There are many reasons to choose one type of RV over another. People that opt for a motorhome may do so because they offer many convenient features. An auto-leveling system, climate control while driving, and a built-in generator are all pros of getting a motorhome. One drawback to owning a motorhome RVers can quickly discover is that the propane tank is not removable. Instead of detaching the propane tank and taking it to the closest Tractor Supply to fill, you must drive the entire motorhome there.
For those camping in colder locations or wishing to stay in one place for several weeks, it can be a pain to have to move the whole motorhome every time the propane runs low. Fortunately, there is a product for that. External propane kits are easy to install and readily available. They not only give you the ability to hook up external propane tanks to your motorhome, but some also have ports that allow for you to hook up gas grills, so you don’t have to go through those disposable 1lb bottles.
How does it work?
Camco Propane Brass 4 Port Tee- Comes with 5ft and 12ft Hoses listed on Amazon.
The main component of a propane kit is the brass tee. It is called a tee because it allows propane from your main tank to flow to your propane regulator in a straight line but has a port in the middle that you can fit a hose to making a “T” shape. Most models will have a one-way valve either in the tee itself or the external propane hose. This valve allows propane to flow from the external tank but not the other direction.
Where do you get one?
Most RV parts stores will carry them, and you can order them online from places like Amazon or Walmart. You can purchase just the tee for about $40 or the entire kit with hoses at $60 to $80. From personal experience, I have found that the 5’ hose (that comes with most of these kits) is a little short. Sometimes I want the tanks on the opposite side of the RV. For that reason, I have opted to purchase a 12’ propane hose.
Camco 59035 12′ Propane Supply Hose
How do you install it?
This is the regulator attached to the motorhome propane tank. Notice the notches on the screw. That means it’s threaded backward.
The first step to installing a brass tee is to make sure your propane is off. Once the propane is off, you will want to disconnect the regulator of the propane tank. Keep in mind that a POL propane connector is threaded backward. Instead of “righty tighty, lefty loosey,” it’s the opposite of that.
This is the regulator removed from the main tank.
Next, you will want to remove the regulator from the main tank output. The brass tee will go in between the regulator and the tank. It is vital for the proper function that the tee be installed before the regulator. If it is somehow installed downline from it, your propane system won’t function and could pose a hazard because the external tank pressure will not be regulated when it does through the system.
Screw the brass tee into the tank, and then screw the regulator into the tee. You may have noticed the fittings have O-rings on them and therefore do not need any thread seal tape.
I used a ⅞ wrench to screw the regulator into the brass tee.
The last steps are to attach the propane hose and then screw the hose onto a propane tank. It’s important to note that though there are no O-rings, the fitting here is a flair fitting. It is designed to seal without thread seal tape.
Here is the hose connected. You may notice the thread seal tape at the top, but where the hose connects, there isn’t any.
Connect the other end of the hose to a propane tank.
Once everything is connected, keep the motorhome propane tank off and turn on the external tank. It may be a good idea to check for leaks at this time. Many people use soapy water in a spray bottle and spray it over all the connections. If you see bubbles coming out, there is a leak.
They also make propane leak detector spray that claims to be non-corrosive. Some customers say that it works better. I use the leak detector spray because it’s in a convenient bottle, it’s about $5, and it can last several years. It works the same way, spray it on all connections and see if there are any bubbles.
Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector with Sprayer – 8 oz – from Amazon
Once you have tested for leaks, try the stove. It can take a moment for the stove to light if there is any air in the lines. If you would like to see a video demonstration on installing a brass tee, check out the video below.
Any more tips?
When you move the propane regulator over, you may find that it no longer fits and hangs over the shelf. If that’s the case, you may want to find a way to elongate the shelf to keep road debris out of the regulator.
There are many ways to do this, but I went to Home Depot and found a couple of metal plates that I could bolt onto the existing shelf to extend it. If you plan on removing the brass tee before moving the rig, you won’t have to do this, but if you leave it on, you will want to protect the regulator.
Here are the two overlapping Simpson Strong-Tie TP 3-1/8 in. x 7 in. 20-Gauge Galvanized Tie Plates I used to extend the platform that the regulator sits on.
The next tip is one of safety. Propane can be dangerous to work with, and if you don’t feel comfortable installing this yourself, it should be easy to get an RV tech to do it for you. Always keep propane safety in mind.
About The Author: Levi Henley
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com
Rosafort M. ~ “I’m so happy we chose Coach-Net’s roadside assistance. This was our first camping trip ever and we got a flat tire which was very scary! So we called Coach-Net & the problem was solved within the hour! It makes us feel much more comfortable knowing we have you on our side!”