Do you want to weld Aluminum?
Then you know you’re going to need some Argon shielding gas.
When you’re new to welding with gas it’s hard to know what you need.
And one of the things you’ll need to know is what Argon tank sizes are available.
And what’s the right Argon tank size for you when you’re MIG or TIG welding.
In this article you’ll find some tips and tricks to getting what you need.
What Argon Tank Sizes Are There?
Here are the Widely Available Argon tank sizes. And how much Argon gas they typically hold.
- Tank Size R. Also called a 20. Holds 21cf
- Tank Size RR. Also called a 40. Holds 44cf
- Tank Size Q1. Also called a 60. Holds 65cf
- Tank Size Q. Also called an 80. Holds 83cf
- Tank Size S. Also called a 125. Holds 125cf
- Tank Size S. Also called a 155. Holds 155cf
- Tank Size K. Also called a 251. Holds 251cf
- Tank Size T. Also called a 335. Holds 335cf
What’s The Difference Between Argon Tanks, Cylinders And Gas Bottles?
Argon tanks are also known as cylinders or gas bottles.
From the table below you can see the sizes of Argon tanks vary from small and portable to large and weighty. You measure the gas inside an Argon gas cylinder in cubic feet (you’ll see it also written as cf).
Each cylinder can last a long time.
You can use a tank that’s tens of years old. If it’s kept well. Is within its testing dates and stored with care.
What Are The Most Common Argon Cylinder Sizes And Volumes?
Argon Tank Sizes Chart
Here is a chart showing the cylinder type names in the first column. The second column shows the common name for that tank size.
In the third column you’ll see the amount of Argon gas in cubic feet for that size of tank.
The 4th and 5th column details each tank size diameter and height.
And the last column tells you the approximate weight for each tank size.
All the sizes shown above are estimates and averages.
Even so this table will give you a good starting point for the more common cylinder sizes. And an idea of the amount of Argon gas a cylinder of that size should have in it.
Argon Tank Cylinder Size Name Versus Its Common Name
Why are there two names?
It’s a quirk of the compressed gas industry.
An example of this is there are some distributors that call a 40 cubic foot tank a 40.
Others call the same Argon tank size an RR.
You’ll find it’s worth your while being familiar with both names.
You can use the chart to guide you.
And compare it to what you hear tanks called in your area.
Why Are There Two Different S Size Argon Cylinders On The Chart?
It’s not a mistake.
You’ll find out there in the market that the ‘S’ size tank could be two different sizes. Depending on your gas supplier and where you are in the country. Your S tank could hold 125 cubic feet of gas. Or 150 cubic feet of gas.
It’s worth you double checking.
Buying Argon Gas Cylinders An Amazon
You may not realize but Amazon.com has several sizes of Argon tanks you can buy.
And you’ll find that you can pick whether you buy a tank filled with gas or an empty tank you can have filled in your local area.
See them for yourself by clicking on the links below. Go through to Amazon and take a look at todays price.
(Disclosure. At no extra cost to you this site earns commissions through the Amazon links below)
Why Do Argon Bottle Sizes Vary?
If you’ve checked around looking to buy or rent an Argon gas tank you’ll have noticed something.
Compressed gas cylinder sizes can differ. Because tank makers manufacturer gas bottles in slightly different sizes and weights.
Because it’s then easier for gas distributors, suppliers and rental companies. They can quickly spot their tanks.
Argon compressed gas cylinders disappear off the backs of lorry’s. And from company storage cages and turn up on the second user market.
So when those tanks next go in for a refill. Gas suppliers recognize stolen tanks and return them to their rightful owner.
Beware. And understand how to spot a stolen tank so you’re not caught out.
Isn’t There A Standard For Argon Gas Cylinder Sizes?
You’ll find the truth is … not really.
You’ll find the common Argon gas cylinder sizes are the ones listed in the chart.
But the trick manufacturers use is to make uncommon Argon gas bottle sizes.
So that they can easily know which are their rental tanks. And get back their stolen ones.
What Color Are Argon Tanks? There Are A Few Standard Sizes But Are They Standard Colors?
Hmmm …. again the truth is no there isn’t.
Don’t you be the one taken in by the color of the tank. And think you know what’s inside.
