You can run through a 1lb propane tank fast with a camping stove or portable heater. I can go through 2-3 bottles by the end of a weekend if I’m cooking for a large group or through a bottle per night with my heater. So how long does a 1lb propane tank last?
A small 1lb disposable propane tank holds .236 gallons of fuel so it won’t last long. Your tank will last 1 hour on a double burner grill with the heat turned all the way up, but you rarely cook on high so it should last about 2 hours. With a small camping heater you will get between 3-4.5 hours on a single propane tank.
Remember that every camping stove/heater has a different burn rate so those are estimates. It all depends on what you’re using and how fast it burns through propane. I’ll go over a few real world examples to give you a better idea of how long your disposable propane tank will last.
How Long Will A 1lb Disposable Propane Tank Last?
16.4 oz propane tanks are a common energy source for camping stoves and small portable heaters. They’re lightweight, convenient, and easy to use, but you can burn through a tank fast if you’re not careful. It’s really frustrating when you burn through a tank early in the day since it can be hard to tell how much fuel is left in the tank.
It can be hard to tell how much propane is in a disposable tank since they’re measured as 16.4 oz, when every other propane tank is measured in pounds. Most people refer to the disposable tanks as 1lb tanks even though they’re slightly bigger than 1lb.
A full sized 20lb propane tank has 4.6 gallons of gas. So to figure out how much gas is in a small disposable bottle you need to take 4.6 gallons and divide it by 20, which gives you .23 gallons (1.84 pints) of gas in a disposable propane bottle.
Coleman double burner stoves are rated to burn through approximately 1.25 pints per hour with both burners on high so you get about 1 hour and 40 minutes of total burn time. You would never actually get that in a real world setting since you’re dealing with humidity, wind, clogged lines, etc., but it’s safe to assume you can get more than an hour and probably closer to 1hr 30 minutes with both burners turned to the max.
Propane heaters like the Mr Heater will last longer than a camping stove. You should be able to get 3-6 hours out of your portable heater depending on the temperature setting. I recommend running your heater on the medium setting so you can get the chill off without quickly burning through propane.
Figuring Out How Much Propane Is Left In A Tank
Trying to figure out how much fuel is left in a tank can be frustrating. You can either compare the weight with a new tank that you knows full or shake the bottle and try to guess how much is left. Obviously the guessing method isn’t great, but it will give you a rough idea of how much is left in the tank. There are a few ways to tell exactly how much propane is left in the tank, but you’ll need a scale or large container of water.
- Scale Method: Measuring your propane tank on a scale is the only accurate way to figure out how full your tank is. You need to know how much a full tank weighs (32oz), and empty tank (16oz). So you can weigh your tank and figure out how many oz it is over 1lb. There are 16oz in a pound so that should give you a good idea of how much propane is left in your tank.
- Eyeball Test: You can usually tell about how much propane is left in a bottle by picking it up and shaking it. A half full bottle will feel noticeably lighter and the propane will slosh around inside. Propane tanks are only filled up 80% full so there will always be some movement, but you can get a feel for when your tanks running low.
- Water Method: The water method is the easiest way to tell how much propane is in a tank. Just fill up a bowl of water and set your propane tank in. Propane is a liquid so the water line will give you a good indication of how full the propane tank is. Propane is slightly lighter than water so the actual line will be slightly higher, but it will give you a good guideline to work off of.
The following video will go over each of these methods and further explain how to figure out how much propane gas is left in your fuel canister.
How Long Will My 1lb Propane Tank Last In A Camping Stove? How Much Propane Is In A 1lb Tank?
Figuring out how long your 1lb tank will last in a stove can be a challenge. It depends on which style of stove you have and what temperature you’re cooking at. Double burner stoves will burn through twice as much propane as a single burner and turning the temperature up will speed up the burn rate.
A 1lb propane tank should give you about 1 hour 30 minutes of burn time on high with a double burner stove like a classic Coleman 2 burner. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but people are rarely cooking food with the temperature maxed out. With normal use on lower temperatures you can expect about 2hr 30 minutes using the double burner.
I can easily get through 3-4 meals before I run out of fuel. That’s why I usually bring 3 propane tanks on weekend camping trips with my family. Breakfast and lunch get cooked on the stove and dinner usually goes over the campfire. You probably won’t go through your 2nd bottle, but it’s always nice to have a spare just in case.
