Can Propane Freeze?
If you are camping in some seriously cold weather, you may wonder if the RV propane is going to be ok.
Propane gets very cold when it transfers from liquid to gas and that’s why you sometimes see frost forming around your propane tank when a lot of propane is being used and there’s lots of moisture in the air.
Related Product: Get a Portable Indoor Propane Heater (click to view on Amazon) in case the furnace won’t light.
Propane can freeze but not in any conditions found here on earth.
The pressure in a propane tank gets lower the colder it gets outside, and at -40 degrees Fahrenheit the propane can stop converting from liquid to gas and you won’t be able to get any gas to run your appliances.
This is a very rare case and most likely won’t be a problem.
If it gets super cold outside and your propane stops flowing, it could be because there isn’t enough propane in the tank to built-up pressure to run your appliances correctly.
If you are camping in freezing temperatures, it’s a good idea to not let your propane tanks get below 10% or filled over 80%.
See Also: Best Heated Drinking Water Hose For RV, Campers + DIY Method
If you are having problems with your propane appliances not working properly when it’s cold outside, the problem is most likely not the propane itself, but rather a symptom of another problem.
The most common thing that will freeze up is the propane regulator.
Can RV Propane Regulators or Lines Freeze?
The short answer is yes they can, but not because it’s too cold outside.
One reason for a propane regulator to freeze is the tank is overfilled and liquid propane is being shot into the regulator.
When the liquid propane turns to a gas inside the regulator, it gets extremely cold and freezes up.
If this happens, turn off the propane tank and let the regulator thaw. Then slowly open the propane tank and use a little at a time until the liquid propane is no longer flowing into the regulator.
See Also: How Does An RV Propane Regulator Work?
Another more common reason for regulators and lines to freeze is moisture built up inside your propane tank.
It’s not the propane that is freezing, but the water. Most propane suppliers can add anhydrous methanol to your propane tank. This will absorb the moisture and remove it from your propane tank.
If your RV propane regulator is getting old, it may start letting moisture in, which can cause it to freeze up as well.
The last problem could be the propane mixture is not cold-weather friendly.
If you are going to be staying up north where it’s cold during the winter, make sure you fill your propane tanks there so you get the right kind.
See Also: 7 Signs That Your RV Propane Regulator Has Gone Bad
Propane regulators can freeze up, but it’s not usually the propane’s fault, but things like moisture and overfilling.
Also, if the RV propane regulator is old and letting in moisture that can cause it to freeze as well. Make sure you replace an old or bad propane regulator.
Propane lines should never freeze and the issue normally lies with the pressure in the propane tank or the regulator.
See Also: Best 2 Stage Dual Tank RV Propane Regulators Reviews
If you are going to be camping in subzero weather, make sure the RV propane tanks are filled properly and are moisture-free.
Also, check that the regulator is in good condition (click here for how to tell if an RV propane regulator has gone bad), and try not to use a ton of propane all at once.
Another tip is to light a burner on your stove for a minute before turning on your furnace to get a bit of propane flowing before the high demand of the furnace kicks in.
Have questions about propane when it’s cold? Leave a comment below.
6 thoughts on “Can RV Propane Lines Or Propane Regulators Freeze?”
Good info. Thanks.
We are full-timers…During the Texas winter of 2020, we were caught off-guard and unprepared for temperatures of -12F. At the time, we were in a FHU RV Park (you know…the kind where you are packed 10′ apart…?). Snow was flying. Power outages were across the state. After the first day or two, 80% of the tenants were leaving the park to stay in hotels, with other family members, etc. After about the 3rd day, we were but a couple short of the only ones remaining. It was actually a fight for survival for those staying. But, we were equipped with 1350W of solar and had a 6500W generator. We should have been fine. Right? Having no experience in these temperatures, we battled to keep the propane running. A generator nor heater won’t run without it. We had (4) 40# tanks. At the beginning of the cold, we thought “no problem”. Initially, it was above 0F. As the temps continued to fall though, we struggled to stay warm. The propane pressure was getting less and less. Further compounding the issue was that the propane suppliers were shut down due to a lack of electricity. I could use the tanks from 80% (full) to about 50% (half full). After that, they could not produce enough gas. So, I had a thought…What if I brought the tanks in the house and let them warm up? The problem there was time. We could not warm them fast enough or high enough. We are at a critical point ourselves. The stove had just enough propane to heat water and the furnace could not start any longer. So what were we to do? Then it came to me. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We could boil water (albeit slowly). It’s time to find a bucket large enough to hold the tanks. There was nothing we could find. But wait! Can we use the cat box? It’s just large enough. So, out with the litter (it was time for a change anyway). I put the propane tank into the empty litter box (its 12″ tall or so). Then boiled water on the stove. I had a hand-help temperature gun. The tank was reading 5 degrees or so. I dropped in the boiling water slowly. After a few minutes, I boiled some more and poured that load in. I did this about three or 4 times. The hot water was about 1/3 the way up the bottle. I sat and waited about 10 minutes. Low and behold. The tank was up to 80 degrees F. A few more minutes and it was 90 degrees F. I then took the tank back outside. WOW! We have heat again! And the stove worked much better! More boiling water to the rescue! Pretty soon, I had 4 tanks of usable propane! We’re going to make it after all! From there on out, the bigger challenge would be finding propane. Electricity was intermittent. It reminded me of the 70’s gas shortage. We raced from location to location to stand in line. But we prevailed! After about 2 weeks of this, winter temperatures began to return to normal (mid 40’s for lows). So the moral of the story is that if you find yourself in temperatures that low, don’t panic. But do have a bucket handy so that you can pour hot water slowly over the tanks. They lasted for hours at a time when heated. After heating the tanks initially, the temps indoors were high enough that I could just set them indoors without heating them so much. I would not normally do this indoors as propane gas can be an extreme hazard. But when you are desperate, you do what you have to. We do have propane detectors in the RV. Next time, I might try to find a way to do this outside or rent a 100 lb tank or two. They do make heated blankets for various size propane tanks. They are expensive and if you don’t have electricity, they don’t work. With a large enough generator though, you could be all right (remember that there is a de-rating factor for low temperatures and higher elevations). With solar, there is just not enough electricity from your batteries to use heat blankets on the propane tanks. Now, on to the next problem in freezing temps…Stuck Dump Valves…On to get heat trace and insulation…
Hi Frozen Travels,
Thanks for the story and the advice on what to do in an emergency. I would never have thought to put the tanks in hot water to warm them up. I’m glad you guys figured it out and made it through that situation.
I’m full time in rv in Tennessee and last winter was cold. My tanks froze and I was told on an rv group to wrap them with a blanket and put a garbage bag over them. It worked. I changed out my regulator and hose this summer so hope that helps for they are calling for a colder winter this year. I was thinking about putting some reflexive insulation inside the cover to see if that helped any. Anyone try that?
That sounds like a good idea to me. I’ve never tried it myself but I would be interested to hear if it works.
I know it’s not easy to just refill propane tanks but trying to keep them as full as possible on the coldest days should also help with freezing.
Wow, I learned so much from this article. With the Siberian vortex coming this week, I am really nervous. Thank you so much for this info!