One of the biggest logistical challenges RVers face on the road is where to find propane filling stations. Especially having a big rig motorhome or even towable RV, finding places that will refill your propane tanks may be few or far between. Or, are they?
RVers need propane to heat their RV and operate their RV kitchen appliances.
Our two former fifth wheels had dual removable 40 pound propane tanks that we could simply remove and take them any small propane tank fill station. And, our 20 pound bbq grill and fire pit propane tank, we could do the same or simply exchange our propane cylinder.
However, now that we have a motorhome with a fixed propane tank, we now have to take it to propane refilling stations. And sometimes, that is easier said than done because finding them may be more of a challenge. But, through tenure on the road and learning experiences, we want to share what we know.
So, let’s answer those questions you may have and put you on the right track in finding places to refill your RV propane tanks.
This blog article contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
Where to Find RV Propane Filling Stations & LP Tank Exchange Locations
NOTE: Just for reference, I may refer to propane tank as LP tank, propane gas cylinder, propane cylinder. Also, I may refer pounds as “#” at the end of a number instead of spelling out the word “pound”. (20 pounds = 20#) They are all one-in-the-same.
Propane Tank Refilling Methods
There are five types of propane tank refills for RVs. Depending on your RV size and type, you’ll have to decide which way accommodates you and your motorhome or trailer best.
- Fixed RV propane tank refill (Motorhomes)
- Removable propane cylinder refill (Towable RVs)
- Schedule a propane delivery or tank installation (motorhomes and RVs with multiple tanks)
- In-Store propane tank purchase or exchange a propane tank cylinder (all RVs)
- Self-serve 20# propane cylinder exchange
Why do propane costs fluctuate so much?
Several dynamics affect the market price of propane. The most significant reason for propane cost fluctuation is the price of crude oil. Crude oil is the main ingredient in propane refining. If the cost of crude oil is high, the cost of LP will follow.
Another major factor is supply and demand. As a commodity with a finite supply, stronger demand for propane. Particularly in the winter when RVs use propane for heating and appliances, it leads to higher prices. Conversely, in the summer, when propane is less in demand, prices tend to be lower.
Lastly, the last major factor affecting the price of propane is transportation and delivery, which is set by the supplier.
How do you monitor your RV’s propane usage?
Larger motorhomes have a dual propane tank system. Talking with several motor coach owners, they’ll wait to take on propane once their LP switches (verb) from the empty tank to the other filled tank.
Since our RV only has one propane tank, until less than 1/4 tank, then refill it at a propane filling station. Unless we are headed to unfamiliar area, we monitor our propane level using our Mopeka propane monitoring system via bluetooth app.
While we are refilling our motorhome, we’ll also have them refill our bbq grill and fire pit LP cylinder while we are there.
For what it’s worth, your RV propane monitors are prone to giving false tank level readings. For peace of mind we use our aftermarket propane tank monitoring system instead which has proven to be 100% reliable; even down to a pint!
When is the best time to refill your propane tanks?
You should really not allow your motorhome or camper’s propane to run out completely. Otherwise, you may need to purge your gas lines. This again, is why we love our Mopeka propane monitoring system (above).
Our rule is to not let our propane levels get below 1/4 tank. However, others tell us it’s safe to refill when it has 2 pounds of propane left. Erring on the side of caution, I think our rule is a much safer route.
What should you expect when getting your propane refill?
If you’re taking your RV directly to the propane filling station, make certain they have ample space for you to maneuver your motorhome or trailer. Especially those motorhome owners with a toad, you cannot back up to maneuver.
So, it’s best to call ahead to ask the company manager for details. Seriously, don’t ask the store clerk as they may not even comprehend what an RV requires for space and the propane filling procedure. Do not take tanks inside businesses or stores for safety reasons.
Also, if you’re wanting to bring your RV for a propane refill, you may have to schedule an appointment to ensure they have a knowledgeable employee who is trained and knows how to refill RV propane tanks properly and safely.
- When you arrive, please leave your tank in your vehicle, or placed outside the gate near the propane fuel dispensing area.
