Without question, RV propane tanks are one of the most essential things in a camper. Everything from cooking to showering in your RV depends on it.

But what do you do when the tank’s running low or on empty and you’re on the road? Fortunately, there are a lot of options and resources available for campers in this great nation that allows you to keep the party rolling!


RV propane tanks

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When it comes to RV propane tanks, there are two varieties found on campers: ASME tanks and DOT cylinders.

ASME tanks, mostly used on motorhomes, are propane storage and delivery devices approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. For ASME tanks, the motorhome itself is the mount for the RV propane tank, which means they are not removable.

DOT cylinders are the most common type used on travel trailers, truck campers, fifth wheels, and some small motorhomes. Unlike ASME tanks, you can mount DOT cylinders in exterior compartments, or RV propane tank holders located on the bumper or tongue of the trailer.

The Department of Transportation approves these devices.


Sizes for RV propane tanks vary widely depending on the type of RV and tank you have.

For example, ASME tank sizes on motorhomes can vary significantly depending on the size of the RV. A small class C motorhome could have a single 20-pound ASME tank. Alternatively, it’s not uncommon for larger class A motorhomes to have tanks that hold between 80 and 100 pounds of propane.

DOT cylinders are typically much smaller, compared to ASME tanks. Although this may be true, the total capacity of specific units can sometimes rival those of large motorhomes.

A small travel trailer or truck camper usually carries around a single 20-pound DOT cylinder. Although, it’s not unusual to see a sizeable fifth-wheel camper with a series of 40-pound cylinders, which can give the RV a propane capacity of over 100 pounds.

Depending on what type of RV and tank type you have, you have the capability to expand your RV propane tank setup. Above all, if you want to expand your RV propane system, make sure you hire a professional certified in propane and propane accessories (yes, someone like Hank Hill).A pro should be able to give you recommendations on the best tank size and set-up for your RV.


Propane tank

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When it comes to RV propane tanks, there are two varieties found on campers: ASME tanks and DOT cylinders.

If your motorhome has an ASME tank, it probably already has an RV propane tank gauge built into it. This gauge has a needle that shows you how much propane is in your tank.

That type of RV propane tank gauge uses a float inside the tank to measure the propane level. Nevertheless, no matter what kind you have you’ll want to pay close attention to the gauge. Ignoring the indicator could lead to some icy showers and pretty lame BBQ cookouts.

DOT cylinders use various types of RV propane tank gauges, or sometimes none at all. While some of the fancier, high-end DOT propane cylinders may have a built-in gauge, most require the installation of an aftermarket gauge of some kind.


Propane tank cover

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While ASME tanks are attached to the frame of a motorhome and can take up part of the exterior storage space of an RV, DOT cylinders are usually kept outside of the RV, either on the storage tongue or bumper. Because of this, RV propane tanks may require special covers to protect the cylinders from weather conditions and road grime that can corrode and damage the tank.Most RV propane tank covers are polypropylene or heavy-duty plastic. They also come in a wide assortment of sizes and colors to accommodate different-sized DOT setups and cylinders with multiple tanks.

Tanks covers are also easy to remove and replace as needed.



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DOT propane cylinders kept on the outside of an RV require a special mount or holder for safe travel. These holders are designed to allow for easy access for refilling.

Most RV propane tank holders are made out of aluminum or powder-coated steel and usually come equipped with two hold cylinders of the same size. They’ll also have a base plate, which is generally bolted or welded to the frame of your RV, that carries the weight of both cylinders. Plus, the tank holder will include a heavy-duty rod rising from the center of the base plate, in addition to a bracket attached to the top of the rod that holds both tanks in place.

As it turns out:

Some racks may also include hoses and a change-over switch that you can use to switch between the two cylinders when drawing propane. Then again, if your holder doesn’t include this part, a changeover switch can be added.


RV propane tanks are relatively easy to fill.

For DOT cylinders, you’ll likely need to find a filling station to replenish or replace your tank. Filling stations are located all over the country. Here is a list of a few places that have propane refilling stations. Gas stations and truck stops (such as Flying J, Pilot, Buc-ee’s, etc…)

  • U-Haul
  • Tractor Supply
  • Costco
  • Local propane dealers
  • Hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowest
  • RV campgrounds
  • Feed stores
  • Co-ops
  • RV dealerships
  • Bait shops
  • Military bases

There are many more places that offer this service. In fact, if you’re traveling, a quick search of “RV propane refill near me” should yield useful results. Not to mention, you’ll find that many gas stations along the interstate may offer this service.


