If you are planning to go on an epic adventure in a travel trailer, there are lots of questions that you have to answer. One of them will be about the costs of traveling full time, which can be tricky because every family is different. Propane is one of the items that I had a hard time pinning down while researching for our adventure. It is one of those it depends on your usage items that is impossible to figure out exact costs beforehand. Here is our break down for the last year to help you get an idea what it might cost your family on your adventure. (We are a family of five in a travel trailer)
As you can see propane is not a giant expense and it doesn’t come anywhere near how much we spend on gas for the tow vehicle.
We cook with it and heat our water with it (when we aren’t hooked into power). The only time we try to conserve it is with the furnace. If we have power hook ups then we will use an electric heater to cut down on the propane we are using to heat the trailer. Using an electric heater requires a bit of caution and you must use common sense and be responsible so that you don’t burn your home down. We use an oil based radiator heater which is very kid and animal friendly, plus it doesn’t use as much electricity (yes we consider that because sometimes electricity is metered and be good to your camps or they will raise their rates for everyone). These types of heaters take some time to heat up and you have to get used to what setting to use, but they work great and we just put ours on a few hours before sunset to keep us warm at night. Like all heaters you can’t put it near anything flammable and you have to be especially cautious if you are leaving your trailer unattended. We just turn ours off when we leave and then on again when we get home.
So for a family of five we use one 30lbs tank (about 7 gallons) of propane every 36 days.
Just because we like that type of heater, doesn’t mean the other kinds are bad. Ceramic heaters work well, but they tend to be directional and we have bedrooms at both ends of our trailer. Plus they are heavier and we like that the radiator heater fits right under our sofa when it is unplugged and we are traveling. Heat dishes are great to sit in front of, but have a higher risk of burns and fire. They are really light weight though and are usually cheaper to buy. Someone suggested a Vornado heater to me, and I love their fans. I just have no experience with them and I wanted to use a product I knew would work for our family.
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We have an automatic switch over valve on our two tank set-up and it switches from green to red when the primary tank is empty. I then call around for a place that will fill the propane and I take a single tank to them. The higher cost fill in Texas was when the only place open in the area was an RV Resort that I took the tank to.
If you want to save money, look for propane companies that will still fill a tank on site if you bring it to them.
Some families don’t bake or use their propane to cook with, but we do all our cooking with our propane. One of our propane lines even developed a small leak and it cost us extra propane until I replaced it. So the monthly cost of propane for our family is $18.12 and what is that compared to the extraordinary experience of taking the kids to every state capitol? If you want to see our full monthly expenses we have them on Patreon for our patrons. Especially when our natural gas bill used to be around $100 a month at our conventional house. So as you can see the propane cost is not going to be a limiting factor to living the travel lifestyle.