Using a propane tank at its highest setting will get empty sooner than at a low setting. What could be more frustrating than running out of fuel during the middle of cooking? You can use a 20 lb propane tank with a 2-burner camoing stove at 20,000 BTU output will last up to 21 hours to prepare meals for the entire family.

In this guide, we have elaborated on how long a 20 lb propane tank lasts and how to calculate the leftover propane in the tank. Read out to learn more.

Find out How Long Does a Butane Canister Last?

How Long Does A 20 lb Propane Tank Last?

How Long Does A 20 lb Propane Tank Last

Usually, the 20 lb propane tanks are usually used to prepare individual meals or perform normal tasks. A 20 lb propane tank typically lasts 18 to 20 hours if you grill food on a medium-sized grill. A larger grill will consume more propane and last up to 10 hours.

One or two pounds of propane is used to prepare a single meal; on average, you will have eight grilling sessions on a single tank. The heating efficiency of most household appliances is measured in BTU (British Thermal Unit).

Here is the lifespan of a 20 lb propane tank at different BTU ratings.

BTU Rating of Appliance

The lifespan of a 20 lb Propane Tank

80,000 BTU

5.5 Hours

60,000 BTU

7 Hours

50,000 BTU

8.6 Hours

40,000 BTU

11 Hours

30,000 BTU

14 Hours

20,000 BTU 

21 Hours

10,000 BTU

43 Hours

A 20 lb propane tank has 16 lb propane gas filled up to 80% of its full capacity due to its extreme temperature sensitivity. Propane expands 17% more than air with each degree of increase in temperature.

Learn more about Can we use propane in the butane Stove?

How Many BTUs Are In A 20 lb Propane Tank?

After calculations, it has been estimated that a standard 20 lb propane tank has 430,000 BTUs. You can calculate the lifespan of your appliance working on a propane tank in hours by diving 431,880 by appliance BTU rating.

For example, for a 50,000 BTUs camping stove,

(Lifespan) Hours = 430,000/50,000

(Lifespan) Hours= 8.6 hours

The energy efficiency of burning propane isn’t 100% and burns depending on the heater with 75 to 95% efficiency. This reduced energy efficiency indicates that the lifespan of the propane tank also reduces by 5 to 25%.

How Long Does A Propane Tank Last At 5000 to 90000 BTUs?

Once you know how many BTUs are in a 20 lb propane tank, you can easily calculate the lifespan. Usually, a 20 lb propane tank contains 4.25 gallons of propane. If you use a burner for 2 hours a day to cook for 1 hour, the average lifespan of the tank will be 18 × 24 = 432 Hours.

Depending on the BTUs and gallons of propane, here are some calculated values for the estimated burn time of a 20 lb propane tank from 5,000 to 90,000 BTUs.

  • 5,000 BTUs last up to 86 Hours.
  • 20,000 BTUs last for 21 Hours.
  • 90,000 BTUs last for 4 Hours.

Learn more about how long a butane canister last.

How Long Does A 20 lb Propane Tank Last For Daily Heating?

How Long Does A 20 lb Propane Tank Last For Daily Heating

You can also use your heater on a propane tank for regular use. But how long will a heater last on a propane tank? On average, the heat capacity of a propane tank is 345,552 to 420,000. A portable propane heater lasts 32 to 115 hours. As you will only run the propane heater sometimes, how long it will last can also vary.

If you have a heater with 9,000 BTU per hour, the heating duration will be like this:

Heating Duration (Hours)

How Long Propane Tank Will Last With 9,000 BTUs?

2 hours

19 days

4 hours

10 days

8 hours

5 days

10 hours

4 days

12 hours

3 days

So, a 20 lb propane tank will last a week of heating after running for 4 to 6 hours daily.

How To Calculate Remaining Fuel In a 20 lb Propane Tank?

Knowing the remaining fuel amount after usage is significant regarding fuel and propane tank overall capacity. There are three most common methods to calculate the amount of fuel left in the tank.

Put Your Tank on a Weighing Scale

You can measure the fuel quantity using a weighing machine or a scale. You will see a few markings on the tank, some marked as TW (Tare Weight). This displays the weight of an empty propane tank.

For a 20 lb propane tank, the TW value is 17 lb. Measure your tank's weight and minus its TW value to calculate the propane weight. Here is an easy explanation:

If the total weight of the tank is 27 lb and the tare weight is 17 lb, the left propane in the tank will be 27 - 17 = 10 lb.

A digital or smart scale is also useful for getting accurate data.

Hot Water Trick

Follow these steps to measure the remaining fuel in the tank:

  • Heat some water in a kettle.
  • Tilt your 20 lb propane tank and pour hot water on its surface.
  • Position the tank straight and slide your hand from top to bottom of the tank to feel the temperature.
  • Locate the area where the temperature of the metal turns from warm to cold.
  • At this level, the propane level is estimated or calculated.

Use A Pressure Gauge

Among other methods, this one is simple and easy. You do not need to weigh or calculate the tank's average run time, but installing a pressure gauge will do the task.

A pressure gauge will also help keep the heat in check to avoid the risk of explosion caused by an overheated or overpressured propane tank.

Learn about Coleman Propane Stove Troubleshooting.


How Long Will A 40 lb Propane Tank Last At 30 000 BTU?

A 20 lb propane tank lasts up to 14 hours and 21 minutes on a 30,000 BTU grill. Knowing these values lets you calculate how long a propane tank will last on propane-powered equipment, including a patio heater, stove, or grill.

How Many Litres of Propane Are In A 20 Pound Tank?

A 20-pound or 9-kilogram propane tank contains 4.7 gallons or 17.8 liters of propane.

Wrapping Up

Cooking during outdoor camping is easy and comfortable with large 20 lb propane tanks that last sufficient time to prepare delicious meals. Considering the BTU consumption, you can easily calculate the run time of the propane tank.

You can also measure the remaining amount of fuel and refill your tank from any gas station once it is emptied. We hope the guidelines will help you plan your camping adventure with all necessities of life.

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