Calculating How Long Does Propane Last in an RV?

Operating out of propane in your RV means no stovetop cooking, no central warmth, no sizzling water, and an lack of ability to maintain your fridge working should you aren’t plugged into shore energy. In different phrases, it makes RV tenting a complete lot much less enjoyable.

So new and long-time RVers alike must know: how lengthy does propane final in an RV?

To reply this query, we have now to depend on averages. The typical RV furnace, for instance, will burn roughly one gallon of propane each three hours.

However that’s simply your furnace. It doesn’t account for any cooking or sizzling water calls for throughout that point, which is able to enhance propane consumption.

Moreover, components like the dimensions of your propane tanks, the BTU scores in your RV home equipment, and what number of occasions you bathe per day will impression how lengthy your RV propane lasts.

So you may see how this difficulty can turn into difficult rapidly. Fortunately for you, we’re right here to simplify it!

What Are the Typical RV Propane Tank Sizes?

What Are the Typical RV Propane Tank Sizes

The commonest RV propane tank sizes are 20 and 30 kilos. There are additionally 11 and 40-pound propane tanks which can be frequent on smaller RVs. 

It’s also vital to know that these classifications don’t precisely replicate the quantity of propane that these tanks really maintain. T

hat is as a result of propane is often measured in gallons as an alternative of kilos.

Moreover, a “full” propane tank can also be solely stuffed to 80% of its capability to permit room for liquid propane to increase with out damaging the tank.

So, right here is roughly how a lot propane these frequent tank sizes really maintain:

  • 11-pound tank = 2.6 gallons of propane
  • 20-pound tank = 4.6 gallons of propane
  • 30-pound tank = 7 gallons of propane
  • 40-pound tank = 9.4 gallons of propane

Moreover, many luxurious class A RVs and lengthy fifth-wheel trailers have a lot bigger tanks on board.

In some circumstances, these kind of RVs can maintain 100-pound, 250-pounds, and even 500-pounds propane tanks.

That is roughly how a lot these bigger propane tanks usually maintain:

  • 100-pound tank = 23.6 gallons of propane
  • 250-pound tank = 200 gallons of propane
  • 500-pound tank = 400 gallons of propane

What Are the Varieties of RV Propane Tanks?

What Are the Types of RV Propane Tanks

Commonest RV propane tanks are both licensed by the Division of Transportation (DOT) or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

DOT propane cylinders are extra generally discovered on teardrop trailers, fifth wheels, journey trailers, truck campers, and a few class B or small class C motorhomes.

They’re detachable and replaceable just like the propane tank used on most residential grills.

You’ll often discover DOT cylinders mounted on the tongue of the trailer or on the rear bumper of small campers.

In some circumstances, they’re mounted to the skin of the trailer however hidden by an exterior compartment door.

ASME propane tanks are extra frequent for bigger Class A and Class C motor coaches.

They’re usually constructed proper into the body of the camper so that they can’t be eliminated and refilled.

Which means it is advisable to pull your RV up subsequent to a propane refill station to prime your tank off.

How Lengthy Does Propane Final in an RV?

The lifespan of RV propane tanks is extremely variable. It depends upon three vital components:

  • What number of propane home equipment you run concurrently
  • The BTU scores of these home equipment
  • How lengthy you’re run them
  • Air temperature

Earlier than we offer a primary propane utilization calculator beneath, we have to talk about BTUs and the way they impression how lengthy your RV propane will final.

How Do BTUs Influence Propane Consumption?

BTU stands for ‘British Thermal Models’. It’s a measurement of the quantity of power required to warmth a pound of water by a single diploma (Fahrenheit) at sea stage.

Fortunately, we don’t must dive too deeply into the science of BTUs to grasp how they impression your RV’s propane ranges.

If you’re burning propane at a price of 1000s BTUs per hour, it would take about 95 hours so that you can burn by means of one gallon of propane. However most RVs burn propane at a a lot increased price. 

The place issues get slightly extra advanced is once you understand that every of the home equipment inside your RV that make the most of propane include a BTU score.

These scores will enable you decide what number of gallons of propane your home equipment eat per hour.

