Onboard Air - Liquid CO2

This site is an informational site about liquid CO2 tanks and how to get your own CO2 tank, regulator, & accessories easily and/or cheaply.

This write-up is based on my own experiences using CO2 as a way to air up my tires after an offroad trip. If you are unsure of using CO2 in your tires - I would highly recommend researching this method before investing time and money in your own set-up. This is not for everyone - depending on your application. If you have any questions about this write-up visit: www.lieblweb.com and e-mail us.
Use this information AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Why Liquid CO2? Having a liquid CO2 tank with you on the trails is very very useful - mostly for airing up your tires very quickly - the same as going to the gas station. You can air up your tires and your friends tires - I use a 15lb tank and the last time I checked, I was able to fill up about 80 tires (from 15lbs to 30lbs) before my tank was empty. That's 20 vehicles! I have since began using a 10lb tank and a sturdy tank mounting system with a better quality hose and fittings.

The other great use for a CO2 - you can run air tools - Impact wrenches, cutting wheels, etc. Using air tools uses up a lot of CO2 and the tank will empty a lot quicker BUT - I'm sure it makes those trail fixes a lot easier (I've never had to use it for trail fixes, KNOCK ON WOOD). I have used it at home with a cutting wheel because my air compressor can't keep up with supply of air the cutting wheel needs. Using your air tools on a CO2 tank is not recommended for normal everyday use. Without a proper mist separator or pre-oiler inline - could possibly damage your air tools over time.

I have to mention - with the proper regulator on the tank, you can set the out-put air pressure to a variety of settings from only a few lbs psi to 160lbs psi. My husband has used the CO2 tank to do some air brushing on his R/C airplanes simply by setting the regulator output pressure to 6 psi. I'm sure there are many other ways of using the tank for many things.

The EASY Way......
The easiest way to get a liquid CO2 set up is by ordering one directly online. Listed below are a couple liquid CO2 systems available that are made specifically for the Offroad community. These systems include everything you need for easy & fast airing up. These system are costly - but might be the right choice for you depending on your preference. Make certain you read and understand the system before buying.

The Power Tank

BIGAIR Systems

The Inexpensive Way......

You can create your own CO2 set-up with a little time on the internet, a few phone calls, and a minimal amount of money. You can get your own set-up for as little as $40 depending on your willingness to take the time to find the right (and cheapest) equipment that you need.

CO2 Tank:

For this type of application (offroad use) generally the sizes that are used are 5lb, 10lb, 15lb or even 20lb tanks. I would recommend finding a tank that is specifically for liquid CO2 to avoid any problems or safety issues. There are other tanks that can be used, however, you may run into problems trying to find someone who is willing to refill it. The easiest way to get a tank is to call or visit your local gas company (gas company that deals with liquid CO2, liquid O2, liquid NO2 etc). You can buy a tank directly from them for about $60-$80 (ball park figure). You can try to find a used tank from a friend and/or on e-bay or similar auction site. These CO2 tanks are generally used in soda and/or beer brewing applications. The tank I have was given to me by a friend for free. You can visit many beer-brewing sites to find CO2 tanks for sale - BUT - read further before you make that decision to buy a nice shiny new tank. This used to be my set-up - I have a 10lb tank now (I need to update my pictures).

CO2 tank

Tank Inspections: CO2 tanks are tested and dated. A tank can go for about 5 years without another test. The expiration date is stamped directly on the tank (usually). If you buy a tank from a gas company, the tank should already be legal and fully tested. If you get a tank anywhere else, you need to look for the expiration date. If your tank is out of date, you will need to have it tested (by a gas company). Some gas companies will charge you a fee to have this test done (they ship it out to another facility) and others may not. I've been quoted $10 for the cost of the test - no biggie. You can call around and find a company who may do it for free. In my own situation, my tank was a 20lb tank that was out of date. The gas company I deal with was VERY impressive. No questions asked, no fees gave them the 20lb (out of date) tank and they gave me a 15lb tank filled. Also -the knob and on/off valve on the CO2 tank is also dated. If this mechanism is not stamped with a date, some gas companies will not refill it.

Filling & Exchanging: In most cases - it is easier to go to your gas company and exchange the empty tank for a full one. You walk in, you give them the empty one and they give you a full one - never the same tank. You can request to get the same tank back, but that might take a few days for them to fill it up depending on your gas company. Either way is fine. I chose to find the cheapest tank I could and just exchange it - one trip - and I'm ready to go. In other words, don't spend a lot of money on a nice shiny aluminum tank unless you don't mind waiting a few days to get it back. Regulators:Most regulators for this type of application are also used in beer brewing applications. Here are samples of the regulators you can use. http://www.taprite.com/products/regulators/pr5700hp.html The regulator I have is a Taprite similar to the 5700HP and the Series 3000. You'll want to find a regulator with 2 gauges. The outlet pressure from 0-160lbs psi (top) and the tank pressure gauge (left) from 0-3000psi. Other similar regulators will work and it doesn't need to be new and/or up to date as seen on the taprite site. This will give you a general idea of what you need. I found my regulator on e-bay for $30. The gauges have worked extremely well and I'm completely happy with it. I've had to replace the tank pressure gauge once because of human error!! (laugh) The tank took an unexpected fall to the ground landing on the gauge. HAVE NO FEAR!! That gauge generally gives you an idea when the tank is getting empty. However, its so easy to tell the tank is getting empty because the outlet pressure decreases no matter where you have it set at. Note: When replacing a Taprite gauge, left hand threads are used on the gauges.

What else do I need?

Having a CO2 tank is similar to having an air compressor.  The same equipment used for air compressors can be used for your CO2 tank set-up.  Just make sure the fittings and air hose you buy is rated for enough PSI.  Here are some pictures of various hoses, fittings, and tools that I have. Most of these fittings can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Air Chuck
Air Chuck with male quick disconnect fitting
Air Chuck with Hose
Air Chuck with hose & quick disconnect fittings
Air Chucks
Impact Gun, Air Chuck, and another type of air chuck all with male quick disconnect fittings
Air Fitting
Male quick disconnect fitting
Air Fitting
Female quick disconnect fitting
Air Fitting
Female quick disconnect applied on the regulator