A way to tell if your gas cylinder is close to empty

For those not living in India, a little background information. In India, cooking gas (LPG) is delivered in metal cylinders and a regulator and rubber pipe are used to connect the cylinder to the stove. We do not have a centralised gas system like some countries do. (The safety of this kind of arrangement is another issue and I won’t go into it here.)

The domestic gas cylinders, which are usually red in colour, are pretty robust and serve their purpose. Except in one situation. There is no direct way to figure out how much gas is left and when you need a refill. The way you find out is when your stove doesn’t light up because you have run out of gas.

This is a problem because depending on your gas distributing agency (and the supply of gas), your new cylinder could take anywhere from 2 to 10 days, sometimes more if the supply is really hit. Let’s say it’s an average of 3 to 4 days. If you knew before your cylinder ran out and booked in advance that would save you a whole lot of trouble.

You can weigh the cylinder and estimate how close you are to empty but that could result in your wasting gas and it isn’t an optimal solution anyway. I know that some people have two gas connections so that in case one runs out they have a backup but that’s not feasible for people who’re on the lower rung of the income scale. Sometimes companies don’t allow for two gas connections. That’s besides the point.

I cannot believe that nobody has come up with an innovative design to enable customers (like me) to figure out how much gas is left in a cylinder. I don’t even need to know an exact number, even a indicator that displays when you need to call for a refill would do. I remember reading sometime about cylinders that have a sensor along the length of the cylinder that changes color to indicate the level but I’ve not seen such cylinders in action.

The solution would have to be something that doesn’t require the cylinders to be redesigned and would have to be reasonably inexpensive. I imagine that some sort of pressure gauge would work, maybe before or after the regulator. I’ve not done any testing or designing, so this is speculation.

Anyone have a different experience with gas cylinders in India or any other country?

21 thoughts on “A way to tell if your gas cylinder is close to empty

  1. Greg: Good to know that a solution exists but like you said I am not sure if it is available in India or countries other than the US/Canada. The price may be a hindrance because it would be more than the cost of the cylinder.

  2. Pressure is not dependent on volume until volume reaches zero. So long as there is liquid left to boil the pressure will be a function of temperature and withdrawal rate. Float gages are used in fork lift cylinders, at extra expense. Spit gages are unsafe and not completely reliable. In the winter, under heavy draw, there will be a frost line; liquid level will be below that line.

    Cylinders are filled by weight. Knowing the weight of the cylinder and the weight of gas in a full cylinder, you can, with an accurate platform scale, determine how much is left.

    With two cylinders, a tblock & pigtails, you can have one cylinder in use and the other in reserve. That is how we did it. Customers would still neglect to call and run out of gas.

    There was a liquid crystal thermometer, with adhesive backing that would tell you the liquid level under use. I doubt that it could be transfered from one cylinder to another.

  3. A good suggestion. As you’ve mentioned, we used two cylinders back home. Would be a great idea to have a gauge on the cylinder that would indicate if the cylinder is close to empty. I see just one problem here – if you’ve noticed during transportation, the cylinders get thrown all over. Would a normal design of a pressure gauge survive such handling?

  4. I just simply want to know how much should a filled should way. so that i may weight it the old fashion way !!!!


    Dr Serto

  5. Hi buddy ! Can u provide me info regarding – what is the weight of a fully filled cylinder nd the weight of an empty cylinder . I have an idea to help us all out .

  6. Do you ever find out if such a meter exists? I feel the need for such a device even in Kenya, where I am from, is ingenious! I have actually been looking for it for some time now, but to no avail.

  7. Hi,
    I am a supplier of this. it is attached to the regulator as one piece. It is cheep so can be sold at the price of a normal regulator but has the add bonus of the gas level indicator. If you are interested in a bussiness of wholesale of this in India or know of anyone else who would be please contact me. Min order is 5000 pieces, full payment up front.

    — Updated by moderator to add email address —

    Please write to ishladak@hotmail.com directly for additional information. I don’t know anything about this product, however.

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