What Sizes Are Camper Propane Tanks?

Written on: June 17, 2024

Pico Can Help You Hit the Road with a Full Cylinder

camper propane tank Uvalde, TX Here comes summer—and with it, the urge to hit the road. Whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains, or on a cross-country tour, you’ll likely need some propane to fuel cooking equipment. Pico has you covered with propane tank refill and exchange locations across our service territory.

If you’re new to camping, you may have questions about what size propane tank you need.

It depends on the type of camping you are doing.

All About ASME Tanks:

Using a motor home? You’ll have what is called an ASME tank (it meets the standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers). It’s sized specifically and built into the body of your motor home.

ASME tanks usually have a capacity of about 100 pounds. They do not need to be recertified, but you should inspect your tank regularly for signs of rust and replace it if necessary.

When you need a fill-up you need to go to a propane service station.

All About DOT tanks

If you are using a travel trailer, you have a DOT cylinder, which meets the standards of, and is certified by the Department of transportation. Most people know these as portable tanks or cylinders. The most common sizes for campers are 20, 30 or 40 pounds.

These tanks can be used for camping, as well as for grills, fire pits, patio heaters, and more. On travel trailers and towed campers, they are mounted on the exterior or in a storage compartment, and are removeable for easy refilling or exchanging for a full tank. They must be recertified after the first 10 years, and then every five years by a qualified dealer.

Refill or Exchange?

What’s the difference between refilling or exchanging your portable propane tank? Some people appreciate the swap-and-go convenience of a cylinder exchange. But savvy customers love the ease and the savings they get by refilling. When you own your propane tank and refill it, you can save money in a few ways.

First, you’ll save on the price of the propane. The difference can be up to $1.75 per gallon!

You also save because you’ll pay only for the propane you use. When you choose to refill your propane tank, you’re only buying the propane to fill the rest of your cylinder.

When you exchange your tank for a full one, you’re charged for all the propane in the cylinder—including the propane left in the tank when you take it to be exchanged. Because think about it: When you see your propane cylinder is starting to run low, your instinct is to take it in to exchange before you run out. So unless you run them until they’re completely empty, you could be wasting half a tank or more over the span of a few tanks.

Track Your Propane Level

An ASME tank will have a gauge that will let you see when you are running low, so you can get a fill-up before you set up in a remote location and then realize you need propane.

For portable cylinders, which don’t come with a gauge, there are easy ways to make sure you don’t run out.

Here’s three ways to keep track of propane levels in your propane grill tank.

  1. Water Trick: Fill a small bucket with hot tap water and pour it down the side of the cylinder. Then run your hand down the side of the tank and find the point where it turns cool. That’s the level of the gas. (The liquid propane inside the tank absorbs heat from the water, which makes the metal wall of the tank cool to the touch.)
  2. Weight Check: Check the cylinder for markings that let you know the “tare weight” or TW, the weight of the tank when empty. A 20-pound tank usually weighs about 17 pounds when empty. To calculate how much propane is in the tank, place the cylinder on a scale (a basic bathroom scale will work) and subtract the tare weight from the amount shown on the scale. So, if your 20-pound cylinder weighs 27 pounds, and the tare weight is 17, you have 10 pounds of propane or about half a tank. Or, pick up a digital propane tank scale at your local hardware store. Most come with a digital app to let you know when it’s time for a fill-up.
  3. Add a Gauge: You can buy a gauge to install between the gas line from the grill and the cut-off valve on the tank. It will measure the pressure and show you how full the tank is.

Of course, you can always keep a spare on hand for your grill at home, but this isn’t always an option when you’re traveling.

Ready to Hit the Road?

Whether you need a cylinder refill or exchange, or you want to pick up an extra propane tank so you always have a spare, Pico is here and happy to help you with our convenient tank refill and exchange service.

We’ve got multiple locations for fast, convenient tank refills and exchanges across Texas and New Mexico. Contact us for more information today!