Let’s take a look at some frequent propane RV home equipment and their common BTU scores:

  • RV furnaces common 1,000 BTUs per linear foot of RV size

    • A 30-foot RV would usually boast a 30,000-BTU furnace

  • RV water heaters common between 30,000 and 50,000 BTUs

  • RV fridges common 1,500 BTUs (when working on propane)

  • Giant burners on RV stovetops common 9,000 BTUs

  • Smaller adjoining stovetop burners common 6,500 BTUs

Realizing the BTU scores of your home equipment is vital, however how in regards to the BTU capability of a propane tank. Listed below are a couple of extra numbers that you will want for future calculations:

  • One gallon of propane gives a capability of 91,502 BTUs

  • One pound of propane gives a capability of 21,548 BTUs

With these averages and tank BTU capacities in thoughts, let’s transfer on to look at how one can calculate your particular propane utilization.

RV Propane Utilization Calculator

RV Propane Usage Calculator

Let’s take a look at some primary calculations that will help you decide how lengthy your RV propane will final.

Step 1: Decide The Dimension of Your RV Propane Tanks

Begin by consulting your RV proprietor’s handbook to resolve the dimensions and propane capability of your RV’s propane tanks.

In case you occur to have an older RV and haven’t saved monitor of your handbook, you might be able to discover this data on-line or by calling the producer instantly.

Whereas some declare that you need to use both kilos or gallons to notice the dimensions of your RV propane tanks, we advocate utilizing gallons as a result of it’s a extra correct measurement of the true capability of your tanks.

Step 2: Calculate the BTU Capability of Your Tanks

Right here’s the place you’ll need to perform a little math. Now that you’ve famous what number of gallons of propane could be saved in your tanks, you need to use 91,502 to calculate your whole BTU capability.

Right here’s a fast instance: 

  • RV Tank Dimension = two tanks at 4.6 gallons every
  • BTU Capability Subtotal = 420,909.2 BTUs per tank (91,502 x 4.6)
  • Whole BTU Capability = 841,818.4 BTUs (420,909.2 x 2)

Step 3: Decide How Lengthy You Can Run Your Equipment

Based mostly on the entire BTU capability that you just give you in your RV, you’ll now be capable to evaluate that to the BTU scores for the person propane home equipment in your rig.

Right here’s a fast instance based mostly on our RV with the 841,818.4 BTU capability and the common equipment BTU Scores we talked about above:

  • Max Run Time For 30,000 BTU Furnace: 28.06 hours
  • Max Run Time For 40,000 BTU Water Heater: 21.05 hours
  • Max Run Time For 1,500 BTU RV Fridge: 561.2 hours
  • Max Run Time For Three-Burner RV Stovetop (22,000 BTU): 38.26 hours

Now, if we add up the entire BTUs for the entire home equipment listed above, we are able to approximate how lengthy your propane would final should you have been working all home equipment persistently and concurrently:

  • Whole BTUs of all RV Home equipment = 93,500 BTU
  • Whole Max Run Time For All RV Propane Home equipment (841,818.4/93,500) = 9.003 hours

Do not forget that more often than not you’ll be utilizing multiple of those home equipment at a time.

Additionally, you will make the most of your stovetop for a lot shorter durations than your fridge (which can be consuming propane persistently except counting on AC or DC energy).

So the very best technique for monitoring your RV propane ranges is to test your digital indicator mild or handbook gauge usually.

Whenever you get all the way down to about one-quarter of a tank remaining, it’s time to refill.

How Long Does a Propane Tank Last

How Lengthy Does a 20 LB Propane Tank Final in an RV?

If you’re solely working your 30,000-BTU furnace, a 20-pound propane tank will final roughly 13.5 hours.

That may barely get you thru a chilly winter night time should you solely have about 4.6 gallons of propane on board.

A 20-pound tank that’s crammed with 4.6 gallons of propane equates to roughly a 420,909.2 whole BTU capability.

The BTU scores in your RV’s propane home equipment and your utilization price will in the end dictate how lengthy this 4.6 gallons of propane will final in your RV.

How Lengthy Does a 30 LB Propane Tank Final in an RV?

An RV with a 30-pound propane tank will be capable to run a 30,000-BTU furnace for about 21 hours.

That seven gallons of propane can disappear way more rapidly if you’re working a number of propane home equipment concurrently.

Your 30-pound propane tank (crammed with 7 gallons of propane) will supply a capability of 640,514 BTUs.

Use that higher restrict to calculate how lengthy your propane will final based mostly in your RV’s equipment scores and utilization price.

How Lengthy Does a 40 LB Propane Tank Final in an RV?

In case your tenting trailer is supplied with a 40-pound propane tank, it is possible for you to to run a 30,000-BTU furnace for roughly 28.2 hours earlier than working out of propane.

It is best to be capable to warmth your RV persistently for greater than a full day with these 9.4 gallons of propane.

The overall BTU capability for a 40-pound tank crammed with 9.4 gallons of propane is roughly 860,118.8 BTUs.

You possibly can divide that whole capability by the person or collective BTU scores in your particular RV’s home equipment to find out how lengthy your 40-pound propane tank will final.

How Lengthy Do Bigger Propane Tanks Final in an RV?

The bigger propane tanks in larger rigs are clearly higher for boondocking or longer dry tenting journeys.

Based mostly nonetheless on our examples of solely burning propane by working a 30,000-BTU furnace, that is how lengthy you would possibly anticipate your propane to final in these bigger tanks:

  • A 100-pound tank (~23.6 gallons of propane) will final roughly 70.8 hours
  • A 250-pound tank (~200 gallons of propane) will final roughly 600 hours
  • A 500-pound tank (~400 gallons of propane) will final roughly 1,200 hours

Whereas that might be helpful for a few of you, listed below are the BTU capacities for these bigger tanks that will help you extra precisely calculate your propane utilization:

  • 100-pound tank (~23.6 gallons of propane) = 2,159,447.2 BTUs
  • 250-pound tank (~200 gallons of propane) = 18,300,400 BTUs
  • 500-pound tank (~400 gallons of propane) = 36,600,800 BTUs

Please take into account that these averages can change dramatically if you’re working propane home equipment kind of than the common RV.

Use the ideas above to make extra correct calculations and, keep in mind, the extra you’re conscious about your propane use, the longer your propane will final.

How Does Air Temperature Have an effect on Propane BTU Capability?

You’ll burn by means of propane a lot quicker when it’s chilly exterior. Extraordinarily chilly temperatures (beneath zero levels) can lower the BTU capability of propane by greater than 50 %.

How Do I Know if My RV Propane Tank is Empty?

How Do I Know if My RV Propane Tank is Empty

Effectively, you’ll undoubtedly know should you try and mild up your propane stovetop or begin your heater and are upset with the outcomes.

Apart from it being apparent when your propane home equipment aren’t working, you can too monitor your propane ranges whereas staying in your RV.

Most trendy RVs and journey trailers are geared up with some kind of digital propane monitoring system.

These methods embody an indicator of how a lot propane is remaining in your tank.

That indicator is often discovered on the dashboard within the cockpit or mounted someplace above your RV door.

Along with that, many bigger RVs have a gauge on the outlet of the propane tank.

So in case your digital indicator isn’t working for some cause (which occurs quite a bit on older RVs), you may test the exterior gauge.

With smaller RVs and journey trailers which can be geared up with DOT cylinders, nonetheless, you might not have a digital or a handbook gauge that will help you monitor propane ranges.

Fortuitously, you may seize an aftermarket propane gauge and set up it in your tank that will help you know when your propane tank is approaching empty.

Ideas To Make RV Propane Final Longer

Tips To Make RV Propane Last Longer

The excellent news for a lot of RVers is that a whole lot of campgrounds supply propane refill stations.

For these of you which can be focused on boondocking or dry tenting, nonetheless, realizing how lengthy your propane shops will final can dictate how lengthy you may keep at distant locations.

So listed below are a couple of ideas that will help you make your RV propane final a bit longer:

Rely Extra on Electrical energy

One tried-and-true methodology for making RV propane last more is to rely extra on electrical energy.

Which means searching for out campgrounds with full hookups in order that your fridge can run on AC while you’re tenting.

As well as, you may take into account working electrical area heaters as an alternative of relying solely in your RV furnace.

