What Kind of Propane Does an RV Take? A Quick Guide

If you’re new to RVing, you might be wondering what type of propane your RV takes.

The type of propane your RV takes depends on the type of propane system you have.

Most RVs use either a DOT cylinder or an ASME tank system. DOT cylinders are portable propane tanks that can be removed from your RV and taken to a propane filling station. ASME tanks, on the other hand, are permanently mounted to your RV and can only be filled by a propane delivery service.

Understanding Propane in RVs

Propane is a popular fuel source for RVs, as it is clean-burning and efficient. It is also readily available at most RV parks and gas stations. In an RV, propane is used for a variety of purposes, including cooking, heating, and powering appliances.

The propane system in an RV consists of a propane tank, regulator, and lines that distribute the propane to each appliance. The type of propane tank used in an RV can vary depending on the type of RV. Motorhomes typically use built-in ASME propane tanks, while travel trailers and fifth wheels use removable DOT tanks.

Propane is also known as liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and is a flammable, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic gas. To make it easier to transport, it is compressed into a liquid. However, an odor is added to propane to make it detectable in case of a leak.

It is important to note that propane tanks have a limited lifespan and must be periodically inspected and replaced as needed. ASME tanks are not removable and must be refilled at a propane station, while DOT tanks can be easily removed and refilled at a propane station.


Types of RV Propane Tanks

When it comes to RV propane tanks, there are two main types: ASME tanks and DOT tanks. Each type has its own unique features and benefits.

ASME Tanks

ASME tanks are usually found on motorhomes and are permanently mounted to the frame of the vehicle. These tanks are approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and are not removable. They can hold larger amounts of propane than DOT tanks, making them ideal for extended trips.

ASME tanks come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 20 to 200 pounds. The larger sizes are typically used for motorhomes, while the smaller sizes are used for travel trailers and smaller RVs.

DOT Tanks

DOT tanks, also known as DOT cylinders, are the most common type of propane tank found on RVs. They are usually situated vertically on the tongue or back bumper of towable trailers like campers, fifth-wheels, and popups.

DOT tanks come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 5 to 40 pounds. They are smaller than ASME tanks and are designed to be portable and removable. This makes them ideal for smaller RVs and for those who want to take their propane tank with them when they leave the RV.

When it comes to choosing the right propane tank for your RV, it’s important to consider your specific needs and the size of your RV. ASME tanks are great for larger RVs and extended trips, while DOT tanks are ideal for smaller RVs and those who want a portable propane tank.

How to Refill Propane in RVs

If you’re planning a long trip in your RV, it’s essential to know how to refill propane tanks. Running out of propane can be a hassle, especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Here are some tips on how to refill propane in RVs.

At Campgrounds

Many campgrounds have propane filling stations that cater to RVs. If you’re staying at a campground, ask the staff if they have a propane filling station on-site. They may either have a staff member who can fill your propane tanks or direct you to a nearby filling station.

At Retail Stores

Retail stores like Home Depot, Tractor Supply, and Walmart often have propane filling stations in their parking lots. These filling stations can accommodate RVs, but you should call ahead to ensure that they can fill your propane tanks.

Flying J

Flying J is a popular truck stop chain that has propane filling stations that can accommodate RVs. They have over 750 locations across the United States, making it easy to find a Flying J propane filling station along your route.

When refilling propane in your RV, it’s essential to follow some safety guidelines. Here are a few tips:

  • Always turn off all propane appliances before refilling your propane tanks.
  • Never smoke or light a match near the propane filling station.
  • Keep the propane tanks and hoses away from any open flames, sparks, or heat sources.
  • Check the propane tank for any leaks before and after refilling.

By following these safety guidelines and knowing where to find propane filling stations, you can ensure that your RV trip goes smoothly without any propane-related issues.

Propane Tank Sizes for RVs

When it comes to RV propane tanks, there are a few different sizes to choose from. The most common sizes used in RVs are 20 lbs, 30 lbs, and (less commonly) 40 lbs. The size of the tank you choose will depend on your specific needs and how often you plan to use propane.

