Are Propane Grills Safe? (And Can Propane Tank Explode?)

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A backyard barbeque is a healthy and fun way for co-workers, families, friends, and lovers to spend quality time together. Besides, grilled foods happen to have less fat and loads of nutrients. 

Various types of grills exist. These include grills that use wood, charcoal, and propane gas to heat up food. 

However, propane grills have become a top choice for many users, over the years. That’s because they take away the difficulty of setting up the fire and getting rid of the spent charcoal. 

The propane grills use gas, which is flammable. For that reason, people have expressed concern about the safety attached to using one.

If you’re in this category, this post will give you all the answers you seek.

Are you ready? Let’s get into the real details. 

Are Propane Grills Completely Safe?

So, are propane grills safe? Yes, propane grills are completely SAFE to use. You can also use your propane grill indoors and outdoors

But it’s preferable to use a propane grill outdoors. That way, you won’t have to buy a carbon monoxide monitor, a vent, or put other necessary safety measures in place. All you have to do is get your grill ready and start heating up your food item.

Furthermore, you need to take proper care of your propane grill. Inspect the grill before and after every use for possible leakages or damages

You should also remember to keep the propane tank’s valve closed if you’re not planning to use the grill sooner. But if you’re and would like to leave the tank’s valve open, ensure the burner’s valve is in good shape to avoid any leakage. 

Can a Gas Grill Propane Tank Explode?

The straightforward answer is yes. But if you use it the right way, there’s a high chance that your gas grill propane tank won’t explode. 

You need to understand that a propane tank won’t just explode on its own. Something must have gone wrong somewhere. 

According to a study by the US Department of Energy, the possibility of one dying from a propane tank explosion is 1 in 37 million. This is even much lower than the risk of dying from a road accident. Now you know which is safer. 

How long you spend grilling isn’t a likely cause of propane gas explosion.

Furthermore, you need to check that the hose, propane tank, and every other part of the grill before, during, and after using it. Doing so will enable you to spot any damage and have it fixed.

Propane is a flammable, liquefied gas. And it’s under pressure in the tank. But remember that a propane tank isn’t made of plastic material. 

Propane tanks are made of stainless steel and other metals. Thus, they are durable and hardy containers that come with built-in safety precautions. These tanks may also have a wall thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inch or above.

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A propane-based accident may happen in several ways. Let’s run through them.

  • Leaks – This usually happens when the propane tank is left open, allowing the gas to escape from the tank and buildup in a closed space. Striking a match can lead to a propane tank explosion. 
  • BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) – BLEVEoccurs when the propane tank’s pressure is higher than what it can securely vent. The rising pressure can make the tank to rupture and explode.

However, the most common cause of the propane grill explosion has little to do with the gas tank itself. Propane leaks happen to be the most common causes. 

There’s more to come on causes of propane grill explosion, what you need to know and do. 

Why Would a Propane Tank Explode?

A propane leak is one of the most common causes of a tank explosion. Most people make this mistake immediately after grilling. And you can’t totally blame them. Grilling and consuming grilled food is fun.  

The excitement causes most people to forget to lock the tank valve. And this causes the propane gas to escape from the tank and build up inside the grill. In this scenario, high heat or flame can ignite the gas and cause a flare-up. 

But keep in mind that a propane tank would only explode when there is a large amount of gas in the closed grill. Other than that, you would only experience a flare-up, as earlier said.

BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) is the second factor that can cause a propane tank explosion. It happens when the pressurized liquid in the propane tank gets to temperature levels higher than the liquid’s boiling point. 

If the tank isn’t able to contain the pressure because of the high temperature, it could rupture. 

A BLEVE might occur even in the absence of heat. Overfilling or mechanical damage can make a tank explode too. 

Adequate safety measures are taken during the construction of propane tanks. Gas is flammable and can exert very high pressure. So there’s a need to ensure propane tanks created are sturdy enough. 

There’s also what is called a pressure release valve in all propane tanks. The reason for this safety feature is to ensure the tanks don’t explode due to higher pressures. 

Again, let’s not forget that BLEVE occurs when the propane tank containing gas is exposed to extremely high heat. The heat could be from a burning bush or other sources. If the heat source is closer to the tank, expect the propane tank to be affected.  

This literarily means that if you keep your propane tank far away from extremely high temperatures (Not the heat from the sun anyway), then it won’t explode.

Overfilling can sometimes be a problem for the propane tank. So make sure you fill in the right amount of propane. 

A 20 lb tank has a maximum capacity of 4.5 gallons of propane. When it’s full, the propane tank should weigh 37 pounds. 

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Leakages can also lead to the explosion of a propane tank, as we earlier discussed. And it’s sometimes the users’ fault. To avoid leakages, make an effort to inspect your propane grill after grilling. It shouldn’t cost you more than a minute. 

During the inspection, check the valve, hose, propane container, and grill for leakages.  

Can a Propane Tank Explode if it Gets Too Hot?

The straight forward answer is YES. Having your propane tank closer to extreme heat can cause it to explode.

But remember, the heat we’re talking about isn’t the one delivered by the sun when you’re outdoor grilling and having fun with your family or friends. Leaving your propane tank outdoor under the sun won’t cause it to explode. 

For the record, it’s safe to have a propane tank in the sun. It won’t explode. Propane tanks are built to handle such conditions. They have room for expansion, including reflective colors and pressure relief valves, to ensure safety. 

The National Fire Protection Association states that when the temperature rises to 70 degrees, a 20 lb LPG tank’s pressure would be at 145 psi. When temperature increases to 90 degrees, the liquid’s pressure inside the propane tank rises to 180 psi. 

Even when the pressure hits 375 psi, a functional propane tank can handle it. It has a pressure relief valve, whose duty is to vent pressure when it reaches 375psi. 

On the other hand, you need a temperature of 160 degrees for pressure to get to 375psi. 

Now you can see that an ordinary summer sun can’t cause your propane tank to explode. It would take extremely high temperatures for that to happen. 

Is it Bad to Leave Propane on?

The answer to this question is YES and NO. Now here’s why we gave both answers.

Most people may decide to leave the tank valve open and keep the burner knob locked. All they need to do to start grilling is to turn open the knob at the burner. It’s more convenient and time-saving. 

If you plan to reuse your grill for a while, you can leave the tank valve open and keep the burner knob locked each time you finish grilling. But ensure you’re going to stick around to keep an eye on the propane grill.

But if you aren’t ready to use the grill in the next couple of minutes, then it’s unsafe to leave the propane tank on. Close the tank valve and do the same to the knob on the burner. 

There are numerous reasons why leaving your propane on could be dangerous. Firstly, rodents or any other animal can chew on the hose and causing leakage. 

Wildfire is also another reason you shouldn’t leave your propane on. It can chew on the hose and cause the tank to burst into flames. 

Someone can also knock off the hose from the burner by mistake. So, if you want to be extra careful, then go ahead and turn your propane tank off after every use. 

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There are other reasons you shouldn’t leave your propane tank valve on. One of them is the possibility of the grill getting into a reduced gas flow state called a bypass. 

In such a condition, the grill won’t be able to reach its ideal cooking temperature range. It won’t get hotter than 250 – 300 degree Fahrenheit 

It’s not a bad idea to leave the propane attached to the grill. You can also decide to leave the valve on after use. But you should only do so if you’re going to stick around and use the grill sooner. 

Is it Safe to Use a Propane Grill Indoors?

The short answer is YES. But you have to put certain measures in place. Firstly, ensure the propane grill isn’t close to flammable material. Furthermore, tighten the connectors to prevent leakages

Your kitchen and cubicle should have proper ceiling vent and ventilation. Having a carbon monoxide monitor installed in your home isn’t a bad idea.

Propane is inexpensive and burns cleanly compared to wood, charcoal, or kerosene. But then, when you look at the measures you need to put in place to use it indoors, you’ll know that outdoor is the best place for propane grills.

Outdoor, you don’t need a vent or carbon monoxide monitor. Just get the grill out, set it up, and start grilling.  

How Far Should a Propane Grill be From the House?

Grills cook with heat. So it’s safe to mount them some distance away from any nearby structure, be it a house, shed, garage or deck. 

Your propane grill should be at least 10 feet away from your house. You can also check with your area’s fire code to be sure of the safest distance

There are many reasons you should consider mounting your grill away from your house. Firstly, your grill needs an adequate amount of air space to ventilate properly. Under poor ventilation, expect carbon monoxide, gas, or smoke to build up to dangerously high levels.

Placing your propane grill by the side of your house isn’t also ideal. The heat from the grill can cause severe damage to your house’s siding. 

You can use a propane grill in your backyard. But if you want to be extremely cautious, try mounting it 10 feet or more away from your home. 

Besides propane grill, placing other grills far away from your house is a wise step to ensure safety. The heat or smoke from these cookers won’t damage or reduce the value of your property. 

Conclusion

Most outdoor meetings aren’t complete without grills. They cook delicious, nutritious, and tasty foods for families, friends, and colleagues. 

Modern propane grills have made grilling quick, convenient and enjoyable. They also cook cleanly

We have answered questions regarding propane grill safety. So, read up and have the best time of your life grilling. 

Sources:

https://reifflawfirm.com/understanding-the-dangers-posed-by-barbeque-grill-propane-tanks/

https://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-training/articles/what-firefighters-need-to-know-about-bleves-EwLDAJRkauiIfaDR/

About Sylvette Brown

Sylvette is a homemaker and is passionate about cooking and other kitchen-related stuff. She also loves to do home improvement related tasks and keeps on writing about food and cookware on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her 2 little kids. :)