Propane versus Electric - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-21-2017, 11:29 PM   #1
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Propane versus Electric

We are in the info-gathering/shopping phase and very interested in input from experienced travelers. Trying to figure out which trailer is our best option. TV is a 2009 6-cylinder Toyota Highlander. Hoping someone will comment on electric or propane? What are the benefits of each? What other factors should we consider? Two adults and a dog; toilet, shower, and fridge are considerations. What do you say?
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:41 PM   #2
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I presume you are asking about propane or electric as a fuel source for the trailer, not the tow vehicle.
Propane allows you to camp off the electrical grid without using a generator ( noise ) and carrying gasoline for it. Propane is a very efficient, safe portable fuel source.
It comes down to "camping" or "parking". RV parks do provide electrical hookups, but to do that efficiently, they pack the RVs tightly.
What you want is propane and electricity to give you options.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:13 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Elinor View Post
We are in the info-gathering/shopping phase and very interested in input from experienced travelers. Trying to figure out which trailer is our best option. TV is a 2009 6-cylinder Toyota Highlander. Hoping someone will comment on electric or propane? What are the benefits of each? What other factors should we consider? Two adults and a dog; toilet, shower, and fridge are considerations. What do you say?
Welcome to FGRV Elinor. Both LP or 110V electric have their own places depending on how you plan to camp/use your TT. 99% of the time I boondock so LP is what I use. I think you'll find that the majority of RVs use both. You also have to add 12volt (battery) and solar into the picture. LP is probably the most commonly used for refer cooling. It can be purchased just about anywhere and can be used to keep the refer cold while towing. Using the 12V setting on the common RV refers while towing doesn't seem like it works to well for most folks without doing some rewiring from the tug with pretty heavy gauge wire. LED interior lights would be the best thing you could have for saving battery power. Other members that use solar will chime in soon with info for you.
Really can't give you a "best" trailer, too many choices....all over the board for that but you tug will handle many different eggs . I will say that probably the most important thing to consider is the bed size. Most of your time will be spent outside. Good luck to you.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:18 AM   #4
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Propane versus Electric

Having both electric and propane options for maximum flexibility is nice. For cooking, a propane cooktop supplemented with a microwave. For heat, a propane furnace and a small electric cube heater. A 2-way fridge and HW heater are already set up to run off either propane or electricity. A/C is the only function that doesn't offer a propane alternative, but battery powered vent fans sometimes suffice for cooling when not plugged in.

The disadvantage of having both is a bit more complexity, weight, and cost. The advantage is flexibility in where you camp.

The advantages of an electric-only set-up are convenience, simplicity, and possibly weight. The disadvantage is always having to find (and pay for) hookups, or to carry and maintain a generator and gasoline (which negates the advantages to some extent).

Solar is a nice addition to the package, but it will not be enough for high power appliances like A/C or electric heaters, so it's more a supplement that a primary power source.

I know what the best answer is for me, but it may not be the right choice for you. For us, several of our favorite spots to camp don't offer electric hook-ups, and in those that do, the primitive sites are cheaper and nicer. We've camped four seasons and never plugged in our Scamp. We run everything we need off propane and 12V battery power. But my trailer is wired for shore power, so I could easily add a heater, microwave, or coffee maker if my needs change in the future.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:33 AM   #5
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As is mentioned, having both is about having options where you camp. Sometimes that can even be the time of year you camp too.

One thing we don't discuss much is using the trailer as a "shelter-in-place." During extreme weather conditions... snow where power goes out to your sticks -n bricks, etc. You could move into your trailer, cook and be comfortable (propane furnace) for a period of time if there's no electricity available, etc.

Or, if you need to use your trailer as a "bug out."

And, just because you have it doesn't mean you have to use it. That goes for propane too.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:39 AM   #6
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I personally like having both propane and electric for flexibility and "more" camping options. I also have solar. There are a handful of manufacturers who do not install propane in their trailers. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it is because they may not want to bother getting any necessary certifications to install propane systems. Some owners of these trailers have retrofitted them with propane appliances. I suspect the propane naysayers may chime in claiming propane is more dangerous than nitroglycerine. However, any time I have inquired about the reasons for their aversion (accident statistics, bad personal experiences), I have gotten no informative responses. That has led me to believe it may be a purely defensive posture of justification for whatever reason. I have found absolutely no reason to avoid propane, and have used it safely for many, many years. I, like previous posters, suggest you get propane to expand versatility and choice of camping locations.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:26 AM   #7
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There are generators that run off propane and kits for those that are gas to make them run off propane.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:27 AM   #8
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When selling a used trailer, the units with propane and electric will have stronger demand. Personally, I would not buy an all electric trailer.
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Old 03-22-2017, 09:16 AM   #9
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Propane versus Electric

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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
There are generators that run off propane and kits for those that are gas to make them run off propane.
True, although in this context- considering an all-electric trailer- it still means transporting a fuel supply you don't already have installed on the trailer.

I'm with you- I'd rather carry an LP tank than a gasoline can, but then I might as well have a full LP system and skip the generator.

