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Acetylene has become an industry-standard in welding as a gas fuel for its efficiency and high quality in cutting and welding actions. Gas welding is one of the most popular types because of its varied applications. When taking on welding projects at home with gas, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of fuel and understand the costs to refill when it gets low.
What are the costs of filling acetylene and oxygen tanks? Pricing to fill your acetylene and oxygen tanks will vary based on tank size, with larger tanks being cheaper per cubic foot. Your smallest 10 cubic foot tank will cost around $20, #4 tanks at $80, and #5’s upwards of $120. Oxygen is cheaper at around $20 for 240 cubic feet or your larger 300+ cubic feet for $35.
The pricing will vary based on where you buy them, as well as the sizing. Acetylene will make up the majority of your costs when using both fuel gases for your torch welding applications. We will break down the costs of each fuel and how they can be used together efficiently to maximize their utility.
Cost of Refilling Acetylene and Oxygen Tanks
Most gas refill stores will either allow you to purchase tanks new from them or rent them. This is an important first consideration as these costs can vary greatly.
If you plan to use acetylene and oxygen tanks regularly, purchasing your own tanks may be the best choice economically. You should compare these rates at your local welding gas supplier.
Acetylene is the more expensive of the two fuel gases but provides adequate burn time considering the cost. When purchasing or renting a tank, the larger tanks will end up costing you less per cubic foot in gas.
If you plan to use a considerable amount of fuel gas over time, your initial costs may be higher, but you will save more in the long run.
These are the general costs for purchasing acetylene at various tank sizes:
- 10 cubic foot tank for $20: This is one of the smallest tanks you can get, and it generally will not last you very long. We recommend this for emergency supplies or minimal usage. For reference, a 20 cubic tank will give you 30 minutes of burn time. (source)
- #2 tank (40 cubic feet) for $50: This will give you an hour of burn time and starts to cut down on the costs for sizing.
- #4 tank (145 cubic feet) for $80: These tanks will provide you with 2 hours of burn time and are one of the most economical choices for the tank size.
- #5 tank (over 250 cubic feet) for $120: While the gas price is high compared to the others, this is also a considerable amount of burn time. If you are a frequent welder, you will be saving money long term.
This will make up the major costs associated with getting your tanks filled. The prices will vary regionally, but these are averages based on the size of the tank you choose. Tank size is a greater indicator of price fluctuation than anything else.
Oxygen is the other cost you will need to bear in getting these tanks filled. Fortunately, this gas is much cheaper than acetylene. For large tanks that get you upwards of 240 cubic feet, you can expect to pay around $20. Tanks that are over 300 cubic feet will not cost you significantly more, averaging around $35. Oxygen is used efficiently as compared to use with other gases.
You should be expecting to pay around $150 for the largest oxygen tanks on the market, giving you hours of burn time.
This will come out to a larger number than using smaller tanks of gas, but over time this will be longer lasting and more economical. For very limited use, the smaller tanks will serve you more efficiently!
Why Use Acetylene Over Other Fuel Gases?
Usually, the choice for torching is using acetylene or propane. Using acetylene can provide plenty of advantages that impact the overall cost of the project. Some of these advantages include:
- Hottest flame: This allows you to cut through materials more efficiently and faster, requiring less use of fuel if the job is completed quicker.
- Use anywhere: You do not need a power supply in order to use a combination of oxygen and acetylene for your fuel gases. This increases convenience and usability.
- Versatile fuel: You can use this fuel on a wide variety of metal, making it a great purchase for multiple uses.
- Less oxygen: Compared to propane, acetylene requires less burning oxygen in order to cut through materials. (source) For every oxygen tank that is used with acetylene, propane will use four oxygen tanks. When you factor in the increased oxygen costs with this alternative, the increased acetylene price becomes less jarring.
Not only will you achieve some important results in terms of heat and physical capabilities, but the properties of using acetylene make it an efficient choice both in welding results and from a cost perspective.
Using less oxygen and getting more burn time make this fuel gas a strong choice for your torching jobs.
Considerations for Refilling Welding Tanks
When you refill your welding tanks, there are some important considerations that need to be made. This is both in the process of your first fill (purchase or rental) and every time you refill.
The suppliers of welding tanks will often make you purchase or rent your tanks from them. This is not only for them to make money and use their tanks but also to ensure yours are up to code.
If you plan to bring in a tank that is yours, you will most likely have to pay for a pressure test. This will determine if your tanks are fit to be used for refills from their distributors.
Not only will you have to bear the cost of the test, but it may be determined that your tank is not fit for their system.
We recommend that you check with the local refill store before you purchase a brand-new tank. This may make sense at a comfortable price point for initial investments, but if you cannot refill it, it becomes almost useless. You will also want to consider renting versus buying a tank.
Renting gas tanks make the most sense if you:
- Have short-term needs: If you are working on projects in the short-term but won’t need a tank in the future, rentals may make the most sense economically and so that you are not stuck with a big tank!
- Are not sure how much you’ll need: If you aren’t sure about what size tank to purchase, renting and trying it out could be a better choice than having something that is not efficient or helpful for you down the road.
- Cheaper than buying: This will often be true if you do not plan to use the tank often or if there are great deals on rentals. Typically buying will pay for itself in the long run.
We recommend comparing the prices of tanks before you decide between purchasing or renting. It is especially important to make sure you will be able to refill your tank at stores in your area before you purchase, especially if you do so online.
Refiling your acetylene and oxygen tanks will make up most of your welding costs beyond material but will provide you with lots of burn time and economical rates if you shop around at local stores and take advantage of larger tank sizes!