How long does propane last? - Fiberglass RV



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Old 03-13-2019, 02:22 PM   #1
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How long does propane last?

New to camping. Did a search, no luck.
How long does Propane last when heating?
And under normal use? My new Casita has two 20 pound bottles.
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgilliam1955 View Post
New to camping. Did a search, no luck.
How long does Propane last when heating?
And under normal use? My new Casita has two 20 pound bottles.
That is such an open question, no real good answer.
For me in summer when I don't run the furnace all summer.
Winter when I run it while in the evenings and in the mornings. about 2 week per 20lb cylinder.
NOTE: Summer fridge and cooking use propane, cooler weather add
furnace.
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:50 PM   #3
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Propane has 91,600 BTU's per liquid gallon.

I don't know the size of your heater, but if it was rated 30, 000 BTU's (this is the input, not the output), then it would run just over 3 hours on each gallon.

A 20 lb propane cylinder holds about 4.7 gallons of propane.

So, 4.7 X 3 hours each = 14.1 hours per 20 lb cylinder.

When the bottle is nearly empty, in cold weather, the heater might not work as well because the bottle pressure can get low enough to not operate correctly. This occurs with a long period of heavy use.

Also, this time only counts when the heater is actually burning. So, if it is cycling on and off, the total hours will be a lot higher. For example, if it was running 50% of the time, the propane would last twice as long. The 14.1 hours would become 28.2 hours.

Then factor in the water heater and the cook stove with their variable amounts.
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:57 PM   #4
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Since you have two cylinders I suggest that you watch when the one you are using runs out. Do this is hot summer weather and cooler to cold weather. Then you'll have some idea when to refill the empty one while using the other one.
FYI to me that's the only reason for two cylinders.
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:02 PM   #5
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Nice math, but the Casita Suburban furnaces are only 16,000 BTUH, so you can pretty much cut those numbers in half. Of course, it also isn't running all the time either, so the bottom line is that your propane consumption is totally dependent on how hard you "drive it" which is obviously a nebulous calculation at best, and it will vary greatly from one user to another. In short, there is no pat answer, or magic number. It's one of those things you'll just have to learn by using it and see what you get. Keep good records of how much you use while running different equipment, or groups of equipment, such as if you use the water heater and fridge on propane, and if you use the galley stove a lot, etc.
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:10 PM   #6
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I decided to change my tanks from (2) 20 pounders, to (2) thirty pounders. A very simple conversion that only needed a longer threaded rod to secure them.

In cold weather, when one runs out, we still have two or three days of reasonable use before I top them both up at a gas stop. In warm weather, showering uses the most. If that is being done at the camp showers, the propane will go on for several seasons, I'd guess.

I also sometimes run a propane camp fire from our tanks and it uses more than the space heater. Last year in Oregon, all open wood fires were banned at the camping area. But not propane camp fires. As I interpreted it, "anything with an off switch" was OK.
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:18 PM   #7
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Since we rarely stay anywhere without hook-ups, or at least electricity and water, we rarely ever even use propane in the trailer. I can't remember the last time I even cracked a valve on a mounted tank, but I kept the ability to do so just in case. I went just the other way with my setup by downsizing to two smaller 11 Lb. tanks instead. I bring one composite lightweight 5 gallon tank which I use for the Camp Chef stove, and that's usually about all the propane we use. Lasts us about a month for cooking 3 meals a day.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:55 PM   #8
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That depends

As others have said, that depends on how you use it. We have two 20# bottles and usually refill one each season. That includes some furnace use in the "shoulder" seasons.


You probably have an automatic switchover tank selector. That is, a switch which selects one tank at a time and an indicator when that tank needs refilling. When the selected tank runs low the automatic switch switches to the non-selected tank and and indicates that switchover, usually by some sort of red flag. Turn the manual selector to the (hopefully) full tank, the flag should go to green. You can then remove the "empty" tank and get it refilled. Hook it back up, open the valve on the refilled tank (the auto switch will not use this tank until the other gets low) and wait for the red flag to show again. Then reverse the process. (Note: Keep the valves on both tanks open for the auto-switchover system to work right.)


With some experience you will learn when to start watching for the flag to go red.


Just a note of caution: Any time you disconnect and reconnect a tank check for leaks at the connectors. A sharp nose is usually good enough, but brushing on soapy water and looking for bubbles work, too.


Another trick: To get a rough idea of how much liquid propane is in a tank you can let hot water run down the side of the tank. Then run you finger up the tank starting at the bottom. The tank will be cool where the liquid is and and feel warmer above the liquid/gas demarcation line. I start at the bottom and run up because the tank might be quite warm at the top, especially if the water is hot and the liquid is low.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:07 PM   #9
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I have a propane tank that was filled over 7 years ago and the propane still burns okay so from my experience a tank of propane lasts a long time .
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:10 PM   #10
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I have a propane tank that was filled over 7 years ago and the propane still burns okay so from my experience a tank of propane lasts a long time .
LOL yes.. it does .. at least it does if you dont use the propane up. In fact, in that case, the tank (cylinder) will "expire" before the propane becomes non-existent or impotent.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:26 AM   #11
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Until you get good at estimating how much is left, I guarantee that a tank of propane will last until it is freezing out & you are 30 miles from the nearest propane refill location!
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:12 AM   #12
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Until you get good at estimating how much is left, I guarantee that a tank of propane will last until it is freezing out & you are 30 miles from the nearest propane refill location!
Or in the middle of cooking a beautiful steak! (ask me how I know)
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:35 AM   #13
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Until you get good at estimating how much is left, I guarantee that a tank of propane will last until it is freezing out & you are 30 miles from the nearest propane refill location!



That's kind a Murphy's Law thing, I think.

My first time running out I was about 10 miles from a small town that propane. I work and started to cook breakfast and I couldn't keep the stove light. Propane cylinder empty. So I took the cylinder and went into town found nice little restaurant to get breakfast and then off to get the cylinder filled. 14 years later I do a much better job of estimating when I'll run out. My estimated are generally a little off so I estimate on the conservative side and refill.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:04 PM   #14
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Or in the middle of cooking a beautiful steak! (ask me how I know)
at the hardware stores they have this cute gadget called a 'steak saver', that threads onto a regular sized propane regulator fitting and lets you use a 1 lb disposable cylinder to finish your steaks when the 20 lb bbq bottle runs out. hah!
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