Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
My husband and I began fulltime RVing in November 2017. We bought a 2003 Alpine Coach motorhome, having it inspected and warranted before hitting the road. We headed south from Indiana and have been to several states. We haven’t had need for propane much other than a few cold periods. Not quite knowing how much we’ll need it, we thought we should top off the tank while we were in Kentucky. But an attendant at a Pilot Truck Stop said he couldn’t fill our tank because it didn’t have an inspection sticker.
So, we tried to get an inspection at a propane gas company, but they said they don’t do inspections and couldn’t fill it for us because our rig was too big. They referred us to Tractor Supply. A TSC attendant said they don’t do inspections either, but filled our tank without a problem.
Can you fill us in on the requirements for proper refilling of motorhome propane tanks and whether any/all states require inspections, how often, and by whom? Should the inspector we hired when we bought the RV pointed out the need for the tank to be certified? Thanks in advance for your response to our query. Cheryl & Tom
Hi Cheryl & Tom,
The Department of Transportation (DOT) finalized the new rule affecting requalification of DOT cylinders; this new rule took effect January 23, 2017.
The rule impacts the following areas of cylinder requalification:
• Reduces the initial requalification period for DOT cylinders from 12 years to 10 years from the date of manufacture.
• Reduces the requalification period for cylinders that are requalified using volumetric expansion testing from 12 years to 10 years.
• Increases the requalification period for cylinders that are requalified using a proof pressure test from 7 years to 10 years.
• Does not affect the 5-year visual inspection method for cylinder requalification.
According to the Energized Gas Inc. website, … “each state you cross handles propane refill differently than the next. You need to be aware of the rules and regulations. Some states may require suppliers to use three separate measures for determining when the propane tank is full. You may need to use a scale and an OPD [overfilling prevention device] and the fixed liquid level gauge. You will encounter both state and federal regulations when it comes to refilling your propane tanks, so it’s best to get familiar with the regulations before you embark on your journey.”
RV propane tanks, or DOT cylinders, must be filled at certified filling stations by trained technicians. Every ten years, an RV propane tank or DOT cylinder used on a travel trailer or 5th Wheel must be recertified, as well as inspected for working condition after each subsequent filling. Any propane supplier should be able to clarify the rules and advise you where (in the local area) you can get your tank recertified.
Motorhomes, though, have installed ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) tanks, not DOT tanks. ASME tanks are not required to be re-certified since they are permanently installed. But DOT/TC cylinders, both vertical and horizontal, because they can be removed, transported and filled independently, do qualify for periodic re-certification. All propane containers, tanks and cylinders, however, should be periodically inspected, cleaned and tested for leaks. All of which should be considered preventive maintenance common sense.
For more information and updates contact the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).
As to whether the inspector you hired should have told you about the need to recertify your tank, probably, but it’s not worth fretting over for his oversight. There are lots of new things you will learn as you travel about – and learning them provides the transition from a newbie to an experienced RVer. After more than 40 years of RVing and 17 years as a fulltimer, I am still learning. And then the rules all change – again.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .