Most RVs carry propane to use for cooking, heating, and generating hot water. And, for some, it also provides cooling for the refrigeration process. So, keeping your motorhome propane tank sufficiently filled to carry out these functions is very important.
There are a number of questions people frequently ask about how to manage various aspects of RVing, and among those questions is how to refill a motorhome propane tank. It’s a very good question, and the answer is that it’s easier than you may think!
But because the idea of refilling a motorhome propane tank has a pretty high intimidation factor, today we’re laying it all out for you to take all the mystery (and the intimidation) away.
What Kind of Propane Tanks Are on Motorhomes?
There are two types of motorhome propane tanks – ASME and DOT – and the type your rig has will depend largely on the type of RV you have.
ASME Propane Tanks
ASME propane tanks are large, built-in tanks generally found on a motorhome like ours. These are made of thicker, heavier steel than DOT tanks, and the capacity of these tanks is generally much larger.
Most ASME motorhome propane tanks can hold 80-100 pounds of LP (liquid propane), while smaller DOT tanks (on smaller motorhomes) may contain only 20-30 pounds of LP gas.
Motorhomes with ASME tanks generally have a panel inside the RV where the propane level is displayed for monitoring. They may also have a gauge right at the tank, like this one on our rig:
These gauges let us know when our propane level is getting low so that we can refill at our next opportunity. If your propane tank doesn’t happen to have a gauge and you want to check the level, you can do so using a very simple method which we’ve explained in this post. (It just takes a little hot water!)
DOT Propane Tanks
DOT propane tanks are smaller, portable, and removable. These tanks are regularly used on portable propane grills and on travel trailers and fifth wheels. Many DIY van builders use DOT propane tanks as well.
Smaller, DOT propane tanks look like this:
How Do You Fill Your Motorhome Propane Tank?
In North America, propane tanks are most commonly refilled by a professionally-trained staff member at the location where you’re filling your tank (this is why we said it’s very easy to refill a motorhome propane tank)!
You simply need to drive the motorhome to a location where propane is sold and pull up to the area where their propane fill is located. Position your RV so that your propane tank is on the same side as the fill location, and allow a professional to fill the tank for you. It’s really that simple.
Before your tank is filled, you’ll want to make sure that your RV’s onboard tank is shut OFF, and that all propane-burning appliances (furnace, water heater, RV refrigerator, stove/oven) are turned OFF to avoid the potential for fire/explosion.
It’s also important to know that most propane refill stations will request that there be no one on board the RV during the re-filling process.
What Are the Best Places to Refill Your Motorhome Propane Tank?
Most truck stops and some gas stations have propane refill stations. Some RV parks have them as well, and occasionally you may find a propane station outside of a hardware store or other type of retail location. Many Tractor Supply stores offer a propane refill station, and dedicated propane dealers can often handle refilling your RV’s propane tank as well.
Remember – it’s very important to scope out the fill location and pull your RV up correctly so that your motorhome propane tank is on the same side as the propane refill tank, and lined up with the pump and fill hose.
Depending on the size of your RV, you may need to make sure you have sufficient room to maneuver the rig. You can check the accessibility of the propane fill location by using Google Maps’ satellite view and street view.
Can You Fill Your Motorhome Propane Tank Yourself?
No. At least not in the US or Canada. Filling your own motorhome propane tank is not allowed anywhere in North America.
However, if you’re traveling in Great Britain, you’ll find some very cool propane refueling pumps at petrol stations where you CAN refill your own propane tank, right at the fuel pumps!
How Much Does it Cost to Refill Your Propane Tank?
The price of LP (liquid propane) gas varies considerably by region and by the time of year because propane prices fluctuate due to the demand during cooler seasons.
Propane is usually priced per gallon (or per litre in Canada and other Commonwealth countries), and you pay for the amount you take on just as you do when buying other types of fuel. Of note, if you’re refilling onboard or portable tanks, the price per gallon is often less than it is if you’re doing a tank exchange with a removable DOT tank.
DOT tanks can also be exchanged at locations such as Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and some gas stations and grocery stores, but again – you may pay extra for this convenience.
Can You Fill Your Motorhome Propane Tank Without Moving?
You can! At some RV parks and other locations where there are motorhomes that are stationary for long periods, particularly in snowbird destinations, it’s not uncommon for a local propane delivery service to come through the park to refill propane tanks.
In some locations that offer this service, you’ll need to tell the office staff that you want a propane refill and they’ll provide you with a sign to put in your RV’s window/windshield so the propane delivery company knows you want a fill.
In other locations, they’ll offer you the contact information for the local propane delivery company, and you’ll have to arrange for the delivery on your own.
Now that your questions about how to refill a motorhome propane tank have been answered, hopefully any concern about running out of this valuable resource is gone. It’s a very simple process, especially if you follow the tips we’ve offered above.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to check your propane level often because you don’t want to be without it in the middle of a cold night (no heater!) or a hot day (no RV refrigerator!) or after a long, sweaty hike (no hot water!), or when you need to heat water on the stove for that essential cup of morning coffee!
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