Reader letter: RV park doesn’t understand the term “LP gas”

Dear Chuck,

I noticed this morning when I left an RV resort in Palm Desert, California, that one of my LP tanks was empty. I figured I could get it filled near my destination so I didn’t ask about it when I left.

I checked into Pirate Cove RV Resort in Needles, California, this afternoon. It’s our first time at this resort. When I checked in I asked the woman in the office where I could get an LP tank filled. She looked at me and asked, “What’s that?” I told her it was a liquid petroleum tank. “What’s that used for?” she asked. I said that LP gas provides fuel for the water heater, stove-top and refrigerator when we’re traveling or not connected to electricity.

She said she didn’t know but would be back in a minute. Out comes a person with a red shirt with “SECURITY” on the front. He asks, “What are you looking for?” The conversation was basically a repeat of the one I had with the young lady. His reply was, “I don’t know but they might have something like that in Lake Havasu.” He suggested I should drive down there and ask.

I said that I saw a sign that a Shell station to the west about five miles had LP. The man said he never heard of anyone in Topock having LP. The fact that Topock was east of Needles and the Shell Station was west didn’t seem to register with him.

I thanked him and walked back to my RV, wondering if I should laugh at the responses or feel sorry for them. In my 37 years of travel with an RV I had NEVER run into this type of answer before. I know that Pirate Cove is fairly new but I think they’ve been around at least three years now. I guess their lack of information for a basic item that an RV uses shouldn’t surprise me, but it did.

Did you ever run into this type of response before? Just wondering. —Tom Gutzke

Dear Tom,
No, I’ve never had an issue with the understanding of LP gas. But I’m sure there have been other, similar discussions that I can’t recall at the moment. But, really, working in an RV park and not knowing what LP gas is — that can’t be very common.


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Ah, I’ve run into this a number of times!
Had you asked for “Propane” they would have gladly filled your tank.
When you enter someone else’s territory it’s you who has trouble communicating, not them.


LP stands for liquid propane, not liquid petroleum. No wonder the RV park people were confused.

Desmond Doyle

The LP gas letter? Propane? I would not refer to my tanks as LP tanks. It would be propane tanks.


LP= Propane or Butane or a mix. Better use the name of propane as this is what is sold in North America.
In Europe is butane


Why didnt they just ask for propane?


Did you go in there just to cause confusion and create a story?


I had that discussion at a gas station one time, until I changed from using the term “LP” to “propane” – then they understood…

Bob p

A simple explanation could be millennials!


Here in the South East “LP Sold here” signs are everywhere they sell “LP”


I think you covered the “propane” definition with ‘fuel for the water heater, stove-top and refrigerator when we’re traveling or not connected to electricity.” It sounds like it must take a Rocket Scientist to know what the “P” in “LP” means…


In my many years (I’m in my 80s) of camping, RVing, living in homes with big white tanks outside to fuel kitchen ranges (cook stoves), water heaters, and even furnaces, using gas grills, etc., etc. I have never asked anyone for LP gas. It has always been “propane.” And I do know what LP is. I think this letter says more about the buyer than the campground personnel. Doesn’t the letter writer know what propane is? Doesn’t he know that propane is by far the more commonly used term?


Learn the magic word: Propane

William Feuer

Why didn’t you simply ask for propane?

Here is a 2sec. Google search result for Propane Tank Refill in Needles, CA:
AmeriGas Propane. Propane & Natural GasGas-Liquefied Petroleum-Bottled & Bulk. Website. (760) 326-3851. …
Southern California Gas Company. Gas CompaniesPropane & Natural Gas. Website. …
Blue Rhino. Propane & Natural Gas. Website. …
Laughlin 76.

jack roderick

Almost inconceivable they wouldn’t know something like thaT. If you had asked where you could get your BBQ tank refilled they would have known where to send you.

Virgil williams

Propane instead of :LP

Virgil williams

If you would have said the same thing, but used different words to describe it. for example you could have asked for Propane gas.


To be a stickler for accuracy, LP gas is a term that compromises propane, butane, isobutane, and a number of other gases in the liquified petroleum gas family. If you want propane, ask for propane.

Don Kostyal

With the increase in residential refrigerators and camping turning into glamping I am sure LP gas use has declined quite a bit. Also, many RV parks have workers that don’t live in an RV so it may be uncommon to them. Now days you don’t hear LP you hear “Honey did you get the grill tank filled?” Most people don’t take the tank to a refill station they take it to a tank exchange.


Last week, I stopped at a grocery store. I asked a store clerk if they had any Isopropyl alcohol. He looked at me for a few seconds and said it should be by the beer and wine. I rephrased my question, “do you have any rubbing alcohol”. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to use specific terms, we often have to dumb down our requests.


Acronyms are a big deal today, so big if you’re not connected to the current way of communicating you might be out in left field in some conversations. Having said that I would expect someone working in the RV industry to have knowledge that the acronym LP is for Liquid Propane.
I think us old guys and gals better get used to this, if it can’t be looked up on a “device” the question may not have an immediate answer – another form of “isolation” I picked up on years ago.