When I first got started going on RV trips, I was overwhelmed by everything I needed to keep track of. There are so many things to track, that it’s easy to let some things fall through the cracks.

For me, the thing I forgot was to pack extra propane and trust me, you DON’T want to fall into that situation. As a result, it’s crucial that you learn how to hook up an external propane tank.

Running out of propane isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be dangerous.

If you’re not able to heat your RV when you’re in a cold environment, you run the risk of getting hypothermia. Fortunately, hooking up an external propane tank isn’t THAT difficult.

3 steps to installing an external propane tank

Before you start the three steps that I’m going to outline below, you’re going to prepare by purchasing a few things. Firstly, you’ll obviously need a propane tank. It doesn’t need to be a massive 100 lb propane tank, but the larger the tank you get, the longer it will last.

You should also purchase an external propane tank adaptor.

Also note that if you’re not comfortable installing an external propane tank by yourself, you can take your RV to a certified RV technician. They should be able to install the propane tank quickly, and it shouldn’t cost you too much.

1. Disconnect the propane regulator from your permanent propane tank

The thing you’ll need to do first to start this step is located the propane tank connection point on your RV. Additionally, you should have a propane regulator connected to your propane tank at this point.

Ensure that the gas is turned off and disconnect the regulator from the propane tank.

Depending on the propane tank, you might need to remove the cover from your regulator if yours has one.

2. Install the external propane tank adaptor

Once you have completed the previous step, you can start the installation process. You’ll install the external propane tank adaptor so that it permanently connects between your RVs permanent propane tank and the propane regulator.

The first thing you need to do is attach Port A directly to the permanent propane tank. You can do this by screwing it in counterclockwise.

Then, you can attach the propane regulator to Port B of your new external propane tank adapter. Like with the previous step, screw it in counterclockwise.

You then need to make sure that there are no leaks. This can be tested by using a soapy water mixture and spraying it over all of your connections.

If you notice any leaks, tighten them or contact an RV service technician for assistance.

Once you are certain that there are no leaks, you can reinstall the cover over your regulator. However, note that not all regulators have a cover, so you might not need to do this.

3. Connect your external propane tank

The last thing you need to do is connect your brand new external propane tank.

To do this, you should attach the quarter inch inverted flare end of the 5 ft. hose to Port D.

Then attach the P.O.L. end to the external propane tank.

Once this is done the gas from the external tank should flow through the regulator that you attached to your permanent tank earlier.

What do you need propane for in an RV?

Photo by EJ Strat / Unsplash

Propane is the most important energy source that exists in an RV, but what is it used for?

The most common thing you’ll use it for is cooking. If you have a gas stove in your RV, then it’ll be powered by propane.

Additionally, propane can be used to power the heating system in your RV. This means that it’s responsible for keeping you cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.

It also heats your water so that you can take hot showers. Propane is even used to keep your refrigerator running.

It’s common for RVs to use a combination of propane and electricity to power the rig as a whole. However, while it’s important to have a generator, a significant of RVers still use propane as their primary power source.

Either way, it’s helpful to install an external propane tank so that it’s never in short supply.

Are there any downsides to using propane in RVs?

While installing an external RV propane tank might sound like a reasonable thing to do, and it is, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no downsides to using propane. Propane is a very useful resource, but it has its problems, and one of those is related to the regulator.

Regulator failure is quite common as they typically only last for 8 to 10 years. When your regulator eventually breaks, you’ll notice irregularities in the flow of your propane. This can be very dangerous, so it’s important that you replace it as soon as this happens.

What are the dangers of propane leaks?

Propane leaks are incredibly dangerous, and as a result, it’s important to be prepared in the event that one occurs. If you have a propane leak, you’ll probably notice it from the smell.

Additionally, most modern RVs come with detectors that should alert you if there is a leak. If you have a detector, make sure to test it before you start your trip.

If a leak occurs, turn off your RV all appliances as soon as possible. Propane is a highly flammable material, and as a result, an explosion could occur if it’s exposed to fire.

Propane leaks are incredibly dangerous, but they are also easy to manage. So long as you take the proper precautions, you should not run into many propane related issues.

Final thoughts

If you plan on going on an extended RV trip, I highly recommend that you install an external propane tank.

It might sound like a hassle, but I assure you that it’s not. Plus, you will thank me halfway through your trip when you still have propane to cook your meals.

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One thing you might want to know when hooking up an external propane tank is what temperature propane freezes at: At What Temperature Does Propane Freeze?