How to Connect Propane to your RV and Safely Turn it On

How to Connect Propane to your RV and Safely Turn it On

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Propane is an important gasoline supply for RVs. It is used to function home equipment like your water heater, furnace, fridge, oven, and cooktop, and it’s particularly very important whenever you’re boondocking with out electrical hookups. 

Because it’s a flammable liquid, you could know the way to join propane and safely flip it on, and that’s true whether or not you’re renting an RV otherwise you personal a new motorhome. So let’s cowl the fundamentals of RV LP methods and the way to use them. 

The Different LP Containers and Their Locations

Cylinder Location on Travel Trailer Photo by Camping World

There are two forms of LP containers: DOT cylinders and ASME tanks. DOT cylinders are the detachable kind on most journey trailers and fifth wheels. ASME tanks are the kind which can be completely mounted to the body or ground of motorhomes and accessed via an exterior compartment door.

  • DOT = Department of Transportation
  • ASME = American Society of Mechanical Engineers

On journey trailers, you’ll usually discover DOT cylinders mounted to the trailer’s tongue or, in rarer circumstances, to the rear bumper. On fifth wheels, the cylinders will normally be discovered inside a storage compartment.

Cylinder Location on fifth Wheel Photo by Camping World

Towable RVs might have one or two cylinders, with each being present in the identical location on journey trailers however generally being situated on reverse sides of a fifth wheel

Remember {that a} propane cylinder cowl protects cylinders from highway particles on journey trailers. If you have got two cylinders, you’ll even have a changeover regulator (automated or guide) that means that you can pull from one tank at a time.

Photo by Tucker Ballister

Throughout the remainder of this text, right here’s your reference information to the language we’ll use when referring to the various kinds of propane tanks: 

  • Tanks = ASME tanks discovered on motorhomes.
  • Cylinders = DOT cylinders discovered on towable RVs. 
  • Containers = the generic time period referring to each. 

Do I Need to Refill or Swap Out My Propane Containers?

Photo by Camping World

Most propane fill stations will prime off tanks or cylinders at your request. The exception is likely to be if the station’s location makes it inconceivable so that you can pull your motorhome shut sufficient for an attendant to refill your tank.

Cylinders may be swapped out or refilled. This gives extra flexibility for towable RV homeowners. But tanks require an LP refill station to prime off propane, which may be extra logistically difficult for motorhome homeowners. 

Propane Safety Tip: If, at any level, you hear a hissing sound or odor a powerful scent of propane, STOP. Close the valve on the LP container and examine the fittings and connections. If the issue persists, shut container valves and contact an RV service skilled. NEVER seek for a propane leak with an open flame.

How to Connect DOT Propane Cylinders

Photo by Camping World

For these coping with propane cylinders, right here’s your step-by-step course of: 

  1. Turn off all LP fuel home equipment inside your RV. This consists of your stovetop, oven, water heater, furnace, fridge, and generator. 
  2. Remove the shroud protecting your LP containers.
  3. Flip the change on the changeover regulator to the container you are usually not eradicating (for 2 container setups). The change needs to be set to a straight vertical place when swapping each containers (or for single-container setups).
  4. Close the valve on prime of the LP container you’re swapping out.
  5. Unscrew the safety bar holding the containers in place.
  6. Unscrew the pigtail from the container(s) you’re swapping out.
  7. Remove the empty container and set it apart.
  8. Place the complete container instead. 
  9. Remove any plastic cap protecting the LP fuel outlet.
  10. Screw the pigtail onto the brand new container. 

Tech Tip: The inexperienced plastic knob on the top of your pigtails ought to solely be tightened by hand. No instruments needs to be used to connect pigtails to LP containers. 