Here’s a breakdown of the different propane tank sizes available for RVs:

  • 20 lb propane tank: This is the most common size used in RVs. It’s small enough to be portable, but large enough to provide enough propane for cooking and heating for a few days. It’s also easy to find and refill at most propane filling stations.
  • 30 lb propane tank: This size is a good option for RVers who plan to use propane more frequently or for longer periods of time. It’s slightly larger than a 20 lb tank, but still easy to handle and refill.
  • 40 lb propane tank: This is the largest size commonly used in RVs. It’s a good option for RVers who plan to use propane for extended periods of time, such as for winter camping or long-term stays. However, it’s also the heaviest and least portable option.

It’s important to note that some RVs may have larger, permanently mounted propane tanks. These tanks can range from 30 lbs on a Class B motorhome up to 80-100 lbs on larger Class A motorhomes. These tanks are not portable and must be filled by a propane delivery service.

When choosing a propane tank size for your RV, consider your specific needs and how often you plan to use propane. It’s also important to make sure that your RV’s propane system is properly installed and maintained to ensure safe and efficient use of propane.

Propane Usage in RV Appliances

As most RVers know, propane is a crucial fuel source for powering many appliances in an RV. From cooking to heating to refrigeration, propane is used extensively throughout the RV. Let’s take a closer look at how propane is used in some of the most common RV appliances.


One of the most common uses of propane in an RV is for cooking. Many RVs come equipped with a gas stove that operates on propane. This allows you to cook meals just as you would at home, without the need for electricity. Propane is also often used for outdoor grills and cooktops, which are popular among RVers who enjoy cooking and eating outside.


Propane is also used for heating in many RVs. RV furnaces typically run on propane, providing a reliable source of heat during cold weather. Some RVs also have propane-powered space heaters or catalytic heaters, which can be used to supplement the furnace or provide heat in specific areas of the RV.


RV refrigerators are another common appliance that uses propane. Propane-powered refrigerators are typically more efficient than electric models, making them a popular choice for many RVers. Propane is also used to power absorption refrigerators, which are commonly found in RVs.

When it comes to propane usage in RV appliances, it’s important to keep in mind that different appliances use different amounts of propane. For example, an RV furnace may use several gallons of propane per day, while a propane-powered refrigerator may only use a few pounds per week. It’s important to monitor propane usage and have a plan for refilling your propane tanks when needed.

Overall, propane is a versatile and reliable fuel source for powering many RV appliances. Whether you’re cooking a meal, staying warm on a cold night, or keeping your food cold, propane is an essential part of the RV lifestyle.

Monitoring Your Propane Levels

When it comes to RV propane, it’s important to keep an eye on your tank levels to avoid running out of fuel in the middle of your trip. Luckily, there are several ways to monitor your propane levels and ensure you always have enough fuel to power your RV appliances.

One option is to use a propane gauge, which attaches to the top of your propane tank and provides a reading of the current fuel level. This is a simple and easy-to-use method, but keep in mind that it only provides a rough estimate of your propane levels and may not be completely accurate.

Another option is an electronic RV propane tank level monitor, which uses a sonar-like signal to measure the level of propane in your tank. This information is then sent to your smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing you to monitor your propane levels in real-time. This method is more accurate than a propane gauge and provides a more detailed reading of your propane levels.

Some RVs also come equipped with a built-in fuel gauge, which displays the amount of propane remaining in your tank. This is a convenient option for those who don’t want to install additional monitoring equipment, but keep in mind that not all RVs come with this feature.

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to regularly monitor your propane levels and refill your tank before it runs too low. Running out of propane can be a major inconvenience, so make sure you have a backup plan in case you do run out of fuel on the road.

Safety Measures When Handling RV Propane

RV propane is a convenient and efficient way to power appliances and heat water while on the road. However, it is important to handle propane with caution to prevent accidents. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind when handling RV propane:

  • Regularly inspect your propane system: Inspect your propane tanks, hoses, regulator, and vents regularly for any signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, leaks, or rust. Replace any damaged components immediately.
  • Know what to do in case of a leak: If you smell propane, turn off all appliances, extinguish any open flames, and turn off the propane cylinder valve. Leave the area immediately and call for help. Do not attempt to fix the leak yourself.
  • Use a propane detector: Install a propane detector in your RV to alert you to leaks. Test it regularly and replace the batteries as needed.
  • Transport propane tanks safely: Always transport propane tanks in an upright position and secure them to prevent them from rolling or tipping over. Use a propane neck collar, propane stand, or milk crate to transport propane tanks in your car.
  • Use the correct regulator: Make sure you are using the correct regulator for your propane system. The regulator is responsible for reducing the pressure of the propane gas before it enters the appliances. Using the wrong regulator can cause damage to your appliances or even a fire.
  • Do not overfill your propane tanks: Overfilling your propane tanks can cause the pressure relief valve to release propane gas, which can be dangerous. Only fill your tanks to the recommended level.
  • Do not smoke near propane: Propane is highly flammable and can ignite easily. Do not smoke or use open flames near propane tanks or appliances.

