An RV can use propane for heating, running a refrigerator, and cooking. It’s not uncommon for RVers to run low or out of propane. If that’s the case, you won’t be able to use your appliances. You’ll likely find yourself wondering where to fill up propane tanks for ease of service and the best price. We’ve found some excellent places to fill a propane tank during our adventures.
Today, we’ll look at some of our favorite places to fill our propane tanks. Let’s get started!
Is It Better to Refill or Exchange Empty Propane Tanks?
When getting propane, you typically have to choose between refilling or exchanging your empty propane tanks, specifically for 20lb tanks. While the cost is often similar, you should only exchange your propane tank if it is empty. If you trade in a propane tank that isn’t empty, you’re giving the propane company any propane left in your tank for free. However, there is a convenience factor to trading.
Also, if your RV came with new propane tanks, its possible that by trading it in, you will end up with an older rusty tank. We never trade because we have tank-level sensors and newer tanks we don’t want to lose.
There are many convenient locations to get your propane tanks refilled. This helps avoid paying for a full tank if your tank isn’t quite empty. However, some places charge based on the size of the tank and don’t measure how much they refill.
We learned this lesson the hard way by paying for an entire propane tank when the tank was only half empty. We now ask the attendant how they charge for propane whenever we’re filling up at an unfamiliar spot.
Can I Refill My Propane Tank Myself?
It is uncommon but possible to refill your propane tank yourself in some locations. Usually, vehicle propane filling stations allow you to fill propane yourself, but you will need an adapter and in some locations filling a portable tank this way is illegal. We have only filled propane ourselves when in europe where the standards are a bit different. In general in North America, you will not be filling your own tank.
Propane is a hazardous gas and requires proper training to handle it safely. Making a mistake can be very costly and have some tragic results. We strongly recommend that you leave refilling your propane tanks to a professional, especially if you don’t have the appropriate experience or it’s illegal where you live.
Most times, you will ask an attendant to come out to fill the tank(s). They will have large protective gloves on and know exactly how to work the dispenser.
What Size Are Most RV Propane Tanks?
RVs generally use different size propane tanks depending on the size of the RV. The most common tank sizes used in RVs are 20lbs and 30lbs, but you will also occasionally find 40lbs. A 20lb tank is what you’re probably most familiar with using for your backyard grill. They store approximately 4.6 gallons of liquid propane gas (LPG). Many travel trailers will use one or two 20 lb tanks.
The next most common size is 30lb, which is slightly taller than the 20lb version but otherwise the same cylinder diameter. Larger fifth wheels may use one or two of these 30 lb tanks. They hold 7 gallons of LPG and weigh 55lbs when full.
Some fifth wheels may even come with 40lb propane tanks, which hold 9.4 gallons of propane and weighs 72 lbs when completely full. While this amount is convenient for long periods without refilling, maneuvering these larger tanks can be more of a trick. You’ll often want to try to bring your RV right to the fill station so you don’t have to lift and move them too much.
Motorhomes, however, typically don’t use removable propane tanks. Most models have large, non-standard sizes installed on board in one of the storage bays in the undercarriage area. These RVs must be refilled on-site, which narrows down the number of places you can get propane from. For instance, our 45′ Monaco motorhome has a 27-gallon LPG tank.
The larger the tank, the longer you can go between fill-ups. However, the convenience factor of smaller tanks makes them practical for smaller RVs and short trips. You should know what size propane tanks you have for your RV before filling them.
Pro Tip: Make sure you know all of the Dos and Don’ts of Propane Tank Storage before you hit the road.
Our 6 Favorite Places to Fill Our Propane Tanks
There are a handful of places where we’ve had great luck filling our propane tanks while traveling. If you need propane, you might want to consider one of these locations. Let’s take a look!
We’ve stayed in several RV parks that offer propane services. This can be convenient, especially if you’re in a motorhome where you can’t remove your tanks. Pricing varies by RV park, but it’s worth paying a premium price if you’re already staying there.
Gas stations (gasoline and diesel) frequently offer propane services. Unfortunately, not all of them do and many of them don’t advertise the propane well. Usually, if we fill at a gas station it’s just because we saw it driving down the road and stopped out of convenience. If you fill locally, look for propane at gas stations as you drive around to get to know which ones fill.
