There is one tiny, forgettable, but potentially destructive grill accessory that many people overlook. It’s contributed to more than one ruined cookout.
Know what it is? Spoiler alert: a propane tank gauge.
Now, don’t misunderstand — the gauge itself is not destructive, and the gauge has not contributed to ruined cookouts. But NOT having one can mean you might just run out of propane mid-cooking.
If you’re the type to keep a full spare propane tank on hand at all times, well, then maybe just keep doing what you’re doing. But still…wouldn’t it be nice to know if you needed to bring that tank around and be at the ready, or if you could squeak out just one more barbeque?
If you’re going to take control of your grilling experience, you may as well get the best propane tank gauge out there. Why risk your best finish yet on a low tank?!
What Is A Propane Tank Gauge?
It’s exactly what it sounds like — a small gauge for your that acts as a propane tank level indicator.
Basically, it just gives you a readout of how much liquid propane is left in your tank. Most gauges do this by a propane pressure sensor that fits between the propane tank and the grill itself.
When it’s full, carry on as usual. When it’s in the warning/low zones, think about buying or refilling your tank. When it’s in the red or showing empty, don’t plan on cooking much more than one hot dog before it’s out, if that.
6 Best Propane Tank Gauges in 2020
- Cuisinart CTG-200 In-Line Propane Tank Gauge
- DOZYANT Propane Tank Gauge Level Indicator
- Ambient Temp Sensitive
- GASLAND Propane Tank Splitter Adapter with Gauge
This gauge fits a QCC1/Type 1 connection, which most propane tanks are.
What’s nice about this gauge is that it fits even larger than the typical 20-lb propane tank commonly found on most people’s gas grills, and can fit up to a 40-lb tank!
The Dozyant propane tank gauge is made of heavy-duty solid brass, making it extremely durable and resistant to just about everything.
We like the simple color-coded readout dial and the dust cap for when your tank is disconnected. This gauge is smart enough to adjust for ambient temperature changes.
You’ll also enjoy the no-tools setup and the multiple fits. Since you can use it with as small as a 5-lb tank, this is a great option if you’d like to use it with your camping or tailgate grill.
You’ll quickly find these propane tank gauges are all quite similar.
Where the Cuisinart CTG-200 propane tank gauge differs from our first choice gauge is in the readout dial. Rather than indicate “full” or “half full” as many gauges do, this gauge more simply gives a large green part of the dial for “optimal fuel” and two smaller sections as a warning and empty.
This Cuisinart propane tank gauge only attaches to 20-lb tanks, so you’ll be fine to pop one on your average gas grill, but you won’t be able to use it while camping or with a larger tank.
Similar to the Dozyant option above, you’ll still enjoy the no-tools installation and brass construction.
This propane tank gauge almost sits in a class on its own for this list, because it is a unique option.
No, it’s not for two gauges on one propane tank, and it’s not to put two propane tanks on one grill. What this splitter is for is to allow you to run two different appliances off the same propane tank at the same time.
This is especially useful in the RV/camping world — you could, for example, run your gas grill and a small generator concurrently. Another option is to grill dinner while running a propane-powdered space heater, which is perfect for those cool autumn camping trips!
Just like the rest, you’ll find durable brass construction plus a dust cap for each side of the splitter. The readout to this dial is similar to the Cuisinart listed above, with the large “good” range and a couple of smaller ranges to warn when it’s either getting low or empty.
Where this splitter gauge combo also stands out is the ability to connect to even a small 1-lb propane canister and still fit even standard large gas grills!
Easy, no-tools installation and compatible with the standard QCC1/Type 1 connections.
This option from Camco is definitely a quality propane gauge.
We like that this offers the more accurate ambient-temperature-sensitive readout dial like the Dozyant dial offers, to keep a closer eye on tank levels when the weather changes.
We also like that this gauge specifically calls out the tank year it can start from — 1995, pending the right ACME connection, of course! Time to party like it’s 1999 because a propane tank that old can definitely get its groove on!
This gauge also shows the levels once the gas is flowing, so you can literally see the levels as they change. This is nice compared to gauges that stay at a fixed location on the dial even when the tank is off since this way you can be sure the needle isn’t stuck.