Most people won’t be using both burners at the same time every time they use their stove. Dropping down to a single burner will almost double your burn time. You can easily get 3-4 hours of cook time at regular cooking temperatures. Blasting the burner on high will cut that time in half and you may only get about 2 hours.
How Long Will A Disposable Tank Last In A Propane Heater?
You should get similar times with a propane camping heater that takes disposable 1lb propane bottles. I use my Mr Heater to heat up my enclosed porch in the winter. A 1lb propane tank usually lasts up to 6 hours on low, 3-4 hours on medium, and 2-3 hours on high.
I usually crank the heat up to high for 20-30 minutes to quickly heat the room and then drop it down to low to maintain for a few hours. That gives me plenty of time to smoke a cigar and read my book for 1-2 hours in the evening. There’s usually about 1/3 of a tank left over when I head inside after sitting on the porch for 3 hours.
How Long Will A Disposable Propane Tank Last In Storage? What’s The Shelf Life?
Propane is one of the few long term fuel options. Gasoline has a shelf life of 3 months, diesel lasts for 6-12 months, and propane can last for decades. You shouldn’t have any problem storing your 1lb propane tank for 10-20 years if your propane bottle and valve are in good shape.
Unfortunately, disposable propane bottles tend to have faulty valves so who knows how long the tanks will actually last. I’ve bought brand new tanks that have started to leak in a few months. The bottles are cheaply made and there’s no way to know if it will last long term.
You may also want to check out my other post explaining how to refill disposable propane bottles. You can save a lot of money by refilling your disposable bottles and all you need is a cheap refill adapter and full sized propane tank. One disposable tank can be refilled 10+ times if you don’t mess with the pressure release valve.
Just make sure you pick out a refill adapter with an automatic shutoff feature. Adapters without that feature rely on the pressure relief valve on your tank. Every time that pressure valve pops you’re one step closer to needing to throw out the tank.
You Can Use A Bigger Tank With An Adapter
You can always use a bigger propane tank if you’re worried about running out of propane on longer camping trips. All you need is a 1lb propane tank to a standard Type-1 adapter to hook up a 5lb or regular 20lb tank. Buy an adapter at any outdoor store, home improvement store or you can pick one up off Amazon.
Just be careful when buying an adapter online, because some of them are junk (they leak). I recommend the stainless steel GasOne 5ft 1lb to 20lb adapter hose. I picked mine up at Home Depot and I’ve been using it for 10+ years. The 5ft length is perfect for most applications. It’s the perfect height for sitting up on a table and reaches down from my truck bed for tailgate parties.
Screw the male end where the disposable bottle would normally go and the female end goes to your tank. All camping stoves/heaters have built in pressure regulators. So you shouldn’t need to add a pressure regulator to the adapter hose. Some people think that the higher pressure from a regular tank can damage the internal regulator, but I haven’t found that to be an issue.
How Can I Make My Propane Last Longer?
- Cook Over The Fire: Most campers like to get a fire going throughout around dinner time and run it into the night. You can conserve propane by cooking meals over the fire. Cook hot dogs over the fire, use cast iron pans, and look into foil cooking recipes to get the most out of your campfire.
- Prepare Your Meals Ahead Of Time: Clean off the stove ahead of time and make sure your meals are ready to go before turning on the stove. This will minimize the amount of time you’ll have the burners on and cut back on propane use.
- Use Freeze Dried Meals: Freeze dried meals take a small amount of fresh water. You can bring a few fresh bottles of water from home if you’re camping near your car or use filtered water to avoid needing to boil water. It’s still nice to heat freeze dried meals up so toss them in a pan on low to heat them up while conserving propane.
- Avoid Boiling Water: Boiling water will quickly burn through your propane since the burner needs to be turned up close to high. Cooking a pan of pasta for dinner won’t kill you, but you shouldn’t rely on a propane stove to filter/sanitize your drinking water. If you have to boil water set the burners at 85% capacity so you don’t run through as much fuel. Go with an alternative purification method like a backpacking water filter or UV Filter like the Steripen (if there’s viruses). A gravity filter setup will be your best bet if you’re camping with a large group with no access to clean drinking water.
- Avoid Hot Drinks: Most people want a hot cup of coffee in the morning, but understand that it will use up about 15% of your propane bottle. Try to plan out when you’re making a pot of coffee in the morning so everybody can get some. That way you won’t be making multiple pots as everybody slowly filters out of bed.