How to Check Propane Levels Without a Gauge


When you have a gauge for your RV propane tank, checking on the level of gas remaining in the tank is quick and easy. With just a glance, you can determine how much fuel you have left, and you can decide if you need to refill or if you can wait for another day. However, not all RV propane tanks have gauges in place. If you are traveling without a gauge, you will need another option for determining how much propane is left.

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sunset-lake-with-fishermen_My7wiP__Not to Worry

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Fortunately, it is not only possible to check out much propane you have even without a gauge – it is actually quite easy as well. To do so, you are only going to need a small container full of hot water. When you wish to check on your propane level, fill a contain with hot water from the tap. You certainly don’t need boiling hot water to do this test, so just use the hot water side of a faucet and you will be set to go.

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With water in hand, head over to your propane tank and open up the compartment so you have access. Away from the valves of the tank, pour the water down the side, starting at the top. You are going to let the water just run down the side of the tank and drip off back to the ground. Pour all of the water you have onto the tank – it should take a few seconds to complete this part of the job.

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Feel for the Line

Once the water is poured, take your hand and place it on the side of the tank where you have poured the water. By quickly running your hand over the metal tank, you should notice there is a significant temperature difference at some point along the way. Part of the tank is going to feel warm, while part of the tank will feel cold. The warm part of the tank will be where there is air behind the metal, while the cold part of the tank is where the gas remains. So, by finding the point where warm metal turns to cold, you can figure out exactly how much gas remains inside.

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Once you find the ‘line’ between hot and cold, look at that spot in comparison with the tank as a whole. Do you have half of your tank left? More? Less? Whatever the case, you will now know within a very small margin of error how much propane remains to be used by your RV. If you are rather low, it may be time to head to a refilling station in order to top off the tank and prepare for your travels to come.

Be Smart

Of course, it is always important to keep in mind that propane, as a compressed gas, should be kept in a tank which is in good physical condition. If your tank is showing signs of age, you may wish to consider a replacement at some point in the near future. With a healthy propane tank along for the trip, you should be ready for a great vacation.

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Comments 2

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  1. There is some misinformation here. You should never have air in a propane tank. As the name implies LP (Liquid Propane) is stored in the tank as a liquid not as a gas and changes to gas as it’s used. When all the liquid has been vaporized the tank is empty and needs to be refilled. What the water test shows you and what you need to know is how much liquid propane is left in the tank.

  2. This is a great idea. But I have it on my list to check before we go. I go our really early on a morning and feel with my bare hand. To feel the colder temp of the propane. And I find the level. I don’t have to be 100% accurate. Just a really close guess. Works for me. When we have a tank at 1/4 way full (not Low) It is time to change over to the tank. Or visit my propane dealer.

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