Staying in your RV for extended periods of time can be a great experience. If your heat runs out in the middle of the night, this may make your experience less fun. The guide below will go over the typical capacities and length of time accessories in your travel trailer will run.
How long does propane last in a travel trailer?
The propane tanks in your travel trailer should last for a week camping trip or more. This is including usage of the heater, hot water tank, stove, as well as running the fridge on LP mode. If you have dual propane tanks, you should get even longer than one week.
The usage of propane will vary depending on how large your RV is and how many people will be utilizing items in your travel trailer. Some RV’s have two tanks and some one, these tanks may be 20 or 30 pound as well. Read on to the guide on propane usage below.
Travel Trailer Propane Use Guide
How long the propane will last in your travel trailer will depend on your tank sizes, amount of tanks, usage, how large your RV is, how many showers are taken, as well as how much heat is used.
Last year, we went camping in our 20’ travel trailer for 8 days with temperatures ranging from 25 at night to 45 in the day. We ran heat every night as well as when we were in the trailer during the day. We also used the propane fridge, stove, oven, as well as the propane water heater for showers. Through the whole trip, we didn’t even use one whole 20 pound tank over the 8 day trip.
RV Propane Tank Capacity
Most Travel Trailers today come with two 20 pound propane tanks. Here is a good example of a estimate of energy you carry in your travel trailer: 1 pound of propane is 21,591 BTU. If you have a 20 pound propane tank, it is capable of providing 431,820 BTU. Two tanks would equal 863,640 BTU’s. Some travel trailer owners upgrade to 30 pound tanks as they will provide about 33% more run time.
Travel Trailer Heater Usage Guide
The heater in our Winnebago is 18,000 BTU and is a common power for travel trailers our size.
If the heater in your travel trailer was capable of 18,000 BTU per hour, and you ran it nonstop (which it turns off once to temperature) it could run almost 48 hours continuously.
A common upgrade many travel trailer owners complete is upgrading their 20 pound tanks to 30 pound tanks. If you have two 30 pound tanks, expect another 33% more runtime on your devices with the additional 20 pounds of capacity.
In practical usage, your propane heater may run 15 minutes per every hour you are in your RV and not at all if you turn your thermostat down when you are gone.
If you have your thermostat set on a constant temperature, you may get 8 days out of your propane tanks provided your heater runs 15 minutes for every hour. Keep in mind, when you are gone from your RV for 8 hours on a drive or a trip in town, you will have no usage if you turn your heat off.
These numbers all vary depending on temperature outside, insulation in your travel trailer, degrees setpoint on your thermostat, as well as other usage. Like I said before, we lasted 8 days on less than one tank, but we would just use it to warm up as soon as we were in the trailer and keep bundled up during the day, but run heat at night as we have a little one.
Travel Trailer Water Heater Propane Usage
The water heater in your RV can typically run off of electric 110v power or propane gas. A typical water heater is 6 gallons and runs about 8,800 BTU per hour. The water heater in our Winnebago Micro Minnie takes about 20-30 minutes to heat up while on propane.
To heat 6 gallons using these numbers will take about 4,400 BTU. Keeping the water heated will take less energy as it is already hot. If you are heating water for 2 hours per day taking a few showers and washing dishes, you should be able to get 50 days out of your propane tank if this is the only use and the hot water heater is turned off after use.
Travel Trailer Fridge Propane Usage
Fridge manufacturers don’t typically report on the usage of propane in their units, but I have read from several sources that you can get 30 days plus of usage as long as you are supplying 12 v power for the control module.
Travel Trailer Stove / Oven Propane Usage
A typical Dometic RV oven and 3 burner range has four propane uses. Two rear 6,500 BTU burners, one 9,000 BTU front burner, as well as the burner in the oven. RV oven BTU usage is typically unlisted, but once the oven reaches temperature, the oven doesn’t use much more BTU’s depending on the cooking time. If you heat soup for 20 minutes on medium on your rear burner, you will use about 1,072 BTU or hardly anything compared to the capacity of two propane tanks.
Propane Tank Care and Regulator Usage
I always keep my tanks clean and valves clear of debris and check for leaks in the valves and regulator every trip. Our travel trailer has a propane tank cover which is always installed. We always turn off our propane when we are driving as a precaution.
Our travel trailer is equipped with an automatic propane tank switch over regulator. If one tank is empty, it will automatically switch over to the new unused tank. This regulator can also be used to manually switch over tanks as well.
Personally, I only use the manual switchover as if I run out of propane, I want to know. If you use an auto switchover, you may be out in your #1 tank and burn out of your #2 tank without knowing, leaving you out of propane. When our first tank burns out, we switch to propane tank #2 and fill the first one. This insures that we always have propane on board for our camping or cooking trips.
How much propane does a furnace use per hour?
A propane furnace will use just less than one pound of propane per hour of continuous use. Typically your furnace will only run for 15 minutes or so per hour depending on your thermostat setpoint and the temperature outside.
Can I use propane fridge when driving?
This subject is highly debated. It is not recommended to use a propane fridge while driving as the propane line may rupture during an accident and cause fire or explosion. Your RV fridge has good insulation and will keep temperature for several hours of being off.
How to switch propane tanks?
To switch propane tanks if you have two with a switch over regulator, simply close your old tank, switch the valve, then open the new tank. If you only have a single propane tank, close the valve, unmount your old tank, mount your new tank, screw in the regulator, and open the valve.
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