- Make certain your RV’s propane is turned off.
- Head into the business and ask for a knowledgable a staff member for assistance.
- Staff member will direct and meet you at the propane filling station. Some businesses may have to open the gate.
- If you are filling a motor home or camper, it must be unoccupied during the refill process.
- For safety, all occupants remain 25 ft away from the dispensing station and follow any instructions from the propane handler.
- When your tank or RV propane refill is complete, the staff member will direct you on where to pay.
If the staff member appears to not know what they’re doing, STOP the operation immediately! Ask for the business manager before allowing the employee to proceed.
How do propane filling stations charge?
Some propane outlets charge by weight, or by volume and some charge a set fee based on the size of the tank. If the business practice is the latter, when they fill a partially empty tank, you’ll end up paying for propane you don’t require. So, make certain you ask prior to them filling your RV propane tank or gas cylinders how they charge.
Ways to find propane filling stations for your RV
There are several ways to locate propane filling stations for your RV. However, there’s a big difference between finding propane for motorhomes versus refilling removable propane tanks. So, it’s up to you to differentiate between the two. That said, at smaller business outlets, most are just propane cylinder exchanges while large propane distribution companies may cater towards RVs with big propane tanks.
One easy way is to search in Google by typing in “Propane near *zipcode* or *city/town*”. Don’t go straight to the first listing though. I recommend you shop around for pricing; especially if your RV has large propane tanks. Also, pay attention to which propane companies only exchange tanks versus actual refilling propane cylinders and RVs.
There are also great propane finder apps for smartphones and digital devices. Here’s a short list of apps that will lead you in the right direction in finding propane filling stations for your camping or RV lifestyle.
|AllStays Camping & RV|
RV Parks & Campgrounds
|Alternative Fuel Station Locator|
RVs of any length should have an RV GPS (Global Positioning System) because they are sensitive to the exact parameters of your RV. Not only do they help you navigate from point A to point B, but they also offer a plethora of other resources; one of which is a propane finder.
Here’s our favorite RV GPS units:
Propane Filling Stations Locations
Campgrounds and RV Parks
Campgrounds and RV parks are one of the best options to get propane for your RV because they can accommodate big rig motorhomes, fifth wheels and trailers. And, a lot of larger enterprising RV parks have their own propane filling station.
Also, if you’re going to be parked for an extended time or don’t want to move your motorhome or camper, you can also ask the office if they know of any propane companies that send trucks out. However, you may end up paying a higher price for convenience from both of these options.
Propane Supply Companies
There are several propane supply companies peppered throughout the United States. Some may be regional vs. nationwide. We’ve found a few propane supply companies that offer both, drive-in motorhome and camper propane refills and grill and fire pit propane cylinder refills.
If you’re wanting to bring your motorhome or towable RV in for a propane refill, you may have to schedule an appointment.
Farm and Ranch Stores
At both Tractor Supply and Murdoch’s, they will only charge you for the fuel they put into your tank with no hidden fees or minimum amount required. They will also fill your tank to the legal limit, which you often don’t get in a tank exchange. Their propane filling stations are open daily during regular business hours, so plan accordingly.
Truck Stops and Travel Centers
You can find propane filling stations at various travel centers and truck stops.
- Pilot Flying J – has RV services such as fueling lanes and propane filling stations. They also have overnight RV parking and RV dump stations too! Also, if you have their RV Plus credit card (not an affiliate), you get 10cents off per gallon of propane as well as fuel and dump station discounts. Check out their iPhone and Android apps.
- Love’s – has more RV parking spots and amenities including propane refill, RV dump, private showers, laundry facilities and more. As well, I noticed they have a propane tank exchange program (I’m assuming only 20# propane cylinders).
Moving and Equipment Rentals
Uhaul moving and storage rentals may offer propane refills. Again though, I highly recommend calling ahead of time to ensure they have knowledgeable staff who knows how to fill RV propane tanks. As well, if they have ample room for you to drive through or maneuver your RV or vehicles.
Retail and Wholesale Membership Stores
I also learned that some membership wholesale stores offer propane filling services. Check with your membership and locations to see if they offer it.
