How to Hook Up RV Gas Tanks

by Lynda Altman
RVs Use LP or Liquid Propane Gas.

RVs Use LP or Liquid Propane Gas.

Two types of RV gas tanks exist. Upright, removable tanks are used for travel trailers, pop-up campers, truck campers, and vans. These tanks are installed on the outside of the RV. Motorhomes use permanently mounted horizontal DOT (Department of Transportation) propane tanks. These tanks are enclosed in the RV and are accessed through a panel located on the RV's exterior. Both types of tanks use LP, or liquid propane. It is important to properly install the LP tanks to the RV. LP gas is highly flammable and gas leaks into the RV can result in fire or explosion.

Attaching Upright RV Gas Tanks

  1. Turn off all gas operated appliances in the RV. Clear away dirt or debris from the tank area.

  2. Look at the propane connection. Teardrop RVs and small pop-up campers may only have room for one tank. If this is the case, connect the pigtail hose to the tank and tighten with a wrench. For most other travel trailers, two tanks are connected to the system. If both tanks are removed, look at the regulator and attach the tank to the side marked "reserve." Attach the pigtail to the tank and move the black lever on the regulator to the newly installed tank.

  3. Attach the second tank to the system. Tighten the connection with an adjustable wrench. This tank becomes the reserve tank.

  4. Turn on the tanks by turning the valve to the open position. Spray all connections with soapy water and look for any signs of bubbles. Bubbles indicate leaks. Tighten the connections and repeat the soap spray until no bubbles appear.

  5. Enter the RV and turn on the appliances.

Attaching Horizontal DOT Tanks

  1. Turn off all gas appliances in the RV motorhome. Turn off all electric power to the RV. Turn off the generator.

  2. Open the LP systems panel. Make sure the gas valve on the tank is closed or in the off position. Look for where the gas line exits the motorhome. The gas line connects to the right hand side of the DOT tank. DOT tanks are installed at the factory and they are not easily removed.

  3. Attach the gas line to the tank and hand-tighten. Use an adjustable wrench to finish tightening the connection.

  4. Turn the gas valve to the open or on position. Spray soapy water on the connection to check for leaks. If bubbles appear, tighten the connections. Repeat until no bubbles appear.

  5. Enter the RV and turn on the gas systems.

Items you will need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Propane tanks
  • Spray bottle
  • Soapy water


  • "Trailer Life's RV Repair & Maintenance Manual"; 4th Edition; by Bob Livingston; 2002; Chapter 2

About the Author

Lynda Altman started writing professionally in 2001, specializing in genealogy, home-schooling, gardening, animals and crafts. Her work has appeared in "Family Chronicle Magazine" and "Chihuahua Magazine." Altman holds a B.A. in marketing from Mercy College, a black belt in taekwondo, master gardener certification, a certificate in graphic arts and a certificate in genealogy.

Photo Credits