How do I check the propane level in my RV? (2023)

Knowing how to check the propane level in your RV can help ensure you never run out of this vital fuel. If you don't keep track of how much water is left in your tank, you can find yourself in a frustrating and even potentially dangerous situation.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can check your car's gas supply. No more guessing how much fuel is left in the metal tank.

Today we're going to share some easy ways to check your propane levels during your RV adventure. By mastering these methods, you can ensure a smooth journey without unexpected interruptions.

Let's go!

What Does Your RV Propane System Do?

Propane is a clean, efficient and portable fuel source. It is relatively cheap and readily available. For a motorhome, it has many functions, including air conditioning and power for the stove. This practical system uses a stove, oven, water heater and oven.

(Video) How to Check Propane Tank Level Without a Gauge! Super Simple!

These systems usually include one or more storage tanks, regulators and pipes. Can sizes range from 20 pounds (4.6 gallons) to over 100 pounds (23+ gallons). Most trailers use 20 or 30 pound gas cylinders. You usually won't see the 80- to 100-pound version in anything other than a large Class A RV.

One of the good things about propane is that it is readily available. You can usually find it at a hardware store, local dealer, gas station or truck stop. Some places may only offer an exchange program, while others will refill bottles. As for petrol and diesel, prices will vary by country.

Some homeowners will save a few dollars by buying in bulk from a home supplier. However, this may require you to buy hundreds of liters at a time.

Some of these companies may also offer to come to your door to fill your gas bottles on a regular basis. This is a great way to avoid running out or spreading the cost to avoid paying large bills at once.

At what level is your RV propane tank considered full?

If you remember a lesson from high school chemistry class, you know that gases react to heat and cold. So propane expands as the temperature rises and contracts as it cools.

Therefore, you can only fill a propane tank to 80% of its capacity. Staying below this limit ensures that there is enough room for the reaction to occur safely. Many dealers either weigh cylinders or use in-line counters to ensure they stay under the 80% mark.

Exceeding pressure limits can be dangerous. If there is a defect in the material, it can cause the tank to rupture or explode. It is also important to know that filling the tank will lead to a pressure drop, reducing the efficiency of the system. The excess can leak and create a dangerous situation.

What is an RV Auto Changeover Propane Regulator?

To make it easier for vehicle owners, manufacturers often install propane regulators for RVs. These devices connect multiple tanks, detect when one tank is empty, and switch to a spare bottle when needed. They help ensure a seemingly uninterrupted supply of gas to the various equipment connected to the system.

(Video) RV Propane Gauge! Best Way To Monitor Your Propane Levels!

These devices have many advantages, but also potential problems. While they can reduce how often you have to check your RV propane level, they won't alert you when it's time to change the bottle. When camping in cold weather, you can quickly burn through a cylinder. It's no fun ending up with two empty boxes.

Many owners only open one tank at a time to avoid this potentially dangerous situation. That way, they only have to get out, close the empty tank, and open the remaining tanks when the first one runs out of fuel. They then note to refill the cylinder as soon as possible.

Pro tip:Stay safe by covering upHow to Avoid an RV Propane Explosion.

How to easily check the propane level in your motorhome

Adequate fuel supply is essential for a comfortable and safe camping experience. That's why it's important to know how to check your RV's propane level. We cover a few ways you can easily monitor your tank.

the hot water method

A simple way to check the water level in your motorhome is to use hot water. Touch the side of the cylinder and note its temperature. Wave your hand and pour a cup of hot water to the side.

Let the water sit in the cylinder for a few seconds, then run your hand over the side of the cylinder again. The water level inside is where the metal feels cool to the touch, and that's where the water is.

While this is not 100% accurate and may not work well in cold weather, it can get the job done in no time. It can help you find out if you need a subsidy as soon as possible.

Electronic manometer

Another handy method of checking propane levels isElectronic manometer.These devices are connected to gas lines to indicate the pressure in the system. Most tanks have a pressure range of 10 to 200 PSI, with a full tank between 100 and 120 PSI. Check the reading on the meter when it is full to learn how to read the current level.

(Video) ⚠️💥How to tell if your propane tank is EMPTY.(20sec OLD TIMER'S TRICK)💥⚠️

This is an efficient and easy way to monitor propane levels in your RV. However, most motorhomes do not have these installed by the manufacturer, but you can buy them online. Be sure to take proper precautions when adding the device to the tank.

How do I check the propane level in my RV? (3)

magnetic counter

can also usemagnetic counter.These devices are attached to the cylinder and usually use a color coded display to communicate the liquid level inside the bottle. For example, green means half full, yellow means half full, and red means almost empty.

Although this may be an easy and simple method, you cannot rely on it 100%. If you are looking for accurate measurements, use another way.

However, it can be a good opportunity to give you an overview of your RV's propane situation.

How do I check the propane level in my RV? (4)

tank weight

The tank weight method is one of the most accurate ways to check your RV propane level. It involves weighing the cylinders when they are empty and when they are full to determine how much gas is left in the cylinder.

Most have a label that shows curb weight and full weight, making it easy to calculate what's left. However, it requires removing the cylinder from the platform and using a weight, which is inconvenient and time-consuming.

Should you be camping on propane?

Running an RV on propane is a hot topic in the community. Although there are many opinions on this matter, we prefer to proceed with caution. Although it may be a little inconvenient for you to close the throttle while traveling, it is the safest option. If your gas is on and you blow a tire or have a serious accident, it can affect your fuel system and cause a dangerous situation.

Additionally, some local laws require that the propane system be turned off while the vehicle is in motion. Rules and regulations vary from place to place, but it's best to know the laws of the state where you're driving. As with anything, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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Pro tip:Always have a full propane tank handyWhen do propane tanks expire?

Check propane levels frequently

As we've discussed, checking your RV's propane levels is critical. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the method that works best for you and your RV. Whatever you choose, you'll want to check regularly to make sure you have enough fuel to meet your needs while you're on the road.

By monitoring your propane levels and performing regular maintenance on your system, you can enjoy safe and comfortable camping for years to come.

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How low should you let your propane tank get? ›

Your propane tank gauge should never fall below 20%.
Understanding Propane Tank Levels
  1. When the gas runs out, valves or gas lines are left open making it possible that refills will leak out.
  2. An empty or near empty propane tank is a breeding ground for air and moisture to enter. ...
  3. The rust also masks the odor from propane.
Mar 3, 2022

How much propane is enough? ›

Propane Usage Based on Household Square Footage

1,500 square feet will use an average of 670 gallons each year. 2,000 square feet will consume up to 900 gallons on an annual basis. With 3,000 square feet or more, you can expect to use 1300+ gallons or more per year.

What happens if you overfill an RV propane tank? ›

“An overfilled propane tank can explode, causing damage and even injury. The risk of overfilling is complicated by the fact that the liquid in the tank will expand in warmer weather as pressure in the tank increases. The tank may also cause the relief valve to open and spill propane onto the ground.”

How many gallons of propane does an RV tank hold? ›

These tanks can hold around five gallons of propane. 30 pounds: 30-pound tanks offer more propane than 20-pound cylinders do, and are still easy for one person to handle and transport. 30-pound cylinders hold approximately seven gallons of fuel.

What is typical RV propane pressure? ›

Most propane tanks have an internal pressure of between 120 and 200 psi.

How do I know if my propane pressure is low? ›

How Do You Know When a Propane Regulator Goes Bad?
  • Weak Flames. Weak flames indicate a reduction in the amount of pressure that the propane is dispatched with. ...
  • No Ignition. ...
  • Soot Deposits on the Burners. ...
  • Unusual Sounds. ...
  • Leaping Flames. ...
  • Gas Leaks. ...
  • Automatic Changeover Malfunctions. ...
  • Regulator is Frozen.
Jan 27, 2023

How accurate is propane tank gauge? ›

For that reason, “full” for most propane tanks is 80-85%. More than that can cause problems. Don't worry: Gauges tend to be accurate, and even if your tank is down to 20%, there is still plenty of time to refill it. At Kauffman Gas, we always strive to schedule refills around the 20% mark so you never run out.

How many gallons is 20 lb of propane? ›

20 lb Propane Tank

20 pound propane tanks are often referred to as grill cylinders and hold 4.6 gallons of propane when full.

Should RV propane tanks be stored full or empty? ›

Only completely empty propane tanks should be stored inside. Inside storage can cause the temperature inside the propane tank to rise quickly which is dangerous. It is best to put your tank on a flat surface in an open, well-ventilated area at least 10 feet away from anything flammable.

What does RV propane smell like when tank is low? ›

As your propane level gets low, it is designed to emit a small propane smell. The smell can be equated to the smell of rotten eggs. The systems are designed this way to alert you that your tank is running low and it's time for a refill!

Are propane tanks lighter when empty? ›

Most grilling tanks weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of gas. To measure how many pounds of propane are left in your tank, simply weigh it on a scale and subtract the TW number.

At what percent should a propane tank be refilled? ›

The 80% fill rule is a preventative safety measure against the fluctuations that happen inside a tank. Propane, like water, will expand when heat is added to it. Propane, however, will increase in volume nearly 17 times greater than water over the same temperature increase.

What happens if propane tank gets below 20%? ›

If your propane tank falls below 20 percent full and a cold snap comes to town, you could run out of propane quicker than you think. No propane means no heat in your home. Without heat, your home is uncomfortable and maybe unsafe, too. And you could end up with frozen or burst pipes.

What happens when propane gets too low? ›

The Problem(s) With Letting Your Gas Get Too Low

Air and moisture cause rust in an empty or nearly empty tank, weakening the tank. Rust also removes the odor from propane, making leak detection much more difficult. If gas vapor reaches ignition source, a fire or explosion can result.

What is the 80 20 rule for propane? ›

Aboveground propane tanks are typically filled to about 80 percent capacity, which leaves 20 percent of the tank empty for expansion (we call this the “80/20 rule”); underground propane tanks be filled slightly higher, because the ground insulates the tank from big temperature swings.

Can you put too much propane in a tank? ›

Overfilling the tank could lead to problems when the propane expands, such as leaks or even explosions. By federal regulation, every tank must be installed with an OPD (over pressure device) to alert the user if the pressure inside the tank reaches a dangerous level.

How many hours does 1 gallon of propane last? ›

If you have a propane grill that burns at a rate of 60,000 BTU per hour, that's the same as saying it will take 1.53 hours to burn 1 gallon of propane. (92,000 BTUs for one gallon of propane/60,000 the burn rate of the appliance = 1.53 hours)

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

The average-sized RV furnace will burn about 1/3 gallon of propane when running continuously for an hour. This means that a 20-pound RV propane tank, holding 4.5 gallons of propane, should last about a week.

What is the lifespan of an RV propane tank? ›

New propane tanks should be good for 12 years before needing to be recertified, and they need to be recertified every five years after that.

How much should a full RV propane tank weigh? ›

A 20 lb propane tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane and weighs 37 pounds full. The 30 lb propane tank is most commonly used for campers and camper trailers. Most commonly, they mount two 30 lb tanks on the toungue of the trailer which supply gas for the refridgerator, heat, and stove-top.

Do you open both propane tanks on RV? ›

RVs have two tanks for convenience, and this is also the benefit of dual tank regulators. When one tank is empty, a quick flip of a switch continues the flow of propane. This means you can leave both tanks hooked up and change out the empty one when you choose by unhooking the dedicated line for that tank.

Is it OK to drive RV with propane on? ›

Remember to turn all appliances off when traveling. Most use an electric ignition that can create a spark and trigger an explosion if there is a break in the propane line. If you are an RV owner for whom safety is the first propriety, then traveling with your propane refrigerator switched off is the clear choice.

Why is my camper using so much propane? ›

There are many reasons you might burn through your propane: big outdoor barbecues, camping in cool temps and cranking your RV furnace, running your RV refrigerator when boondocking, and more. No matter how good you are at conserving propane in your RV, you'll eventually need a refill.

How much propane does an RV fridge use? ›

Generally, a 10 to 12 cubic foot RV fridge will burn about 1.5 pounds of propane per day.

How do I get more pressure out of my propane tank? ›

Can I increase the pressure of the gas? No, you cannot increase the pressure. The low pressure regulator is PRESET at 6 ounces, which is 10.5 WC or Water Column inches.

Should you open propane tank valve all the way? ›

You should always open a propane tank valve all the way. Most propane tanks have a seal at the back of the valve that only engages when the valve is open all the way. If the valve is only open a little bit or halfway, this seal does not engage, and the tank might leak at the valve.

Do propane tanks lose pressure over time? ›

Your storage tank keeps propane in its gaseous form under high pressure. Even though propane is unlikely to freeze, the tank may lose pressure and make it more challenging for propane to power your appliances.

What pressure should I test for propane leak? ›

A pressure of no less than 1 ½ times the maxi- mum operating pressure with a minimum test pressure of 3 psig. This is a 10 minute test for a single family dwelling. If the calculated test pressure would exceed 125 psi, then the test pressure should not exceed an amount greater than 50 percent of the pipe strength.

Does temperature affect propane tank gauge? ›

If there's a huge temperature drop (over 20°F) the gauge will indicate that there is less propane in the tank. The gauge dial sits between 35% and 40% following the temperature decrease, so the tank still has 424 pounds of propane.

How much does a 20lb propane tank weigh full and empty? ›

Most 20 lb tanks have a tare weight of +/- 17 pounds when completely empty. This means a “full” propane tank should weigh about 37 pounds.

How heavy is a 20 lb propane tank when full? ›

A 20-pound cylinder is compatible with pretty much all propane refill stations. Typically, a full 20-pound tank weighs 37 pounds because the weight of an empty cylinder—also called the Tare Weight (TW)—is 17 pounds. It holds 20 pounds of fuel, which is called its Water Capacity (WC), adding up to 37 pounds.

How heavy is an empty 20 lb propane tank? ›

Most propane cylinders for grills weigh about 17 pounds when empty and hold about 20 pounds of propane. Here's how you use weight to measure how much propane is left in your cylinder: Put it on a scale and note the weight. Subtract the tare weight number.

Should I store my motorhome with a full tank of gas? ›

Always store the vehicle with a full fuel tank, which helps to reduce the amount of air in the tank, reducing condensation-related problems. If the engine didn't get stored with an additive, adding one now may help until you can add fresh fuel.

Do you have to close propane tank after every use? ›

In addition to safety reasons, for LP (propane) grills, leaving the tank valve on can easily lead to a grill going into reduced gas flow state known as bypass. When in bypass, the grill won't reach its proper cooking temperature range, often getting no hotter than 250 to 300F.

When should I turn off my RV propane? ›

All propane appliances should also be turned off during the filling of the propane tank so that no spark, flame, or other source of ignition is present. That's also the reason that all propane appliances should also be turned off during the re-fueling of the RV itself.

Should I be able to smell propane around my tank? ›

Propane gas has no odor. Propane companies add a harmless chemical called mercaptan to give it its distinctive “rotten egg” smell. All propane pipeline gas in Connecticut is odorized. If you smell gas near an appliance , it may be just a pilot light that has gone out or a burner valve that is open slightly.

Should I smell propane when I turn on the tank? ›

A: Propane is odorless, but an odorant is added as an alert if a leak occurs. The smell is very distinct, and it will resemble rotten eggs or the spray from a skunk.

What happens when propane is low? ›

As your propane level gets low, it is designed to emit a small propane smell. The smell can be equated to the smell of rotten eggs. The systems are designed this way to alert the homeowner or business owner that your tank is running low and it's time for a refill!

How do I know how full my 500 gallon propane tank is? ›

You can perform some simple math to determine how much gas is in your propane tank. Just multiply the tank's capacity by the reading on the tank gauge. For example, if your 500-gallon tank is showing a gauge reading of 60%, that means you have 300 gallons of gas remaining in your tank (500 x 0.6).

How much does a 20lb propane tank weigh full? ›

The most commonly used propane tank, the 20 lb tank is the standard size tank for barbecue grills, mosquito magnet, turkey fryer, small space heaters. However, the 20 lb tank can be used on several other propane applications. A 20 lb propane tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane and weighs 37 pounds full.

What PSI should propane be? ›

At 100°F, a propane tank of any size, including a 20lb propane tank (LPG gas cylinder-bottle), has a propane tank pressure in PSI of 172 PSIG. At 130°F, propane tank pressure (LPG gas cylinder-bottle pressure) of any size has a propane tank pressure in PSI of 257 PSIG.

What PSI should I test my propane line? ›

A standard residential pressure test may include pumping the line with 20 psi and requiring that the line hold pressure for 4 hours with less than a 2 psi drop. When pressure testing a line, always wear personal protective equipment.

What PSI should a propane range be? ›

Since the pressure in a propane tank can range between 100 and 200 psi, its pressure must be reduced and regulated for use in a home, motor home, camper or an outdoor gas appliance, typically to 10.5 inches water column. Comments/Questions?

Why is my propane running out so fast? ›

The main cause of a propane tank run out is simply improper management. Perhaps sudden cold weather caused an unpredictable surge in your home heating, or the fuel supplier is unable to deliver due to bad road conditions or poor planning. In any case, a propane tank run out should not be taken lightly.

What happens when RV furnace runs out of propane? ›

As the fuel runs out in the tank, the furnace will detect that their is no more fuel being burned or heat being produced. This will send the furnace into a safety mode that will shut the unit off. What will happen is that the furnace fan will run for about 30 seconds, and then it will turn itself off.

Why is my propane tank only filled to 80%? ›

Propane, like water, will expand when heat is added to it. Propane, however, will increase in volume nearly 17 times greater than water over the same temperature increase. To allow for this expansion, propane containers are filled to only 80% of their capacity.

Can a propane tank be too full? ›

Overfilling a Propane Tank Doesn't Leave Room for Expansion

Propane suppliers know they must leave space in the tank for propane to expand. Overfilling the tank could lead to problems when the propane expands, such as leaks or even explosions.

What is the maximum fill for a 500 gallon propane tank? ›

If you have a 500 gallon propane tank, it can only be filled to 400 gallons, or 80 percent of the tank. That 20 percent of empty space in your tank is the room for expansion of propane gas.


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