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Weberphile

Composite Propane Cylinder information

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Thanks to comments by Ronald and this thread: http://www.bbqsource-forums.com/invboard/i...mp;hl=composite , I was inspired to do some more research on the issue of composite propane cylinders. I thought I'd summarize what I found just in case anyone else is considering these. I hope this helps someone and please feel free to point out any corrections/additions thta need to be made. Also, if you have any first-hand experience with these tanks, please consider posting your experience with them. Thanks!

 

Main Advantages

1. Visible propane level shows exactly how much propane is left at a glance

2. Non-corrosive tank materials

3. Non-explosive tanks

4. Low weight compared to steel and more ergonomic handles

5. Flat bottom and stackable

6. Expected lifespan 15 years

7. UV coated tanks with brass fittings

8. Approved for use in all US states circa 2010

9. In use in Europe since the early 1990's, with millions of units in use (according to Ragasco)

10. Consistent tare weights

11. Look cool! :blink:

 

Main Disadvantages

1. High Cost: A 20 lb tank generally runs $90 to $95 street price on the web

2. Possible unfamiliarity with these tanks by refillers (although boaters have reported no problems filling these in various countries)

3. Not suitable for tank exchanges

 

Two types of composite cylinders are mentioned most frequently:

 

Lite Cylinders ( http://www.litecylinder.com )

 

These composite tanks are made of two piece construction in the US

 

Safety Record: (Source: US DOT)

• In May, 2007, there was an issue with 5 of their 33 lb cylinders rupturing in a warehouse, which led to a recall of those tanks and suspension of production of all Lite Cylinder tanks at the factory.

• In August, 2007, the US DOT modified their initial suspension to include only the 33 lb cylinders after additional safety data was submitted by the company, and the company was allowed to again manufacture and sell the other sizes.

• After a subsequent investigation, US DOT approved the 33 lb cylinders to once again be manufactured and sold in June, 2009.

 

I did not come across any other reports of problems with the Lite Cylinder tanks, except for an isolated report of Amerigas not wanting to fill these tanks in one location (which seemed based on misconceptions of what exactly the recall entailed).

 

Specs for 20# cylinder: (Source: Lite Cylinder Company)

• Propane Capacity: 19.2#

• Service pressure—294# psi; Final Leak Check—200# psi; Proof Test Pressure—441# psi; Minimum Burst Pressure—998# psi; Actual Burst Pressure—1150# psi to 1550# psi

• Temp Range: -40 F to 140 F

• Pre-purged

• Dimensions: 18.0 in height x 12.4 in diameter

• Tare Weight (incl valve): 11 pounds

 

Best price I found on-line was on the U-Haul website

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Clear View Cylinders ( http://www.ragascousa.com/gas-cylinders.html )

 

These composite tanks are made of one piece construction in Norway

 

Safety Record: (Source: US DOT)

• They have been approved by the US DOT since May, 2007

• I have been unable to find any recalls or reports of tanks bursting

• Valves can be replaced according to manufacturer

 

Specs for 20# cylinder: (Source: Ragasco)

• Propane Capacity: 17#

• Service pressure—294# psi; Test Pressure—441# psi; Required Burst Pressure—882# psi; Actual Burst (Ragasco) Pressure—2200# psi

• Temp Range: -40 C (High temp not listed by manufacturer)

• Dimensions: 18.1 in height (14.4 in to top of boss) x 12.0 in diameter

• Tare Weight (ex valve): 9 pounds

 

Best price I found on-line was at outdoorcooking.com website

 

 

Summary:

These tanks offer several advantages over traditional propane tanks, especially ability to see propane levels easily. They will not corrode or explode, and appear safe in use (although the one-piece Clear View cylinders may have an edge). The Lite cylinder tank has a greater propane capacity than the Clear View. They may outlast steel/aluminum tanks—recertification period is increased 10 years in many markets worldwide. However, for the price of one of these tanks, one could buy 2 traditional tanks (one as a spare) and have money left over for some propane to grill with! Therefore, one must decide whether or not the advantages are worth the increased cost.

 

Finally, part of the reason why these tanks were brought to market in the US was in the hopes of receiving approval for indoor use in heating and cooking devices, which is how they are commonly used in Europe. However, as of September 2010, the prospects of approval in the US appear moribund at best. Therefore, these tanks may not be on the market much longer in the US if they do not pick up more market penetration in the home cooking, RV, and marine markets.

 

Other Reference:

Propane Education & Research Council paper on composite propane cylinder safety

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Nice writeup

I think the biggest problem these tanks have is that so far they have only been available in the 20lb size

They need larger tanks if they are marketing them for home use

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