Build Your Own CO2 Tank System for Airing Up – High Quality & Lowest Cost
Disclaimer: I posted this a while back on a number of forums (missed this one somehow). So, some of the links and pricing may be outdated and there may be better products now available (especially the regulator which is the key piece of equipment in the system)...
CO2 Air Systems for Airing Up - Offroading, 4x4, Desert, Sand, Construction, RV, and Commercial Use
On board CO2 tank systems offer incredible convenience to users who can air up tires faster than most any other way even when out in the middle of nowhere. No more hoping a gas station has air or a working compressor and no more buying/carrying air compressors that are costly and take quite a while to air up tires. Plus you can use these at home and you can use them to power air tools anywhere you take the tank.
According to a number of online sources, a 35x12.5 tire can be aired up from 5 lbs. to 30 lbs. in under 2 minutes per tire and you can inflate your tire approximately forty (40) times using a 10 pound tank! By the way, it’s easy and convenient to refill your tank. CO2 tanks and refills are very common – they’re used in the beverage industry, off roading and paintball as well. Beverage companies and industrial gas companies will refill these tanks. The cost to refill typically is in the $8-$12 range (YMMV). Google “CO2 tank refilling” for more info.
As an avid off roader I’ve wanted to be able to air down and back up anytime, anywhere and do it quickly but I’ve always been put off by the high price. My goal was to come up with a solution that is equal to the CO2 tank system suppliers at the lowest possible cost. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
The Good News
You can pick and choose and put together the best, most cost effective system for your needs. If you want a 10# (pound) tank, which is the most common, you can get it. And if, for some reason, you want a 15# or 20# tank, you can buy them too. It’s your choice.
Start with the tank, then choose your regulator with hardware,
Power Tank and Outback Air are the two primary companies involved in selling on board air systems. Tanks are available in different capacities (weights) and the most popular tank size is 10 pounds (which holds 10 pounds of C02). Here are some of the packages these CO2 system companies offer – these are the package prices to beat:
Both companies offer 15lb. tanks which are even more costly.
Powertank offers a gauge – shouldn’t the regulator have a gauge? The Powertank regulators typically come with a gauge on the regulator but the truth is no gauges are necessary since tank pressure is constant at ~800 psi when there is liquid CO2 left in the tank (the regulator will read full up until it’s empty). How do you know when to refill? You can measure what's left by weighing the tank. An empty tank with a regulator attached weighs ~15 lbs. and 13 lbs. without the regulator. So a 10lb. air tank and regulator with a fresh charge of liquid CO2 weighs ~25 lbs.
What I’ve come up with is an a la carte solution, a menu that allows us to pick and choose and buy what we want – here are the details:
10# tank shown (above)
These are brand new aluminum tanks with a CGA-320 valve (this is a standard tank and valve – the same as those used by the above industry suppliers). These are brand new aluminum CO2 tanks not reconditioned steel tanks. Every CO2 cylinder is produced from high strength aluminum alloy 6061-T6. These tanks are popular because they are not as heavy as steel tanks and they do not rust.
A carrying handle is included on the 10, 15 and 20 lb. cylinders. The service pressure is up to 1800 PSI/124 BAR with a test pressure of 3000 PSI/207 BAR. These cylinders are stamped with required U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada Markings. The 320 Valves are CGA approved, and have a male thread for Co2 Regulators. Note that this supplier is in California so CA residents will be charged tax.
Tanks from BeverageFactory.com call 1-800-710-9939 ask for Jesse Glancy
Be sure to tell him MagicMtnDan sent you and he’ll work to ensure you get the lowest possible cost.
After a lot of Googling, the best regulator solution I have found is from Outback Air. Their regulators are set at 150 psi and besides being an excellent value, they don't have the unnecessary gauges which will read the same up until the tank is empty. Static regulator complete with fitting and automatic quick connect coupler included. Outback Air regulator $55.00 Outback Equipped | Outback Air CO2 Systems | "Is Your Rig Outback Equipped?"
You can order online and the contact there is Tony. You can call him at 1-800-503-0244 and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Tell him MagicMtnDan sent you.
There are many (many) hose options. I’ve done a lot of searching and contacted some people and here’s what I came up with:
A1 Coupling (www.A1Coupling.com) is in Oregon and they claim to provide or have provided hoses and hardware for both Powertank and Outback. I have been working with Dee Evans.
25’ Recoil Air Hose (PURC-14-25R-S-BR-QC) with quick coupler steel, 6-ball and plug steel industrial or automotive style. This is a spiral (coiled) reinforced hose with steel coupler plugs and brass tire chuck. 250 WPSI 4 TO 1 BURST. The hose has reusable fittings with bend restrictors both ends and the hose is reinforced. Available in a variety of colors including red, blue, yellow, and black. Hoses are made in the USA. It’s 1 to 3 days for shipping – most of the time they ship next day.
The coupler plugs are steel and they are most of the time because the SS balls in the couplers will pit a brass plug and will be hard to get apart. If you happen to want a brass 6 ball coupler it will cost about $1.00 more. Dee Evans at A1 Coupling thinks most people would use the industrial style couplers. If they want a universal coupler in brass that will work with either one it’s about $2.00 more.
The contact is Dee Evans and you can call him with questions and to place orders: 1-541-914-0606. Tell him MagicMtnDan sent you. The price per hose is $20.95 each.
Other hose options:
25’ Coilhose Pneumatics PU14-25B-B 1/4"ID x 25' Blue Flex Coil Hose With 2-1/4" MPT in neon green only $25.00 (from BigJ – he’s on www.SVTOffroad.com – The Ford Raptor SVT website)
Deluxe inflator with gauge – 100psi gauge includes rubber gauge guard and storage bag. I recommend using Outback's Deluxe Inflator which enables you to check pressure when inflating so you don't need to switch to a separate pressure gauge and you can let CO2 out if you put in too much pressure.
There are cheaper solutions – usually kits with a variety of cheap stuff in them – available at Lowes and Home Depot and the auto supply stores. There are also more expensive solutions (see Powertank & others).
By going with the a la carte purchase plan here’s a package you could put together:
1. 10# tank $86.40
2. Regulator $55.00
3. Hose $20.95
Total cost of the above 3 items is $162.35 - add the $30.00 bracket and the cost is $192.35. Compare this to Outback’s $265.00 combo and you get to save $72.35
The Fine Print
Prices were correct and accurate at time of compilation of information (4/5/11). Prices, as you know, can change at any time. Prices do not include shipping or tax where applicable.
Disclaimer: I did this for myself and figured I’d share it with others who might be interested in being able to air up anytime, anywhere. I am not benefitting in any way from this except, like you, getting the lowest possible cost on a system that I can put together. I am not affiliated with any of these companies.
Let me/us know if you find other products for these systems that you’d like to recommend. This will ensure everyone has access to the latest greatest products. Now go air up!
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You want to make sure you secure your CO2 tank....
The funny thing is that I have most of that stuff sitting in my garage already. I have a 10lb aluminum tank and a 15lb steel tank. One has beer gas (nitro/CO2) and one has just CO2....along with a pair of regulators and other beer supply stuff.