Because each manufacturer decides what cylinder colors they will use for their tanks. It’s another way of quickly spotting their tanks.
The only way to know what’s inside the compressed gas bottle is to read its data label. That will tell you what’s inside the tank.
If you can’t find the tank’s data label. Or it’s missing pass it by.
Because who knows what could be inside that tank.
And you could be in for a nasty surprise.
It could hold highly flammable gas. Or poisonous gas. Who knows!
And you won’t get your gas bottle refilled without one.
YouTube Video Showing The Typical Argon Tank Cylinder Sizes
In the first 1 minute 30 seconds of this video. Nathan goes through many of the sizes of welding gas cylinders you’ll find on the market.
He shows you the larger cylinder sizes that you’ll often find rented.
Along with the smaller Argon tank bottles. That you find are more typically owned and refilled at gas suppliers. Enjoy!
High Pressure Cylinder Identification
Video Credit : Holston Gases: Nathan Farquarson
What Size Argon Tank Will You Need For Your MIG Welding?
Here’s a chart for you showing Argon bottle sizes along side weld time.
Argon Cylinder Sizes And Welding Time Chart
|Tanks Size Name and |
|Estimate of Welding Time|
|R – 20 cf||1 – 1.5 hours|
|RR – 40 cf||2 – 2.5 hours|
|Q1 – 60 cf||3 – 4 hours|
|Q – 80 cf||4 – 5 hours|
|S – 125 cf||6.5 – 8 hours|
|S – 150 cf||7.5 – 10 hours|
|K – 250 cf||12.5 – 16.5 hours|
|T – 330 cf||16.5 – 22 hours|
How Long Should A Bottle of Argon Shielding Gas Last When You’re Welding?
You’ll find estimated figures in the above chart.
You’ll find these estimates based on Argon gas shielding coverage. When you run at the usual 15 to 20 cubic feet per hour.
Why are these rough estimates of welding time?
Because when you’re welding in the real world your personal welding time is affected by many things.
1. When you weld you’ve the pre-flow and post flow use of Argon gas.
And that means you’re using up Argon gas outside of your actual welding.
2. Do you do lots of tack welds and short bead lengths? Then you’ll probably run through your shielding bottle of Argon gas sooner. Again because you’ll have more pre-flow and post flow of Argon gas.
3. When you’re learning to weld Aluminum you’ll run through Argon gas quickly. And that’s because you’ll get things wrong. Try again. And eventually find the settings you want.
What Size Of Argon Gas Cylinder Do You Need?
The answer depends on whether you’re an experienced welder welding longer Aluminum beads. Or an a newbie, trying out MIG or TIG welding Aluminum for the first time.
For sure if you’re new to all this you could be better off buying or renting a Argon tank larger than you first thought of.
Experienced or newbie you’ll find it’s good advice to get the biggest cylinder you can get away with.
And you can afford. Argon gas doesn’t go off.
And you may decide on a 125 cf (cubic foot) Argon tank. Or even a 150 cf tank because the cost per cubic foot for refilling is cheaper.
Not to mention your time.
Breaking off welding mid project to get more Argon gas is a real pain. And could tip you toward getting a larger tank than you first planned.
Argon Tank Size Versus How Often You Weld?
You’ll find advice out there saying go for the smaller Argon gas tank sizes if you don’t weld much. And this could be good advice if you’re renting your Argon tank.
Because you pay rental costs as long as you have the tank.
But if you’re buying your own Argon Tank. You’d be better getting the largest Argon tank size you have space to store.
And this is because larger Argon gas tank sizes are more cost effective to buy and refill.
And of course Argon gas doesn’t go bad.
Take some time to work out the price of a larger Argon tank compared to a smaller tank.
And think about how many smaller cylinders you’ll need to refill before you cover the cost of a larger one.
Then factor in the cost of getting your smaller Argon Tank refilled. And travel time and petrol used by your truck. Particularly if you live some way away from where you get your Argon tank refilled.
TIG Versus MIG Welding And How Does That Affect The Argon Tank Size You Pick?
For sure you’ll use more Argon gas TIG welding Aluminum.
And this is because TIG welding is a slower more precise process compared to MIG welding.
So if you’re TIG welding Aluminum consider an Argon Tank a size up because you’ll be using more gas.
Welding Tank Sizes And Transporting Your Argon Gas Bottle Around
Do you weld Aluminum away from your workshop? And does that mean you’ll need to take your MIG welder and an Argon gas cylinder with you?
Then for you a smaller Argon tank size may just make sense.
Of course you then accept the increased cost per cubic foot of gas for the easy lift and shift size of your Argon tank.
You may find a benefit in having 2 Argon welding tanks the same size.
Because you’ll run out of Argon gas quicker using smaller tanks. So if one goes empty you don’t have to stop mid project to run out and get it refilled.
And you don’t have to worry about how much Argon gas you’ve left in your tank.
And if you have enough to finish your project.
You simply carry on welding till your Argon gas bottle is empty then swap over.
And if you find you’ve to wait a few days for your local welding suppliers to fill your owned bottle for you.
You’ve another bottle and you can carry right on welding your project till your other tank is ready to pick up.
Some Other Things For You To Think About When Picking Your Argon Bottle Size
1. How far do you live away from your Argon gas supplier?
Ok, so you may think this is obvious but the truth is. The further away you live from your local Argon gas supplier. The more it costs you in time. And fuel for your truck to get there.
And you may be better off getting yourself one of the large Argon gas cylinders. So you make fewer trips to get refills.
2. How many suppliers of Argon gas do have in your area?
It’s worth your while checking around for prices.
Argon gas prices can vary widely by supplier and by county. You could save yourself dollars and find yourself a good price competitive supplier.
3. Do you have a local HVAC gas distributor?
A little trick to know is that you could get refills of Argon gas from them on the cheap.
4. Find out what Argon bottle sizes you can rent or lease locally.
And under what conditions. And at what price.
5. Can you get your compressed gas bottle tested locally?
If you decide to own your bottles you’ll need them safety tested at some point. What is the cost of the test? Availability and costs can vary.
6. What can you safely transport? Compressed gas bottles need transporting upright.
Compressed Argon gas tanks have a stop valve at the top. And it’s important that this valve is not knocked or damaged while you’re driving around.
You’ll see the valve protected with a collar. For your safety keep that collar on.
Secure your Argon gas cylinder with straps, chains.
You don’t want the cylinder bumped or tipped.
7. What do you have to transport the bottle in? Truck? Car? As this dictates the Argon bottle sizes you can drive around yourself.
8. What can you lift? Do you need to go up or down stairs to where you MIG weld? Take another look at the table on Argon tank sizes above. You’ll see that the large cylinders are heavy.
9. Some suppliers are relaxed about the Argon bottle sizes you take for refill. As long as you can shift it yourself.
10. Cost of delivery? If you can’t lift it or transport it yourself you’re gonna need your Argon gas bottle delivered.
Moving Your Argon Compressed Gas Bottle
When moving your Argon tank use gloves, safety glasses and steel toe capped shoes on your feet.
Your cylinder falling on your toe or foot will earn you a trip to the emergency room.
Safe At Home Storage Of Your Argon Cylinder
Your Argon gas cylinder needs storing somewhere cool out of direct sunlight.
Somewhere dry to stop any rusting of your gas cylinder.
And store your Argon tank upright.
Take off your regulator when your Argon gas tank is not in use.
Close fully the cylinder valve and put on the safety cap.
Look Often At Your Cylinder Valve For Any Damage, Wear And Tear
Check your cylinder for rust.
Secure your cylinder to a wall. Or running gear. Or other firm support with straps or chains. You really don’t want your Argon gas tank knocked over.
When Transporting And At Home Argon Cylinder Safety
Argon is an inert gas. It can and does displace oxygen in the air you breathe.
And Argon gas escaping in an enclosed space can suffocate.
It’s something worth thinking about when you move your Argon gas around.
You’ll find it’s best not to transport your Argon gas cylinder in an enclosed car.
And when welding in your home garage get yourself plenty of ventilation.
Well, here’s a little story for you
Argon gas is used for the industrial and humane slaughter of birds. Because it’s colorless, odorless and tasteless and quickly causes suffocation.
Don’t you be a chicken.
Transport, store and use your Argon gas with plenty of ventilation.
I hope you found this article helpful.
Now you know what Argon tank sizes there are.
And what to think about when you choose the size of Argon gas tank for your welding.