Propane - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-26-2005, 09:47 AM   #1
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Talking of wiring............what do you think of this?
We took out our bug for the second time since buying it, ready to boon dock for at least one night. We'd plugged it in about 48 hours before we left (we'd previously boon-docked 3 days the month before) We travelled about 4 hours and had the refridgerator on 12 volt during that time. Got to the camp site in the dark, I might add, and NO battery. Totally dead. Took it to a battery place next day and had to buy a new one, it was so drained (it was less than 2 years old)
When we got home, we took the whole trailer to the local RV place, and he thought we were totally nuts, running the fridge on 12volt. Said that was what ran the battery flat!
Quote; "Everyone runs the fridge on propane while they're travelling"
I know I read on this forum about NOT running on propane! Can I trust this local RV guy?

I don't want the same thing to happen next time we go. How long does a battery take to charge anyway as in looooooooong time (days? weeks?) if it's really run down, or short time? Maybe we didn't plug it in long enough after the first trip? Shouldn't it have charged while we drove to the camp site??
Thanks for the Scamp maual Dan! Bookmarked here! :94
Christine
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Old 11-26-2005, 12:38 PM   #2
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RV guy is wacky. And I sure don't want to be on the same road as him if he tows with a propane appliance running.

If you have a charge line from your car, and you plugged it in overnite before hand, there really isn't any good reason for your battery to disharge just from the fridge if you have a charge line from the tow.

UNLESS...were you plugged in the nite before and charging your battery with the fridge on 12v? If so, your battery probably did not fully charge as the fridge was draining whatever you were putting in.

If thats the case, always precool on propane or 110, if you have it and the battery will get full unmolested charge.

I just had all my charge line hooked up to my car. I am looking forward to not arriving at the campsite with soggy food cause I can run the fridge on 12v now while underway! BUT, I will always start with a full charge whenever possible. If it's not at full charge, it usually means I am on my way home!
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
"Everyone runs the fridge on propane while they're travelling"
I know I read on this forum about NOT running on propane! Can I trust this local RV guy? Christine
Yes, Christine, it's OK to run your fridge on the road: as long as the burner stays lit, and and the flame stays in the flame box; as long as when the flame blows out, that the thermocouple works and actually turns the burner off; as long as it doesn't start the trailer on fire while you're pulling down the road; as long as you don't set off a gas explosion at your favorite gas station when you stop to fill 'cause some other moron spilled 3 gallons of gas on the hot asphalt right before you pulled up; as long as you don't rupture the gas line by having a rock or other something hit it; and as long as you don't crash and have the line break spewing LP all over your crash scene... then yes... it's ok to run down the road with your LP system charged and your fridge lit.

Of course, if any of the above occur, it's suddenly not OK. And it's probably not OK long before there's anything you or anyone else can do to make it OK.

Roger
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:36 PM   #4
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Roger, you forgot to add following the guy or gal chain smoker that continually has a ciggy hanging out the drivers window cause they don't want to stink up thier car. Those flying cherries are safe, aren't they?
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:42 PM   #5
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Changing the focus abit.Does anyone know the law or laws on this propane issue?
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Old 11-26-2005, 03:08 PM   #6
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A very few aspects of this ever-popular discussion topic seem to be relatively well agreed upon:
  • operation of a fuel-burning appliance with an open flame in the vicinity of potential gasoline fumes at a service station is potentially unsafe
  • typical RV absorption-cycle refrigerators operate most effectively on propane, less effectively on AC power, and least effectively on DC power
Everything else appears to be debateable.

The problem with these refrigerators in DC power is simply that they use a lot of power, so at 12V that's a lot of current. As a result, the larger and newer units are routinely two-way, not three-way: they cannot operate on 12VDC, only on 120VAC. So what are RV owners intended to do while travelling, assuming that trailers and motorhomes equipped with these refrigerators are supposed to be able to drive for a significant part of a day without stopping for hours to run the 'fridge? They either operate the refrigerator on AC power from an inverter which draws even more 12VDC current than the refrigerator would by itself, or they use propane. The inverter approach is quite workable in a motorhome, but in a trailer I can see an AC extension cord added to the tug-to-trailer connections, and that's not an appealling idea.

