RV Propane 101: How Does My Rv's Propane System Work?

RV propane systems all work in similar ways, but there are a number of differences between propane systems on motor homes and those used on camper trailers. The biggest difference in these systems is the style propane tank used in each setup.

Types of Propane Systems

Motorhome Propane Systems

Propane systems found on motorized RVs use a permanently mounted ASME tank to hold liquid propane. These tanks are able to hold larger amounts of propane needed for RVs. Typically the fill valve, regulator, and optional tee fitting are located at the propane tank on an RV.

ASME Propane Tank on RV

Propane tees are a great way to help you customize your RV's propane setup. A t-fitting will allow you to connect an auxiliary propane tank, which helps supplement your RV's propane tank, or a propane accessory such as a grill or fire pit. A propane tee is usually installed between the POL adapter and the regulator.

Diagram of RV propane system

1. POL to 1/4" NPT adapter

2. Regulator

3. Hose Assembly

4. Optional Propane Tee

Single Tank Systems

Single tank propane systems are typically found on pop-up campers and small travel trailers. These setups use one DOT propane cylinder, typically either a 20 pound or 30 pound tank. These campers are smaller in size and don't have as many appliances, so a single, smaller propane tank is often all that needs to be carried.

Single tank travel trailer propane system

From the tank, propane travels through the pigtail hose to a dual-stage regulator. After the regulator, propane enters the hose assembly, or trunk hose, before entering the camper's propane distribution manifold or a tee under the trailer.

Diagram of single tank travel trailer propane system

1. RV Pigtail Hose

2. Regulator

3. Hose Assembly

4. Optional Propane Tee

Dual Tank Systems

Dual tank propane systems are found on most travel trailers and 5th wheel campers. These larger campers have larger appliances and more of them. Accessories such as an additional outdoor kitchen, an oven, and a larger heater require more propane to run than only a fridge and range stove. On travel trailers, the propane tanks are typically stored at the front of the trailer on the frame between the trailer and the coupler. For 5th wheel campers, the propane tanks may be stored in a single storage compartment, or they may be split to access one tank on each side of the camper. It is important to know what setup is on your 5th wheel, because it could mean that one pigtail hose will need to be longer in order to reach the propane regulator.

Dual tank travel trailer propane system

These setups use two DOT propane cylinders. The dual-stage regulators require 1/4 inch NPT fittings, but some setups come with 1/4 inch NPT to 1/4 inch Female Inverted Flare adapters. Whether or not your regulator already has these adapter fittings installed will tell you which type of pigtail hoses are needed on the trailer, those with 1/4 inch NPT fittings or those with 1/4 inch inverted flare fittings.

Diagram of dual tank travel trailer propane system

1. RV Pigtail Hose

2. Regulator

3. Hose Assembly

4. Optional Propane Tee

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Written by: Victoria B

Updated on: 11/30/2017

Questions and Comments about this Article


I get propane to stove but nothing to fridge or water heater. Any suggestions. Is there a place to manually light either one! I don't see any 98941

Reply from Jon G.

Sometimes water heaters have a manual light and it wouldn't surprise me if some fridges that run using propane have a manual light as well. I would check those appliances for that and if you still can't find anything then you'll want to take your rig to a professional so they can help you figure out why your propane isn't reaching your appliances. 73620

Reply from Gary

@JonG ok thanks 73669

Earl L.

here is my predicament: I have an rv 5th wheel with a female quick connect at the end of my camper. The LP gas is regulated out of the tanks. I have a small grill I plugged into the quick connect but the pressure was so low the flame when lit would die out, I believe that is because the gas is double regulated. One regulator immeditely off the tanks and the other regulator built into the grills nozzle. I cannot find a fitting for the grill absent the regulator. Is such a connection possible 71882

Reply from Chris R.

What you could do is add a T-Fitting # 103613-MBS to your tanks BEFORE the regulator and a hose like # 37207-31135 to go from there to the grill's regulator. This would bypass the regulator from the tanks to get the type of pressure you're needing. If you need a longer hose just let me know. 58873



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