How Long Does a 30 Pound Propane Tank Last in an RV

For any traveler, estimating the cost of fuel to use in a trip is important for proper planning, budgeting, and filling your propane tank. However, the actual estimate varies depending with how you use the energy obtained from the propane. So, How long will my propane tank last in my RV?

One gallon of propane goes for about 95 hours burnt at rate of 1000 BTUs per hour. A 30 pound tank is about 7 gallons. 30 lbs can last about 28 days or even more depending on usage.  

However, the actual use varies depending with several factors such as the

  • length of your trip,
  • frequency of your trips,
  • speed of driving,
  • weight you are towing,
  • use of appliances such as water heater, air conditioner, oven, fridge and any other electrical device.

Commonly used appliance is the fridge. How how you use your RV fridge will greatly affect the durability of propane. Therefore, conserving energy is essential.

This guides provides more insights on?

1 Duration of a Full Propane Tank

  • How long does a 20lb propane tank last in an RV?
  • How long does a 40lb propane tank last in an RV?
  • How long does a 1lb propane tank last?
  • Where can I fill up my RV propane tank?
  • How can I make my propane last longer?
  • Does propane go bad?

2 Heating the RV

  • How can I heat my RV without propane?
  • Tips for retaining heat in your RV
  • Is it cheaper to heat with propane or electricity?

3 Use of heaters

  • Can I run a space heater in my RV?
  • Safety measures when using portable heaters

4 Safety Measures

  • Safety measures for handling propane tanks  
  • What happens when RV furnace runs out of propane?

5 Refilling propane tanks

  • Is there a gauge for propane tanks?
  • Can you refill a propane tank before it is empty?

6 Add extra propane tank to RV (video)

1 Duration of a Full Propane Tank

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

20 lb tank holds 4.5 gallons at burning 1 gallon at the rate of 1000 BTUs can last about 18 days.

How long does a 40 lb propane tank last in an RV?

40 lb tank holds about 9.4 gallons and could last about 37 days. While engaging in activities that saves energy, the fuel can last longer than the estimated duration. Activities that consumes more power would actually less the estimated duration.

It is important for you to test your actual duration without compromising your normal activities such as the use of water heater, TV, and air conditioner among other devices.

Getting to know the actual estimate that works for your would enhance your planning and fuel refilling.

Besides, having an almost actual estimate prevents the risk of running out of fuel in the middle of the night or perhaps far from a refilling station. Also, if your RV has a dual propane tank then the fuel should last your even longer.

How Long Does a 1lb Propane Tank Last?

With the assumption you are cooking on high heat, the 1 lb propane tank can cook for about 1½ hours. However, you also have optional accessories in which you can be able to add a high tank capacity such as a 20 lb propane tank which will last for over 20 hours cook time.

Besides, the actual duration would depend with the frequency of cooking, duration, and the heating strength (lo, medium, or high heat).

Foods which take longer to cook will consumer more propane in comparison to foods that cook in very little heat.

Where Can I Fill Up My RV Propane Tank?

Majority of RVs run on propane. Unless you are using the Winnebago Revel RV. So. Chances that you need to fill your propane tank is high. Propane is used to provide energy for many electronics in your RV such as furnace, refrigerator, stove, and even heating your water when there is no electricity.

Locations for Propane Refilling

Some of the places you can refill your propane tank include but not limited to:

Travel and truck stops

Flying J and Love’s stops are good example. Some stops have a button that you press to notify that you need gas. In others, you will have to physically talk to an attendant to have a refill.

Retail stores

Some retails stores including the rural and suburban areas do refill tanks. Example is the Tractor Supply and A CE Hardware. In Canada, check for Canadian Tire.

Small businesses

Example of business such as gas stations and hardware can have propane refilling services. The service can be common in areas that commonly experience RV travels


Some camping grounds sell propane

RV users with portable propane tanks can always do a tank swap in many common retail stores such as Lowe’s, supermarkets, Home Depot, hardware, and gas stations.

How Can I Make My Propane Last Longer?

There are a number of techniques you can embrace to help your propane last longer. Actually, its all about enhancing the efficiency of using propane.

Some of the strategies include:

  1. Set your thermostat down by 10 to 15 percent and always shut off heat when you are not in the motorhome
  2. Air filter and intake vent needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent wastage.
  3. Get an automated igniting grill. It saves gas wasted when you manually ignite a grill
  4. Open fridge door when necessary. Check how long a fridge takes to get cold.
  5. Use energy efficient devices such as furnace, grills, and heaters as they consume less gas. Upgrade them if necessary.
  6. Cooking small quantities of food cooks faster and consumes less propane
  7. In the instance you do are not using the water heater, have it switched off
  8. Maintain your propane tank well.  Ensure it has no leaks that can be disastrous and always clean it.

Does Propane Go Bad?

As an RV user once in a while you may wish to park your RV especially during harsh weather such as winter or you are done with the camping trip.

The long duration of not using your RV may make you wonder whether the remaining propane gas would go bad.

Actually, propane does not expire. So how long does propane last? It will depend with how you use it. Besides, unlike other fuels such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel that go bad when they expire as long as the gas is safely stored propane does not go bad.

2 Heating the RV

How Can I Heat My RV Without Propane?

In the cold nights, or cold season the inside RV environment can be too cold. In turn, you may want to figure out what you can do to warm up the room to enhance comfort without compromising your safety.

Now you wonder how can I heat my RV without electricity or generally how do I heat my RV?

Other that using propane, there are several ways in which you can heat an RV. The cost of installation and maintenance if any vary. Besides, some techniques are more efficient than others.

Remember to keep and use all heaters away from flammable surfaces and be sure to know the pros and cons of the methods before implementing any.

Power Source Back Up Methods

Some of the backup methods that heat up an RV in case you run out of propane or your furnace fails to operate include but not limited to:

Solar heating:

If you frequently traverse areas of high solar duration investing in solar panels is worth saving lots of energy. Besides, the higher energy harvested by the panels the higher the number of devices that can be powered in your RV.

Note that installation is expensive but in the long run its cheap and efficient.

Space heaters:

They are quite affordable and price range from$20-$40. They are efficient in heating up a small area. Not suitable for very small RVs since they need to be kept far from the walls and objects.

Hydronic heating:

Heating is through fluids. The system is very efficient. However, it is time consuming and very expensive to install since you also need an expert to help you set up the system.

Radiant heating:

Radiant heaters heat in a single direction and very efficient for small heating space. They have capability of using about 10 watts per square foot floor. In terms of cost, radiant heaters are much expensive than space heaters.

Radiant flooring:

A specialist install low voltage electrical circuits in your flow that emits significant heat above the room temperatures to warm up the RV. The technique tends to be much safer than using portable heaters.

However, it is expensive to install, a highly skilled labor is needed, and you may need further improvements such as insulating the RV to prevent heat loss from the radiating floors and enhance overall performance of the radiating floor.

Oil radiators:

The radiators depends on oil for heating. It’s quite efficient since it can be warm long enough especially in steady temperatures and oil takes much longer to cool. Its price is almost same as for space heaters.

The oil radiators are less fire hazard. However, they occupy a lot of space in comparison to space heaters.

Pump heating:

Relies of the air condition system of RV to heat up the RV. The technique is very efficient in comparison to portable heaters. However, its quite expensive to install.

Tips of Retaining Heat in Your RV

Besides, there are several ways you can enhance heat retention in your RV and enjoy the warmth much longer than usual. Consider doing some of these activities:

1 Block off the walls of RV:

Apart from closing the doors, most RV users prefer travelling in open windows in order to have a better view of nature.

Consider simple things like curtains, reflective insulation, shrink wrap or foam boards to cover the windows. These are very affordable and you can install yourself.

2 Skirting the RV:

Using skirts to cover the below opening and gaps enhances insulation preventing the inside warmth from getting cooled by the external air.

3 Lay foam flooring:

Covering the RV floor using foam matts enhance heat retention since they absorb heat from the surrounding and enhance the warmth of the RV.

4 Cover RV doors:

You can use a plastic shrink or insulated blankets to cover the door from the interior. A draft stopper can be used at the bottom of the door to reduce air entering the RV. Remove these protections only when you need to get out of the RV.

Is It Cheaper to Heat with Propane or Electricity?

Anything that can be heat using electricity can still be heat using propane. However, heating using propane if far much cheaper and economical that heating using electricity.

The following are some of the key comparison of heating using propane and heating using electricity.

  • In terms of cost, you save a lot when using propane than electricity since propane is cheaper than paying electrical pay for same amount of heating.
  • Propane is safe for use: it emits zero toxic gasses after combustion. Also, it does not easily ignite when mixed with air unless the ignition source reaches 940 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Propane can be said to be consumer friendly since you have support from the suppliers or dealers whenever you have an issue
  • Propane energy is considered “green” since its clean and environmentally friendly
  • Propane furnace have a longer durability period compared to electric heat pumps
  • Propane furnace are much warmer and stays warm much longer than an electric furnace

3 Use of heaters

Can I Run a Space Heater in My RV?

Yes you can heat your RV using a space heater, but you MUST exercise caution or risk putting into flames your valuable RV asset.

If you are using a small RV, please do not use this since it needs to be kept far from walls, objects, and flammables which is not practical in small RVs with little space such as van campers or CLASS B RVs.

Safety Measure When Using Portable Heaters

These are some of the safety measures you ought to embrace while using any portable heater including space heaters:

  • Keep the space heater at least 3 feet away from any flammable items such as a stove or even propane tank among others.
  • Children moving around near any portable heaters must be observed to enhance their safety
  • Have ready installed detectors for propane, smoke, and carbon monoxide
  • In the instance you are not in the RV or when sleeping, turn off the space heaters.
  • Be sure to invest in automated space heaters that turn off automatically when tipped off. Just in case you accidentally knock down the heater and it lands in the wrong place such as near a stove.
  • Space heaters should be placed on flat solid surfaces
  • Never use a damaged heater without fixing the problem such as broken or loose cords and plugs
  • Heaters that use fuel should be used in places that is well ventilated
  • Space heaters should not be plugged into a power strip or an extension cord.

4 Safety Measures

Safety Measures for Handling Propane Tanks

You need to be concerned more of how you are storing your propane tank. The following are some of the safety tips for propane tanks:

  • Propane filled tanks should be used in well ventilated and open areas
  • Overfilling of the tanks can trigger an explosion. Have it filled in a trusted and authorized dealer.
  • In case you smell possible leaks or bad odors, don’t use the tank until it has been inspected for leaks and other safety concerns by an authorized dealer
  • To check for leaks apply soapy water along the valves or anywhere you suspect leaks. Presence of bubbles is an alert that you have a leak.
  • Avoid using in extreme temperatures. Very high temperature trigger explosion due to expansion of the gas. Extremely low temperatures freeze the gas.

What Happens When RV Furnace Runs Out of Propane?

Once in a while you may find yourself running out of propane. However, for safety measures try as much as possible to avoid running out of propane. You can use a detector to show you how much propane remains and contact your propane dealer.

Risks of Running out of Propane

The following are some of the risks of running out of propane:

  1. High risks of leaks during recharging especially when a valve or gas line was accidentally left open when the tank ran out of propane. Fire and respiratory hazards can occur if the openings are not locked in time
  2. An empty tank can allow moisture and air to enter that can trigger rusting of the tank. Propane concentration becomes less when refilled and bad odor can be emitted.’
  3. Pilots lights will go out when the tank is empty and posses a hazard if improperly handled.
  4. Leak check would have to be done by the propane retailer before turning on the gas

5 Refilling propane tanks

Is There a Gauge for Propane Tanks?

Yes. Propane tanks have pressure gauges. Actually, using the pressure gauge is the most efficient way of determining how much propane is left in the tank.

Its worth investing since you won’t be caught off guard with an empty tank in the middle of your trip or event at home at night when stores have been closed. Average market price of propane scales and gauges range from $10 to $50.  

There are 3 types of propane pressure gauges/scales:

1 Digital propane tank scale:

The scale works using the concept of weight. It weighs the tank and digitally provides an approximate remaining percentage of gas. Some even provide approximate remaining cooking time.

2 Analog propane scale:

Its operation is similar to a luggage scale. Initially you know your tank weight when empty or filled with propane on full tank.

When you hook up the tank on the scale a new weight would be displayed from which you compute the difference to know the remaining gas weight.

3 Inline pressure gauge:

Reads the pressure inside the tank and lets you know when empty, low, or full based on the indicator signal. It is connected between the cut-off valve on the tank and the gas line from the grill.

Can You Refill a Propane Tank Before it’s Empty?

Yes. As long as it is done by a certified personnel. Although its rare to have refilling sites many of which operate in specific hours since many have embraced the exchange service, but if you can refilling is far better than exchanging.

Pros of Refilling a Propane Tank

  • It is cheaper than exchanging
  • You pay for the gas filled only since you can refill even when its not yet empty
  • Your tank gets filled and your refill returns reduces

Cons of Refilling a Propane Tank

  • Less convenient since very few locations do real time refill and needs a professional to do it
  • You pay even for wastage during the refill process
  • A tank that is not certified cannot be refilled. Refilling is done to specific tanks only.

Pros of Exchanging a Propane Tank

  • Very convenient since the tank can be exchange in several places and some are near you
  • Exchange tanks meet certification

Cons of Exchanging a Propane Tank

  • It is expensive
  • Most of not all tanks are under-filled
  • The tanks last much shorter than a refilled tank
  • Despite getting a partially filled tank, you pay for a full tank
  • Some companies refuse exchanging a TS2 valve

6. Add Extra Propane Tank To RV (Video)

Watch the video and see how to hook up an external propane tank to RV.

Add Second Propane Tank to RV

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