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How Long Does Propane Last in an RV? (And Tips to Make Propane Last Longer)

Updated on April 16, 2023

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Wondering how long your RV propane tank will last? There’s no denying that staying in your RV for long periods is an incredible experience. But imagine this: It’s the middle of winter, your propane tanks run out, and so does your heat. Doesn’t sound fun, right?

how long does propane last in an rv

How long propane lasts depends on various factors, including how large your RV is, how many people are using the items in the RV, and the size and amounts of propane tanks present. 

So keep reading ahead to learn how long propane will last in your RV, refill locations, and some handy tips to make your propane last longer. 

How Long Does Propane Last In RV?

It can get super frustrating if you can’t gauge the remaining propane in your RV propane tanks. Imagine going on a trip and running out of fuel to start your water heater in extreme cold. It definitely doesn’t get any worse than this. 

While some RV propane tanks come with a gauge to tell you exactly how much fuel is left, some don’t.

So what do you do if your propane tank doesn’t have a gauge? Lift it and see if you can tell how much propane is left by how heavy it feels? That’s pretty low tech for a Google savvy RV user like you. So, here are the exact calculations:

You need two crucial determinants to know exactly how long your propane tanks will last:

  •  The capacity of your propane tank,
  •  The number of BTUs your water heater, furnace, and stovetop will consume.

While you may be aware of the propane tank capacity (ranges between 5 to 7 gallons on an average), you may not know the British Thermal Units consumed. Check your appliance’s user manual and note down their average BTU usage somewhere to figure that out.

A gallon of propane can give you 91,500 BTUs on average. So, if you have a seven-gallon propane tank, it will provide you with 640,500 (7×91500) BTUs. Going back, suppose:

  • Your stovetop uses 10,000 BTUs
  • The water heater uses 10,000 BTUs
  • The heater uses 30,000 BTUs 

(All these estimates are hourly).

The total BTU for these numbers is 50,000 BTU per hour. Now that you have both of the determinants, all you need to do is to divide the first number by the second like this:

640,500/50,000=12.81 hours (12 hours 48 minutes 36 seconds)

Assuming 100% efficiency (in reality, the efficiency of burning propane is about 98%) and if you keep all your appliances running, your seven-gallon propane tank will last you 12.81 hours.

Deriving from all the maths we did above, here’s a simple formula to make it work for anyone:

The average time a Propane tank lasts = (The gallon capacity of the tank x 91500) / Number of BTUs per hour all the RV appliances use

How Long Does a 30lbs Propane Tank Last in an RV?

A 30 lbs propane tank has an average 7 gallons propane capacity. Therefore, by using the formula, you can easily calculate the time your propane tank will last on your next trip:

Here’s a mock calculation:

  • The gallon capacity of the tank x 91500 = 7×91500 = 640,500
  • Number of BTUs per hour all the appliances use = 50,000

The answer:

The average time a Propane tank lasts = 640500 / 50,000 = 12.81 (12 hours 48 minutes 36 seconds)

With a 30 lb tank in ideal conditions, you can survive up to 12.81 hours of continuous stovetop, water heater, and heater usage in your RV.

How Long Does a 20lbs Propane Tank Last in an RV?

A 20 lbs propane tank has an average of 4.6 gallons of LP capacity. Therefore, using the formula, you can easily calculate the time your propane tank will last on your next trip.

Here’s a mock calculation:

  • The gallon capacity of the tank x 91500 = 4.6×91500 = 420,900
  • Number of BTUs per hour all the appliances use = 50,000

The answer:

The average time a Propane tank lasts = 420900 / 50,000 = 8.42 (8hours and 25 minutes 12 seconds)

With a 20 lb tank in ideal conditions, you can survive up to 8.42 hours of continuous stovetop, water heater, and heater usage in your RV.

How Long Does a 40lbs Propane Tank Last in an RV?

A 40 lbs propane tank has an average 9.4 gallons LP capacity. Therefore, using the formula, you can easily calculate the time your propane tank will last on your next trip.

Here’s a mock calculation:

  • The gallon capacity of the tank x 91500 = 9.4×91500 = 860,100
  • Number of BTUs per hour all the appliances use = 50,000

The answer:

The average time a Propane tank lasts = 860,100 / 50,000 = 17.20 (17 hours 12 minutes)

With a 40 lb propane tank in ideal conditions, your propane supply will last up to 17.20 hours if you continuously run all your appliances.

So, the time an RV LP tank lasts depends on the thermal units all your appliances are consuming. The less you consume, the more hours the tank will survive. As simple as that.

What Uses the Most Propane in an RV?

An RV furnace will use the most propane in an RV. While the appliances like a water heater, heater, RV refrigerator, and stove/oven tops use propane through your RV propane tank, none consume as much propane as an RV furnace.

An RV furnace will consume up to one-third gallon of propane in an hour. This heavy propane usage is mostly due to the dependence of your RV on an RV furnace for all its functions. That’s why propane usage by your RV furnace is higher than all other RV appliances.

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<span style="color: #01343d">About</span> Editorial Staff

About Editorial Staff

We’re passionate about all things RV and camper, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your camping experience a success!

<span style="color: #01343d">About</span> Editorial Staff

About Editorial Staff

We’re passionate about all things RV and camper, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your camping experience a success!