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clearproptank.jpg

I’m a sucker for anything made from composite materials, and I also happen to enjoy grilling. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw The Lite Cylinder Company’s line of fiberglass propane tanks. The tanks don’t just look cool – they’re safer as well. They won’t rust, and you can tell how much fuel is left just by looking at ‘em.

The Lite Cylinders are 20 pound fiberglass tanks surrounded by a protective plastic cage. They weigh 40% less than a standard steel tank and won’t ever corrode. The translucent nature of the fiberglass also allows you to see how much propane is left for grilling (or fueling your forge, etc.).

Perhaps the most interesting feature is that they don’t explode when exposed to fire. When exposed to the high heat of a fire the gas will seep out slowly rather than bursting. And at about $100, they’re not unreasonable — but not a impulse buy, either.

The Lite Cylinder [Offical Site]
Street Price [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What's this?]

 

28 Responses to A Propane Tank With a Clear Difference

  1. Jason says:

    Too bad there aren’t any propane refill places in my county.

  2. Bill says:

    Actually, under fire conditions what happens is the plastic and resin burn down tho the level of the liquid propane, the fiberglass collapses around the tank, and what you get is essentially an open top bucket of boiling and burning liquid propane that when struck by falling debris or the FD hose stream tips over and spills said burning liquid propane over a large area. True they dont explode (BLEVE actually) but “safer” is a relative term at best.

  3. But by melting and collapsing, they avoid reaching the critical point where a steel can would simply rupture, right? As long as the composite version didn’t get knocked over, the boiling and burning propane in one spot might do less damage than an instant aerosolization of the whole contents, right?

    Or maybe not. I remember hearing some arguments in favor of hydrogen-fueled cars such that, if the H2 tank ruptures, the gas escapes and most of the combustion happens some distance from the wreck, whereas with a gas tank it sits there and burns slowly so all the heat is released right in the vicinity of the humans. The burn rate of the “exploding” gas-ball is limited by the amount of oxygen in the region where it mixes with air, so only a small fraction of the energy is released nearby, compared to the liquid fuel that has plenty of time to draw air past itself and combust relatively efficiently.

    That argument resurfaced after 9/11, when hydrogen proponents were pointing out that an H2-fueled aircraft, flown into the side of the building, would go crunch-bang but wouldn’t douse the structure in long-burning liquid fuel, which would mean no structural heating and subsequent collapse.

    Maybe there’s something to be said for explosions, after all. Does this have any relevance to the composite propane tank? I have no idea.

  4. GUF says:

    Either way, Hank Hill is going nuts right about now.

  5. Whether or not it melts or explodes seems to me a bit accedemic as I’ve never seen the results of a propane cylinder in a fire.

    I like the idea of the cylinder. What does concern me is the novelty nature when it comes to filling and refilling said cylinder. Just how hard is it going to be to get one filled?

  6. Mark Bickford says:

    Well, if it’s DOT approved (it is), It should be fillable anywhere that old-style tanks are filled…

  7. Fong says:

    This debate is screamin’ for someone to put the question to rest with a live demonstration somewhere with a subsequent YouTube video. Any takers?

  8. Ben Ceschi says:

    The official site has a video demonstration of the cylinder on fire.

  9. [...] A Propane Tank With a Clear Difference [Toolmonger] [...]

  10. Craig says:

    Wow, that fire test video on the website was pretty awesome. So, it looks like the worst you’d have with one of these tanks in a fire is about a 5-10ft flame. That’s much better (relatively of course) than an explosion, I’d say.

    Just an FYI, not to steal any money away from Toolmonger and their Amazon link, but at least one of the links on the Lite Cylinder site leads to a place selling these for about $79. Figured I’d throw that out there in the hopes that we get someone to give us a hand’s on review.

  11. [...] Made of fiberglass, with a window to check propane level, this Lite Cylinder is lightweight, strong and safe. Hope John Unger has a big pile of the metal ones for making firebowls! Related PostsQuote for the DayGood idea or……Well, it’s 2:20 in the morning…Sharing LinksIt’s all good [...]

  12. BJN says:

    I bought one of the newest smaller versions of this tank. It has two advantages. It’s light, and you can see how much fuel is inside. But it’s also somewhat bulkier than a steel tank and the collar at the valve end gets in the way when filling and hooking up the tank. We filled ours for the first time just before t-day. We were going to fry turkeys but forgot the hose and regulator so the tank’s filled but unused. I bought the tank for use on river trips where monitoring gas consumption is important. I’m guessing the tank will be fine but it’ll need some field abuse before it becomes “gear”.

    Despite the safety claims, readers should know the biggest 33 lb. size of this tank had several rupture failers that prompted a recall of 5000 tanks last spring.

    http://www.lpgasmagazine.com/lpgas/Hot+News/Industry-News/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/435013

    The DOT put a suspension temporarily on the provisionary approval for all these tanks but later changed this to apply only to the 33 lb. tanks. You can read the suspension letter and the later modification here:

    http://hazmat.dot.gov/sp_app/approvals/exsys.htm

    Obviously, I’m willing to give this product a try but folks should know what they’re getting into. All these tanks are on the market with a special permit with shorter inspection intervals than for steel tanks.

  13. tmib_seattle says:

    Tangentally related: about a month ago, Atlas foundry in Tacoma, WA went *boom* due to an explosion going off when a propane truck was filling the tanks at the foundry.

