Camping propane is the most common form of fuel to operate all kinds of camping accessories.
Different portable propane tank sizes give you options when it comes to how much equipment you want to power and how long you can operate before you run out of gas. Psst were compensatedsee our disclosures.
Types Of Propane Tanks
There are different types of propane tanks for different jobs.
Size and weight matter to most campers and tailgaters who want portability in their propane tanks and equipment.
One gallon of propane weighs 4.2 pounds which needs to be considered in addition to the weight of the empty tank.
Here are some of the most common propane gas cylinder sizes and their typical uses.
Small Propane Tank Sizes
The word small is a relative if you are tent camping in a car, you may think a small propane tank must fit in your coat pocket
If you are camping in a 44 foot fifth wheel toy hauler RV you are happy to be camping with your pair of 40 pound LP tanks.
Well start with the largest propane tank sizes for camping and work our way down to the smallest.
The most common sizes of propane tanks used for camping are:
- 100 pound
- 40 pound
- 30 pound
- 20 pound
- 1 pound
Some important stats you need to know about each size
100 Pound Propane Tank
100 pound propane tanks allow for a much higher demand but are not very portable for the average camper.
They are approximately 15 x 48 x 15 inches in size.
They weigh approximately 80 pounds empty.
They hold approximately 23 gallons of propane (which weighs approximately 97 pounds).
They weigh approximately 177 pounds when filled with propane.
This size of portable propane tank would be used for extended length camping trips in remote locations.
A more typical use for this size of propane tank is in emergency situations where natural disasters, like hurricanes, have destroyed the normal grid-system power supply.
A 100 pound propane tank will power a propane-powered generator for approximately 40 hours of continuous use.
40Pound Propane Tank
40 pound propane tanks are commonly found on RVs.
They are approximately 12 x 12 x 29 inches in size.
They weigh approximately 30 pounds empty.
They hold approximately 9 gallons of propane (which weighs approximately 38 pounds).
They weigh approximately 68 pounds when filled with propane.
A normal setup will include two 40-pound propane tanks that are secured to the RV using a Dual RV Propane Tank Cylinder Rack.
30 Pound Propane Tank
30 pound propane tanks are commonly found on RVs.
They are approximately 12 x 12 x 24 inches in size.
They weigh approximately 23 pounds empty.
They hold approximately 7 gallons of propane (which weighs approximately 29 pounds).
They weigh approximately 52 pounds when filled with propane.
A typical setup will include two 30-pound propane tanks that are protected with a molded assembled propane tank cover that is designed to shield the tanks from flying debris.
20 Pound Propane Tank
20 pound propane tanks are common for backyard bbq grills.
They are approximately 12 x 12 x 18 inches in size.
They weigh approximately 14 pounds empty.
They hold approximately 4 gallons of propane (which weighs approximately 17 pounds).
They weigh approximately 31 pounds when filled with propane.
This is the most common camping size propane tank people use to operate larger camp cooking equipment that has more surface cooking space and is floor-standing like the Camp Chef Big Gas Grill and the Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove.
1 Pound Propane Cylinder
They are approximately 4 x 4 x 8 inches in size.
They weigh approximately 1 pound empty.
They hold approximately a quarter of a gallon of propane (which weighs approximately 1 pound).
They weigh approximately 2 pounds when filled with propane.
If your menu is a bit lacking, get some inspiration with our easy and yummy camp stove recipes your family will love!
Pre-filled 1 lb propane tanks are disposable but can be refilled using a propane refill adapter.
There are limitations and restrictions you should be aware of we have a post with printable instructions to walk you through each step in the process.
How Many Propane Tanks For Camping?
If you are camping in an RV, you can calculate the amount of propane you need with a quick formula.
Start with the BTU ratings for your propane appliances and divide that into the BTU availability.
Each gallon of propane produces about 91,500 BTUs.
As an example, here is the average propane consumption for standard RV appliances.
Water heater = 8,800 average BTU consumption per hour
Refrigerator = 900 average BTU consumption per hour
Furnace = 25,000 average BTU consumption per hour
Range = 7,100 average BTU consumption per hour
Calculation example for running RV refrigerator only on propane
30 gallon propane tank = 7 gallons of propane
7 gallons of propane x 91,500 BTUs per gallon = 640,500 BTUs in each 30 gallon tank.
640,500 BTUs / 900 BTUs required per hour for refrigerator only = 711 hours of operation (approximately 29 days).
Tent Camping Propane Needs
If you are tent camping, your propane demands will be much lower than if you are RV camping.
How Long Does A 1 lb Propane Tank Last?
