Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
For some time now, I have followed your writings in several places because I find them helpful. I have been studying for the past year how to get myself on the road full time. Your boondocking articles have given me some of the guidance I need.
One aspect (of several) to RVing for which I lack complete knowledge is propane. Where do I buy it? Can I refill tanks without training? Can the 1-pound canisters be refilled? Do you have any information on Viking canisters? What else should I know about propane?
If you have published on this topic, could you refer me to that source(s)? If you have not covered this topic, would you consider doing so? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. —Warren J.
The subject of propane is not mysterious – it is just another form of petroleum fuel. Officially called Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), it is explosive – as is gasoline in your RV fuel tank – and will explode if a leak meets a source of ignition. But tanks are tested for leaks and the gas has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks. Take a sniff around your tank periodically and if you detect this smell, shut it off and have a licensed propane distributor test it for leaks – but actually, leaks are very rare.
RVs use propane to cool refrigerators, to cook with, to heat water in the water heater and to warm the interior of your rig. When you need to refill your tank, remove it and take it to a refill station, or if built in (such as in motorhomes) drive to the refill station. You will not have to refill the tank yourself – all propane stations have trained employees that will do it for you.
As far as where to buy propane, there are abundant locations around the country in addition to campgrounds and RV resorts where you may be staying. And even if they don’t have their own propane service, they will be able to provide nearby propane stations. If you go online you can find a refill station near you through many sources. Here are some websites that will provide locations near you:
Find liquefied petroleum gas (propane) fueling stations near an address or ZIP code or along a route in the United States. This website from the US Department of Energy shows locations across the country.
U-Haul has a large network of propane refill stations across the country. Just enter your zip code.
The “nearme” website offers a variety of locations where you can buy propane just by entering your address or zip code.
I personally haven’t had any hands-on experience with Viking composite cylinders but they offer some attractive features for RV use such as a translucent tank so you can see how much gas is left in the tank, and they claim to be much lighter than steel tanks and will not explode in a fire. You can learn more on the Viking cylinder website.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .