One Pound Propane Refill Station

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Why refill one pound propane cylinders? At Deer Camp or while camping, many of the appliances used for cooking, heating and lighting use one pound propane cylinders to fuel the appliances. During a week of Deer Camp it is easy to go through 15 of these one pound cylinders. A one pound propane cylinder costs about $3. This means it could cost $45 to purchase these cylinders. 15 cylinders means 15 bottles are going to be thrown away, and who wants to pack out 15 bottles if you do not need to. The alternative is refilling the cylinders from a large/bulk 20 pound propane cylinder. It costs approximately $20 to fill a 20 pound cylinder, which should allow 20 one pound refills. This is about a $1 per fill or less (1/3 the savings). As a bonus there is less garbage.

To make a one pound propane refill station you need the following items: A filled 20 pound propane cylinder, an empty one pound propane cylinder, (2) tie downs or ratchet straps, an adjustable wrench, a “Mac Coupler EZ Fill Propane Coupler”, and a pair of gloves.

The packaging for the Mac Coupler Propane Coupler.
  • The Mac Coupler is MADE IN THE USA!
  • The company is in Traverse City, Michigan
  • The coupler cost is approximately $20.
Instructions for the Propane Coupler.
Step 1 Attach the coupler to the 20 pound cylinder.
This is left thread (reverse thread) coupler.
Step 2 Tighten the coupler with the adjustable wrench.
Step 3 Have a buddy hold the 20 pound cylinder upside down and against a tree. Take the ratchet straps or tie downs and attach one to the top and one to the bottom of the cylinder. Wrap them around the tree and tighten. (make sure they are tight). Now the cylinder will hang upside down against the tree. Step 4 Screw a one pound bottle to the coupler.
Note: The instructions from the company call for the one pound cylinder to be attached to the coupler, then rotate the 20 pound cylinder upside down and open the valve to fill the cylinder. The problems that we have encountered are:
  1. It is cold outside and no one wants to hold the bulk 20 pound cylinder when it is cold.
  2. It is usually dark and hard to see what your doing
  3. There are multiple one pound cylinders to fill.
  4. The ground is uneven, so if weight of the bulk cylinder is put on the one pound bottle it will bend the neck area of the one pound bottle.

At Deer Camp we make a propane refill station by attaching the 20 pound cylinder upside down to a tree. This alleviates the issues mentioned. This is not called for from the factory, so if you choose to do it
Step 5 Open the valve on the 20 pound propane cylinder. Allow the propane to transfer to the one pound bottle (at least one minute). Step 6 Close the valve on the 20 pound cylinder. Put on gloves and unscrew the one pound bottle from the coupler. When the one pound bottle is almost unthreaded there will be a slight burst of propane that will come from the valve area. This is just the propane caught between the two cylinders. If you do not wear gloves you may get a small amount of propane on your hands.


Step 7 A full one pound propane cylinder. Step 8 Check for leaks by putting some soap on the mouth of the one pound cylinder and relief valve. Look for bubbles indicating a leak.
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