How Long Does a 30lb Propane Tank Last?

If you have an RV, you probably have one or more large 30 lb propane tanks to power up your refrigerator, water heater and stove. Before embarking on a long camping trip, it’s good to understand how long the 30 lb tank will last for various uses so you don’t run out. 

A 30 lb propane tank lasts for 22 hours when running a furnace, 65 hours for a water heater and 43 hours for a refrigerator. A 1-burner stove lasts 72 hours of continuous use, while a 2-burner can last 36 hours on a 30 lb propane tank.

You can run a portable barbecue for 72 hours on a 30 lb propane tank. A 30 lb tank can run a camping lantern for 648 hours and a space heater for 43 hours. 

RV appliances use propane at different rates and understanding each one’s consumption rate can help you plan for your fuel needs. 

How Long Do 30lb Propane Tanks Last? 

A 30 lb model should last you for around 2 weeks to up to a month when camping/RV'ing in the summer as long as you don’t run your appliances continuously.

However, if you’re camping in winter and use your RV’s furnace on and off, it should last for around a week if you’re also using it for other appliances. 

A full 30 lb propane tank typically contains 7 gallons of fuel. Here’s how long it will last for different applications: 

How Long a 30lb Propane Tank Will Last
Furnace 22 hours (1 day)
6-Gallon water heater (10,000 BTUs)275 hours (11.5 days)
Refrigerator (1500 BTUs)427 hours (17.8 days)
Stove (1 burner)72 hours (3 days)
Stove (2 burners)36 hours (1.5 days)
Portable barbecue grill72 hours (3 days)
Camping lantern 648 hours (27 days)
Space heater43 hours (2 days)

Each RV’s appliances have different BTU ratings and, if you want an accurate propane usage figure, it’s best not to use a general chart. 

Here’s how to get an accurate figure: 

1. Find the BTU rating of each appliance you want to run on propane (you can normally find this in the user manual or online). This refers to its energy consumption. 

2. Take propane’s BTU rating per gallon of 91,502 and divide it by your appliance’s BTU rating. For instance, if you have a 2,000 BTU-rated heater, you’ll divide that figure by 91,502. 

This gives you 45.75, which is how many hours it will take your appliance to use 1 gallon of propane.  

3. Since a full propane tank has 7 gallons of fuel, you can multiply the figure above by 7 to determine how long a 30 lb will last. 

What Affects How Long a Propane Tank Lasts?

The figures in the table above are estimates only and your propane use will vary on factors, including: 

  • The appliance’s size and BTU rating (this is the amount of energy it needs to work efficiently – powerful appliances with a higher BTU rating will use more propane).
  • The weather.
  • Fuel quality. 
  • Tank condition (a faulty valve, rust or clogged fuel lines can affect the burn rate). To protect your tank from damage, consider using a propane tank cover. 

For example, this heavy-duty tank cover from Amazon fits easily over a propane tank and you can buy it in black or white to suit your RV. 

Flame King Dual 30 lb LP Propane Tank Heavy Duty Plastic Cover

Perfect protection for your propane tanks from flying debris. Individual access ports on top, to access cylinder valves separately. Fits 2 x 30 lb steel propane tanks.

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03/07/2024 10:27 pm GMT

Comparing how long a 20 lb propane tank lasts for similar applications, it’s clear that a 30 lb tank is ideal for larger RV's as well as longer trips (as it lasts longer). Using a 30 lb tank is also better if you don’t have any nearby refilling locations near your campsite. 

In fact most RV's will have 2 x 30 lb propane tanks giving you a total of 60 lbs.

Below is a helpful YouTube video explaining the benefits of upgrading to one or more 30 lb tanks for your RV:

If you’re only camping for a couple of days and using 1 lb tanks, this guide explains how long they last.

How To Determine Your Average Daily Propane Usage

Your daily propane consumption rate will depend on how often you use your appliances and at what capacity. Here’s how to calculate it: 

1. Take the BTU rating of each appliance (e.g. your stove, refrigerator, etc.) and divide it by 91,502 (propane’s BTU rating). This will tell you how many gallons you use per hour for that appliance at full capacity. 

2. Of course, you probably don’t always use your appliances at full capacity. For example, if you use your water heater at only 50% capacity or set to medium, multiply the percentage by the hourly propane use as above. 

3. You now have an accurate figure of how much propane you use hourly for that appliance and you can now multiply that by the number of hours you use it for to get its daily propane usage. 

4. Repeat this for each appliance and add their usage rates to get your total consumption rate.  

How To Determine How Much Propane Is Left In Your 30 lb Tank

Determining how much propane you have left in your tank could mean the difference between having hot water, cooked food, warmth or being cold and hungry. Here’s how to check: 

Use an Inline Propane Gauge

A fairly accurate and easy way of monitoring your tank’s propane levels is to install an inline propane gauge. Propane gauges use color-coded dials to display your propane level at a single glance. 

They’re quick and easy to install and save you from having to do a little calculation each time as you would with a scale. 

Flame King Propane Gauge from Amazon has many excellent reviews and you can use it with other size propane tanks as well. 

Flame King Propane Tank Gauge Level Indicator

Grill, camp, and heat with ease without the worry of running out of propane. Meter will show when you're running low so you never run out. Emergency flow control detects gas leaks and restricts flow ensuring your safety and peace of mind

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Use a Propane Scale

Using a scale will give you the most accurate measurement of how much propane you have left. These devices are compact and come with hooks that you attach to the tank’s handle and then lift up. 

30 lb tanks are quite heavy and it’s easier to use this method for checking how much propane you have left in a 5lb tank.

Once the scale displays the weight, subtract the tank’s tare (or empty) weight to get how much propane you have left. The tare weight is usually displayed on the side of the tank on a label. 

Flame King Propane Scale from Amazon is a handy camping gadget to invest in because you can use it for other size tanks and for fishing. 

Flame King Propane Tank Digital Scale for 5LB, 10LB, 20LB, 30LB, 40 LB Propane Tanks

High precision weight sensor compatible with 5 lb, 10 lb, 20 lb, 30 lb and 40 lb propane tanks. Durable, lightweight and easy to use. Works on 2 x AAA batteries.

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03/07/2024 10:07 am GMT

The Boiling Water Method

If you’re on the road or camping and don’t have a gauge or scale, you could always use the easy but less accurate boiling water method. 

You’ll need to position your tank upright so the propane falls to the bottom of the tank. Then, boil a few cups of water and throw it down the side of the tank. Run your hand down the side of the tank – where it starts getting cold is where the propane level is. 

This video gives a visual explanation for using the boiling water method: