How to Hook Up External Propane Tank to RV?

Experienced RV users often use propane for a variety of things. Aside from using it for cooking, you can also use propane to heat up the interior of the RV, supply hot water for the passengers, and act as a refrigerant.

However, there are times when the onboard propane tanks do not supply enough propane for the needs of the passengers. This is the reason why you need to know how to hook up external propane tank to RV.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Propane

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There are so many advantages to using propane that listing them here will take too much space. With that in mind, let us just discuss a couple of the more important ones, including the following:

There is a huge supply – You can find plenty of propane mainly because it is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process. This means that its supply is directly connected to the supply of petroleum products. Presently, since petroleum is widely available and there is a huge supply of it, there is also plenty of propane to go around.

However, if there is a worldwide event that will have an effect on the world’s supply of petroleum (like armed conflicts), then you can expect that the supply of propane will also drop and its price to go up.

Price – Speaking of price, one of the biggest advantages of using propane is that it is very cost-effective. You can, literally and figuratively, get more bang for your buck when you choose to use propane.

Propane burns efficiently, which is why propane-fueled appliances have much shorter energy savings payback periods compared to those that use other types of fuel. This means that you will recoup your initial investment much faster due to higher energy savings and fuel economy.

Safety – If you get your propane tanks from reliable sources, it is quite a safe fuel to use. However, since it is a highly flammable substance, it also comes with a couple of risks. For one thing, propane gas is heavier than air so when a leaking tank is placed in an enclosed space, it will drop to the floor so you would not even smell it.

When you do get a whiff of propane, there is already enough concentration of it in the air to cause a massive explosion. Moreover, propane is stored in a pressurized container, so if the tank accidentally gets punctured or ruptured, it can cause a sudden and devastating explosion.

Environment-friendly – One of the biggest advantages to using propane gas for fuel is that it is one of the most environmentally friendly fuel sources. Propane meets all the clean air energy standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Propane is non-toxic. It dissolves in water and because it turns into a gas at temperatures exceeding -44 degrees F, it does not spill and form pools on the ground neither does it penetrate into the groundwater.

Versatility – Propane has a variety of different uses, especially in the RV. The most obvious uses include cooking and heating up the interior of the RV during particularly cold days. Did you know that you can also use propane as a refrigerant? Thanks to its extremely low temperature of evaporation (-44 degrees F), propane kept in its liquid form is cold enough to run an efficient refrigerator.

Why Would you Want to Hook up External Tanks to your RV?

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As mentioned earlier, there are times when the onboard propane tanks in an RV will not have enough propane for your needs. This is especially true when you will be staying at one particular place for an extended period.

What you would usually do when the propane in your RV runs out is to drive it out to a propane refilling station and have it charged up with more propane. This can get quite tedious after a while. Would it not be better if you go buy a large propane tank from a nearby seller and hook it up to your RV so that you will have enough to last your entire trip?

Yes, it will be more convenient that way. However, the connectors used on your onboard tanks are not compatible with regular propane tanks. Does this mean that this is not possible? Of course not. There are several ways that you can connect your RV to external propane tanks and one of the most popular means is to use adapters, which will be discussed more later.

How Do RVers Use Propane?

There are generally two ways that you can use propane in your RV. Either you convert your on-board generator to run on propane or you have a propane line installed in your RV so you can use propane to cook, keep the interior warm, and use it as a refrigerant (propane has a evaporating point of -43 degrees F).

So if you have a propane system hooked up to your RV and you see a white fog coming out of the propane tank or in any of the joints then this means there is a propane leak (the white fog that you see is the liquid propane evaporating).

Do not attempt to repair the leaks yourself as the propane gas is kept at such a low temperature that it can cause frostbite after just a couple of minutes of exposure. Just turn off the valve at the tank (if you have access to it) and call a professional technician to handle the repairs.

If you see a white fog leaking from your propane tank or any connection point, then this indicates a leak as this is the visual appearance of low-temperature propane vapor. Because it is so cold, it can easily cause frostbite, so do not try to repair the leak yourself.

Call a propane dealer immediately. Avoid using anything electrical or that can cause a spark and stay far away from the leak. Get out of the RV and wait outside while the technician is on his way.

How to Connect an RV to an External Propane Tank?

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If you will be parking your RV in one location indefinitely, like if you will be situating your RV in a trailer park, you will need to hook up your RV to bigger external propane tanks. This is important so you do not have to drive down to the refilling station every time your propane tanks are empty. The best part about all this is that it is very easy to do.

The first step is to locate and purchase a Propane-T, which is a pipe fixture that will allow you to connect your RV’s onboard propane regulator to an external propane tank. Once you have purchased this part, you just need to screw this into your regulator port.

Does this mean that you can no longer use your propane-fueled grill since the regulator port is already in use? No, because the fitting is a T-fitting and the extra port is for connecting your grill or any other outdoor appliance that needs propane.

The other port of the Propane-T is where you can connect the heavy-duty rubber hose that will connect to the propane tank. You can just directly connect the rubber hose and use a small belt clamp to secure it in place or you can get a quick connect kit so it will be easier to install and remove when needed.

You do not necessarily need to get a propane tank regulator because your RV already has one installed but if you want to be on the safe side then go ahead and get one. First, connect the other end of the rubber hosing into the flange connector in the regulator. Secure it with a belt clamp and then connect the regulator to the tank.

Turn on the propane tank and you are ready to go. Just to be sure that your connections are air-tight, get a plastic spray bottle and pour a bit of soapy water into it. Spray the connections of the hose and the other fittings with soapy water. If you find bubbles forming then you should turn off the propane and tighten your connections a bit more.

Conclusion

Although an RV is meant to be mostly mobile, there are times when you will want to stay at one place for an extended period. When that happens, you need to have plenty of propane to last for the rest of your stay and sadly, the 20-pound tanks that usually come with RVs do not hold nearly enough propane for more than a couple of days.

This is why it is important that you know how to hook up external propane tank to RV so that you will have more than enough propane for your needs. Fortunately, it is quite easy to connect external propane tanks to the system in your travel trailer or recreational vehicle.

All you need is a couple of simple parts and tools. Once you have all these, you can even do it yourself. Once you hook up a larger propane tank to your RV, you can stay in your campsite for as long as you want.

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