can’t stress this enough. We only know of one brand that is legal to refill and those bottles may or may not be accepted by your local propane dealers.

How Long does it Take to Refill a 1lb Propane Tank

No one is talking about how long it will take to fill a 1 pound propane tank. Most people do not even try to do it. They would rather be safe and spend the money on new bottles than risk refilling one.

If you want to be logical, the 1 pound bottle is 1/20 the size of the 20 pound bottle so the re-filling time should not be very long at all. You will probably spend more time setting up the valves and adapter than it would take to fill the smaller tank.

Because the cost of buying new bottles can get expensive after a while, it may be a wise idea to try refilling your old ones. Discarding your old ones is not that difficult if you choose to buy new.

Just make sure the gas is completely gone, take off the valve and other removable parts and then put in your trash can or send it to a scrap yard for recycling. That convenience may make buying new worth it over the risks of refilling.

How Many Times can you Refill a 1lb Propane Tank

According to the one manufacturer that makes legal refillable 1 pound propane tanks, you can fill it up numerous times. The limit on refilling is given in years not the number of times you can refill it.

For that particular version, you get 12 years and depending on how often you empty the canister, you can refill it numerous of times in that amount of time. For other models, since they are not made to be refilled, you may be lucky to refill it once or twice.

That is because the current construction materials are prone to leakage and other issues.

Some Final Words

With their handy nature and versatility, refilling old 1 pound propane tanks is quite a temptation. Especially when new filled ones are priced between $3 and 5 or more. If you want to brave the risks, then you can try to refill the tanks using a proper adapter and a little privacy.

Always be cautious when refilling a propane tank of any size. It might be worth the few bucks t stay safe and protect your property from any danger.

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