    Here’s the initial touch-off showing the propane leak and subsequent explosion:
    http://www.thenewstribune.com/942/story/180746.html

    And this is a few minutes later when the big tank went:
    http://tinyurl.com/2jg3fa

    My brother was driving his car across the overpass seen in the second video right when the explosion went off. Flaming debris was raining down on the overpass, including the axle of the truck that blew.

  14. tmib_seattle says:

    One more video, this one from CNN, also of the Atlas foundry going up:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/ireports/2007/10/08/irpt.tacoma.tanker.blast.cnn

  15. Brau says:

    I have seen news footage of propane tanks exploding during California wildfires and they pack enough wallop to kill firemen or blow apart houses. That video shows the truth: a controlled release is much better than an explosion. Makes me wonder why nobody has done this before.

  16. GearTester says:

    I’d be concerned about UV degradation of the composite. These tanks are often left out in the sun for years on patios and decks.

  17. Tom Venanzio says:

    The tank seems like a great idea. I love how you can see how much fuel is left. I would consider buying one.

  18. Simon says:

    here is what a tank looks like after an explosion:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49503154838@N01/189142305

    (fake)

  19. Bill says:

    As I said, true they don’t go boom, but if they fail and leak, as some already have do to a monufacturers defect, then they leak all that nice heavier than air propane which hangs around till it finds a source for ignition, and then that propane WILL go boom.

  20. Teacher says:

    In the video of the initial explosion, did the driver of the truck try to climb back in the truck after the leak started? Also, was he killed in the explosion?

  21. nopropaneforme says:

    Buyer Beware ! Just a note to anyone considering purchasing these tanks. I purchased two of these via internet this summer to replace existing rusty steel ones. Upon reciept I went to one of my local gas stations to get them filled. The attendant was very nervous about filling them and finally agreed to do so. The first tank filled up fine but the second one would not take any propane. The attendant said that I would have to take it to the propane distributor to have it purged. I took it to Amerigas to have it purged but the employee there said he would not fill it because there was a recall on the tanks. I asked him for proof of the recall and he said he would get back to me. The next 8 weeks I called them for more substantial information on the recall. None was ever provided but the atitude was that he was not going to touch the tank if he did not want to. During this time I also spoke with the company that I purchased the tanks from, propaneproducts.com, to try and find out what was going on with thses tanks. They claimed there was no recall. I tried to get Amerigas to call the company I bought the tanks from and they refused. Finally propaneproducts.com agreed to take back the faulty ? tank. Instead of sending me a new unit like they said, they just gave me back my purchase price for the one tank. Since then , Amerigas has told all stations in my county not to refill these tanks. No explanation given. Just “no we will not fill those”. Now I am stuck with this nice looking empty propane tank with no idea what to do with it. I have sent an email off to propaneproducts.com but i am not to optimistic about there response. The reason for my post is to inform people to find out for sure that they can get these tanks filled BEFORE you buy. I still love the idea behind these tanks, but my experience have been completely frustrating.

  22. BJN says:

    I thought I’d add some follow up information on my 11# tank. I finally took it on a river trip and discovered the clearance for attachments on the collar is unworkable for many fittings. I have a Partner Steel stove with a regulator integrated into the cylinder end fitting. The opening on the plastic collar is too small to make the connection. If I didn’t have a Y-adapter with me that barely provided enough extension to make a connection to the tank, we’d have had to file or somehow carve the plastic collar’s opening to prevent a ruined trip. This kind of regulated connection is very common for stoves and other outdoor gear and I find this incompatibility an unforgivable design error. It’s really nice to be able to see how much fuel you’ve used on a multi day trip – too bad that’s spoiled by poor product design.

  23. Martin says:

    I’m very interesting about that product.
    i want to ask u, were i can bought it in indonesia

  24. Wengler says:

    Have there been any reports of Lite Cylinder’s leaking propane?

  25. At our retail marketing store in Austin, Texas we find these cylinders popular with customers because they can ‘see’ the level of propane and watch the vaporization while using the cylinder. They are lighter than steel, but weigh about the same as aluminum and do not have the life span of either. If you enjoy watching propane boil while you cook, however, these simply can’t be beat.

  26. tom Miner says:

    I have a small version, have had it three years. Smelled propane on hot days. Just refilled it and discovered a small pinhole leak, crack? at the top radius of the tank. So Yes, they do fail. Not sure of the cause, no abuse, no drops just sits on the deck but is exposed to the elements.

  27. Gary B. says:

    As a primary filler for a multi-national LP propane company, I would highly suggest going with the Worthington Cylinder aluminum version of all BBQ tanks, 33′s and 43′s. Although the plastic and fiberglass bottles are convenient for being able to see the LP level in the tank, the aluminum tanks still hold up better over time. I had a double stack of the plastic tanks (empty) fall over due to high wind and the collars broke off from the body of the bottle. The primary service valve on the bottle was damaged and both tanks had to be disposed of. I am not saying this to promote my company, its just all about safety and comfort for me.

    Maybe once the tanks are refitted with a form of alloy collar they will be more practical. For now I would spend the extra money and get an aluminum bottle.

  28. Alexey Golovin says:

    Morning everyone, maybe someone knows what caompany sells those cylinders in Russia and of they can be delivered in bulk. Thanks in advance

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