How to Safely Turn Propane On with DOT Propane Cylinders

Photo by Camping World

Now that your crammed cylinder is linked, right here’s the way to safely activate propane on your towable RV: 

  1. Set your changeover regulator change to level towards the container you need to use.
  2. Open the valve on prime of that LP container. Open it partially to permit the system to pressurize, after which open it totally. In a two-container setup, the reserve container valve may be opened in case your changeover regulator is automated.
  3. Check the LP degree indicator on the regulator. It needs to be clear however will change to purple when your first LP container is empty, and it’s time to modify to your second.
  4. Go inside your RV and open a minimum of one window and/or roof vent.
  5. Test essentially the most upstream propane equipment first (the equipment closest to your LP cylinders). Your cooktop is normally your best choice (if relevant).

When you run out of propane, flip off all home equipment and reverse this course of to swap out an previous tank and swap in a brand new one. 

Propane Safety Tip: Valves on all LP cylinders needs to be fully closed earlier than towing.

How to Refill ASME Propane Tanks

Photo by rchat through Shutterstock

Propane tanks ought to solely be refilled at designated places by an attendant that has been educated to take action safely. In preparation for refilling ASME propane tanks, it’s best to: 

  1. Park shut sufficient for the attendant to achieve your propane entry compartment.
  2. Shut off your engine. 
  3. Turn off all propane home equipment, together with your stovetop, oven, water heater, furnace, fridge, and generator.
  4. Instruct all passengers to exit your RV and wait safely at a minimal distance of 25 ft out of your coach. 
  5. Follow any extra directions outlined on the refill station. 

NEVER smoke or function any ignition supply whereas propane is being crammed. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) mandates that propane shelling out tools have to be a minimum of 25 ft from open flames and sparks and 10 ft from flamable supplies.

How to Safety Turn Propane On with ASME Propane Tanks

Photo by Tucker Ballister

Wait till the attendant finishes filling your tank and returns all shelling out tools to its storage location. Then you possibly can proceed with these steps to make sure protected propane operation inside your motorhome. 

  1. Check that the attendant opened the service valve in your tank (accessed via the outside compartment door). 
  2. Go inside your RV and open a minimum of one window and/or roof vent.
  3. Test essentially the most upstream propane equipment first (the equipment closest to your LP tank). Your cooktop is normally your best choice (if relevant).

Propane Safety Tip: Motorhomes are designed for the protected operation of fridges utilizing propane whereas touring. No different propane home equipment needs to be operated whereas driving.

Additional Propane Safety and Usage Tips

Photo by Camping World

Follow the following pointers to make sure the protected, environment friendly operation of your RV’s LP system: 

  • Check your propane cylinder alignment. On journey trailers with cylinders mounted on the tongue, the changeover regulator and repair valve opening ought to face the unit. While your tank cowl gives safety, that is additionally very important for stopping injury from particles flying up whereas towing.
  • Never fill containers previous 80% capability. Propane expands in scorching temperatures, and the strain inside LP containers will increase. Filling previous the 80% threshold creates a major security danger when tenting in scorching climates.
  • Keep containers a minimum of ½ full when winter tenting. Propane boils at -44℉, however boiling happens extra slowly in chilly temperatures, lowering the vaporization fee to downstream home equipment. Keeping your containers at or above 50% capability will increase the wetted floor space contained in the tank and will increase the vaporization fee to maintain your home equipment operational when RVing within the winter.
  • Maintain your propane leak detector. Regularly verify the batteries in your propane leak detector and exchange them if wanted. Follow the producer’s directions to check for purposeful operation at beneficial intervals.

Propane security can’t be taken frivolously, no matter the kind of RV you personal or hire. As extracted, propane is colorless and odorless, however a substance generally known as ethyl mercaptan is added to provide it that rotten egg odor. 

When unsure, and that odor is current, shut off all fuel home equipment and get out till you find a educated RV service technician to troubleshoot your propane system. 

Do you have got any extra questions or feedback about connecting, refilling, or turning on propane on your motorhome or towable RV? Let us know within the feedback under!

Tucker Ballister is a Technical Content Writer for Camping World and a lover of the open highway. You can take a look at extra of his adventures and outside recommendation at


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