RV Propane Tank: Great Guide For Beginners


RV propane tanks can be a tricky matter for many new RVers. This article will act as your guide to RV propane tanks and detail everything that you need to know to keep your current propane tank in tip-top shape or before you buy a new propane tank.

Types of RV Propane Tanks

There are two main types of RV propane tanks, ASME tanks, and DOT cylinders. Most RV motorhomes will possess an ASME tank while travel trailers and RVs that are towed will more likely have a DOT cylinder.

RV propane tank

What is an ASME tank?

The most common type of motorhome propane tank, an ASME tank is usually non-removable and mounted to the outside of your RV. To refill your ASME tank when you’ve run out of propane, you will need to go to a refilling station that is specifically for RVs. ASME tanks may vary greatly in size and storage capacity. As they are non-removable, make sure that you get a motorhome with a good-sized tank to meet all of your needs.

What is a DOT Cylinder?

In general, DOT cylinders are smaller than ASME tanks and are found on towed motorhomes such as travel trailers. Contrary to ASME tanks, DOT cylinders are not stationary and can be removed from your travel trailer when needed, this makes refilling more convenient.


RV Propane Tank Sizes

There are many different sizes of propane tanks, ranging from 20-pound tanks to 420-pound tanks. Here is a brief summary of the capabilities of each of these different-sized propane tanks.

20 Pound Propane Tank

A 20-pound propane tank will hold around five gallons of propane. These are lightweight and convenient propane tanks as they can easily be refilled and managed by a single person.

33 Pound Propane Tank

33-pound propane tanks will hold about eight gallons of propane and are still light enough to be managed by one person.

100 Pound Propane Tank

These propane tanks can carry 25 gallons of propane and are convenient for serious RVers or those who use propane a lot on the road.

420 Pound Propane Tank

Able to hold a whopping 100 gallons of propane, these propane tanks are often around four feet in height.


How to Fill an RV Propane Tank

As mentioned briefly above, ASME tanks are fixed to your RV so you will need to go to an RV filling station to refill the propane tank. While some RV refilling stations allow you to fill your own tank, other tanks cannot be filled except by someone who is certified to refill it.

Make sure that you understand the type of propane tank that you have on your RV and how to refill it before setting out on your road trip. Many RVs also come with a user’s guide that details how to refill your propane tank.


How to Estimate RV Propane Usage 

Just as your grill has an attached propane tank, your RV also requires propane fuel. Your RV propane tank needs a lot more propane to meet the necessities for maximum comfort. 

That said, it’s easier to estimate how much propane you need for your grill than for your RV. It can be tough to know the right RV propane tank size, depending on your make and model. 

Here’s everything you need to know about propane tanks for your RV!


RV Propane Tips 

DOT Cylinders vs. ASME RV Propane Tanks

DOT Cylinder Propane Tanks: The primary difference between the two RV propane tanks lies in their placement. DOT cylinders are removable at your convenience. Cylindrically shaped, they appear vertically on the back bumper of towable trailers and campers. 

ASME RV Propane Tanks: These propane tanks for an RV cannot move from their original spot. ASME RV propane tanks offer a broader range of propane tank sizes. It’s common for singular units to serve as horizontal RV propane tanks. These larger propane tanks do better in mobile homes.

Convenience Comes in All Sizes

The two most common RV propane tank sizes—more relevant to DOT cylinders—are 20 and 33 pounds. If you have a big family, the 33-pound appeals to larger RVs. The 20-pound option offers easier access for those with smaller RVs. You can find these tanks at your local gas station or grocery store.

How to Estimate How Much Propane Your RV Needs

You only need to fill the propane tank for the RV to be 80% full for adequate room for the gas to expand.

Depending on how much propane remains, you need to calculate capacity using the British Thermal Unit (BMU). One gallon of propane is equal to 91,502 BTUs. One pound of propane is equal to 21,548 BTUs. 

Add the demands of appliances you’re using in the RV per hour. Finally, divide the number representing the total BTU by its hourly use.


RV Propane Tank FAQs

How to Fill a Propane Tank for RV?

It depends on whether you have a DOT or ASME RV propane tank. With a DOT tank, you can simply take your RV propane tank to a refill station. If it’s an ASME RV propane tank, your motorhome needs to be present to fill your RV propane tank.

What Do You Need to Bring When You Refill Your Tank?

If your only option is a self-service station, you’ll need to consult your RV owner manual. Using the specifications of your RV, you can determine how much propane is necessary.

Is it Cheaper to Fill Propane or Exchange It?

Refilling an RV propane tank can be tedious and time-consuming. That said, it’s a more cost-effective solution than an exchange.

How Long Does a 30 lb Propane Tank Last in an RV?

DOT RV propane tanks last up to 12 years before expiring. Check the date on the top of the DOT tank to determine when you need to replace the tank.


Have More RV Propane Tank Questions?

Here at Kirkland RV, we have a list of RV professionals who are ready to help answer your propane tank questions. We know that propane tanks are daunting for many first-time RVers.

We want to help you feel confident when setting out on your road trip. Give Kirkland RV a call today with any of your propane tank questions.

If you are looking for the perfect RV for your upcoming trip, contact our team of RV experts today.