New Clear, No-rust Propane Tanks

Lite Cylinder offers alternative to metal LPG tanks.


Unlike aluminum or steel tanks, the relatively new, clear composite propane tanks allow users to see how much fuel remains, a nice feature when you’re cruising. In June 2008, Practical Sailor evaluated a 9-kilogram Ragasco one-piece blow-molded tank made in Norway ($100). After one year of exposure to the weather and sun, it is holding up well.

Recently, Practical Sailor got the chance to evaluate a two-piece composite tank made in Franklin, Tenn. by the Lite Cylinder Co. The Lite Cylinder’s dimensions are nearly identical to the Ragasco (12.5 inches in diameter and 18 inches high for a 9-kilogram tank), and like the Ragasco, it might not fit in some propane lockers designed for metal tanks. The price is about the same as well.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada give the Lite Cylinder a rated lifespan of 15 years, but the tank needs to be inspected and recertified every five years. Practical Sailor noted that the serial number and inspection due-date stickers easily pulled off the Lite Cylinder we looked at.

In fire tests, composite tanks melt rather than “explode” like metal tanks. However, this does not necessarily mean they are safer, in our opinion. About 5,000 similar 33-pound composite tanks made by Lite Cylinder were recalled in 2007 when they ruptured at a storage facility in Miami, Fla. Lite Cylinder’s current tanks have gone through extensive testing and passed the approval process, and there are no other pending recalls that Practical Sailor is aware of.

Bottom line:

If you have good-quality aluminum tanks that are up to date on inspections, there is no pressing need to switch to a composite tank. If you you’re switching from corrosion-prone steel, and like the idea of a composite tank, the one-piece Ragasco tank is worth the extra price.

Also with this article...
Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at