How To Connect a BBQ Grill to an RV’s Onboard Propane Tank

TheRVgeeks Installation, Propane, Updates & Upgrades 55 Comments

When you drive a vehicle with a large built-in propane tank, carrying around small disposable propane cylinders for your barbecue grill somehow seems, well… wrong. We’ll show you exactly how we set up our RV to allow us to connect our grill to our on-board propane tank.

While small portable grills are often designed to use disposable propane canisters, we have a whole list of reasons we object to doing that.

First, there’s nothing much worse than thinking dinner’s ready, only to discover that the propane ran out right after you put your food on the grill. Since those little canisters are so… little, that seems just about as likely to happen as not.

Second, we’re full-timers, so space is at a premium. Removing disposable propane cylinders from the list of gear we need to keep on board saves space, and of course avoids running out of them, too (the best way to exacerbate objection #1 above: rummage around for a fresh canister to finish cooking dinner, then find that you already used the last one). Even though you could connect the barbecue to one of those larger 20 lb portable tanks typically used for grilling in a sticks & bricks house, those of course take up even more of that precious storage space. And… they run out, too.

Third, there are the dual evils of waste (the type that ends up in landfills) and waste (spending money unnecessarily). Those little canisters cost more and are bad for the planet.

Lastly, a prime directive of a do-it-yourselfer is to identify ways of improving the RVing experience through simple modifications. How great is it to be able to eliminate a redundancy, while improving functionality and reducing costs. So having the grill connected to the RV’s propane system is a triple win. A quadruple win if you do the modification yourself. wink

Because we’ve received so many questions about this, we’ve added some additional details. Besides the video above, we’ve diagrammed out every part we used to modify our propane system to make grill connection (and disconnection) quick and easy. You can click on the two images below to view larger versions of the diagrams. We’ve also catalogued the entire parts list, in sequential order from propane tank to grill, with links to each piece on Amazon.

And if you want to download a copy of these images & the parts list, here’s a PDF document that contains both:

Downloadable PDF with Parts Diagrams and Shopping List

Click to view a larger version.

Click to view a larger version.

Click to view a larger version.

Click to view a larger version.


Of course your system may be a little different, but these details will hopefully make it easy for your to get your grill connected to your RV, and toss those canisters (figuratively, of course).


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Comments 55

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Gene. We’ve had the propane line leading from the Extend-a-Stay to the grill connected for years…. 24/7/365 with no problem. The incoming propane line from an external tank we only connect if we’re spending a long period in one spot during the winter in a northern climate. Of course the Extend-a-Stay itself is permanently installed in the system, and stays in place at all times.

      1. Can you verify this is the correct item as I we directed to Amazon from your listing. It appears this is terminator from the picture.

        1″-20 Male Throwaway Cylinder thread x 1/4″ Female Pipe Thread Fitting

        1. Post
          Author
          1. I was curious on the Male adaptor as the picture shows it closed at the end. The female adaptor looks fine.

          2. Post
            Author

            Hi Gene. All of the parts listed are exactly what we used… so if a picture looks wrong, the part should still be correct. Not sure which “Male adapter” you mean… as this whole setup is a conglomeration of adapters! LOL!

          3. Ok, thanks!
            For your information it was the Throwaway Propane Cylinder Adapter, 1-In. -20 Male x 1/4-In.

  1. You guys are unbelievable! Resonding on Sunday.
    Thanks, I’ll do what you suggest. If it doesn’t work I’ll let you know

  2. Hi Guys
    Great series.
    Using your links below the video, I ordered all the parts from Amazon. They sent me a Hot Max Model 24208, which is a 0-10 PSI adjustable regulator. Aside from the lower pressure, it has a 1/8″ NPT (Female) outlet, so I can’t hook it up without a 1/4″ to 1/8″ adapter.
    Before going that route, I looked it up on Amazon. They say they are sold out of the Model 24215, which is the 15PSI regulator you suggested. Also, there appear to be 2 versions of this model. One is fixed, one is adjustable.
    Before going ahead, what do you recommend? Is 10PSI enough. If it is, I can use the one I have with an adapter. If not, I’ll happily send it back. Should I get the fixed or adjustable model? If not available from Amazon, do you have another source?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jeffrey! Sorry to hear you had trouble with getting the regulator we used. But the 0-10psi adjustable regulator should work just fine. Turned up to 10psi, that should provide plenty of input pressure for your grill to work. Most low-pressure regulators (like the one on your grill) expect between about 5 and 20psi of input pressure. So 10psi output from the regulator you received should work just fine. If you need it… here’s a link to a 1/8″ male NPT to 1/4″ male NPT reducing nipple available on Amazon… which should let you connect the 10psi regulator to the rest of the components. Let us know how you make out!

