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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
This Fourth of July there will be plenty of people grilling out and some will choose propane over charcoal.
But if you go to the local convenience store for a propane exchange, you may pay a bit more, but are you getting a full tank?
To put this practice to the test, we went to a convenience store and exchanged a tank. We then took it to Weather's Hardware in Albertville where they fill tanks.
Manager Dustin Pierce said they fill the typical barbeque patio tanks with 20 pounds to make it full.
He first checked out the tank to make sure it was good. He said you have to add the tear weight to come up with what it should weigh. For the tank we chose, that came out to be about 38 pounds.
He put the full tank on the scale, and we found out this tank wasn't full when we bought it. Pierce said the tank weighed just 31 pounds, seven pounds short of being full.
The state Department of Agriculture and Industry checks gas pumps to make sure you're getting the amount of gas you're paying for, but who checks propane exchange businesses? Alabama officials said they're self regulated.
Mark Nelson with the Alabama LP gas board said some states require a label placed on tanks or cages if they're filled with less than 20 pounds, but he doesn't believe Alabama requires such labeling.
Pierce said people can check their own full propane exchange tanks by finding the tear weight on the tank and then weighing it.
"That number that's imprinted beside the tear weight and add it to 20 and that is the weight you should come up with," explained Pierce.
Pierce said if your tank is out of date, exchanging it at a propane exchange could actually save you some money over buying a new tank.
"In an exchange cage, those are up to date and that will give you several more years before you have to worry about your tank going out of date," said Pierce.
So buyer beware, you may be paying a little more for the convenience of getting a propane exchange, but you also may not be getting all what you pay for.
Brett Hall with the Alabama department of Agriculture and Industry said the best advice is to take your tank to a propane filling station. But if you choose to use a propane exchange and you feel like you're being short changed, Hall said you can file a complaint with their office.