Portable Propane Tank Sizes For Camping, Everything You Need To Know!

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. 

Portable propane tank sizes options for camping by CampingForFoodies

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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.

There are three simple methods to determine if a propane tank is empty.

Here are some of the most common propane gas cylinder sizes and their typical uses with the best propane camping gear available to make camping safe, comfortable and fun.

How long does a 1 lb propane tank last by CampingForFoodies

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 …

But …

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.

We’ll start with the largest propane tank sizes for camping so you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite RV tips and hacks, and we’ll work our way down to the smallest tanks for campers who like to travel on the lighter side!

The most common sizes of propane tanks used for camping are:

  • 100 pound
  • 40 pound
  • 30 pound
  • 20 pound
  • 5 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.

Flame King YSN-100 100-Pound Steel Propane Cylinder with 10% POL Valve and CollarFlame King YSN-100 100-Pound Steel Propane Cylinder with 10% POL Valve and CollarFlame King YSN-100 100-Pound Steel Propane Cylinder with 10% POL Valve and Collar


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.

DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel 12000 Watt Electric Start Portable GeneratorDuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel 12000 Watt Electric Start Portable GeneratorDuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel 12000 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator

Dual fuel generators are really popular because they can run on gasoline or propane. The best quiet generators for camping are the ones that fit your particular power needs. Check out our RV wattage chart and our calculator for help determining what size you need.


40 Pound 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.

Flame King 40 lb Steel Propane Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device ValveFlame King 40 lb Steel Propane Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device ValveFlame King 40 lb Steel Propane Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve


A normal setup will include two 40-pound propane tanks that are secured to the RV using a Dual RV Propane Tank Cylinder Rack.

Flame King Dual RV Propane Tank Cylinder Rack for RVs and Trailers for 40lb Tanks - KT40MNT (Tanks not Included)Flame King Dual RV Propane Tank Cylinder Rack for RVs and Trailers for 40lb Tanks – KT40MNT (Tanks not Included)Flame King Dual RV Propane Tank Cylinder Rack for RVs and Trailers for 40lb Tanks - KT40MNT (Tanks not Included)


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.

Flame King YSN-301 30 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve DOT and TC CompliantFlame King YSN-301 30 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve DOT and TC CompliantFlame King YSN-301 30 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder with Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve DOT and TC Compliant


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.

Camco 40559 Heavy-Duty 20lb or 30lb Dual Propane Tank Cover (Polar White)Camco 40559 Heavy-Duty 20lb or 30lb Dual Propane Tank Cover (Polar White)Camco 40559 Heavy-Duty 20lb or 30lb Dual Propane Tank Cover (Polar White)


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.

Flame King YSN-201 20 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder With Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve, Great For Grills And BBQsFlame King YSN-201 20 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder With Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve, Great For Grills And BBQsFlame King YSN-201 20 Pound Steel Propane Tank Cylinder With Type 1 Overflow Protection Device Valve, Great For Grills And BBQs


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.

Camp Chef Big Gas GrillCamp Chef Big Gas GrillCamp Chef Big Gas GrillCamp Chef Explorer Double Burner StoveCamp Chef Explorer Double Burner StoveCamp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove


5 Pound Propane Cylinders

5 pound propane tanks are really convenient for weekend camping trips.

They are approximately 8 x 8 x 12 inches in size.

They weigh approximately 9 pounds empty.

They hold a little over approximately 1 gallon of propane (which weighs approximately 4 pounds).

They weigh approximately 13 pounds when filled with propane.

Flame King 5 Pound Propane Tank CylinderFlame King 5 Pound Propane Tank CylinderFlame King 5 Pound Propane Tank Cylinder

 


1 Pound Propane Cylinders

There are two types of 1 lb camping propane tanks including Pre-Filled Coleman Propane Cylinders and Flame King Refillable 1lb Propane Cylinders.

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.

Pre-Filled Coleman Camping Propane Fuel Cylinders, 4 pk./16 oz.Pre-Filled Coleman Camping Propane Fuel Cylinders, 4 pk./16 oz.Pre-Filled Coleman Camping Propane Fuel Cylinders, 4 pk./16 oz.Flame King Refillable 1 lb Empty Propane Cylinder Tank - Reusable - Safe and Legal Refill Option - DOT Compliant - 16.4 ozFlame King Refillable 1 lb Empty Propane Cylinder Tank – Reusable – Safe and Legal Refill Option – DOT Compliant – 16.4 ozFlame King Refillable 1 lb Empty Propane Cylinder Tank - Reusable - Safe and Legal Refill Option - DOT Compliant - 16.4 oz


1 pound cylinders are common for small camping equipment, like tabletop propane grills/stoves and small portable propane heaters.

If your menu is a bit lacking, get some inspiration with our easy and yummy camp stove recipes your family will love!

Coleman Camp Propane Grill/StoveColeman Camp Propane Grill/StoveColeman Camp Propane Grill/StoveMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane HeaterMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane HeaterMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater


Refilling Larger Propane Tanks

We have found one of the most inexpensive places to refill our larger propane tanks is by using the service provided through Costco propane refill … it is not available at all Costco stores but when it is … it is a great deal!

We have a video with tips on how to use the service and finding the location that is nearest to you.

Costco Propane Refill How To Use The Costco Propane Service by CampingForFoodies features a class A motorhome RV parked at a Costco propane refill station with an employee getting ready to fill a portable propane tank from a large stationary tank that has warning and no smoking signs on it, text over the image reads Costco propane refill, how to get propane at Costco, membership is required.

Refilling 1 Pound Propane Cylinders

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 To Refill 1 lb Propane Cylinders, Tanks And Small Camping Propane Bottles - Camping For Foodies .com

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 BTU’s.

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 BTU’s per gallon = 640,500 BTU’s in each 30 gallon tank.

640,500 BTU’s / 900 BTU’s 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 don’t 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?”

Why?

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.

Coleman Northstar Propane LanternColeman Northstar Propane LanternColeman Northstar Propane Lantern


The Mr. Heater Little Buddy uses a 1-pound disposable propane cylinder to operate.

One bottle will operate the heater for approximately 5 hours.

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane HeaterMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane HeaterMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater


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.

Camp Chef Outdoor Camp OvenCamp Chef Outdoor Camp OvenCamp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven


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.

Coleman Fold N Go Propane Stove, 2-BurnerColeman Fold N Go Propane Stove, 2-BurnerColeman Fold N Go Propane Stove, 2-Burner


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, don’t 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, here’s 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.

Here’s 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.

Propane Tank Caps Solid Brass Refill 1 LB Propane Gas Bottle Cylinder Sealed Cap For Outdoor Camping BBQPropane Tank Caps Solid Brass Refill 1 LB Propane Gas Bottle Cylinder Sealed Cap For Outdoor Camping BBQPropane Tank Caps Solid Brass Refill 1 LB Propane Gas Bottle Cylinder Sealed Cap For Outdoor Camping BBQ


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.

Coleman Gemini Propane Power Pack/CarrierColeman Gemini Propane Power Pack/CarrierColeman Gemini Propane Power Pack/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 … you’ll 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 … you’ll 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!

Coleman High-Pressure Propane Hose and AdapterColeman High-Pressure Propane Hose and AdapterColeman High-Pressure Propane Hose and Adapter


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.

What to do with small propane tanks when disposing propane bottles by CampingForFoodies

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