  3. I just bought a motorhome that has a tee after the tank regular with copper tubing and a quick disconnect on the other side. I was thinking of moving the tee in front of the regular so I can hook up my Weber grill. Do I need a 15 psi regular to prevent oil build up or does the copper tubing prevent oil buildup?

    Ron

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Ron,

      We’ve only ever heard of the problem with oil in the line affecting hoses, not pipes. Installing the 15psi regulator won’t hurt anything, but if you want to avoid having to install one, you might want to ask your local propane distributor for their rerecommendation. Sorry we can’t be more help!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Tori! Thanks! Glad you liked the video… and thanks for letting us know about the problem with the link to the PDF. We just made a change that should have fixed it… so you should be able to download it now. Please let us know if you continue to have a problem with it!

      Thanks!

  4. That is such a great video. Thanks. We have the same grill, since our tank is between outside the door and the rear wheels do I really need a 15 psi regulator since we would only be attaching a 12 ft line off the tank.

    1. Post
      Author

      Ours is two 12′ hoses connected together, and we had the oil problem. Not 100% sure what the cut-off is. If we had to guess, we think you’ll be fine without it, particularly if you tend to RV where it’s not as cold, since the problem is supposedly worse the colder it is. Worst case scenario, you’d have to remove and clean the regulator (like we did…. with alcohol) and then add the 15 psi unit. It took a year or so for that to happen, so you’ll be okay for a while either way, and may never need the 15psi unit.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Mike,

      It does sound like that’s a distinct possibility. If you’re connecting the grill downstream of the onboard regulator, then the pressure is too low for the input on the grill’s regulator, and it won’t allow the propane to flow. Classic “double regulation” problem. To solve it, you’d either have to (1) tap in a Tee between the tank and the onboard regulator (like we did) and use that as the supply to the grill… or (2) remove the regulator from the grill. If you opt for #2, just be aware that you won’t be able to use the grill with an external/portable tank without re-attaching the regulator.

      Hope that helps!

  5. I’ve wanted to do this to have propane outside to the bbq and another one inside the coach to supply the Mr Heater. My concern it in putting the Tee between the tank valve and the switch operated shut-off valve. If there was a gas leak, or if going thru a tunnel or some other place which required gas to be shut off, I would have to climb into a basement bay to access the tank valve, a real hassle. Our tank is mounted between the chassis rails with remote fill and vent fittings at the side of the coach. I need to find out what the thread pattern is on the tank end of the electric operated shut off valve to see if it would fit the POL connection on the end of the Tee.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Ralph. You are correct… with your set-up, you would indeed want to install an Extend-a-Stay AFTER the electric valve. But actually, you probably wouldn’t want to use the same version we do, since you would’t be able to easily reach it anyway due to the location of your tank down under the RV. We’d suggest a Tee like this one: http://amzn.to/2k5NxKb but it will indeed likely require an adapter to fit downstream of your electric valve. This type uses the small tank connection, which might be easier to adapt: http://amzn.to/2l5LB54

      These types of Tees won’t allow you to connect the RV to an external propane tank (which we’ve only done a couple of times when RVing in cold winter locations), but you’ll still have the benefit of being able to connect your grill to the rig. If you DO want to be able to connect to an external tank, and are willing to crawl under the RV to connect it, you can use the same setup we have, with the appropriate adapters. Good luck with your set-up!

      1. Thank you, Gentlemen, for the reply. I’m not so intent on being able to connect an external tank since my goal is to be in places where a lot of heating is not necessary although I’d just as soon not preclude an external tank if possible. I really need to find out what is at the input end of the electric valve.

    1. Post
      Author
  6. Pingback: How To Check Your Propane Tank Level Without A Gauge - TheRVgeeks

  7. Great idea as I have wondered the same. My question is the propane line is regulated to 15 psi but the BBQ also has a pressure regulator. Did you disconnect or bypass the BBQ pressure regulator? My small napoleon bbq has the pressure regulator built into the flame controller so a bypass is not possible. In simpler terms will the bbq work properly with 2 regulators?

    1. Post
      Author

      It will absolutely work with your grill, Tim, just as it works with ours. The trick is using the 15 PSI regulator at the T on the big supply tank. If you were to use a standard 11″ water column regulator (which is what comes on your grill, and ours), that would not work, since 11″ water column equals about 0.4 PSI. There would be too little pressure if you used two in the same line. The 15 PSI is perfect, allowing enough pressure to reach and power the grill (with the grill’s regulator still in place), but not so much pressure that it creates any oil problems in the long hose.

