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Old 01-12-2021, 13:36   #1
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Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

I need odd sized propane tanks. Are propane refills usually available while cruising? Caribbean, etc. Thanks.
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Old 01-12-2021, 17:49   #2
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Exchange is only in the States. Elsewhere you get your “cookin’ gas” tanks refilled.
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Old 02-12-2021, 04:54   #3
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Yes, propane refills are generally still available, where propane is used.

Most ‘exchange’ propane tanks are 20 lb [bar-b-q], approximately 1 and a half foot tall by 1 foot diameter, which hold 4.5 gallons of propane, and weigh 37 pounds full.
Most exchange services under fill the tanks, to only 15 lbs [3.53 gal], rather than the 20 lbs that they will safely hold. With the full 20 lbs there is still about 20% space left for expansion. The "20 lbs" already takes this into account.

Exchange, therefor, ends up significantly more expensive, than refill.
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Old 02-12-2021, 05:49   #4
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Depending on the type of thread etc on your tanks - I would suggest you get a set of adaptors so they can be refilled. Not every place has an american thread
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Old 02-12-2021, 06:02   #5
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

If only exchange tanks are available, in a pinch it is possible to transfer propane from one tank to another. https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post1932236
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:12   #6
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

I'm on my third boat that I converted to propane cooking gas. On all I built the lockers to fit the 20# barbeque tanks so I could exchange them. A refill place might be hard to find or be miles away but several times there was a gas station with propane exchange literally across the street from where I was docked or anchored. Yes, it's a little more expensive, you get 15 to 18# for about the same cost as refilling with 20#, but if you would have had to take a taxi or something to the refill place the exchange ends up being the same or cheaper. Yes the tanks rust, but if you exchange them you get a new(er) tank every time. They're not on the boat long enough to cause a problem and the refill service inspects and repaints them as needed. Also, all tanks whether they're the cheap steel ones or the expensive aluminum or fiberglass ones need to be recertified after 12 years then every 5 years after that. That can be hard to arrange and some of the services won't do the odd tanks. The refill places don't even look at the dates, they just give you a new one. The outdated ones get recycled. I've never seen a factory equipped boat that barbeque tanks would fit in though, the builders love the expensive tanks and don't care how inconvenient they can be. But if anyone is retrofitting, I recommend using the steel tanks. But as said above, that only works on the US, every other country has thier own standards and unique fittings. If you're going international you'll need a lot of adapters.
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Old 02-12-2021, 20:19   #7
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

We spent 6 months in the Bahamas/Caribbean with two 10lb aluminum tanks. Refills were not hard to come by, worst case you had to ask around a little. We didn’t notice many options for exchange (though we weren’t looking). By the looks of the other tanks we saw waiting for refill, dates are generally not checked, you do your own safety assessment. We didn’t carry any thread adapters, never ran into an issue.
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Old 03-12-2021, 13:50   #8
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by fox9988 View Post
I need odd sized propane tanks. Are propane refills usually available while cruising? Caribbean, etc. Thanks.
About the etc: In Spain refills can be a problem. Getting a local bottle is a lot easier, but if your gas-locker only fits odd-sized bottles, you're in for a major head-ache.
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Old 05-12-2021, 07:19   #9
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 05-12-2021, 08:38   #10
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Re: Refill vs Exchange Propane while Cruising

Cruising beyond the Caribbean things do get more complicated.

In most countries we were able to get our tanks refilled. But in some places only exchange was available and the exchangeable tanks did not fit our locker.
In that case we bought a full exchangeable tank and decanted it into our tanks, and often the excess went into other people's tanks. Then we took it back and got our money back. We had/made adaptors for that purpose and hung the full tanks upside down from the boom to fill our tanks. Got some strange looks when we did that at a marina dock.

Speaking of adaptors, we made several, not too much problem.

If you need to go on the bus to a refill location, take the tanks in a shopping bag, in case the driver objects to the sight of someone on his bus with a tank.
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