Gas station propane availability also tends to vary significantly by geographic location. Some regions don’t seem to have any propane at gas stations, while others have it at every corner.
We have found that gas stations vary wildly on how knowledgeable the attendants are about propane and sometimes charge us incorrectly based on weight vs. gallons filled.
Home Improvement And Hardware Stores
Some hardware stores like Tractor Supply Co. or ACE Hardware will offer propane refill services. Like other locations, they may charge by gallon or pound when refilling your tank. It’s best to confirm with the store whether they charge by the gallon or refill to avoid getting overcharged if your tank isn’t empty.
You can of course, call and ask if they offer propane, or we frequently look at the satellite imagery for allocation as its usually easy to see the propane tank alongside the store.
The larger home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot rarely offer these services. They may provide propane exchanges, but we recommend refilling your propane tank instead of exchanging it if you want to get the best bang for your buck.
Many people overlook U-Haul facilities when looking for a place to refill their propane tanks. Not every U-Haul rental location offers propane services, but those that do are often cost-effective options.
You can conveniently find the nearest U-Haul location that offers propane service. These locations refill propane and provide a small selection of propane accessories.
Many RV dealers look for any opportunity to attract potential customers. Offering propane refills for RV propane tanks is an ideal way to get customers in the door.
If you’re struggling to find a spot to fill your propane tanks, you might want to give the local RV dealers a call and see if they offer the service. You may need to call more than one RV dealer, but there’s a chance you’ll eventually hit the jackpot and find one that can help you fill your tanks.
Pro Tip: Protect your propane tanks by getting one of these 7 Best RV Propane Tank Covers.
If you are a Costco member, this is a great place to fill up! Not all Costcos have propane service, so call ahead to check. They have great prices and a fast attendant who works out of the tire shop. If you time your arrival for a less-busy time, you may even be able to get a larger rig in the parking lot.
Local Gas Companies
If you’re struggling to find a place to fill up on propane, the local gas company is an option but usually our last choice. Because these companies deal with large quantities, we have found that a single tank fill is usually low on their priority, and many times, they want to keep the tank for a while or schedule the fill. This is not convenient for filling on the move.
However, this is an excellent option for those who remain stationary in colder climates and go through a lot of propane. You can sometimes buy propane in bulk can get you a much better price than buying it in smaller amounts. These companies usually deliver as well, and It’s also more convenient not to constantly worry about running out of propane.
How Can I Avoid Running Out of Propane?
We found a trick to avoid running out of propane. If you have multiple propane tanks, the key is to open a single tank at a time. When one tank is empty, go out and close the empty tank and open the full tank.
You then need to make sure that you add “get propane” to your to-do list. While simple, this trick has helped us avoid running out of propane when we need it most.
Additionally, you can use LPG level checks to keep an eye on your tank levels. Our two favorite is the LPG Check by AP Products and the Dometic LP Gas Checker.
Know Where to Fill Propane When You Need It
By using our tips to avoid running out of propane, and this list of places to fill up your tanks, you should have no problem keeping your tanks filled. Trying to track down propane can be stressful, especially if you’re in a remote area.
If you’re dependent on propane for heat or preparing meals, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of propane before heading out. You don’t want to arrive at your campsite and discover that your propane tanks are empty.
Where do you turn when you need to fill up your propane tanks? Tell us in the comments!
Become A Mortons On The Move Insider
Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!
Read More From The Mortons:
Friday 3rd of June 2022
We use our travel trailer year-round, and propane heating has become expensive. Electric heaters can also be convenient, but I'm going to add a diesel fueled heater. Even though current diesel fuel prices are over $5.40, diesel has approximately 150% more BTUs/gallon, making it comparable or even cheaper than 20lb refills (bulk rates are cheaper). I'm also considering convenience, its simple to check fuel levels, and bring home a 5 gallon Jerry can as needed. 5kw units (theoretically 14k BTU/hr) run about $100 on Ebay.
Sunday 29th of May 2022
You left out the easiest: most large highway truck stops like Loves or Flying-J, Easy in/out.
Mortons on the Move
Wednesday 22nd of June 2022