  8. Your video is incredibly timely. I was just thinking I wanted to do this and now you’ve provided all the directions. Thanks for all the informative videos you create. They are greatly appreciated!

    1. Post
      Author
  9. You mentioned you found oil in the regulator or your Q-grill prior to installing the 15PSI regulator. Did you have to replace the regulator on the grill or is there a way to clean it? Is there an performance indicator(low flame, different color flame) for the presence of oil in the regulator? I have a Q-200 that I am currently feeding with a 15-foot hose without an in-line regulator, other than the one on the grill. I get the same flame color/height using the hose or the small bottle, but that doesn’t mean anything other than the burner is getting gas. I have noticed that when I lite the burner, it will only go half way around, eventually making the full loop. I usually have to tap the burner to make it go all the way around. I’m beginning to think its a pressure or maybe an oil problem now.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jerry. The grill regulator that got full of oil was our old one, and it’s been so many years that we can’t recall if we cleaned it, replaced it, or replaced the whole grill (the oil issue may have coincided with wanting/needing a new grill anyway). We do remember that we had the issue twice…. once in the grill regulator and once on the RV’s regulator (that one happened immediately after a fill-up of what we believe was a bad batch of propane).

      IN the case of the RV, we removed and cleaned the RV regulator with rubbing alcohol by pouring some alcohol in and shaking it vigorously while holding a thumb and finger over the two openings. We did that several times, and then left it to dry for a while, so the alcohol would evaporate after having broken down the oily residue. We figured we had nothing to lose by trying that before going the replacement route. It did work, and the RV’s regulator is still working fine all these years later. That might work for the grill regulator, too, but of course you’ll have to get it off first to try. If it does need to be replaced, they’re readily available: http://amzn.to/2fiWHQD

      The indicator that something was wrong was very low flame, that got so bad it wouldn’t stay lit. If you’re not getting enough flow from either the small bottle OR the RV hose connection, that would make us think that it’s an oil problem in the grill’s regulator.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Thank you for the great idea. One thing that people may also need to know is that some propane appliances such as some stoves and lanterns that you might want to hook up this way do require high pressure. Anyone doing this would want to shop for a low pressure version of the appliance or have the ability to modify their appliance to run on low pressure.

    In your video you show a picture of your motorhome covered in snow and ice during a long winter stay. We live in northwest Washington state where it can get below freezing for extended periods. We thought that we might like to spend some time in the mountains in winter but thought that would not be possible because our water supply would freeze. How did you supply water to your motorhome and keep the hose and holding tanks from freezing? If this takes some special equipment or technique, maybe you could make an instructional video?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Bruce,

      Good point about some appliances needing high pressure in order to operate correctly. If they are like our Weber Q grill, they should work fine using the 15 PSI regulator we installed. But it’s always smart to check first.

      As for RVing in the winter… we have a video (titled “How To RV in the Winter“) about what we did when we stayed in southern BC the year we experienced the snow you saw. We used heat tape in order to keep our water line from freezing, since we were parked in one spot for an extended time. If you’re just going to be in extremely cold weather for a short time, you could avoid that by only hooking up to the water supply to fill your tank, then just running off the tank. That way you don’t need to worry about the water line potentially freezing and rupturing.

      Other than that, be sure you have a means of providing heat in the water compartment to ensure that nothing in there freezes. Many motorhomes have a means of opening a vent from the furnace (or even a dedicated zone from a hydronic heat source) to provide warm air down there whenever the heat kicks on. But you can use a 40-60W incandescent bulb (a trouble light, like this one on Amazon, is great because you can hang it from the built-in hook)… the heat from the light is enough to keep it above freezing there.

      Hope this helps… let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll try to help answer them (or direct you somewhere that you CAN get them answered).

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for the nice comment, Larry. Always good to hear we’ve been helpful. That said, we’re not sure we can help with this one long-distance. Of course you need to be especially careful dealing with propane for obvious reasons. The first thing we do in situations like this is determine if we have propane flow and ignition. Do you have spark from the igniter? Is there a pilot light? In our limited experience with RV ovens (our first rig had one) we recall that the pilot had to be successfully lit before you could actually light the oven. If you don’t already have the owners manual, it might help to get your hands on one and follow the instructions for lighting the pilot (again assuming it has one). Hope this helps get you started.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Casey! If your RV came with a port for connecting a grill, it’s a virtual certainty that it’s designed to work with a grill that comes equipped with its own regulator, since they all come with one. Can’t imagine that the RV manufacturer wouldn’t know this. The best thing to do is just hook the grill up with its regulator in place and see if it works. Our guess is that it will. If the propane pressure at the port is already regulated down to 11″ water column, there may not be enough pressure to run the grill, but not only is that unlikely, but there’s no harm in trying that first before even considering removing the grill’s regulator. Let us know how you make out!

