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Simple RV Propane Hacks When Camping

Simple RV Propane Hacks When Camping

When most people think of propane, they often only think about the tank attached to their grill on their patio. But, when using your RV, propane will become one of your best friends.

Today we want to share a handful of our favorite RV propane hacks with you and how propane can make RVing so much more enjoyable.

Let’s dig in!

What Systems use Propane in an RV?

One of the most obvious uses for propane in RVs is for the gas stove. Like many residential gas-fueled stoves, RVs often come equipped with propane stoves. Propane stoves are great because they don’t require electricity, saving power when your RV is not connected to a power source.

Another obvious use for propane is your RV’s furnace. A propane furnace creates a tremendous amount of heat and sends it throughout the RV’s air duct system. This creates an even temperature throughout the entire rig.

Gas stoves and furnaces are obvious, but did you know RV refrigerators often run on propane? These refrigerators are impressive because they’re not only incredibly quiet but also can run off of battery power. Being able to function on batteries entirely makes these refrigerators excellent for those who want to spend time off-grid.

Being off-grid with cold drinks and food is remarkable, but not much is better than taking a warm shower while camping. You can also use propane with your RV’s water heater, which is often 6-12 gallons. This will provide you with plenty of hot water for a couple of hot showers.

Various RVs also have propane grills, or quick connects for external propane grills. Grilling outdoors is an excellent way for RVers to keep the temperature inside of their RV down when cooking. And who doesn’t love a burger or hotdog on the grill? We certainly do!

The 4 Best RV Propane Hacks

We want to share with you a handful of our favorite RV propane hacks. Keep reading to see why you’ll want to make sure your propane tanks are full before your next RVing adventure!

#1 – Run Your Refrigerator on Propane

Did you know many RV refrigerators run on propane? These refrigerators are wonderful because they don’t solely rely on propane for their power but can also use electricity. Propane refrigerators often have automatic settings, which will switch between using electricity and propane power sources.

Benefits: A propane refrigerator is a must for adventurers looking to use their RV off-grid. Whether you’re enjoying a day of hiking or hunting, it’s always good to return to a fridge full of cold food and drinks to enjoy.

Propane refrigerators don’t use compressors, which are known for creating the humming noise associated with some residential refrigerators. They’re extremely quiet, which makes it easy to enjoy remote locations.

How To: Each refrigerator is different, but switching between propane, electricity, or automatic modes can usually be done with the press of a button.

A “mode” button on the front of the fridge will indicate which mode is being utilized. There are various brands and styles of propane refrigerators, so consult your refrigerator’s manual for instructions.

#2 – Fill Your Existing Bottles Instead of Buying New Ones

Benefits: Did you know that by trading in your RV propane bottles, you’re spending more money? Propane prices, like any gas, fluctuate greatly but usually hover around $2.80 per gallon. It’s common to see 20 or 30-pound propane tanks on RVs, which hold 4.6 or 7 gallons of propane. You’ll often pay $22-28 for a refurbished 20-pound tank that has been refilled, which comes out to $4.78-$5.95 per gallon. That’s quite a difference!

How To: There are more places to have your propane tanks refilled than you might initially think. Several residential gas suppliers, truck stops, and farm supply stores are easy places to get your propane tanks refilled. 

You may not even have to leave your campground to have your tanks refilled. Many campgrounds and RV parks are also certified to refill propane tanks and often are an exceptional deal. 

One last place you may not think to look to refill propane is U-Haul. A majority of the corporate U-Haul rental and storage locations have propane refill capabilities. You can even visit the U-Haul website and locate the nearest U-Haul propane location nearest you!

#3 – Check Your Propane Level Without A Pressure Gauge

There are propane attachments and even Bluetooth-enabled gauges that connect to your propane tank. These gauges help you stay on top of your propane tank’s status, but what happens if you don’t have one of these?

Did you know you can check your propane level without a pressure gauge? It’s another good hack that can help you know if you need to refill before your next trip or not!

Benefits: Nothing can ruin a camping trip faster than running out of propane. Whether you’re using your propane to cook a meal or heat your RV, an empty tank is a recipe for a disastrous trip. Using this hack will allow you to enjoy camping instead of handling a major hassle.

How To: To do this hack, all you’ll need is some warm water. Pour the warm water over your propane tank. Once you’ve poured the warm water on the tank, run your hand over the side of your tank. You’ll notice a temperature change from warm to cool.

When the surface turns cold, this is where your propane level is currently. The warm water causes a reaction with the propane inside the tank, which creates a cool spot. This hack isn’t better than weighing your tank or using a gauge but will help in a pinch.

#4 Connect Your Grill To Your RVs Propane Tank

Benefits: There’s no need to carry an extra propane tank if you’re already carrying one on your RV. The propane tanks used on RVs are the same propane tanks that are used on residential gas grills.

Many RVs even come with propane grills located on the rear bumper that have quick-connect connections to the propane system. You can even use these quick-connect connections for a wide variety of propane grills and Blackstone and other griddle cooking surfaces.

How To: Check with your RV documentation regarding the availability of quick-connect connections on your RV. These are usually located near outdoor kitchens or around the base of your RV.

If you don’t have an RV quick-connect connection, don’t worry! You can still detach the RV propane tank from your RV and connect it to your grill. You’ll want to make sure the gas is turned off before disconnecting a propane tank from a propane hose.

RV Propane Makes Camping Life Easier

Propane is an incredible resource that can make or break your camping experience. We hope these RV propane hacks help make your RVing experience a little more enjoyable. What RV propane hacks would you add?

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  1. Michael Matteson says:

    There is another way to determine how full a propane tank is and that is to weigh it. The full weight has to be known of course. Small hand held scales calibrated for the different sizes of tanks are even sold for this purpose.

  2. Dave Pellegrino says:

    Disappointing article. Hacks usually refers to being able to expand, save, enhance or modify existing things. I don’t see how any of these ‘hacks help you save propane. Actually, carrying an extra tank just might be a better hack, but you indicate otherwise.

  3. Bob says:

    The one thing I don’t like about living in a class b instead of a trailer is that you have just the one built in tank. Trailers can have two with a fast switch valve. Yes, I can find a place to store a small spare tank, but no way to connect it to the system easily. Because class b has so little room there is just no space to work to put in a T and a valve. Pretty sure they installed it with the chassis open before putting on the body. Not saying it can’t be done, just saying it would not be a fun project and expensive to have a propane or RV shop do the work.

  4. G Dubbayou says:

    On the west coast, I’ve seen 5 gal tank exchange costs from $15 – $21. But be wary. There was a recent suit against a major supplier that admitted to under filling their pre filled 5 gal tanks with just over 3 gal. Those under filled tanks were suppose to be pulled & filled to capacity, but who’s to say.
    In regards to outdated 20lb tanks… A new, empty, tank runs about $50. Plus the cost to purge & fill it. To recertify it is about $45 & then it’s only good for 4yrs. Whereas a $21 exchange tank is certified for 10yrs & full.
    Happy camping

  5. G Dubbayou says:

    @Dave Pellegrino, here’s a hack… Take advantage of hot summer days, when filling ur propane tanks. The heat causes the fuel to shrink allowing more in ur tank. Less trips to the filling station.

  6. Michael Matteson says:

    The comment that propane shrinks when hot is not correct. As with other volatile gases, propane expands when hot. This can be verified by an internet search on the subject.

  7. nancy L adams says:

    @Michael Matteson, all good info thanks for the advice,,as being newbies all and any info is so very helpfull,,safe travels put there!