While the Camco propane tank gauge does come in at a higher price point than the other options on this list, you’ll find it offers a couple of nice safety features. It includes extra flow protection in case the gas line should leak/break, as well as thermal protection in case of fire. Not every tank gauge can boast that.
Here is another of those easy-read propane tank gauge options. It also includes a propane gas gauge leak detector in the fitting, offering emergency flow control.
Similar to the rest on the list, you’ll like the no-tools installation, durable brass construction, and standard tank fit.
BUT WAIT. You didn’t think that was it, did you?
THIS propane tank gauge may well be the best propane tank gauge for grilling because check it — IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!
Yes, we really are that excited about the fact that you can check out your gas levels even if you’re a grilling die-hard and grilling in the middle of the night. Midnight snack, anyone?
Here we’ve got a slightly different take on the typical propane tank gauge, as it’s more of a scale-style indicator.
Most of the propane tank gauges on this list are very similar in look and function — basically, a small brass tube that the propane itself flows through and the pressure of it moves a needle.
What’s cool about this gauge style, however, is that you can check your propane tank level without having to fire up the grill. This is an especially useful tool for those of you high-end grilling aficionados who keep multiple propane tanks on hand at all times.
It’s a very straightforward mechanism here: hold the handle on the gauge, put the hook through the handle on the tank, and lift.
A standard propane tank has a weight (that’s why it’s called a 20-lb tank, for example). If it’s full, by weight, it’ll put the needle to the full side. If it’s less than full, the needle will move to the right spot accordingly.
This Shinestar propane tank gauge level indicator includes a regulator built-in, which is a nice bonus feature.
Not all grills come with hoses that include a regulator, and not all propane tanks do either. A regulator is a handy addition in your grill’s fuel line that keeps the outlet pressure more stable and consistent, giving you more consistent use and heat.
Having a 2-foot rubber long hose as part of this tank gauge means you’ll surely be able to attach to any gas grill on the market, including fitting those that have too tight of a connection area to fit any of the other gauges on our list.
While you’ll have to double-check that the hose will fit your specific grill (it fits most all gas grills), you’ll still enjoy the no-tools installation on the propane tank and the durable brass construction for the gauge portion.
This dial is also an easy-readout style propane tank gauge.
Best Propane Tank Gauge Buying Guide
When you’re considering buying an in-line propane tank gauge, there’s only one material to consider — brass.
You wouldn’t want anything aluminum since it’s not durable enough to not risk a crimp/leak during installation. You surely don’t want anything steel or you’re risking rust and a gas leak after just a few days outside.
Brass is solid and exceptionally durable, so pretty much anything you find will be constructed from it.
Almost all of the propane tank gauges you’ll find that require installation are simply hand-screwed in place, in between the tank and the grill.
You honestly should get a gauge that does NOT require tools. There are 2 reasons for that:
- If you’ve got to get tools for securing the gauge to your tank, you’re likely to kick a wall in anger if you ever have to change a tank in the middle of grilling and have to go find the tools.
- If you DO use tools to tighten, you risk overtightening. Not good when it comes to gas canisters!
While the easy-readout dials are a convenience for most people, some people prefer more accuracy in their information and opt for those dials that take ambient temperature into account.
The other consideration is the size of the dial. Some offer larger faces than others.
So long as you’re working with a standard (20-lb) propane tank, you won’t have to worry about the size. They’re all the same standard fitting to fit those tanks.
Where you may see differences involving size or fit is:
- Some of these gauges fit as low as a 1-lb propane canister and others fit up to 40 lbs while some only take standard 20-lb tanks. Check this info before purchasing to match your needs.
- The length of the brass tube may differ, or the gauge overall may be considerably longer if there is a hose built into it.
A splitter is definitely not a necessity and not for everyone. But for campers/RVers, this may be a really huge selling point!
If you hate leaving home, skip buying a gauge with a splitter. If you’re adventurous, or just always buying new things, you might someday be glad you’ve got the dual splitter!
Many tanks come with a regulator built in, but not all do, especially depending on the retailer.
Buying a propane tank gauge with a built-in regulator may be a desirable thing for you, to ensure optimum fuel usage while cooking.
Are propane tank gauges accurate?
On the whole, they’re kind of “accurate enough.”
