Everybody who's used a gas grill has inevitably run out of propane. Murphy's Law usually states that this is most likely to happen when you have guests over for burgers, but I digress.
Many places, including Lowes and Home Depot, will do a propane tank exchange. Sounds pretty simple. You take your old tank, drop it off, grab one that's been filled, head over to the cash register, pay the $20, and head back all before the grill gets cold.
Technically that does work, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Because you're getting ripped off. OK, well maybe not ripped off (though that does sound beter), but you are definitely overpaying.
Most tanks that attach to grills are able to easily hold 20 pounds of fuel. Back when propane exchanges became common they filled it up to 20 pounds.
All worked out well until they decided to raise the price. But did they raise the price on what you pay. Nope. Instead, they employed my least favorite strategy ever: they started giving you less.
That's right. Most ‘exchanges' will now give you a tank that's been filled…with 15 pounds of propane. That means you're effectively paying 33% more. That means you'll be making a return trip much sooner. That means someone's bottom line is getting bigger (and it's not yours).
Well, there is a better way.
Take your tank somewhere where they re-fill it. They will likely charge the exact same price, and they'll fill it all the way. Google ‘propane refill' and your zip code and you should easily find a place.
Bonus tip: Once you find a place, see if they have a website. The place I use had a $2 off printable coupon, which makes it even more of a deal!
Bonus tip #2: Always make sure you have proper home insurance. Propane leaks and such are rare but it's better safe than sorry!
When grilling with gas, make sure you get what you pay for. Twenty pounds of gas and not an ounce less!