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RV Life Hack: How To Check How Much Propane You Have Left

How Much Propane Is in the Tank?

It’s the age-old question asked by campers, RVers, and grill masters. How much propane do I have left?

You don’t want to make a trip to get your propane tanks refilled, only to find out that they are still half full.

And you don’t want to run out of propane in the middle cooking a magnificent outdoor meal.

Related Product: Grill perfect meat every time with a compact Meat Thermometer (click to view on Amazon).

Sure, you can pick up the tank and give it a shake to get an idea of what’s left in there, but that method doesn’t tell you exactly how much there is.

You can buy a propane gas pressure gauge like this one (click to view on Amazon).

But what if you need to know now?

The good news is there is a fast, easy, and free way to check the propane levels in your tanks, and it’s actually pretty darn accurate.

See Also: Best Portable Propane Tabletop Grills & BBQs For Camping


Boiling water on a camping stove that will be used to check how much propane is left in the tank
You can use a simple pot to boil water to use when checking how much propane is left in a tank.

Hot Water

That’s right, hot water is the key to knowing how much propane is in a tank right now.

Propane is in a liquid state in a tank. It keeps a constant high pressure by turning into gas as the liquid levels get lower and lower.

The gas comes out of the top of the tank and is used by us.

You don’t want to get liquid propane in your grill or any other propane appliance.

That’s why it’s important to have the tank sitting on a level surface, facing the right direction, and not let the tank get overfilled.

See Also: Best 2 Stage Dual Tank RV Propane Regulators Reviews

When the liquid propane turns into gas, the process absorbs heat, and gets very cold.

If you have a grill or heater set on high for a long time, you may see condensation on the propane tank.

That’s because the high demand for propane is causing the propane to change state as fast as it can. All the heat gets absorbed and makes the tank ice cold.

This is why using hot water works when checking your propane tank levels.

camp stove using a propane tank
This method works great on small portable propane tanks.

The Process

Step 1

Put at least 4 cups of water in a kettle or a pan and boil it.

You want it to be as hot as it can be right from the start so you can more accurately feel the temperature change on the propane tank.

Step 2

Dump the hot water down one side of your propane tank.

Step 3

Run your hand from the top of the propane tank to the bottom.

You should feel a definite temperature change at some point. The colder area is where the liquid propane is sitting.

The liquid propane level tells you how full or empty your propane tank is.

You may need to try it out a few times to get the hang of it. The hotter the water, the easier it is to feel the colder liquid propane.

Sometimes the hot water will even condense around the liquid part of the propane and you can see the propane level.

Related: 7 Signs That Your RV Propane Regulator Has Gone Bad

This method comes in handy when you need to know how much propane you have without having to buy any gadgets.

I trust this method so much that I’ve never felt the need to buy a propane gauge.

Have questions about the hot water method of estimating propane tank levels? Leave a comment below.

by Jesse
Jesse has always had an interest in camping, technology, and the outdoors. Who knew that growing up in a small town in Sweden with endless forests and lakes would do that to you?

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