Propane is essential to RV travel, as is knowing where to refill your tank.
Even if you aren’t camping in colder temperatures, other systems on your RV use propane for energy. So you don’t want to get caught without propane.
Do you know what to do if your propane tank is empty?
Let’s jump in!
My RV Propane Tank Is Empty. What Do I Do?
If you’re staying at a campground, many locations offer propane refill stations. Just call the campground office to check the hours. It’s convenient because they’re onsite, and most of them provide daily fill-ups. However, you can only get 20-pound portable propane tanks refilled.
If you’re not staying in a location that offers onsite refill stations, if you have a bigger propane tank, or if you have a fixed ASME propane tank, you’ll have to find the nearest location where you can exchange it. Many convenience stores and wholesalers like Sam’s or Costco offer this service. Other retailers like Home Depot and Walmart also offer propane tank exchange services. All you have to do is bring in your empty tank and exchange it for a full tank.
When you’re ready to exchange or refill your portable DOT propane tank, make sure you close the valves. Disconnect the pigtail hose from the tank. You might have something holding the propane tank in place, so you’ll want to remove that as well. Then lift the tank off of your RV. Transport your propane tank sitting upright in your vehicle.
Fixed Versus Portable RV Propane Tanks
Motorized RVs have an ASME propane tank permanently mounted to the RV. These tanks can hold quite a bit more propane than the portable cylinders on travel trailers and fifth wheels. They follow the guidelines set forth by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and don’t have to be recertified. You should get them inspected every year, though.
Portable DOT propane tanks on towable campers usually hold 20 or 30 pounds of propane. You have to get them recertified after ten years and then every five years after that. These are also the tanks you might use for grilling and cooking outdoors.
Regardless of type, a fixed or portable RV propane tank will have a supply hose, regulator, and an optional propane tee.
Pro Tip: Propane is not just for grilling! Try out these Simple RV Propane Hacks When Camping.
Where to Easily Refill Your RV Propane Tanks
There are numerous locations where you can refill your RV propane tank. From campgrounds to travel stops to retail stores, you can almost certainly find something near you.
FreeRoam is an app that will show you locations on a map where you can get your tanks refilled. However, here are some other places to check when you need a refill.
If you’re staying at a campground within the Thousand Trails system or staying at a Jellystone property or some other “big name” campground, there are usually propane refill stations onsite. Smaller campgrounds may not offer this service, but it’s an easy phone call to the campground office to find out. These refill stations only operate during certain hours so note the availability.
Propane Supply Stores
AmeriGas, Ferrellgas, Suburban, and other propane suppliers that serve residential areas typically have propane refill stations. You can also exchange old tanks for new ones at these locations.
Some Travel and Truck Stops
Travel stops like Love’s, Pilot, Flying J, and others offer refill stations. Usually, you pull up to the station and press a button to alert the attendant inside that you need your tank refilled. It’s an easy process, but it could take a bit of time depending on how busy the travel stop is.
Some convenience stores also have a minimum amount. This keeps the attendants from having to run outside to refill four gallons at a time. You may have to fill two tanks to receive service.
Call a Mobile Propane Service
The propane suppliers mentioned above sometimes offer mobile services. You can always call a local supplier and see if they’ll deliver propane to your location.
Then you don’t have to worry about moving your motorhome or unhooking the tanks at all. This is the most expensive option but can help if you want to stay parked for long periods.
How Much Does It Cost to Refill Your RV Propane Tank?
Propane prices vary just like gas does. One store could charge $2.15 per gallon, and another could charge $3.15. Just as gas prices fluctuate during the year based on what’s happening in the world, so too will propane prices change.
Costco is one of the cheapest options. Usually, you can refill a 20-pound tank for about $10. Gas stations can get up to $25-$30. Your location also impacts pricing. What you pay in California may not be the same as what you pay in Iowa.
Exchanging Portable Tanks Versus Refilling
If you can refill your portable propane tank, you’ll save money. However, sometimes that’s not an option. Be prepared to pay more and receive less propane. Pre-filled tanks have less propane than if you refill your own tank. The tank size may be the same, but pre-filled tanks aren’t truly full.
If you’re near the time when your DOT propane tank needs to be recertified, it may be a better idea to exchange it for a newer one. Recertifying a tank can be a bit pricey, depending on where you go. Just make sure the exchange tank isn’t nearing its recertification date, either.
Keep in Mind: When used correctly propane can be a safe and useful tool for RVing. Still it can cause disaster if not used correctly. Read more to find out When is RV Propane Dangerous?
Finding RV Propane Refill Stations Is Easy, But Always Plan Ahead
With so many locations across the country, it’s not difficult to find an RV propane refill station. However, you don’t want to be camping in Maine in December and realize you’re out of propane.
Know if your campground offers onsite services. Get your tanks full before camping in colder temperatures. Don’t get caught with an empty tank. Where’s your next travel destination? Do you know where the nearest refill station is?
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