The uses for propane in an RV are many; this multi-use gas can allow the fearless RVer to embark on adventures outside the confines of a full hookup RV park. If you want to “boondock” an RV outfitted with a propane refrigerator and stove and is what you want. If your RV has a propane generator, that’s even better.
Every RV has a different configuration of power sources; these include battery power, shore power, a generator, solar panels, and of course, propane. Propane is probably the most versatile power source for your RV.
However, if you are planning to buy a relatively new RV, be on guard for “residential appliances”. These include both residential refrigerators and all-electric stoves; if your plan is to go from one full hookup campsite to another, residential appliances will be fine. But if your goal is to boondock without hookups, you need propane.
RVs, no matter what class or size, can use propane in many ways.
- Heats your stove and oven to cook your meals
It heats water for showering and washing dishes
Propane powers your furnace, to keep you warm
It can power an electric generator
Propane can even power your refrigerator, to keep your food fresh
Is Propane Safe?
The recent trend towards “residential appliances” in RVs seems to be the result of the belief that propane is potentially dangerous. This belief seems to be especially true among young RV buyers, who may be only familiar with an “all-electric” home.
The truth is, RV manufacturers build in many safety features to protect against a propane disaster. Likewise, RVers need to exercise a little common sense when dealing with propane. If you suspect you have a propane leak, address the issue immediately.
Many RVers don’t know that their propane alarm is only good for 5 years. If your propane alarm is chirping, make sure you don’t have a leak. If there isn’t a leak, and your propane alarm is 5 years or older, it’s time to get a new one.
For every dramatic picture on social media of an RV that burned due to a propane leak, there are thousands on the road without a problem. It’s recommended that you turn off all of your propane appliances while on the road. If you need to stop for gas, the small flame from the refrigerator or water heater could cause a big problem. Also, don’t worry that your food will spoil if you turn off the frig; a closed refrigerator can keep cool inside for at least 4-5 hours. Also, if you have a 3-way refrigerator, you can always put it on DC.
Is It Easy to Find Propane on the Road?
Yes and no. Almost any small town with a gas station, dollar store or a grocery store will sell 5-gallon propane exchange tanks. However, filling a motorhome’s onboard tank can be tricky. Not all small towns will have a propane business that will refill a motorhome. And if they have one, it may be too tight to maneuver your motorhome around.
If your RV has an onboard propane tank, it’s smart to map out places along the road where you can get propane. Many RV parks, especially KOAs, can refill your motorhome, as well as some truck stops and U-Haul stores.
You can also install an “extended stay kit” on your motorhome; this will allow you to run your propane appliances off of a 5-gallon trade-in tank.
Another advantage to an extended stay kit, if you’re staying at an RV park for a few weeks, it will allow you to leave your motorhome parked and hooked up. You can simply trade your 5-gallon tank in at the local Walmart, grocery, or dollar store.
Propane Gives You RV Freedom
Many people want to live the RV lifestyle, because they want to get out of the city to spend time in nature. They want the freedom of the great outdoors, they don’t want to “camp” in an RV park. If that’s you, stay away from “residential appliances” and buy an RV equipped with propane.
An RV that makes full use of propane can allow you to boondock off-grid for days, or even weeks at a time. Add solar panels and you may never go back to civilization!