  11. You guys are amazing!!!! What an easy way to use your grill, The builders of these rv s sould have you giving them ideas so owners like you wont have to do all this after you buy it Have a great day

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Gary! They must have been listening to somebody since we bought our rig over 11 years ago, because more and more RVs are coming with propane outlets on the curb side. :)

  12. Talk about timing!! I just had my water heater and ‘fridge serviced at CampingWorld yesterday. The tech was great and let me watch and answered all my questions. We noticed that the flame on the propane burner on the fridge was burping and spitting and the tech eventually came to the conclusion that I might have some oil buildup on my regulator at the propane tank. My initial thought was ‘oil buildup from propane? This guy is just trying to sell me something I don’t need!’ After watching this and after hearing Peter talk about oil buildup in the propane extension, I realized it’s NOT akin to ‘snipe hunting’, and it really exists!! (obviously, I’m new to RVing).

    I think I’ll change out my regulator myself and see if that doesn’t solve the spitting problem on my fridge burner. And if I do that, I’ll likely put in a T-connector for just this type of propane extension.

    As always, excellent video guys!!

    Jim & Jon

    1. Post
      Author

      Absolutely! Oil can indeed be a problem. If the new regulator doesn’t solve your burping and spitting issue, check out two other things. Our original Norcold fridge had the same problem, and it turned out to be a cracked burner orifice (the tiny little hole that the propane comes out right where it mixes with air and ignites). Took us a LOT of service stops to diagnose that one. The other thing to check is for spiders or mud daubers in the air inlet. We’ve heard that can cause ignition problems also. Good luck and please let us know how you make out. Thanks guys.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions! I just replaced the regulator but the sputtering is still there. It seems to be reduced, but maybe that’s my imagination. I’ll let it run for awhile and see how it behaves.

        A new burner element will be next on the list of things to try if I’m not happy with the fridge behavior. It does cool, even with the sputtering flame. I found this out because the tech left the fridge on, so it ran overnight sitting in front of the house (!) and the everything the freezer and fridge sections were cool this morning. I might just leave it be until something stops working completely….

        Thanks again!!

        Jim n Jon

  13. Another video. Thanks, enjoy ’em all.

    Did this years ago on our old 5’th wheel. When we purchase our Tiffin in 2014 I found oil in the system on our first trip. So after regulator replacement, etc., I added a tee with a sediment trap at the tank outlet after the on/off value, and I relocated the regulator above the tank, this way oil and foreign matter should stay below the regulator.

    re, mike
    san jose, ca.

    1. Post
      Author

      Great solution, Mike. Sounds like you had oil inside the tank itself, which we’ve been lucky to have never experienced. Ours only built up in the long hose, and for a while (after we discovered oil but before we added the 15 PSI regulator), we added a propane filter into the line (between the two 12′ hoses). That worked fine, but we always considered it a stop-gap measure until we stopped the oil from forming by lowering the pressure in the hose.

  14. Hi guys !
    I was wondering, is there two regulators in between the thank and the BBQ. One at the exit on the T fitting and one on the Weber ?
    Shouldn’t you only need one at the T fitting ?

    As usual, you have done a great job.

    Thank you !

    1. Post
      Author

      Bon Jour Jean! Thanks so much. You are correct that there are indeed two regulators. The one on the grill is built on, and not easily removable without modification. If it had been easily removable, we could have simply removed it and moved it to the far end of the hose (coming right off the T), eliminating the need for the extra 15 psi regulator.

      A couple of notes about the regulators…. we mentioned that the main one going into the RV is “11 inches water column” which equals about 0.4 PSI. That is a standard that just about all appliances use, including the grill. So the small built-in regulator on the grill is also 11 inches water column.

      As we mentioned, the only reason we needed to add in regulation coming off the T is to prevent the oily build-up that can occur in the long hose. But the reason we used a 15 PSI unit at the T (rather than a standard 11″ water column model) is that there wouldn’t be enough pressure to run the grill due to double regulation (having TWO 11″ water column units won’t work).

      So the 15 PSI regulator at the T reduces the pressure enough to prevent oil build-up, while still providing enough input pressure for the grill’s regulator.

      Hope this is all clear!

  15. I had a setup like this for a while…except there were a few issues. 1) Each time I disconnected the grill for storage, the supply line from the onboard propane tank would then empty itself…and you would waste that amount of propane. You’d have to put a shutoff at the end near the grill to prevent that from happening. 2) There were plenty of times where I wanted to locate the grill in an area that was too far away from where I had the auxiliary propane supply line and it kept me tethered to a certain area. 3) I would go through my onboard propane tank quicker…and refilling a motorhome propane tank is somewhat inconvenient.

    The way I solved this was to purchase a 20 lb propane tank that comes equipped with most home grills. They are easy to refill and they last a long time — especially if only used for cooking. I then purchased a splitter that I attached to the tank. This allowed me to place the propane tank anywhere in the campground I wanted — and the splitter allowed me to hook up my grill and my camp chef stove at the same time. There is plenty of pressure from the tank to run both simultaneously . Granted the tank was one more thing to carry around with me, but I liked the flexibility of being able to place my cooking equipment wherever I wanted — including far away from the camper — especially if I was deep-frying in a dutch oven base. And refilling a 20 lb propane tank could be done at nearly every gas station or big box store which were all over during our daily jaunts away from camp. And lastly, I would only have to refill the propane tank once per season (YMMV).

    To keep an eye on tank level, you can either get a propane tank that has a float inside it which will give you very accurate results (but the tanks are expensive) or do what I did and purchase a level that is basically a spring, a hook, a gauge, and a handle. Simply hook the tank to the gauge, lift the tank off the ground, and look at the reading. Takes 2 seconds and is accurate enough. To do the above you’ll need an adapter hose to go from the propane tank to the existing tap that is attached to the regulator that is designed to accept small spin-on tanks.

    1. Post
      Author

      Sounds like your system is working great for you, Rob! Thanks so much for all the input. There sure are many ways to skin a cat. :) Since we never set the grill up anywhere other than along the curb side of our RV, portability wasn’t a priority for us, but we can sure see where you’d want that in your case. As far as losing propane from the line when disconnecting the grill for storage, the quick-connects prevent that through the use of an internal valve, and the little gate valve on it. We’ve had our grill disconnected for months at a time (when traveling away from the RV) and it fires up instantly upon our return every time.

      1. Excellent point about the quick-disconnect. Y’all are really fantastic. Have been camping since I was a kid — so for the last 40 years. But didn’t get our first camper until 5 years ago. Your how-to vids were absolutely instrumental in getting us going — and I have referred countless fellow-campers to your site/videos. Thanks SO incredible much for all you do. :)

  16. I have wanted to do this with my 5th wheel. I have 2 – 30 lb cylinders located in a compartment next to my front legs. The bottles take up all the space and there is no room that I can see to tap off from to get the extend hose attached. Could you do a set up like mine as most 5th wheels have the same arrangement…

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Robert. Sorry to report that we have no experience with 5th wheel-specific systems, and aren’t sure how the connections work on the propane. We’d suggest a good place to look for info about that is on the user forums at iRV2. If you’re not already on them, it’s free to sign up and post questions at http://irv2.com/forums or you might find threads about this already in 5th wheel or brand specific forums. Sorry we’re not of more help on this one, but we don’t want to speculate about a system we’re not familiar with, especially where something like propane is concerned.

    2. Robert,
      I have a 5th wheel with tanks on each side also. I had an “extend-a-stay” type high pressure setup with a 15 foot hose for connection between the tank and the regulator for my former TT. I bought the kit from an online propane equipment site. I parted it out and put the “T” inline between the tank and the red regulator(probably 15PSI) on the pipe that goes across the trailer from the curb side to the street side main regulator and other tank. Other adapters and 90’s were purchased at the local big box store. After seeing this video, I will be going back and adding a 15PSI regulator prior to my shut-off valve to lower the pressure to prevent oil buildup in the hose.

      Current connections:
      Curb side Tank / hose ==> T (base of T to red regulator, other side towards grill) ==> shut-off valve ===> 90 (to point path downward) ==> quick disconnect ==>15 foot hose ==> regulator on grill

      Jerry

      1. Post
        Author

        Thanks so much for jumping in here, Jerry! Hope this helps get Robert on the right track, too. And we do think you’re going the right route by adding the 15 PSI regulator at the tank, since that hose is an oily build-up waiting to happen, even if it’s not your current problem. If you do remove your current grill regulator, it will be easy to tell if it’s getting oil in it, since it will slowly start dripping out when you hold it with one of the openings facing downward. Please let us know how you make out with that.

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