Propane Tanks and Overfill Prevention Device (OPD) Requirements

propane opd device red checkmark All new cylinders must be manufactured with overfill protection devices (OPDs)
red checkmark Cylinders without OPDs are no longer permitted to be refilled by anyone.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that every refilled propane cylinder be equipped with an Overfill Prevention Device (OPD). This code went into effect for most states on April 1, 2002. An OPD is a safety device designed to prevent the overfilling of a propane cylinder through a float valve that closes when the propane level reaches 80%. This limits the potential for release of gas when the cylinder is heated, averting a fire or possible injury. Additionally, the OPD stops gas flow when the cylinder is not connected.

Facts and Figures from the NFPA Fact Sheet

  • As of April 1, 2002, OPDs are required on all propane cylinders between 4 and 40 pounds propane capacity, per the 1998 edition of NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code.
  • Cylinders of this size manufactured after September 30, 1998, were required to have an OPD. A typical gas grill cylinder holds about 20 pounds of propane.
  • Propane cylinders with OPDs can be identified by a triangular hand-wheel (see picture on the right). Some earlier model cylinders were produced with a round hand-wheel but "OPD" is stamped on the brass valve body.
  • After April 1, 2002, propane cylinders not equipped with an OPD must be retrofitted with the device before refilling can occur or properly disposed of and replaced with an OPD-equipped cylinder.propane opd valve
  • Many propane dealers will retrofit older cylinders with an OPD. As there is a charge for this, it may be more economical to replace the entire cylinder, especially if it is rusty. In many parts of the U.S., exchange cylinder racks can be used to swap an empty cylinder without an OPD for a full cylinder equipped with an OPD, for a nominal fee, eliminating the need to dispose of the cylinder or to have it retrofitted.
  • Dispose of propane cylinders safely. Questions about safe disposal should be answered by local fire departments, hazardous waste collection sites, or propane refillers. For questions about propane cylinder disposal in El Dorado County, see information below or call (530) 621-5300.
  • The 2001 edition of NFPA 58 modified requirements to exempt horizontal cylinders manufactured before October 1, 1998, from requiring OPDs. Also exempt are cylinders used for industrial trucks, industrial welding and cutting gases (these cylinders must be labeled with their use).

Dangers of Propane Cylinders

  • If your cylinder is damaged or obsolete, do not abandon it! Abandoned propane cylinders could create serious environmental and safety problems.
  • Do not dispose of your cylinder in a dumpster or other disposal container! This could create an explosion hazard.
  • Avoid cutting the tank or wheel valve with a torch. Your cylinder may still contain propane and create a potential fire and explosion hazard.
  • Always keep your propane cylinder stored upright until you can recycle or exchange it safely.
  • Do not use any tank what has any blue or green discoloration on the valve. This may indicate that the tank has been used for the storage of ammonia in illegal drug manufacturing.

Disposal Sites:

Propane tanks can be legally disposed in El Dorado County at the following Household Hazardous Waste disposal sites: Temporary sites, and MRF. Sometimes they are accepted at the Electronic Waste (E-Waste) events - please check prior to bringing them to the event.

Cylinder Exchange Locations:

Additional Propane Tank Information: