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How to Hook Up External Propane Tank to RV in 4 Steps?

Written by Stephen Ryan / Fact checked by William Turner

how to hook up external propane tank to rv

Are you looking for a more cost-efficient power supply for many of your RV’s outdoor appliances? Did you know that you can enjoy better energy savings if you know how to hook up external propane tank to RV?

An external propane tank for RV can augment your RV’s main hydrocarbon fuel cylinder to keep you warm on cold days, gives you warm showers outdoors, and lets you enjoy delicious home-style food. Having a sumptuous barbecue in the great outdoors is also a cinch with an external propane cylinder.

The question now is how do you connect this fuel source to your motorhome? Hooking up an external propane tank to an RV is less complicated than you think. You only need to prepare a few things to establish a secure connection.

Table of Contents

Things You Need for This Tutorial


Propane Tank Adapter Kit

The first thing you need is an external propane tank adapter, but only if your RV’s permanent propane system does not have an easy-connect tee fitting. This device lets you join a regulator to the RV’s permanent hydrocarbon fuel compartment, the fuel cylinder, and a fuel powered appliance.

If you wonder what device to buy, I recommend the Camco Propane Brass 4 Port Tee Extend a Stay Kit. You can install an Extend a Stay kit because it already has everything you need to establish a secure connection between your RV and the external propane cylinder.

The Extend a Stay kit already comes with hoses for external propane tanks and appliances that use bottle style fittings. You can also rely on its sturdy construction and exceptional thread sealing.

Propane Tank

Always buy your propane cylinder from a reputable company. Most RV owners use a 20-lb propane tank for outdoor use because it is more portable. This cylinder holds about five gallons of propane, sufficient for barbecues and grills. You can also pick a 33-pound cylinder if you want.

The majority of tanks come with an ACME valve, although newer products have an OPD valve. Check your fittings if they are for ACME or other valve types.

Hoses and Fittings

If you do not buy a propane cylinder adapter kit, you must purchase individual hoses and fittings. It can include a 25-foot gas hose, a ½-inch threaded shutoff valve, a ¼-inch to ½-inch threaded reducer, and a ¼-inch threaded male fitting that connects to an ACME fitting. You might need other male fittings, too.

You will also need two 3/8-inch flares to join to a 90-degree bend and a threaded fitting.

Steps to Hook Up an External Propane Tank to Your RV


Step 1. Disconnect the regulator from the permanent RV propane tank.

The first step to hooking up an external propane tank to your RV is looking for your motorhome’s permanent propane cylinder. Most RVs have the tanks connected to various appliances.

On the other hand, a travel trailer has the main propane tanks on the front and connected to different systems. You will want to check your manual for the exact fuel cylinder location because RVs have different designs.

Turn off the propane gas and remove the regulator cover (if any) before disconnecting the gas regulator from the tank.

Ensure the regulator is no longer connected to the cylinder before you proceed any further.

Step 2. Install an external propane tank adapter.

The next step involves installing a propane kit to connect a cylinder to your RV tank if your camper or trailer doesn’t have one.

You might want to check your camper and look for a T-shaped device between the main propane tank and the propane gas regulator. It should have two connections or ports. A port connects to the external propane tank, while another supplies fuel to your gas powered appliance in a bottle style.

The port going to the appliance is the outward flow connection, delivering fuel to small grills that use disposable bottle style fittings. The other port features a ¼-inch inverted flare end assembly that receives gas flow from the fuel cylinder.

If your camper does not have the tee fitting, you might have to buy an external tank adapter.

Check the number of ports in your device. Most adapters have four ports that connect to the permanent hydrocarbon fuel compartment, an external propane cylinder, a regulator, and a compatible appliance with bottle style fitting.

These kits already come with an ACME bottle style fitting, a ¼-inch inverted flare, extra fittings, and a 24-inch hose comprising the inflow connection.

Secure the device to the permanent RV propane tank by rotating it counterclockwise.

Hook the regulator to the connector by turning it counterclockwise.

Pro Tip: Check for leaks by spraying the connections with soapy water. There should be no bubbles in the joints.

Step 3. Connect the external propane tank.

The next step to hook up an external tank is connecting a hose between the tank and the propane adapter.

Contact the local company or local propane source that provides fuel services to check if you need a gas line for high-pressure fuel. Hooking up 100 lb propane tank to RV requires a high-pressure gas line. You can use an ordinary hose if you have the standard 20 or 33 pound cylinder.

Secure the ¼-inch inverted flare end of the high-pressure gas line to the correct tank adapter port. Install the gas line’s other end to the external RV propane tank.

Always check the connections for leaks before connecting the appliance.

Step 4. Attach your appliance to the tank adapter.

The last step in the RV external propane connection is joining your fuel powered appliance (a grill or an outdoor shower) to the correct port.

Run a hose long enough to hook the fuel powered appliance to the system. Ensure there are no leaks to prevent any accidents.

I found an informative video from RVgeeks on how to hook up an external propane tank to RV. I strongly recommend watching the video.


Learning how to hook up external propane tank to RV is as straightforward as replacing the propane tank for your backyard barbecue grill fuel cylinder. You only need the right tools and a reputable energy company to make the connection. You can barbecue outdoors or enjoy a warm shower outside your motorhome.

I hope you found this tutorial beneficial in addressing your concerns. Your friends can take advantage of the knowledge by sharing this article with them. You can also send me comments, questions, or feedback, and I will do everything to enlighten you further.

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