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Propane Distribution Tree - Great For Camping

If you are sick of buying those small green 1-lb propane tanks for camping then you need to get a propane distribution tree. A distribution tree allows you to use a large propane tank with the smaller camping appliances.

Published Jun 2, 2010 by lobo235
Last updated on Jun 9, 2010

Through years of camping we have accumulated a good collection of camping gear that makes our camping trips easier and more enjoyable. Some of the gear that has been most useful are the camping appliances that use propane. Most of these propane appliances are designed to use the small green 1-lb propane canisters. These 1-lb propane canisters come in handy because they are small, light, and relatively inexpensive but when you have two or three camping appliances that use these containers you can go through them pretty fast and spend a lot of money buying new ones. A more economical and practical solution is to buy a propane distribution tree.

A propane distribution tree is a specialized propane connector that connects to a 20-lb bulk propane tank (like the one connected to your outdoor gas barbecue grill). It has 2 or 3 small appliance connections so you can connect all of your propane camping appliances to the same tank of propane. The propane distribution tree sticks up vertically from the bulk propane tank and usually has a connector on the top for a propane lantern to attach to. There are many benefits of using a propane distribution tree instead of the little green propane bottles. Here are some of the benefits:

  • You will save money over time. It costs less to refill a 20-lb bulk propane tank ($16 the last time we refilled ours) than it would cost to buy 20 of the small green 1-lb propane tanks (about $2-3 per bottle last time we purchased some). Most people already have a 20-lb bulk propane tank that they use for their gas barbecue grill so they won't need to buy one to use a distribution tree. A propane distribution tree costs between $30-50 depending on the brand and where you buy it.
  • Using a 20-lb bulk propane tank is literally like having 20 of the small green propane bottles. Using your propane distribution tree you are able to use all that propane without having to change bottles in the middle of cooking something on your camp stove. Since most distribution trees have at least 2 connections you can run your camp stove at the same time as a small gas grill or lantern. If your distribution tree has 3 connections you can run all three propane appliances at the same time.
  • Propane lanterns can be used in a safe location where it is hard for little children to reach them when they are placed on top of a propane distribution tree. Instead of putting the lantern on the ground or on a picnic table the lantern can spread it's light more effectively from the top of a distribution tree.

To give you an idea of how long a 20-lb bulk propane tank will last while camping you can take our latest 4-day, 3-night camping trip as an example. We had a two-burner propane camping stove, a small gas grill, and a propane lantern that were used by 4 families. Most meals were prepared using at least one propane appliance and, at times, meals were prepared that required use of the camping stove and gas grill at the same time. At night the camping stove was used to heat water for hot chocolate, cider, and tea while the propane lantern was being used. We used the propane lantern for at least 2 hours each night. At the end of the trip the tank still felt like it was at least half full.

Buying a propane distribution tree has been one of the best camping equipment purchases we have ever made. We highly recommend that anyone who does a lot of car camping get one. You can find them at most sporting goods or camping stores and sometimes at walmart. We really liked the features of the Century Propane Distribution Safety Post sold by Amazon so we bought ours there. The Century Propane Distribution Safety Post has 3 appliance connections so you can use up to 3 propane camping appliances at once. Included with the Century is a nylon carrying case which is nice for keeping it clean and protected. It also has a clamp that securely attaches to the bulk propane tank's collar. Unlike most propane distribution trees the Century has a flexible hose that attaches to your bulk tank valve instead of a rigid connection which could more easily damage your bulk tank's valve if knocked over or bumped. Also, the weight of the distribution tree itself and any connected equipment is not resting on your bulk tank's valve with the Century Distribution Tree; instead the weight is placed on the collar of the tank which is more durable.

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