As craft beer and homebrewing have grown in popularity, so has the desire for home draft systems to serve both homebrew and commercial beer. But one of the biggest questions for those wanting to put together a home bar, or just a kegorator, is where to go to get a carbon dioxide (or beer gas) tank refilled or exchanged once it’s empty. Unlike propane, there are not exchange programs at every home improvement store, but there are a few great places that will fill or exchange your tanks for you.
First, we wanted to share a few tips on handling pressurized gas tanks, thanks to Charles over at Metro Fire & Safety:
- After a tank is filled, it is very cold. Do not leave it in a hot car unattneded, or the drastic change in temperature could cause the tank to burst the safety valve and release all of the gas
- Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of Co2 can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Don’t stick your head in the kegorator looking for leaks – make sure there is good ventilation.
- Make sure your tank hydrostatic safety inspection is up to date. Every tank needs to be inspected once every five years. Inspections are inexpensive, but can save you from a faulty or degrading tank. Many places will turn you away if your tank is more than 5 years past the inspection date, and you will have to go to one of the places below that offers inspections.
All of the places listed below will either fill or exchange most common beer Co2 tanks. However, few offer beergas exchange, and even frewer have the capability to fill beergas tanks. Also, be especially careful if you have a beergas tank of an “odd” size (something other than 20 or 40 cubic feet), as those can be extremely hard to get filled or exchanged.
Atlantic Brew Supply will fill or exchange Co2 tanks, and they currently fill, but do not exchange, beergas. You can have your Co2 tanks filled at the prices below:
2.5 lb fill: $7.99
5 lb fill: $12.99
10 lb fill: $19.99
20 lb fill: $29.99
They also do not fill the older Soda Stream cylinders but will be carrying the new cylinders soon. You can give them a call to ask about them.
American Brewmaster will fill any size Co2 tanks on site. They fill both aluminum and steel tanks, as long as they have been inspected within 5 years. It typically takes 5-10 minutes, and they request that you make sure the tanks are empty. If they have any gas still them, they must drain and that takes some time depending on how much gas is left in the tank.
They don’t accept paintball gun canisters (8, 12, 16, 72g sizes) but they do have a fitting that adapts the typical larger sizes. They also don’t accept very top-heavy tanks, as they are hard to weigh and fill safely. If you are unsure about if your tank is top-heavy, call first to ask. They do accept everything else (2.5, 4, 5, 10, 15 20, 50, 70 lbs).
For current fill pricing, you can swing by or give them a call. American Brewmaster also sells 5, 10, 15 and 20 pound Co2 tanks.
If you have an empty beergas tank (carbon dioxide/nitrogen blend), American Brewmaster does do an on-site exchange if your tank meets their requirements. They also only have a few of these tanks on hand at any given time, so it would be wise to call ahead to be sure that there are tanks in stock. There are more strict rules for which beergas tanks they will exchange. Beergas tanks must be a 40 cu.ft. STEEL tank, and they must be empty or close to empty. American Brewmaster will not exchange any other sizes of tank or any aluminum beergas tanks. They request that you call for current exchange pricing.
American Brewmaster only accepts an exchange on a beergas tank if it meets the above requirements. If your tank is a 20 cu.ft. STEEL tank or a 2200 DOT-rated ALUMINUM tank (it will be stamped) then they recommend you take your tank to National Welders Supply and speak with them about shipping your tank off.
Currently Bull City Homebrew fills any size new and used steel or aluminum CO2 tanks on-site, provided that they have had a hydrostatic test performed in the last five years. Again, this is standard for any CO2 vessel. Prices for a refill range from $16.99 to $42.99 depending on the size of the tank. They also do not accept paintball-type canisters.
At this time, they are not exchanging tanks because all of their tanks are new (and for sale), but they will be employing a swap program in the future. Most fills take 2-20 minutes depending on the size of the tank.
Bull City Homebrew also sells Co2 tanks of the following sizes: 2.5, 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 lbs.
Bull City does not offer any beergas filling or exchange at this time.
106 S. Greensboro St.
Fifth Season Gardening does not fill Co2 tanks on site, but offers excellent prices for tank exchanges. They only exchange 5 and 20 lb tanks as long as they have some in stock to exchange. The up-side to this is that it is quick and inexpensive, but the down-side is that you may be exchanging your brand new tank for a 20+ year old tank, or they may not carry the size you need.
The best part about exchanging at Fifth season is that they have a flat rate for the exchange. So if you are exchanging a 5 lb tank or a 20 lb tank, the cost is $20. This is half the cost of a 20 lb refill at other places. I always take my 20 lb tank here for this reason.
Fifth Season will accept out-of-date inspection tanks, as they are being sent to a supplier that handles the tests. They will charge you at-cost for the inspection/test with no mark up. Currently that is less than $20.
They do not accept beergas tanks at this time, because they do not own any that they can exchange with you.
3735 Davis Drive
Morrisville, NC 27560
Triangle wine will fill any size Co2 tank on location. They do not perform tests/inspections, nor will they fill a tank that is more than 5 years past it’s last inspeection date. Pricing for fills are: $14.99 for a 2.5 lb tank, $24.99 for 5 lb tanks, and $39.99 for 10 lb tanks.
Triangle does not currently fill or exchange beergas tanks, though they have discussed this as a possibility in the future.
130 Wolfpack Lane
Durham NC 27704
Metro Fire & Safety will fill any size Co2 tank, steel or aluminum, on site. I believe that they can also fill the paintball-style canisters. The best part about Metro Fire is that they have the authority to test and inspect your Co2 tank if it is out-of-date. They cannot test on-demand – you will have to drop it off and come back later, or exchange for a different tank. However, the fee is only $25 for the testing.
Metro Fire also has the most knowledgeable staff on Co2 and can help you problem solve if you have a faulty tank. Prices for fills range from $20-$40 for 5-20 lb Co2 tanks.
They do not currently fill or exchange beergas tanks, however, as interest has increased, they are researching the possibility of installing a filling machine that would fill beergas.
715 E Geer St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 682 4527
I could not reach Machine Welding & Supply for comment, however, I do know that they can exchange both Co2 or beergas tanks.
For Co2 tanks, they can accept almost any size, and I believe they can fill on site.
They do, however, have restrictions on the sizes of beergas tanks that they exchange. They only accept the “normal” size beergas tanks, which are 20 or 40 cubic feet, and are the short and fat kind. They do not accept other sizes or the tall and skinny tanks.
For pricing and more information, please give them a call.
4301 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC 27604
Airgas also did not return our inquiries, however, they are very similar to Machine Welding (above). They can fill or exchange both Co2 or beergas tanks. They may or may not be able to ship off and exchange odd-sized beergas tanks. However, this often requires a long waiting period.
I recommend calling them for more details and specific questions.