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How Long Does a Propane Tank Last on a Fire Pit?

How Long Does a Propane Tank Last on a Fire Pit?

Unlike wood fires, propane fire pits don't produce smoke or messy ash. With the flip of a switch, you can quickly ignite glowing flames to enjoy any time. But a common question around propane fire pits is how long they actually last on a tank of fuel.

As with all propane appliances, the burn time will depend on the size of your tank and the BTU rating of your particular fire pit model. By understanding these factors and following proper care guidelines, you can maximize the lifespan of your propane supply.

Key Takeaways

  • A standard 20-lb propane tank lasts 3-6 hours on average fire pits, depending on heat output.
  • The most important factors governing burn times are tank size and fire pit BTU rating.
  • Routine maintenance like fuel level checks and annual inspections extend lifespan per tank.
A propane tank connected to a round fire pit with flames

    How Many Hours Can You Expect from a Propane Fire Pit Tank?

    There is no single answer for how long your propane tank will last on an outdoor fire pit, as many variables impact this. However, below are some general estimates:

    • A standard 20-pound propane tank typically provides 3-6 hours of burn time for a fire pit.
    • Larger 30-40 pound tanks offer 5-9 hours of fire pit usage.
    • For lower-BTU fire pits, a 20-pound cylinder may last 6-9 hours.
    • High-heat models over 60,000 BTUs will shorten lifespan to 1.5-3 hours per 20-pound tank.

    So as you can see, tank size and BTU output are the two key factors determining longevity. But other aspects like frequency of use and proper fire pit maintenance also play a role.

    What Factors Determine Propane Fire Pit Longevity?

    BTU output is the primary factor governing propane usage in a fire pit. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and indicates the heat energy from the burner.

    But tank size, features, climate, and maintenance also impact lifespan:

    • Higher BTUs translate to stronger flames and more propane consumption per hour. A 60,000 BTU model uses fuel faster than a 30,000 BTU pit.
    • Larger tanks have more overall propane capacity, allowing longer operation. Smaller tanks last less but are easily portable.
    • Using a windguard screen around the flames reduces airflow and propane usage.
    • Colder climates may lower burn times due to the heat loss effect.
    • Proper maintenance like leak checks ensures efficient fuel usage.

    So when estimating your potential burn duration, factor in the propane tank volume along with your fire pit’s BTU rating. Monitor usage to determine actual average times.

    Here’s a table showing example run times from different tank sizes:

    Tank Size Fire Pit BTU Rating Estimated Burn Time
    20-pound 20,000 BTU 8-9 hours
    20-pound 50,000 BTU 3-5 hours
    30-pound 50,000 BTU 5-7 hours
    40-pound 60,000 BTU 6-8 hours
    A person wearing a glove is turning a brass valve on top of a large white tank, with a hose attached, in a field

    Proper Care and Maintenance for Long Propane Tank Lifespan

    Taking time for periodic inspections and following best practices for propane storage, transport, and usage will maximize the lifespan of every tank fill-up. Here are tips for getting the most out of your supply:

    Monitor Tank Fuel Levels

    Occasionally running out of propane mid-session from an unexpected empty tank is no fun. So to determine how full your tank is between trips to the propane refill station or supplier, there are a few easy methods:

    • Weigh the tank - On your home or mail scale, take note of the reading when full compared to now. Each pound below your baseline roughly equates to 15,000 BTUs of propane consumed.
    • Gauge float level - Many larger propane tanks have a built-in float gauge that resembles a fuel gauge. This indicates your approximate fuel level.
    • Slosh test - Carefully rock or tilt your propane tank back and forth, listening for liquid propane inside. The less sloshing sound, the more depleted your supply.

    Following fuel consumption gives an early warning so you can proactively plan a tank exchange before unexpectedly running on empty too soon.

    Safely Store and Transport Propane Tanks

    It’s important to always transport and store portable propane tanks properly between uses:

    • Store upright and detached from the fire pit when not in use to limit rust.
    • Keep tanks upright and secured during transport to prevent dangerous leaks. Never transport indoors or while smoking.
    • Shield valves with cover caps when stored to prevent debris, dirt, snow, or rain from compromising connections.
    • Store propane-approved tanks outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from heat, sparks, and enclosed spaces where gas could accumulate.

    Routinely Inspect Tank Condition

    It’s easy to focus solely on fuel levels and neglect general wear and tear to your propane tank’s physical integrity over months or years of ownership. However, avoiding use with compromised, damaged, or outdated tanks is critical for safety.

    The ideal frequency to thoroughly inspect your tank’s condition varies based on usage levels:

    • Portable 20-40 lb tanks - Inspect at least annually
    • Larger >100 lb tanks - Inspect every 3-5 years

    On visual inspection, keep an eye out for:

    • Dents, gouges, bulges, or other exterior damage
    • Rust/corrosion around valves, fittings, or seams
    • Leaks - apply bubble solution for smaller leaks
    • Expired certification date stamps

    Repair or replace damaged or expired tanks before further use. Periodic inspections give you peace of mind that your propane tank remains fundamentally safe to operate with. And do check your fire pit as well. If it needs to be replaced,  go through our fire pit buyer's guide.

    a rectangular fire pit with hidden propane tank storage surrounded by outdoor furniture in with plant wall in the background

    When Is It Time to Replace Your Propane Tank?

    Aside from routine maintenance-based retirements mentioned already, several other warning signs indicate it’s time to replace your propane tank:

    Age - Portable 20-40 lb propane tanks have a 15-20 year average lifespan before metal fatigue sets in. Larger tanks may operate safely for 20-30 years. Track manufacturing dates.

    Declining performance - Have runtimes noticeably shortened? Do you need more frequent refills? If so, internal valve trouble or small leaks may be present.

    Frequent repairs - Repetitive tank repairs every couple of years indicate systemic issues. At some point, replacement is more cost-effective long term.

    Safety - Old tanks also pose heightened safety risks of rupture, leaks, and explosions. Don't take unnecessary chances - replace questionable tanks.

    When used and maintained properly, you should enjoy years of reliable service from a quality steel or aluminum propane tank before needing a replacement.

    a round fire pit with hidden propane tank storage on a deck surrounded by outdoor furniture with plants in the background

    Final Words

    Propane fire pits offer great convenience and ambiance, but runtime depends heavily on tank size, BTU output, and proper maintenance. While there's no universal formula, a standard 20-lb tank provides 3-6 hours for average models. Larger capacity equals longer burn times.

    By weighing tanks, tracking usage, inspecting condition annually, and replacing outdated or compromised cylinders, you can optimize safety and lifespan per tank. With mindfulness of these key factors, propane presents an efficient, clean-burning fire pit fuel.


    How much propane does a gas fire pit use?

    The amount of propane a gas fire pit uses depends on the heat output of the fire pit burner and the size of the fire pit. Typically, a 20 lb propane tank can last for varying durations, from 3 to 6 hours, when used with a gas fire pit.

    How can I make my propane tank last longer on a fire pit?

    You can make your propane tank last longer by ensuring proper tank maintenance, using a fire pit with lower heat output, and monitoring the amount of propane in the tank to avoid running low on fuel. Additionally, choosing a larger tank can extend the duration of propane for your fire pit.

    Does the lifespan of the tank affect how long the propane tank will last for a fire pit?

    Yes, the lifespan of your propane tank can affect how long it will last for a fire pit. Properly maintaining the tank and ensuring it is in good condition can help extend its longevity and, in turn, the duration it lasts on a fire pit.

    How many gallons of propane per hour does a fire pit burner use?

    The amount of propane a fire pit burner uses per hour depends on its heat output and the size of the fire pit. Generally, a 20 lb propane tank can last for around 3-6 hours when used with a fire pit.

    What can I do if my propane tank is running low on fuel while using a fire pit?

    If your propane tank is running low on fuel while using a fire pit, it's recommended to have a backup tank ready for replacement. Properly maintaining and monitoring the fuel levels in your propane tank can help avoid running out of fuel during usage.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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