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!

UNDERSTANDING RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

THE DIFFERENT SIZES OF RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

ALL OUT GAUGES ON RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

COVERS FOR RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

HOLDERS FOR RV PROPANE TANKS

Holders

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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.

FILLING RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

REFILL INSTRUCTIONS FOR DOT RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

STEP 1

STEP 2

STEP 3

STEP 4

STEP 5

STEP 6

REFILL INSTRUCTION FOR ASME RV PROPANE TANKS

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.

STEP 1

STEP 2

STEP 3

STEP 4

STEP 5

STEP 6

RV PROPANE TANKS AND YOU

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.

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