Please dont get annoyed with me when I say there is NO single correct answer to the question How many propane tanks for camping?
Similarly, there is no exact answer to the question How many hours will I get out of my camp stove propane bottles?
Because the number of hours you will get out of your camping propane bottles depends on how much demand your propane camping gear needs to operate.
That being said, you can have pretty high demands if you are using a lot of propane camping gear and accessories.
1 lb Propane Consumption For Common Camping Gear
Here are some examples of how long a 1 pound camping propane bottle will last when operating these popular propane camping accessories
The Coleman Northstar Propane Lantern uses one 16.4-oz. propane cylinder to operate.
A single bottle will last up to approximately 4 hours on high and 9 hours on low.
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy uses a 1-pound disposable propane cylinder to operate.
One bottle will operate the heater for approximately 5 hours.
The Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Stove Oven is fueled by a 1 pound propane bottle.
One bottle will hold a temperature in the oven of 350 F for up to approximately 7 hours.
The Coleman 2-Burner Fold N Go Propane Stove uses a standard 16.4-ounce camping propane cylinder to operate.
One bottle will operate the stove with both burners on high for approximately over an hour.
How To Calculate The Time Provided By 1 lb Propane Tanks For Different Camping Equipment
If I have not listed your favorite piece of propane camp gear here, dont fret
There is a simple formula to determine how long your propane-powered camping accessories will last on a single 1lb propane canister.
Your camping 1 lb propane cylinder holds enough fuel to produce approximately 21,000 BTU hours.
If you know the BTU rating of your propane camping equipment, you can do some simple math to determine how many hours you will get out of a single 1 lb propane bottle.
For example, heres the math
A 10,000 BTU camp stove will last
21,000 BTU hours per 1 pound propane cylinder / 10,000 BTU propane camp stove = 2.1 hours of operation before your propane can runs out of fuel.
If, on the other hand, your propane camp stove is only a 7,500 BTU model, you will get more time out of a 1 pound propane bottle.
Heres the math
21,000 BTU hours per 1 pound propane cylinder / 7,500 BTU propane camp stove = 2.8 hours of operation before your propane can runs out of fuel.
One Pound Propane Tank Storage
Propane tanks are negatively affected by excessive temperature increases so you should try to keep your camping propane bottles in a temperature-controlled location.
Dents and physical damage can weaken the integrity of the bottle so keep them in an area that is free from objects that might fall on or bang into your camping propane tanks.
Maintaining the integrity of the threads on your camping propane bottles is important.
You can use the plastic caps that come with the purchase of a bottle or you can change out to brass caps that are resistant to corrosion and not easily broken.
A Coleman Gemini Propane Power Pack/Carrier is a great dual-purpose piece of camping gear it is a carrier and a connector.
This rubber carrier safely carries two 1 pound camping propane bottles and protects them from damage with the surrounding rubber carrier.
You just have to screw the 1 pound propane cylinders into the power pack/carrier fittings there are no special tools required.
When you are ready to power your propane camping gear, you hook up your appliance to the fitting on the power pack/carrier.
A single 1 lb propane cylinder produces approximately 21,000 BTU hours so youll get the power of two 1 lb propane cylinders doubling your power to approximately 42,000 BTU hours when you use the Coleman Gemini Propane Power Pack/Carrier.
If you want to know how to use Coleman propane camping gas with a standard propane powered appliance like a backyard bbq grill, for example youll love this power pack/carrier feature!
You just connect the grill hose to the fitting on the top of the Gemini Power Pack/Carrier instead of connecting it to a standard 20 pound propane tank.
Convert Small Propane Tank To Large Equipment
There are a couple of ways to easily use your 1 lb camping propane cylinders with standard 20 lb propane tank gear
or, you can
use your standard 1 lb propane camping gear with a 20 pound propane tank.
The Coleman Gemini Propane Power Pack/Carrier we just discussed is one option.
Another option is to use a Coleman 5 Ft. High-Pressure Propane Hose And Adapter.
How to use Coleman propane tank adapters is simple!
One end of the hose has a fitting that attaches to Coleman grills, stoves, lanterns and heaters and the other end attaches to a standard 20 pound propane tank fitting.
It could not be any easier!
Lifespan Of 1lb Propane Tanks
Eventually you will have to decide what to do with empty 1lb propane bottles.
We have outlined your options in our post.
No time to look for recipes, create a menu and write a grocery list? No Problem! Get our3-Day Dutch Oven Camp Menu Plan here!
If you need camping recipes and menu ideas, you can find them here at the Camping For Foodies Camping Recipes list.
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