- The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the manufacturing and safety of all propane tanks that can be transported via road or rail.
- Both 1lb disposable and refillable propane tanks are examined by the DOT to ensure they were manufactured according to compliance.
- 1lb refillable cylinders are built according to DOT 4BA requirements, which allows them to be the only 1lb propane tanks safe for refilling.
From lanterns to grills to heaters and more, propane powers life's great outdoor adventures. However, not all 1lb propane cylinders are safe for the environment. Despite their name, disposable cylinders aren't all that safe to dispose of as they represent a fire hazard if any propane remains in them. This makes recycling them more of a hassle than it's worth, which can be seen through the over 40 million disposable tanks that are discarded every year. Thankfully, there is an alternative to disposable propane cylinders: refillable propane tanks. This greener alternative will help you save money while protecting the environment. Best of all, the refillable tanks are 4BA DOT-certified, which means they are legal to refill and transport. Let's take a look at what a DOT certification means for a propane tank.
What is a DOT-certified cylinder?
You may have seen large tanker trucks carrying propane, gasoline, or other dangerous chemicals. These trucks are always clearly marked as hazardous and require an additional certification on the operator's commercial driver's license. But, the propane cylinder you power your grill with doesn't come with a big sign that lets people know you are carrying hazardous material, nor do you need a special license to transport the tank. That doesn't mean that these tanks aren't potentially dangerous should an accident occur. For this reason, the DOT offers certification for smaller propane tanks that will be transported via rail or road. There are two types of DOT certifications for 1lb propane tanks: DOT 39 and DOT 4BA. DOT 39 is the standard for single-use disposable propane tanks while DOT 4BA sets forth the requirements for refillable propane tanks. Both tanks are certified by The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and have markings on the collar that provide important information. The most obvious is the DOT stamp near the top, along with the date of manufacture. Of particular importance to users of the DOT 4BA tank is the “retest” date, which displays when the refillable cylinder must be recertified. These DOT propane tanks must be either requalified or replaced every 10 to 12 years. In addition to these certifications, all DOT-certified tanks must undergo a visual inspection before it is filled to ensure that it is still safe to fill.
Why is DOT certification important?
The large propane tanks that fuel your home appliances are not meant to be moved once they are installed. Because of this, these tanks can be made with thick metal to ensure maximum safety. On the other hand, smaller propane tanks, like 1lb propane cylinders, are meant to be moved around. Not only do they need to be safe enough to be transported in ordinary vehicles, but they need to be light enough that you can move them from their storage space and into position on whatever they are powering. Because of this, the materials used to manufacture smaller propane tanks are much thinner. These tanks are not just smaller, they are more fragile. This fragility could potentially turn portable propane cylinders into a hazard should an accident occur. To prevent injury from poorly manufactured tanks, the DOT requires certain conditions to be met while the tank is manufactured and before it is allowed to be refilled. These requirements, and the tests to check for them, are designed to ensure that the cylinder’s walls are capable of withstanding a certain amount of internal and external pressure without weakening.
Can DOT compliant propane tanks be refilled?
Though they are commonly used for outdoor activities, 1lb disposable propane cylinders fall under the category of DOT 39. But just because they are certified by the DOT, does not mean they are meant to be refilled. DOT 39 cylinders aren’t manufactured to withstand the refilling process, leaving them with thinner walls and weaker valves. In addition, they aren’t required to undergo the numerous safety tests DOT 4BA - or refillable - cylinders must pass. This means that it is dangerous to even attempt to refill a disposable tank. Flame King’s 1lb refillable cylinders are the only 1lb refillable tanks on the market that are DOT 4BA. Because of the strict certification requirements, Flame King cylinders are built to be sturdier than their disposable counterparts, while passing a number of safety tests, such as hydrostatic, physical, and tensile tests, to ensure a safe refill process for users.