Archive for the ‘BBQ’ Category

Sometimes convenience costs too much

Posted: December 11, 2019 in BBQ, General, Home
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I volunteer on a local Community  Emergency Response Team (CERT) and we are lucky enough to have gotten enough donations and grants to afford a command trailer that we have fitted out with first aid gear, radios, computer, monitor, video feeds and most important heat and AC.  We use it to keep track of weather and such we we work various community events.  In a real emergency the police or fire department might come in and take over as a primary HQ for the duration of an emergency but that is why we have it.

Anyway in the last year we added a propane RV generator instead of an external gasoline generator that made a huge racket.  We have 2 40 lb propane tanks to feed the generator.  With both tanks full we can generate power for 24+ hours, quite nice.

Because the tanks are 40lb size you can’t just take them to the exchange places at the supermarket or a big box store, you actually have to fill them at a propane refill station.  I was tasked with helping one day and we went over to a local store that had a propane station for refills.  They charge by the gallon for propane be it 1lb or 100lbs.  Easy right?  So they put a tank at a time on a scale and start filling.  One tank was dead empty, the other still had some gas left.  About $40 and change later we paid and left.  And I started wondering how could we fill 2 40lb tanks for $40 and change?  One tank was dead empty and the other did have some gas but I pay $18-$19 for a 20lb refill tank at the grocery store.  Hmmm……. Now the grocery store is just around the corner so very very convenient especially when I run out when we are grilling dinner and both of the tanks I own are now empty.  (I have two tanks just to avoid that but somehow it still happens).

The price difference of two (2) 40lb tanks compared to one (1) 20lb tank was just too much for me to ignore, so I went home grabbed my empty tank and went to the propane filling station.  We dropped the tank on their scale and sure enough it was dead empty.  They filled it to 20lb and the price was less then $11.75!  Yikes.  Then the kind gent that was filling the tank pointed out that I had been paying for 15lbs of gas at the swap station not 20lbs.  It said so right on the label from the tank swap company.  So lets see, if I had bought 15lbs of gas I would have paid $8.93 for 3.57 gallons of propane so I paid almost $10.00 extra for the “convenience” of the grocery store!

Now granted a 20lb propane tank has to be re-certified after 12 years (the month and year is stamped into the collar of the tank and again every 5 years after that.  I use at least 4 tanks a year usually more so I’ll be saving at least $40.00 – $50 a year by filling my own tank to 20lbs instead of swapping my tank for 15lbs.  I can replace the tank with a new tank for less then $30.00, problem solved and I end up saving at least $450 – $570 over the 12 years.  I’m sure that I could shop around and find the swap tanks cheaper but no where as cheap as filling them at a low cost filling station.  Really “Sometimes convenience costs too much”.

Do your own math, for those of you who burn propane how many tanks a year do you burn?  I have a friend who uses at least 2-3 x what I burn they have outdoor heaters to go along with their grill for winter use and they REALLY suck up the gas.