The conversion kits make an expensive item- assuming you would buy a good quality, quiet generator out of consideration for your camping neighbors- even more expensive.

But my observation is that people who choose all-electric aren't motivated primarily by cost.
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Old 03-22-2017, 11:04 AM   #10
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Both electric and propane have their pro's and con's.
An all electric trailer requires a campsite with utilities or a what I consider an unacceptable alternative , a generator in order to function as designed.
We prefer a trailer which offers the greatest flexibility which is a trailer with both propane and electrical systems.
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Old 03-22-2017, 11:30 AM   #11
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We do almost exclusively "boondocking" which we have always called dry camping. Propane gives us both reliable hot water and reliable fridge without an extension cord. I would never consider an electric only trailer. I personally love the sound of the water heater firing up once we are set in the camp site .... the sound is the sound that signals camping! Bill
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Having both electric and propane options for maximum flexibility is nice. For cooking, a propane cooktop supplemented with a microwave. For heat, a propane furnace and a small electric cube heater. A 2-way fridge and HW heater are already set up to run off either propane or electricity. A/C is the only function that doesn't offer a propane alternative, but battery powered vent fans sometimes suffice for cooling when not plugged in.

The disadvantage of having both is a bit more complexity, weight, and cost. The advantage is flexibility in where you camp.

The advantages of an electric-only set-up are convenience, simplicity, and possibly weight. The disadvantage is always having to find (and pay for) hookups, or to carry and maintain a generator and gasoline (which negates the advantages to some extent).

Solar is a nice addition to the package, but it will not be enough for high power appliances like A/C or electric heaters, so it's more a supplement that a primary power source.

I know what the best answer is for me, but it may not be the right choice for you. For us, several of our favorite spots to camp don't offer electric hook-ups, and in those that do, the primitive sites are cheaper and nicer. We've camped four seasons and never plugged in our Scamp. We run everything we need off propane and 12V battery power. But my trailer is wired for shore power, so I could easily add a heater, microwave, or coffee maker if my needs change in the future.
I was going to answer the original question, but Jon hit all the points I was going to address and covered them very well!
As for us, we wouldn't be without propane and solar since we are evenly split between being at campgrounds with electricity, and being at campgrounds or boondocking with no electricity. Having both gives us a lot of choices.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:18 PM   #13
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I suspect the propane naysayers may chime in claiming propane is more dangerous than nitroglycerine. However, any time I have inquired about the reasons for their aversion (accident statistics, bad personal experiences), I have gotten no informative responses. That has led me to believe it may be a purely defensive posture of justification for whatever reason. I have found absolutely no reason to avoid propane, and have used it safely for many, many years. I, like previous posters, suggest you get propane to expand versatility and choice of camping locations.
Guilty, just don't want propane in a little enclosed space with me. My personal choice for me and my family, I will neither defend or argue the point. It works for me/us. I have set the trailer up with a Truckfridge and LED lights. Can go 5 days without charging but usually run the genny (Honda 2K in "Eco" mode) every three days at around 60-65% charge on the batteries (two 6V golf cart batteries). We remote camp and charge during the day while doing other activities and it does not bother us or anybody else, the Honda is pretty quiet. We could probably get by with solar if/when I get all it sorted (I have the stuff and have played with it but am not there yet).

What has not been said is A/C, you will not run A/C off propane, or solar. For that a genny is required. And that is why I bought the 2K Honda over the slightly cheaper, and lighter, 1K. The 2K will run the A/C. We don't do it a lot but there are times boondocking we get back from a hike mid-day and want to cool down and I fire up the generator to cool the Scamp down. Might also nuke some mac and cheese for the kid or something.

Hot water we do in flea market tea kettles on the Coleman. Someday I intend to buy one of the insta-hot water heater units and make a caddy to sit it next to the Scamp (with propane bottle) with some quick connects running out to it. A little cumbersome and unattractive to be sure but I would only do this when set up somewhere for a week or two to make setting it, and the shower tent, up worthwhile.

For remote heat I use a little buddy, but NOT while sleeping. For that I use long handle underwear, thick socks, and a nice quilt Mom() made me years ago. When plugged in a little cube heater does nicely. Eventually I do plan on installing one of the Propex heaters, under the Scamp and exhausted outside. Maybe when I retire to full-time in the Scamp.

To sum, I would never recommend an electric only trailer, but I make it (kinda) work for us with some propane use outside the trailer. You do not have to have propane in a trailer to remote camp. Neither is a generator required but it makes things nicer. And ethical generator use is possible, especially when you camp as far away from others as we do!
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:00 PM   #14
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There are many campers who do not wish to use or have propane in or on their trailer and for very valid reasons . One could buy a standard trailer with both electric and propane systems and then remove the propane tanks and cap off the propane feed to the trailer.
At a later date , if one decides that they wish to utilize propane it can be easily accomplished . Plus if one decides to sell their trailer they could remount the empty tanks and reconnect the propane lines in order to attract a larger market for the trailer.
I know people who always camp with hookups and removed the trailer's fresh water tank and pump to gain storage space and then reinstalled them when it came time to sell the trailer.
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