Beware of Blue Rhino Propane Tank Exchange
I had posted this information on the Appliances forum in a thread about gas grills. Thought I would post it here as well for reference.
Beware if you plan to use the Blue Rhino tank exchange service for buying propane. Blue Rhino is installing valves on their tanks that can only be refilled by Blue Rhino, meaning that you will be locked into their tank-for-tank service, and won't be able to get the tank refilled at your local propane dealer.
I noticed this because I was in the process of exchanging a non-OPD tank for an OPD tank through Blue Rhino at my local Sears Hardware. I also needed a different connection; mine was the sliding sleeve quick connect connection that Weber was selling. I had bought a new regulator from Weber with a twist-quick connect, and needed a tank with that valve.
I was fortunate and noticed on the label on the tank sleeve that the tank was to be refilled by Blue Rhino only. Turns out that is a requirement, not a request.
Blue Rhino is not only installing OPD valves, they are installing their OWN proprietary OPD valves, called Tri-Safe II valves. You can identify a TSII valve by the little triangular indentation on the side of the valve. In order to get flow IN to a TS2 valve, a magnetic key must be inserted into the indentation to hold a steel ball out of the way.
A guy named Mark Sharp received a letter from Blue Rhino confirming this information. Here's the text of the letter he received:
"Blue Rhino is the leader in the industry for providing the safest tanks on the market. Some, but not all of our tanks have a special safety device that prevents the refill by anyone other than a Blue Rhino specialist. They are called TS2 cylinders. The reason we designed them is simple. It's for the safety of our consumers!! We stand behind our product. We know how our cylinders are filled and that the highest level of accuracy and safety checks are performed. When our consumers take our cylinders and have them filled elsewhere, we cannot be liable or guarantee the safety of that cylinder. If your tank is not properly filled, damage to your valve can result, which can prevent it from performing properly.
Our business is propane cylinder exchange. We recommend that our customers only exchange because of the safety/liability issues associated with someone else filling our tanks. However, you, as a consumer, are free to fill your cylinder if you wish. Not all of our tanks offer the special safety feature. The way to identify the special TS2 valve tanks that cannot be filled is easy. If your tank valve has a small triangular indention on the side, then it is "tamper" protected. If you prefer to have a tank that can be filled by anyone, take that tank back to any Blue Rhino retailer and exchange it for one that does not have the triangular indention.
For liability reasons, if you choose to refill your tank, please remember to remove the plastic sleeve before having it refilled.
I hope this information helps."
Don't confuse the new OPD valves with the triangular handle with the Blue Rhino-only TS2 OPD valves, also with the triangular handle, but also the little triangular indentation on the SIDE of the valve.
All Blue Rhino tanks now have OPDs and the new three-sided valve handles. (Overfill Protection Device, a float-based device inside the tank)
*NOT* all Blue Rhino tanks have (yet) been retrofitted with TS2 valves.
So there is a chance that you can find (or end up with by chance) a tank from Blue Rhino that is OPD and is refillable at your local propane dealer. But you need to look for the telltale TS2 indention to be sure.
On final bit of information. There are several reports on the net that the tanks filled by Blue Rhino only have 17.5 lbs of propane, not 20. I'm not sure of this. Or whether this is an OPD phenomenon due to possible void space left in the tank by the float interlock. But I thought I'd pass it along as well.
Here is a link that might be useful: Usenet Thread including info from Mark Sharp