Learn about the three main connector types used with propane tanks
No matter where you stand on the propane vs. charcoal debate, the fact remains that gas grills are extremely popular with outdoor enthusiasts. In fact, propane tanks have been used since the 1920s. Because of their long history, propane tank connections have gone through updates and safety revisions. Here is a list of the most common propane tank connections.
The POL valve is the oldest. The threads on this propane valve are on the inside of the connector and needs a wrench to be tightened. A plug is screwed into the propane valve for transporting or storing the tank. POL valves allow the release of gas without anything connected to it. POL valves are the oldest standard for propane tank connections, and newer types are more widely used.
The next refinement of propane tank connections comes in the Acme valve. Acme valves differ from POL valves in its size and use of external threads. Easier to use, Acme valves can be tightened by hand. Acme propane valves are compatible with appliances that use POL valves as well. A big advancement with the Acme valve is the addition of a built-in safety device that allows gas to flow only when the tank is attached to a device, preventing leaks.
The current type of valve being used is the Overfill Prevention Device (OPD) valve. Similar in appearance to the Acme valve, an identifying mark of the OPD propane valve is its triangle-shaped hand wheel. OPD valves have an internal float to prevent overfilling. Propane tanks made today will have OPD valves.
Most people will have grill tanks that use OPD valves. Tanks won’t get refilled without them. If you happen to have older propane valves, you can get adapters to make the older tanks work with more modern appliances. However, the cost to convert older tanks is about the same (if not more) as buying a completely new tank. While cost is an obvious factor in this decision, remember that most gas tanks have a life of 10-12 years. Until next time, Enthusiasts. As with all things in life, the right connections make all the difference.