Gas grills do not typically come with a propane tank. Generally, there are two ways to obtain a propane tank for a new grill. You can either purchase a tank and have it filled or you can do a tank exchange. We will discuss how each method works below.
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Propane Tank Purchase
The first option is to buy a propane tank. The place where you purchase your grill will likely also sell propane tanks. Some examples of stores that carry them are Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and Amazon.
The tank will come empty when you purchase it; therefore, you will have to find a place to fill it. Do a search on Google for “propane tank refill” and you will find places near you who will fill your tank.
Examples of places that fill propane tanks in our area are Tractor Supply, U-Haul, and Amerigas. Take your new empty tank to the propane fill location and an employee will fill your propane tank for you. It will only take about five minutes if someone is able to do it right away.
Once the tank is filled, you drive it back home and hook it to the grill as recommended in the grill’s owner’s manual. When the propane tank runs out of gas, you simply take it back for a refill.
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Propane Tank Exchange
A propane tank exchange is completed at places such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Walmart. You visit the cashier at a propane tank exchange location and state that you wish to obtain a propane tank.
Once you pay, an employee will escort you outside to the propane tank storage area and hand you a tank that is already full. You take the tank home and hook it to the grill as instructed in the manual.
When the tank is empty, you return it to the store and exchange it for a new full tank. You should always leave the tank you are exchanging outside next to the full propane tank storage area. Do not bring any tank inside the store.
Once you pay for your tank exchange, an employee will take you outside to complete the exchange of the new tank for the old tank.
Some propane exchange stores do not require an employee to come outside to complete the exchange. For example, the below video shows a tank exchange completed at Home Depot where the cashier provides a code that is entered into a computer next to the propane tanks. The computer unlocks the propane cage and the exchange is completed by the customer.
Keep in mind that if you do not have a propane tank to exchange (i.e. it is your first tank), it will be more expensive than exchanging an empty tank for a full tank. For example, prices we have seen at Lowe’s are $19.99 for a tank exchange or $49.99 without a tank to exchange.
Propane Tank Refill vs Exchange
The propane tank exchange may seem like the best option simply for its convenience. However, the tank exchange often costs more than refilling a tank.
The exchange tanks typically are only filled to about 15-pounds per tank. When you obtain a refill, you’ll get close to the tank capacity of 20-pounds.
Both the exchange and refill generally cost the same despite obtaining approximately 5-pounds less propane with an exchange.
If you looking to save money over the long haul, we suggest buying a propane tank and having it filled/refilled at the cheapest refill location in your area.