Generally, a propane tank does not come with a new grill. You will need to either purchase one and have it filled or obtain one through a tank exchange program. Please read our article on propane tanks to learn more about filling them.
There are a few propane tank sizes that can be considered for a grill. However, you should verify that a particular tank size is compatible with your type of grill. For example, a small grill may not be able to accomodate a larger propane tank in the cabinet under the grill.
Here are the most common tank sizes used for a grill:
Grill Propane Tank Sizes
These tanks are typically used for small portable grills that are often used at places such as tailgating or camping. They can be purchased already filled with 1 pound of propane at stores like Walmart, Amazon.com, and Target. These cylinders should not be refilled due to risk of explosion unless permitted by the manufacturer. Overall, the light weight, small size, and pre-filled propane make these cylinders extremely convenient to use on portable grills. They are not practical for traditional backyard grills because of their limited fuel capacity.
5-lb Propane Tank
A 5 pound propane tank is small enough to carry where desired without being a burden. It weighs only about 14 pounds when full and holds approximately 1.2 gallons of propane. This tank size is a good choice for smaller or portable grills that will be moved from time to time.
11-LB Propane Tank
This tank size holds about 2.6 gallons and weighs around 24 pounds when full. Similar to the previous tanks, this one in light enough to haul where needed. While it could be used for the home grill, its tank capacity isn’t large enough to get a significant amount of uses before a refill is required.
20-LB Propane Tank
The 20 pound propane tank is the standard for gas grills. The majority of backyard grills are designed to easily accommodate this type of tank in the grill cabinet or a similar location on the grill. If you buy a 20 pound tank new, it will need to be filled at a propane refill station near you. Another alternative is to do a tank exchange. A 20 pound propane tank holds approximately 4.5 to 4.7 gallons of propane. Additionally, it weighs about 37 pounds when full.
30-LB Propane Tank
A 30 pound propane tank is a solid option for those people who grill a lot and want to cut back on having to run to the propane refill station. This tank size will hold approximately 7 gallons of propane. A full 30 pound propane tank weighs about 54 pounds making it quite heavy for some people to carry.
Generally, grills are designed to hold a 20 pound tank in the tank storage area. Before you purchase a 30 pound tank, be sure the tank will fit in your grill. Review the dimensions and how the tank will sit in your grill to confirm compatibility. Additionally, depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a 30 pound tank exchange program. You may be restricted to purchasing a 30 pound tank and having it filled instead of the often more convenient (but more expensive) option of a tank exchange.
40-LB Propane Tank
A 40 pound propane tank can be used on a grill but its size is often a hindrance for many people. Firstly, a 40 pound tank holds about 9.5 gallons and weighs approximately 70 pounds. In other words, it is not an easy chore to take to be filled or move around the yard as needed.
Secondly, the overall size of the tank makes it an impractical choice for many to hide it away in the grill cabinet or alongside the grill. Similarly to the 30 pound tank, you may have difficulty finding a tank exchange for these larger tanks.
Of course, the benefit of this tank size is the propane it can hold. We would suspect that many people could fill a 40 pound tank and have it last through a summer with moderate use. It’s a good thing not to have to worry about routinely checking the propane level out of fear of running out of fuel.
A 20 pound propane tank is the most practical choice for most people. It will fit inside the grill cabinet without issue and will provide most people with about 19 hours of grilling time. It isn’t excessively heavy to carry and it provides the most options for refilling or exchanging the tank when empty. Other sizes can be considered but be sure to take note of the potential issues with these sizes that we mentioned above.