This resolution is finest for short-term RV journeys, however many campgrounds will cost for electrical energy based mostly on month-to-month utilization if you’re staying long-term, which might generally wind up being costlier than propane.

Harness the Energy of the Solar

Relying on the place you’re tenting, you might be able to depend on the ability of the solar to entice warmth inside your RV.

That is finest for areas which have giant temperature swings and get pretty chilly at night time.

Open your RV blinds and home windows up in the course of the day to permit the pure warmth from the solar to pour into your RV.

Then shut all the pieces up within the late afternoon to entice that warmth inside so that you could make your propane last more by avoiding working your furnace all night time.

Prepare dinner Outdoors


Whereas many tenting stoves additionally run on propane, stocking up on small one-pound inexperienced propane bottles is commonly simpler than shifting a bigger RV to refill the built-in propane tank.

And also you received’t want to fret about propane in any respect should you prepare dinner over a campfire.

Cooking exterior will permit you to save propane for heating your RV and ensuring you might have sizzling water for showers.

It additionally permits you to keep away from overheating the within of your RV when tenting in particularly heat climates.

Take ‘RV Showers’

Showering in an RV is method completely different than showering at house. Not solely do it is advisable to take into consideration conserving water, however you additionally want to think about how a lot propane you’re utilizing to warmth that water.

Taking an ‘RV bathe’ will assist with each of those points. There’s no huge secret or particular formulation to it.

Right here’s our most well-liked formulation:

  • Flip your water heater on
  • Wait 5-10 minutes for decent water to construct up within the tank
  • Put together cleaning soap, a towel, and different bathing necessities within the meantime.
  • Hop within the bathe, flip the water on, and modify it to your most well-liked temperature
  • Rinse your head and face
  • Shut the water off
  • Wash head and face with cleaning soap
  • Flip the water on and rinse
  • Flip the water again off
  • Wash the remainder of your physique with cleaning soap
  • Flip the water again on to rinse your physique
  • Flip the water off
  • Seize your towel and dry off

The overwhelming majority of the water we waste whereas showering occurs in the course of the occasions once we step out of the move to lather with cleaning soap.

By shutting the water off once you actually don’t want it, you may preserve water and make your RV propane last more.

Add Insulation To Your RV

Including insulation to your RV will cut back general warmth switch. This can be useful in each heat and funky temperatures as a result of it would work to maintain your RV cool in the summertime when you’re working your air conditioner and heat within the winter when relying in your furnace.

If you end up coping with colder temperatures, including RV insulation will cut back the pressure in your furnace.

By slowing down warmth switch and permitting your furnace to run much less, it is possible for you to to make your propane last more.

The simplest method so as to add insulation to your RV is to invest in roof vent covers and reflective foil.

Vent covers will cut back warmth loss by means of your roof vents and you’ll add reflective foil to some or your whole RV home windows to forestall additional warmth loss by means of these thinner panes of glass.

Spend money on a Heated Blanket or Comforter

Invest in a Heated Blanket or Comforter

Chilly nights are usually when most RVers burn by means of propane the quickest. However you can also make your propane last more by turning your thermostat down barely simply earlier than you crawl into mattress.

In any case, there’s no need for the lounge and kitchen areas of your RV to be good and toasty while you’re exploring the dream world.

In case you spend money on a heated electrical blanket, it is possible for you to to remain good and comfortable in mattress whereas additionally lowering your nightly propane consumption.

The one draw back to this technique is chilly mornings. So it helps to prep issues like your espresso maker or tea kettle the night time earlier than.

That method, you may get up, flip up the thermostat and begin your most well-liked sizzling morning beverage, after which crawl again beneath your heated blanket till issues heat up a bit!


If in case you have a comparatively new RV or journey trailer, the digital monitoring methods onboard take a whole lot of the stress out of getting to understand how lengthy propane lasts in an RV.

However in case you have an older rig, you’ll need to be extra diligent.

Hopefully, the ideas and insights we have now offered above will enable you preserve propane when wanted and calculate simply how lengthy you may go when you fill the tank (or tanks) in your rig.

Till subsequent time, we want you the security and most adventurous RV journeys within the months to come back!

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