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Calculating RV Propane Usage

Mar 7, 2017

When you are boondocking or planning on camping for a long period without using hookups an important thing to know is if you will have enough propane to keep things powered during your trip. No one wants to be in the middle of an RV adventure and run out of propane rendering the stove, water heater, etc. useless.

Here is how you can roughly calculate/estimate how long the propane in your tanks will power the appliances in your RV:

Calculating RV Propane Usage

First you will need to know how much gas your tank/s can hold when full. RV propane tanks are full at 80% capacity to allow for the liquid gas to expand.When you have a tank filled after it is empty ask the attendant how much it took to fill. If you are renting an RV the RV rental company should be able to provide this information.

Now that you know how much gas is in your propane tank you will want to figure out the BTU capacity of the container with a little multiplication using one of the following methods:

-There are 91,502 BTUs per gallon of propane

-There are 21,548 BTUs per pound

When you have determined the total BTUs in your propane tank measured by your preferred unit of gallons or pounds you can now divide the BTU capacity of the propane tank by the BTU usage or demand of a specific gas appliance in the RV. (You can find the BTU demand of a certain appliance on the tag on the appliance itself or in the appliance owner’s manual.)This will give you the rough estimate you are looking for of how long you can power that appliance with the amount of propane in the tank.

Here is an example of all the steps in action: If your RV propane tanks holds 14 gallons of propane gas when it’s full, you would multiply 14 X 91,502. The result is 1,281,028. Next you would take this number and divide it by the total BTU demand of any gas appliances you will be using. Keeping with our example, you add up the BTU demand of the stove, water heater, and heater; let’s say the total BTU demand will be 43,800 BTUs. The answer after dividing 1,281,028 by 43,800 is 29. In this case you would have roughly 29 hours of stove, water heater, and heat use before running out of propane.

Another thing to remember is that you will need to keep the outside temperature in mind when calculating gas usage. The colder the weather the faster your propane will get used up. When temps are extremely cold below zero degrees the BTU hourly capacity can be reduced by 50% or more.

For more useful and helpful RV camping tips or information on renting an RV for your next camping adventure please feel free to browse our website or contact us anytime.