Have you ever wondered how long a 30 pounds propane tank last in an RV?
Recreation Vehicles (RVs) are so much fun for camping and road-tripping. They make it possible for you to take the luxuries of home on the road with you wherever you go.
Many of these luxuries include appliances like stoves, refrigerators, heaters, and even bathrooms and showers. Many of these appliances run with the assistance of propane.
As you plan your adventures, you will want to know how long your 30 pounds propane tank will last in an RV before you need to refuel, Well, on average the BTU rating (British Thermal Units) of your appliance is 30,000 BTUs and you are using a 30-pound tank, then your approximate burn time would be about 21.59 hours.
Even when cooking every day, you can make your propane tank last about 1-2 weeks.
Table of Contents
What is Propane?
Propane is also called Liquified Petroleum Gas. Propane is usually sold in a compressed, liquid form.
Propane naturally has no smell, but as a propane leak can be dangerous when it is sold it has an odor added to help with detection.
Propane is sold by either weight or liquid volume. Most propane tanks are classified by the capacity they can contain in pounds.
What sizes of Propane Tanks are Used in RVs?
The most standard size of propane tanks used for RVs is 20 pounds. A 20-pound propane tank will hold about 4.5 gallons of propane.
30-pound propane tanks are also popular for RVs. These tanks will hold about 7 gallons of propane.
Large, Class A motorhomes will often use 40-pound propane tanks instead of the smaller options. These 40-pound propane tanks will hold about 9.4 gallons of propane.
Propane, BTUs, and How Long Your 30-Pound Tank Will Last
The energy produced by propane tanks is primarily measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). BTUs measure the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature (in Fahrenheit) of one pound of water by one degree.
One gallon of propane is approximately able to produce 92,000 BTUs, so a 30 lbs propane tank can produce about 2,760,000 BTUs.
There are many different factors that control how long a 30-pound propane tank will last. Some of these include appliance type and size, BTU rating of the appliance, and if the appliance runs constantly or turns off and on during usage.
Propane burn time calculators are available online, and if we assume that the average BTU rating of your appliance is 30,000 BTUs (which is fairly standard for a grill) and you are using a 30 lbs tank, then your approximate burn time would be about 21.59 hours.
RV Propane Usage: How Long Does Propane Last? >> Check out the video below:
Running the Appliances in Your RV
If we only consider the running time for one appliance (ie. The grill from the above example) we may be able to easily calculate the BTU usage and burn-time capacity of the propane.
However, likely your RV will have multiple appliances and you will use them for different periods of time.
Which Standard RV Appliances Use Propane?
When considering how much propane you will need to power your RV journey, it is important to recognize that some of your appliances will run on electricity while others will primarily use propane.
The most common appliances found in RVs that use propane are:
- Water heaters
The refrigerators and water heaters may have electrical options as well, so you will need to look into the specific specifications of your rig when planning for your RV trip.
Now, we will dig into how long each of those appliances can run in order to create an estimate for a 30-pound propane tank.
Hot Water Heater
Most RV water heaters have a BTU rating of approximately 30,000 to 50,000 BTUs, so if we choose the average of 40,000 BTUs and we use the Propane burn time calculator, we find that you could run your water heater for approximately 16 hours straight on propane before refilling.
Remember, though, that you will likely not leave your water heater running when you are not using it.
RV Refrigerators that use propane will use significantly less propane than water heaters. Many have a BTU rating of about 2,000.
This would give you about 300 hours of burn time if the only appliance you are running on propane is your refrigerator.
If you are using a furnace to help heat your trailer, take note that a larger trailer will require more propane than a smaller trailer or motorhome.
On average, you will need a furnace rated to about 30,000 BTUs in order to heat your trailer.
This would provide you with about 22 hours of burn time with propane if you are using a 30-pound tank. Again, though, you will likely not be running the furnace the entire time.
Stoves are great when you are camping. They make it possible to heat water and food whenever you need them.
Most RV stoves run on propane. Most RV campers have 4 burners on their stoves. These kinds of stoves have BTU ratings of about 6,500 BTUs.
Assuming that you are using a 30-pound propane tank, that would give you approximately 100 hours of burn time.
As with most of the other appliances in your RV, though, you will not be using your stove constantly and you likely will also be using other appliances, which can affect the burn time of your propane.
RV ovens likely get less usage than their stove counterparts. Most RVs are also, though, attached to the stove in some way. The average BTU rating for RV ovens is around 7,000 BTUs.
With a 30-pound propane tank, you would then expect your RV oven to have a burn time of about 92 hours.
Real-Life Application and Burn Time
As you can see, the burn time of different appliances in your RV can greatly vary. If you run all of your appliances 24/7, you would have under 16 hours of burn time.
However, realistically you will have more than 16 hours because you will not be using all of your appliances at once.
Plus, you will turn your appliances off between uses.
When the rubber hits the road, if you use your appliances a couple of times a day for cooking, heat, and showering, you can expect your 30-pound propane tank to last about 48 hours continuously.
If you turn off appliances when you do not need them, you could then spread those 48 hours over 1-2 weeks (depending on how often you cook and shower in the RV).
Making Your Propane Last
The lifespan of your 30 lbs tank of propane is largely dependent on how you use it.
If you run your heater all day and night, you will need to refill your propane tank nearly every two days. If you turn it off, you can last weeks without needing to refill.
If you follow these tips, you can stretch the time between propane refills.
👉 Turn off appliances while you are driving. That does mean all of the appliances, even your refrigerator. Your refrigerator is insulated well enough to keep things cool, even if you drive for several hours.
👉 Time your showers. Water heaters are some of the greatest consumers of propane in your RV. If you limit the time and frequency of your showers, you can really stretch the lifespan of your propane tank.
👉 Buy a propane gauge if your RV does not already have one. This can help you monitor your propane usage to help you better plan your trips.
👉 If you are camping in the winter and need to keep things warm, insulate your trailer. AirSkirts and rugs can help things stay warm without running the heater all of the time.
The lifespan of a 30-pound propane tank in an RV is highly variable. It will depend on which appliances you have and how often you use them.
If you leave all of your appliances on 24/7, your propane tank will last only about one day.
However, if you turn your appliances off when you are not using them and you space out their usage, even when cooking every day, you can make your propane tank last about 1-2 weeks.
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