The trick with these gauges (except for the scale gauge) is that they do not register propane levels unless the tank is open and gas is flowing through the hose.
You could get into a fancy argument about how the pressure inside the tank is relatively constant so it is likely to show in the green range for most of the tank use, and then drop off fairly quickly, but generally speaking, they’re about right to generally indicate whether your tank is empty or not.
I mean, so long as you’re in the green and not near the edge, you’re pretty likely to have enough gas for the average grilling session.
Is a propane tank gauge hard to install?
It shouldn’t be! All the in-line propane tank gauges on this list are as simple as screwing them securely on to the tank itself and securely attaching to the grill (either directly or via a hose) at the other.
If that’s not easy enough for, you honestly probably shouldn’t even be operating a grill.
Do I need a regulator as well?
Typically the grill itself comes with a regulator, but on the off chance yours does not, you’ll want to get one.
You’ll want the regulator to ensure that an even pressure of gas goes to the burners to help with controlling the flame so that your control knobs are more accurate. No sense having a mile high flame if you don’t need one!
Do propane tank gauges fit all size propane tanks?
All the gauges listed in this review will fit standard size, 20-lb propane tanks. But not all tank sizes will fit all of these gauges.
If you need smaller and/or larger tank accommodations, our top pick the Dozyant Propane Tank Gauge will accommodate 5- to 40-lb tanks.
If you need to fit a tank under 5-lbs, the Gasland Propane Tank Gauge Splitter will accommodate as low as 1-lb canisters.
What’s a Type 1 / ACME / QCC1 connector?
This is just the way the connection is named. Consider this the “standard” propane tank connection found these days, as well as the standard connection type of most gas grills.
Where you’ll need to double-check the connection is on very very old tanks (like pre-1990s) or on older RVs, generators, etc.
Does air temperature affect the accuracy of the readout?
It can. Condensation can get behind the dial glass on some of these gauges, and that can sort of “jam up” the needle.
Additionally, the gas inside the tank can have slightly altered chemical properties depending on the ambient temperature. If you took a chemistry class at all, you’ll know that liquids and gasses behave differently at different temperatures. This can affect the pressures inside the tank itself somewhat, so the dial may change to indicate a lower or higher volume accordingly.
The colder the ambient temperature, the lower the gas volume will read. Store your grill or at least the propane tanks indoors in the cold weather when possible to help your readout be more accurate.
Where to store propane tanks at home?
During most warmer months (think late spring through early fall), you’re fine to just leave the propane tank attached to the grill and stored wherever your grill lives.
If you’re in a very, very hot environment you might want to find a shady, cooler storage location for your grill as extremely high temperatures can increase the pressure inside the tank.
For most people, the garage tends to be reasonable for most all year round, since the typically concrete floor stays cooler in the summer yet doesn’t freeze in the winter.
Can I store a tank with the tank gauge still attached?
Honestly, there is really no reason you couldn’t.
However, you might prefer leaving it attached to the hose off your grill, so you don’t accidentally leave it attached while exchanging a propane tank for a refill!
I saw a magnetic propane tank gauge for real cheap. Is that a good option?
Skip it. These are supposed to respond to a magnetic float inside the tank, but you’re not going to see these work with the standard 20-lb tank used on gas grills.
Are there any digital propane tank gauges?
Yes, but the way they function is not the same as the tank gauges listed above.
While they do offer what feels like a more precise readout and some may even be wifi or Bluetooth capable — offering a wireless propane tank gauge setup — they are essentially expensive scales.
The GasWatch propane tank gauge is a good example of a Bluetooth propane tank gauge if you must have one. B0165U9L5I
Final Thoughts on Best Propane Tank Gauge
As you can see from the list of reviews above, buying the best propane tank gauge isn’t rocket science, and you’re likely to be just fine with whichever one you pick.
Since it covers such a nice range of tanks (making it great for at home or camping and more) we do prefer the Dozyant Propane Tank Gauge Level Indicator. Whether you’re grilling at home or out at the campground, you’ll be able to use this versatile propane tank gauge in both situations.
(Then again, you can always just lift the tank itself…if it’s heavy it’s full, if it’s super light it’s probably empty. 😉 Just make sure you check it BEFORE you fire up the grill to cook your dinner!)