How to Connect a Camp Stove to a Big Propane Tank – Decide Outside – Making Adventure Happen
so, you’ve finally realized how many of those 1 pound green coleman fuel tanks have gone through, and you’ve decided enough is enough! you’re going to save money and save resources by getting one of those big 15 pound propane tanks. but now what?
How do you connect a camp stove to a big propane tank? Since you can’t attach a camp stove directly to a big propane tank, you will need a high pressure hose rated for the higher gas pressure, as well as adapter connecting the Type-1 connection on the big propane tank to the male threaded connection used by disposable 1-lb canisters. Using any hose that fits is not safe as the hose must be rated to the pressure required for a large 15-lb propane tank.
so what does it take to hook up a camp stove to a large propane tank?
requirements to connect a large propane tank to a camp stove
here is a list of everything you need to start disposing of those 1 pound propane tanks so you can save money and resources. We’ll go into detail about each item so you know exactly what you need and if you already have what you need.
- a full 20 pound propane tank
- a camp stove!
- a gas pressure regulator (we explain this later)
- a high-pressure hose long enough to connect the camp stove and propane tank, and an adapter (hose often come with one. skip below for more details)
- a flat surface
- a lighter or matches(unless your stove self-ignites)
choose a large propane tank/bottle
There are many different sizes of propane tanks, but for any tank larger than a 1 pound propane tank, the process is the same.
Does a 20-pound propane tank weigh 20 pounds? A 20-pound gas container weighs more than 20 pounds. the weight rating is not for the container, it is for the gas inside. Also, even though a tank is rated at 15 pounds, they are often filled below 80% of their rated capacity in case the propane tank expands from heat.
what are the different propane tanks for camping? The key feature we are looking at is whether a propane tank is refillable. the most common tank is the 20lb propane tank; These tanks are the ones you can exchange at various gas stations with Blue Rhino’s tank exchange program.
As you can see, you can get any size tank to fit your situation. Remember though, traditional 1 pound Coleman green propane tanks are not meant to be refilled! Flame King makes a 1 pound refillable propane tank (check it out at Home Depot if you’re interested in something like that) These 1 pound tanks require no adapters or hoses because they will connect directly to a low pressure gas stove.
choosing a camp stove to use with a large propane tank
if you’re looking for a camp stove to use with a large propane tank, or if you already have a camp stove and wondering if it will work. See the following for a list of things your camp stove must have to work with a large propane tank:
- Make sure your camp stove burns propane. This may seem obvious, but many camp stoves burn other gases like butane or isobutane. If you want to know all the different fuels for camp stoves, check out our detailed article on fuels for camp stoves here.
- If the stove burns on low gas pressure, then the camp stove you need a high pressure to low pressure adapter hose.
- if the stove burns at high gas pressures, then the camp stove needs a hose with a high pressure regulator; many high pressure gas stoves come with a hose and pressure regulator already
why would you care if your stove is high or low pressure?
A high pressure gas stove is designed to be able to burn more gas in a given period of time because the gas pressure is higher. higher pressure means it can burn more at a given time than a low pressure gas stove.
high pressure just isn’t necessary for a camp stove made to run on 1 pound propane tanks. larger stoves with more burners need more gas, but some small 2-burner camp stoves can run on low pressure just fine.
What Is a Gas Pressure Regulator?
A gas pressure regulator ensures that the correct amount of gas is used for the gas appliance. As an analogy, imagine drinking from a fire hose. You can’t drink the water fast enough and you’re likely to collapse. regulating gas pressure is extremely important.
In fact, if you give too much gasoline to a device that can’t handle it, you can cause damage to your appliance and even to yourself. Always use the correct gas pressure for your appliance.
A high pressure stove can run at low pressure, but you may experience performance issues. a high pressure stove that cooks at low pressure will not be able to cook as hot as it is designed to.
Low pressure is considered: 11 inches or 6 oz of pressure. (1/2 psi). burners that support a maximum of 50,000 btus can be low pressure.
Considered high pressure: anything greater than 6 oz per square inch (1/2 psi). high pressure stoves burn at more than 50,000 btus.
many coleman camp stoves are considered high pressure and rely on gas pressures of 15 to 20 psi. This means that the regulator that comes with Coleman camping stoves reduces the bottle pressure to 15-20 psi.
If your camp stove is large with multiple burners, and perhaps its own stand, then you may be using a camp stove that accepts high pressure gas. The biggest clue to finding out what kind of stove you have is to find out what kind of regulator came with your stove.
Most stoves come with a regulator. some regulators are internal to the stove itself and others are integrated. Traditional 2-burner Coleman camp stoves, for example, come with a pipe that connects from the camp stove to the 1-pound propane tank. this coleman regulator brings the pressure to 15-20 psi.
The regulator that comes with the stove, high or low, adjusts the pressure at which the stove should work.
if your camp stove has its regulator (looks like a tube that connects to the side of the coleman units) then you should be good to go and just need a high pressure hose with the proper adapter as described below.
high pressure hose with adapter
To connect a 20 pound high pressure propane tank to a low pressure gas camp stove, you need a high pressure hose and a “type 1” adapter or acme fitting to a male disposable cylinder port , also called a disposable accessory.
in other words, you need an adapter that will convert a typical hose that connects to a standard propane tank (not the 1lb coleman disposable type) to the fitting used on a disposable tank propane tank.
coleman sells a hose that is also an adapter that is made specifically for this purpose. you can see it at dick sporting goods, at this link, or here on amazon.
In addition to the adapter, you need a high pressure hose. high pressure hoses are designed for higher gas pressures. If you use a hose that is not fit for purpose, bad things can happen! the coleman high pressure hose is a 2 in 1 because it has the high pressure hose as well as the adapter.
steps to connect a large propane tank to a camp stove
These instructions assume you have a low pressure camp stove.
- place your camp stove on a level surface
- open your camp stove and make sure all dials are off so no gas will flow.
- place your large tank propane stove near your camp stove
- make sure the propane tank valve is fully closed (right tight, left loose)
- remove the caps that cover the valve connections on the stove and tank
- connect the large end of the hose to the propane tank and connect the small end of the hose to the camp stove.
- slowly pressurize the camp stove by loosening the valve on the large propane tank. (don’t continue if you hear gas leaking!)
- now, with your lighter or matches lit and ready on the burner, loosen the regulator valve on your gas stove until the gas hisses a little in the camp. stove to allow gas to reach burner
- you should see flames!
- once you are done, you should depressurize the camp stove by first turning off the gas tank and allowing all the gas in the hose to run out. (you don’t need to do this if you are going to keep your stove connected to the tank)
low flow gas pressure hose syndrome
A common problem associated with propane stoves is low flow. It turns out that these gas regulators have a safety shot that activates when they detect a flow that is too high. If you open the tank valve too quickly, you can activate this safety feature.
To fix this, follow the instructions below:
- turn off the gas at all points, the stove, the side burners and the tank itself.
- disconnect hose from gas tank
- wait 30-60 seconds
- reconnect hose
- pressurize tank by opening very slowly the valve (listen for leaks)
- try your stove again
For an excellent explanation of this security feature, watch this video:
this problem is more for high pressure gas stoves, since high pressure lines are more dangerous than low pressure gas lines, these safety features are more critical in that case.
differences between hooking up a 1lb and 20lb propane tank to a camp stove
If your propane camp stove is low pressure (typically designed for use with 1 pound propane tanks), there are a couple of differences to be aware of. (For reference, you can see the steps I wrote above for how to hook up a large propane tank to a low pressure camp stove.)
- screwing a 1lb propane tank directly into the camp stove requires no additional hoses or adapters
- when connected to a 20lb propane tank, controls gas flow the propane tank itself, as well as the burners. With a 1-pound propane tank, you control the flow of gas with just the knobs on the burners.
- when disassembling the propane tank there is often no way to depressurize it so you will have a propane leak when you unscrew the 1lb propane canister
Besides these differences in steps, the main difference that is relevant to this discussion is how long a propane tank will last.
A 1 pound propane cylinder can last 2 days per meal (depending on how long you use it) or about 2 hours on high heat.
a 20 pound propane cylinder will last about 40 hours using the same burner. remember that if you are using a 20 pound propane cylinder with a high pressure gas stove, it will not last as long as you burn more propane.
There are a lot of general questions on the topic that I thought I’d include for convenience.
Does a 20 pound propane tank have high or low pressure?
A 20 pound propane tank is considered high pressure. If a tank follows the standards, a full 20-pound container at 70 degrees Fahrenheit would have a pressure of 145 psi. (pounds per square inch)
can i use a 20lb propane tank to refill a 1lb disposable propane tank?
This is a controversial topic. I will just say that doing so is dangerous as canisters are not meant to be refilled this way. It’s definitely possible, people do it, but people have also seen bulging tanks and faulty valves, both of which could be extremely dangerous.
I agree though, filling a 1 pound tank is tempting to save money. but it is not worth it since we are dealing with propane gas. however, you can buy a 1-pound refillable container like the one made by Flame King (Home Depot), which is a better option.