- Menards – We’ve found first hand that they have propane filling stations. We love how clean, safe and secure they keep their property. Do note though, their self-serve propane cylinder exchange is only available at Menards® stores that do NOT have a propane fueling station.
- True Value Hardware –
- Costco – Though I couldn’t find anything on their website, we learned through word of mouth that Costco does have propane service stations near the store’s tire service center. I was told to take your empty propane tank(s) to the station and push the button to notify the attendant you are there.
- BJs Wholesale – I learned vaguely that they can refill 20# and 30# propane tanks only through their Club Fill.
- Sam’s Club – I learned through Query Sprout that they Sam’s Club no longer fills any propane tanks at its stores as they do not have the equipment to do so. However, you can exchange your 20# propane cylinder at some Sam’s Club fuel stations 24/7 self-serve propane exchange services.
We’ve found a few welding shops that have propane filling stations as well. There may be others not listed. But if you’re in an area of a welding shop, they too, could lead you in the right direction of finding a propane filling station.
Other Propane Filling Stations Location Resources
Here are a few other resources on where to locate propane on the road.
Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) – Find liquefied petroleum gas (propane) fueling stations in the United States and Canada. For Canadian stations in French, see Natural Resources Canada. They also have smartphone apps for both iPhone and Android.
Propane.com – Nationwide online database of where to buy propane. Simply put in the zipcode of your location.
LPGStations – Worldwide online data base where to purchase propane. Enlarge the map area of where you’re looking for propane and click on the little gas pump for details.
20# Propane Cylinder Exchange
Ever wonder why they call barbecue propane tanks “20-pounders”? It’s because those particular propane cylinders can hold approximately 20 pounds of propane which equates to 4.7 gallons of propane. Propane weighs 4.24 pounds per gallon so now you get the 20 pound reference.
Now, if you’d just like to refill or exchange your 20# propane gas cylinder, it’s as easy as just swapping them out at a distribution center. These 20# cylinders hold 4.7 gallons of propane when full. That said, realize if you are exchanging your gas cylinder that still has propane in it, you’re losing money. In fact, True Value Rental posted an article, Propane Exchange vs. Refill: Myth Busted and The Story Behind the Propane Tank Swap Scam that proves just that.
For example, the cost of refilling a propane tank varies from $3-$4 per gallon at most U-Haul propane refill locations. On average, you will be spending $1.76 less per gallon by refilling your propane tank rather than exchanging it. Hence, the reason we’d prefer to buy our own 20# propane gas cylinder and refill it when we refill our motorhome’s propane tank.
But, if you prefer the convenience and don’t mind losing a couple bucks, you can simply exchange your 20# propane gas cylinder.
Propane Cylinder Exchange Locations:
- Walmart – has Blue Rhino or Amerigas
- Lowe’s – has Blue Rhino
- The Home Depot – has AmeriGas
- Dollar General – has AmeriGas. Also, sometimes the Dollar General Facebook page will occasionally post a discount coupon
- Walgreens – has Blue Rhino
- Ace Hardware – has Blue Rhino. Use their store locator and choose Propane.
- True Value Hardware – has Blue Rhino
- Advanced Gas & Welding Solutions
Speaking of which, now that we have a much smaller motorhome, we don’t have the space to even keep a 20# propane tank. So, as we’ve been downsizing our RV gear to fit our tiny RV, we had to downsize to a 5# propane gas cylinder for our fire pit, camp stove and gas grill.
However, the downside is these smaller LP cylinders, including those small green 1# cylinders, cannot be exchanged. Like I mentioned earlier though, we just bring it out to be refilled when refilling our motorhome propane tank.
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Final thoughts on finding propane filling stations for RVs
I hope the information we provide here regarding filling your RV propane tanks is helpful. RV travel can be stressful enough without having to worry about where you’re going to refill your RV propane tanks. It can be a bit unnerving especially when your propane levels dip below your comfort zone. So, we hope you bookmark this great resource. But also, share with your fellow RVers and RV campers.
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