Long lengths of time spent in an RV can be a brilliant experience. One of the most crucial parts of any RV is the propane tank, which serves several roles. Such tanks provide fuel to cook, power for refrigeration, and hot water for anything from washing dishes to showering.
If your heat goes off in the middle of the night, it could cut your RV experience short. Should this happen, you’ll need larger tanks, so having the right size can make all the difference.
A travel trailer’s propane should last around a week on a camping trip, including using the heater, hot water tank, stove, and running the refrigerator on LP. Multiple tanks or a larger tank means you can last longer.
The usage of propane you need will depend on the size of your RV and how many people will use the appliances in your travel trailer. Most campers have trailers with built-in ASME tanks, while others rely on tanks they can exchange or have refilled from a propane dealer when empty. (Read How Much Does It Cost to Live in An RV Park)
In our guide, you can learn more about typical motorhome propane tank sizes to make sure you never run out of propane in the middle of your trip.
How Long Does a 30-Pound Propane Tank Last in an RV?
Propane is a type of liquefied petroleum gas sold in a compressed state and sold by the pound or by gallon. The most common way to find propane tanks is by the number of pounds they can hold.
20-pound propane tanks are most common at about 4.5 gallons of propane.
For larger Class A motorhomes, 40-pound propane tanks tend to be used compared to smaller options. A 40-pound RV propane tank can hold around 9.4 gallons.
British Thermal Units are a measure of energy produced by RV propane tanks (BTUs) and the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree.
A 30-pound RV propane tank generates 2,760,000 BTUs as one gallon of propane produces 92,000 BTUs. (Read RV AC Fan Motor)
You base how many hours of propane left for your 30-pound RV propane tank on multiple factors such as the type and size of the appliance, the BTU rating and if it runs continuously or on cycles.
Using a propane burn time calculator, you can see an appliance’s average BTU rating, such as 30,000, and what is typical for a grill or a furnace. If you had a 30-pound propane tank, the burn time for this appliance would be 21.59 hours.
Using a 30-pound propane tank, your RV oven can burn for approximately 92 hours if you don’t have other appliances.
You can spread 48 hours across 1-2 weeks when not using appliances all the time. Just be wary that such tanks do come with an expiration date and shouldn’t be used past this. (Find the Best Portable Air Conditioners For RV)
How Many Gallons Does a 30 lb. Propane Tank Hold?
30 lb. Propane Tank
They typically equip many RVs with a 30 lb. propane tank, or more often, you find two cylinders at 30 lb. mounted onto RV propane tank holders on the tongue of the trailer.
Doing this offers a supply of gas for the refrigerator, heat furnace, and stove. Space heaters, water heater, and other propane applications all benefit from 30 lb. tanks. A 30 lb. propane tank holds 7 gallons of propane and weighs 55 pounds when refilled at a refilling station.
40 lb. propane tank
The 40 lb. propane tank will most often be found on large Class A motorhomes, and most commonly used for large grills, RV furnace, hot water, and many other propane applications.
A 40 lb. propane tank has a propane capacity of 9.4 gallons and weighs 72 lbs. filled at a propane station.
How Many Gallons is An RV Propane Tank?
ASME tanks and a DOT cylinder are two types of RV propane tanks. Most RV motorhomes have an ASME tank while traveling trailers, and towed RVs will have a DOT cylinder.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers-approved (ASME) tanks are the most common propane tank for motorhomes and are non-removable and fixed to the outside of your RV. Should you run out of propane in an ASME tank, you’ll need a refilling facility designed for RVs.
DOT and ASME tanks are made in common propane tank sizes for RVs, which are 20, 30, and 40-pound tanks. (Find the Best Surge Protector for RV)
DOT cylinders are used on towable RVs like fifth wheels, travel trailers, camper trailers, and small motorhomes. The Department of Transportation approves such tanks as DOT cylinders.
20 lb. Propane Tank
A standard size camper propane tank used for grills and small space heaters is the 20 lb. propane tank size and the most often used propane tank on small motorhomes. A full tank for a 20-pound propane tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane and weighs 37 pounds.
How Much Do Empty Propane Tanks Weigh?
- 20 lb. tank weighs 17 lbs.
- 30 lb. propane tank weighs 25 lbs.
- 40 lb. propane tank weighs 32 lbs.
How to Make RV Propane Last Longer?
There are many tips to get more propane use between refills; one way to make RV propane levels last longer in the winter is to install an RV skirt and keep the underside of your RV warmer.
How Long Will My Propane Last?
The biggest question of all is how long your gas will last, although you’ll know when it’s time to refill your propane tank once you have an idea of how long it will last.
It’s hard to know how much energy you use as it can change with different weather conditions. However, you can learn how to estimate your use as you go further into your road trip, especially if you use a calculator to estimate propane use. (Read How Much Does A Pop Up Camper Weigh)
One of the best ways to keep track of your propane use and how full your travel trailer propane tanks are on your road trip is to use RV propane tank gauges.
Most DOT propane tanks don’t come with a gauge, although you can find newer propane tanks with built-in gauges, so you’ll know immediately how much propane you still have.
ASME propane tanks come with a built-in gauge where the indicator connects to a float inside the gas cylinder and measures the amount of liquid propane in your RV propane tanks.
BTU Per Gallon of Propane?
The BTUs in a gallon of propane is roughly 92,000. So, if, for example, a furnace produces 30,000 BTUs, you can calculate how much propane it will use. A gallon of propane can last just over three hours in this use.
Note, a furnace won’t run for three hours solid and can end up running a few minutes per hour to maintain the temperature. (Read 5 Must Have RV Camping Accessories)
One gallon of propane can then heat your RV for more than 24 hours, or if you have a 20-gallon propane tank that holds 4.5 gallons of propane, you could heat your RV for four and a half days.
Tank Refill Stations
You can find many places that fill ASME tanks or even more places where you can refill or swap your DOT propane tank.
Tank refill locations are found in gas stations, RV repair shops, campgrounds, U-Haul, and many other places across the country. Many spots indicated may be U-Haul since they have the largest network of propane filling stations across the United States.
Propane Tank Refill Stations
If you have DOT cylinders for your gas tank, you can take your tank to a refill location and have your tank refilled or go to a tank exchange location.
It’s much cheaper to refill an RV propane tank than it is to exchange. The exchange price can be high, at up to $5.00 per gallon. However, it is easier to exchange a tank, so you pay more for the convenience.
You will find many popular locations to swap your propane tank, such as Home Depot, Walmart, and many others where you can swap your empty propane tanks for a new propane tank.
Many operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you have no reason to have empty RV propane tanks on your motorhome.
Are RV Propane Tanks Different?
While the metal used in constructing all propane tanks is the same, there are some minor variances. The DOT tanks, for example, are not permanently affixed to your RV, whereas the ASME version is mounted directly to your motorhome.
Another distinction is that some propane tanks are meant to sit horizontally while others are meant to stand vertically.
Finally, some ASME tanks may include a propane tank gauge as part of their system to see how much propane you have left in your ASME tank.
Besides this, you will find that since ASME tanks are permanently mounted, they are stores in exterior compartments.
Like DOT cylinders, they should be made from powder-coated steel as protection from road grime. You can purchase heavy-duty plastic covers for your DOT propane tank holder.