Here are some simple steps for filling a DOT cylinder. Make sure to consult with a local employee or propane specialist if you have any trouble figuring out the refill station’s set up. It’s always better to ask than not know when it comes to propane.


Before you begin, perform a thorough inspection of the cylinder. Check for damage such as deep dents or areas that have heavy rust. Also, inspect the top of the tank for damage. While doing that, check the nozzle for any obstruction.

If you discover damage on your tank, consider buying a new tank. Damaged tanks can start leaking propane, which can be both costly and dangerous.


RV propane tanks should have a date stamped on the top of the tank along with other relevant information. If the tank is out of date by over 12 years, check with a local propane tank dealer for rates on exchanging tanks.

For example:

A tank stamped “01 20” would have expired in 2012. If the date has a letter after the date, you’ll need to call your propane dealer to get the exact expiration date.


Located somewhere on the neck of your propane tank should be a bleeder valve that will relieve air pressure allowing the propane to flow freely into the tank. That will also allow a bit of propane to leak out of the bleeder port.

Consult your propane bottle’s instruction manual for exact details on how to access your valve. But the idea is to turn the valve just enough for propane to escape the port.

Some valves may require a long flathead screwdriver to release.

Please note:

For your safety, you should always wear neoprene gloves to prevent frostbite burns from liquid propane exposure on your skin. Rubber does not stop propane from burning you, but neoprene will work. Also, you want to make sure the neoprene gloves are loose enough to shake off in one swing, just in case you come into contact with the liquid propane.


First, screw the refill hose to your tank. Make sure the seal is tight.

Next, loosen the main valve on your propane tank to allow propane to flow into the container.

Then, release the valve on the propane hose (see instructions at the refill station or ask an associate).

Last, open the bleeder valve just a bit to allow the release of propane via the bleed port.


You’ll know the tank is full when a small stream of propane comes out of the bleed port (it will look like steam).

Turn off the propane refill hose valve. Then close the bleeder valve before closing the main valve on your tank.

Before disconnecting the hose, be sure to open the bleeder valve on it to relieve pressure.

Some refill stations may have a pressure redistribution system that doesn’t require a bleeder valve.

Finally, turn off the hose and close its bleeder valve before disconnecting and safely returning it to where it belongs.


Last, you want to reinspect your bottle for any signs of leakage around the dispensing valve area.

Once your inspection is complete, re-attach your tank to its proper storage location on your RV.


Image via embedded YouTube video

For ASME RV propane tanks you’ll either need to drive to a location to refill your tank or have it delivered. Some RV parks and campgrounds will offer a refill service where a truck will come to your site and refill your propane at a premium. Ideally, it’s usually cheaper to find a refill station.

The instructions for filling up ASME RV propane tanks are similar to those used to fill up DOT tanks, but with much less guesswork.

Most ASME tanks have five major components. In the above image, you can see all five parts.

The gauge is on the far left of the image. Just to the right of the gauge is the propane intake. On the bottom right of the intake is the main propane close-release valve. Above the main close-release valve to the right is the bleed valve.

Inside the big metal box to the far right is the regulator, which regulates the pressure coming out of the propane tank to a pressure the appliances in the RV can use once again.

Make sure you wear neoprene gloves when dealing with propane.

Also, make sure that you’re only filling your tank to 80 percent capacity to allow for the expansion of gas in your tank.


Access your ASME tank and unscrew the propane cap on the intake. Then attach the propane hose at the refill station.


Open the close-release valve on your tank to allow the propane to flow into your system.


Open the close-release valve on the propane refill hose to start pumping propane.


Open the bleed valve (with a neoprene-gloved hand) to release a bit of propane.


Once the bleed valve starts to steam a bit of propane, you should be full. Make sure the gauge reads full as well.

Now you just need to close the bleed valve and then the remaining close-release valves on your tank and the refill hose.


Unscrew the refill hose and safely put it back in its correct storage location.


If you have an ASME tank, make sure you have it inspected once or twice a year to check for any leaks.For Dot Cylinders, visually inspect them for rust or damage and replace them as needed.

Also, you shouldn’t store DOT containers in direct sunlight or harsh weather. Last, always use a cover.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial on how to refill RV propane tanks. Remember to stay safe and keep an eye on your propane levels when traveling.