By following these safety measures, you can enjoy the convenience of RV propane while minimizing the risk of accidents. Remember to always prioritize safety when handling propane.

Propane Exchange Vs Refill

When it comes to filling up your RV propane tank, you have two options: propane exchange or refill. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s important to understand the differences before making a decision.

Propane Refill

Refilling your propane tank is the cheaper option, as you only pay for the propane you use. It can save you up to $1.75 per gallon compared to exchanging your tank at a third-party retailer. If you own your own propane tank, refilling it is a cost-effective way to keep it topped up.

Refilling your propane tank is also more environmentally friendly, as it reduces the number of disposable tanks that end up in landfills. Additionally, some propane refill stations offer discounts or loyalty programs that can save you even more money in the long run.

Propane Exchange

Propane exchange is a convenient option if you’re on the road and need a quick refill. With propane exchange, you simply swap out your empty tank for a full one at a third-party retailer. This is a great option if you don’t own your own propane tank or don’t want to deal with the hassle of refilling it yourself.

However, propane exchange can be more expensive than refilling your tank, as you’re paying for the convenience of not having to refill it yourself. Additionally, some exchange locations may not fill the tank to its full capacity, which means you’re not getting as much propane as you would with a refill.

Overall, the decision between propane exchange and refill comes down to your personal preferences and needs. If you own your own propane tank and want to save money, refilling it is the way to go. If you’re on the road and need a quick refill, propane exchange is a convenient option.

Choosing the Right Propane Solution for Your RV

When it comes to choosing the right propane solution for your RV, there are a few factors to consider. First, you’ll want to make sure that the propane tank you choose fits your RV. You can check your RV’s owner’s manual or consult with a professional to determine the appropriate size.

Next, consider the type of propane solution that will work best for your needs. There are two main options: refillable propane tanks or disposable propane cylinders. Refillable propane tanks are a more sustainable and cost-effective option, but they require a bit more effort to refill. Disposable propane cylinders are more convenient, but can be more expensive in the long run.

When choosing a propane solution for your RV, it’s important to consider the products that are available. Look for propane tanks or cylinders that are specifically designed for RV use, as they will have features like built-in gauges and safety valves that make them more reliable and easier to use.

Finally, consider the fit of the propane tank or cylinder in your RV. Some tanks are designed to be mounted on the outside of the RV, while others are meant to be stored inside. Make sure you choose a solution that fits your RV’s specific storage needs.

Overall, choosing the right propane solution for your RV is all about finding a fit that works for your needs. Consider the size, type, and products available, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect propane solution for your RV.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size propane tanks do RVs typically use?

RVs typically use either 20-pound or 30-pound propane tanks. The size of the tank will depend on the size of the RV and the number of appliances that require propane.

Can any propane tank be used for an RV?

No, not all propane tanks can be used for an RV. RVs require either ASME tanks or DOT cylinders, which are specifically designed for RV use.

Is there a specific type of propane recommended for RV use?

Yes, RVs require propane that is specifically labeled as “RV propane” or “propane for RV use.” This type of propane is formulated to burn more cleanly and efficiently than other types of propane.

How long does a 20 lb propane tank typically last in an RV?

The amount of time a 20 lb propane tank will last in an RV will depend on the number of appliances that require propane and how often they are used. However, on average, a 20 lb propane tank will last for around 10-14 days.

Are there any laws or regulations regarding RV propane usage?

Yes, there are laws and regulations regarding RV propane usage. These laws vary by state, but generally require that RV propane tanks be properly secured and that propane appliances be installed and used according to manufacturer instructions.

Can an RV propane tank be refilled while still attached to the RV?

Yes, an RV propane tank can be refilled while still attached to the RV. However, it is important to follow safety guidelines and to turn off all propane appliances before refilling the tank.