Propane, Your RV, and You

Having propane to heat and power your RV while camping is almost as important as the RV itself! But many people are unsure how to properly store and use propane while operating their trailers and motorhomes. Well, Wisconsin RV World in Deforest, WI has you covered with some great tips for storing and using propane to keep you and your family safe on your next camping adventure!

Propane Basics

We’ve all dealt with propane at one point or another in our lives. Whether it was setting up a camp stove, firing up a barbeque, or heating your home. Propane is one of the many amazing substances that makes RVing the comfortable convenient pastime that we know, so it’s important that you know some basic information about propane before you hit the road. Propane is a gas at room temperature. In fact, propane is a gas at any temperature above -44° F ( the boiling point). This is one of the very reasons that propane is so useful! To get propane from a transportable liquid to a burnable gas, all you need to do is expose it to room temperature air and you’re ready to go, no carburetor or other tools needed. This also means that propane needs to be stored at very high pressures to keep it liquid when you don’t want to burn it, which is why RVs have some special propane containers, which we discuss in the next section.

Propane Containers and Storage

RVs carry propane in two different types of container, DOT Cylinders, and ASME tanks. DOT (Department of Transportation) Cylinders are the easiest type to spot. These upright cylinders are often seen riding on the hitch of a trailer or camper. They’re designed to be easily removed and moved around for filling. ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) tanks are just as common as DOT cylinders, but rarely seen. ASME tanks are built into the structure of an RV, typically motorhomes, and they’re made to stay where they are, so you’ll fill up your propane when you swing your RV through the gas station.

Propane tanks are all white, as a safety feature. Because propane is so prone to quickly expanding, it’s important to keep as much heat as possible away from liquid propane, so propane tanks are painted white to help deflect more energy. In case your full propane tank does overheat, these devices are all fitted with pressure relief valves to safely vent excess gas buildup.

To make sure your tank is in good shape, you should make sure to inspect them regularly, especially before your travel season starts. Be on the lookout for dents, dings, rust, and other signs of corrosion. A tank that’s in bad shape can’t legally be filled, and it puts you at a risk of a hazardous leak.

Driving with Propane

So are there any hazards when you drive with propane? It’s a flammable liquid after all! Well, no, your car is filled with gasoline, and it’s pretty safe. Propane travels quite well in most conditions, however there is a debate among many RVers about whether or not propane should be left on while driving.

Some travellers are very cautious with propane, and advocate for shutting down your propane and all appliances when you’re on the road because of the increase fire hazard that it poses. Others claim that you’re more likely to get sick from food poisoning when you shut off your fridge while you drive, and that the risk posed by propane is negligible in the event of an accident.

We recommend that you shut off your propane and propane powered appliances when you drive, for one main reason: Gas stations. When you pull into a gas station you’re required to ‘extinguish all open flames and ignition sources’, which applies to the hidden pilot lights of your RV. By having your pilot lights turned off with your propane appliances you can hit the road freely and get fired back up when you reach your destination. If you’re really concerned about food in the fridge, you can invest a few bucks in some cold packs to help keep everything chilled, or get an affordable cooler and a few bags of ice for a couple of bucks.

Now that we know how to properly store and use propane with our RVs, we can all enjoy the great outdoors! Just remember to have your propane devices shut off on your motorhomes while gassing up and only refill propane tanks that are in good overall condition. If you have any additional questions about your propane tanks or your RV, come on down to Wisconsin RV World, proudly serving Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and let our team get you squared away.

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