Glamping: Measure Your Gas With Hot Water

July 14, 2010

My family and I got a Travel Trailer last year, and we love it. It’s like a condo on wheels. All the comforts of home in the wild.

Travel Trailer

Why go camping if it feels like home and not roughing it? Ah, um, some may argue that we’re glamour-camping – “glamping.” Think of it this way – we wouldn’t have gone into the wilderness otherwise. We wouldn’t have been able to expose our children to the sights and joys of the wilderness (or as close to these as we can manage to) unless it was with the day-to-day comfort of home. Air conditioning to help us sleep, electricity for the coffee machine so that grumpy Daddy gets his daily java, bath / shower so that we can wash off the grime, etc etc.

We’ve already had or scheduled nearly ten camping trips this year. Trips which we wouldn’t have gone on or planned if we didn’t have a travel trailer. So, don’t knock us for wanting to go glamping.

And of course, we gotta buy lots of gadgets and accessories to help us camp – uh – glamp. This blog post is hopefully the first in a series of gadgets I use or yearn after while camping / glamping.

So, here goes …

We have two propane tanks that we use for cooking, heating our hot water, and operating our refrigerator (the latter two especially when not connected to an electrical supply). In the picture above, the two tanks are inside the relatively small white container at the very front end (right side of the pic) on top of the tow hitch.

Our particular travel trailer doesn’t come equipped with a gauge showing us how much propane we’ve got left in these tanks. Last time we asked our service to top off the tanks, we found out the tanks were only fractionally used – and the service technician was like, “why did you ask us to fill these tanks anyway?” Kinda embarrassing for us city folks.

So I resolved to find a low-tech way to measure how much gas I had. Um, that didn’t sound right. How much propane I had left. That sounds better.


I ended up buying a pair of these removable magnetic propane gauges.

These gauges are actually not much more than a magnetic strip that you affix to the side a propane tank. It almost looks like the changing-temperature temperature gauge on a fish tank. Almost.

Next, you microwave a cup of water till it’s steamingly hot. (What, you don’t have a microwave oven while camping? I’m talking about glamping, folks!) Pour it over the side of the propane tank so that the hot water runs over the magnetic gauge. Don’t worry, the gauge won’t be damaged, and the tank won’t explode.

Miraculously (ok, so I’m fishing here), the color of the gauge will change from yellow to orange. After a few seconds, a portion (or all) of the gauge will turn back to yellow, with the portion above the propane line remaining orange. But be quick – the gauge returns to its inert state after approx 30 seconds.

(Image from

Magic? Nah. Just really cool, like a high school science experiment. And very useful. You can even use this for your barbeque gas grill’s propane tank. No glamping needed there.

Now go forth and glamp. And enjoy the air conditioning.

3 Responses to “Glamping: Measure Your Gas With Hot Water”

  1. Kevin Bruce Says:

    VERY cool! We’re hopefully going to invest in a popup camper in the next few years and we hope to go gamping with little John a lot!

  2. Kevin Bruce Says:

    um… meant to say “glamping”

  3. […] check out my other glamping article as well.) Posted by proudgeek Filed in Camping, gadgets Leave a Comment […]

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