The result, realistically, is that modern RV refrigerators can be, and routinely are, run on propane while driving. I'm not saying that's good, only that it appears to be the case.

Our trailers are generally tiny by today's RV standards, and thus have relatively small refrigerators; I think only tent trailers and van conversions routinely have this size or smaller. A properly wired charge line should be able to keep them running, but if someone wants to take the same approach as the larger RVs, it should be possible.

Aside from the gas station issue, I understand the concern with the use of propane while driving is one of the following scenarios:

Flameout and explosion
  1. Refrigerator burner flame goes out
  2. control valve does not shut off gas flow
  3. trailer fills with propane
  4. some other spark source occurs
  5. bang!
Although I can readily believe that refrigerator burner flames go out - many people have reported it - I have never heard of a control valve that stays open despite a prolonged lack of flame. This is what "fail safe" means: not that the system cannot fail, but when a part (such as the burner or thermocouple) fails, the result is the safest condition. If a thermocouple fails, it doesn't produce power; if there is no power from the thermocouple, the valve isn't held open. Add to that the fact that the propane burner of a refrigerator is in an outside vented compartment of the trailer, with no deliberate venting to the inside, and I'm more concerned about the possibility of spoiled food than blowing the trailer up.

Collision and fire
  1. Rig crashes
  2. pressurized propane lines in trailer are opened by damage
  3. some part of crashed vehicle is on fire or sparking or sufficiently hot to be an ignition source
  4. whoosh!
This has to be the RV equivalent of the "perfect storm": it's just not your day if this much goes wrong at the same time. Fire is extremely rare in vehicle collisions, and I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I can see a potential problem with the inadequately secured battery riding right beside the connection hoses for the propane tanks leading to a gas+spark combination as everything on the tongue lets loose. That doesn't really have anything to do with the operation of the refrigerator, except that running the appliance requires keeping the tank valves open (and thus, as Roger says, the LP system charged with pressurized gas). I would rather see batteries and tanks properly secured rather than expecting everyone to remember to close the valves (of both tanks) every time they drive. Dry-break fittings on the trailer end of the hoses (that shut off when pulled apart) would be good, too.


Although some of my comments above may be interpreted as flippant, I can assure you that I realize that there are real risks with the use of any fuel, including both gasoline and propane, and that operation of any fuel-burning system, especially one as complex as a tow vehicle and trailer in combination, must be approached with intelligence and with respect for that risk.

Sorry, Chester, I have no idea what the laws of any jurisdiction are regarding the use of propane in a recreational vehicle on the road. That, in itself, is a concern.
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Old 11-26-2005, 03:14 PM   #7
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"Sorry, Chester, I have no idea what the laws of any jurisdiction are regarding the use of propane in a recreational vehicle on the road. That, in itself, is a concern."
[/quote]
I looked and can't find anything either. :52
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Old 11-26-2005, 03:42 PM   #8
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I had looked for info on the legalities of running with propane on and found info but can`t remember where I searched and it varies on where you are travelling....most areas it is legal.....I run with my fridge running on 110V off a 400 W inverter which runs off my trailer battery which is being charged by my tow vehicle when under way....I can stop for a reasonable dinner/lunch break with no problem with running the battery down....whatever is used up is generally replaced by the time I get to a campsite I suppose.....then I go to shore power or propane and but an auto charger on my battery until the charger quits charging....this has worked for me for the last 3 years with no problem........If you run with the fridge on propane, PLEASE shut it down before you pull up to the gas pumps to fuel up........some people say there is no danger but I would like to stay on the green side of the grass as long as I can....thank you, Benny
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:10 PM   #9
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Just did another search on provincial regulations regarding propane and all provinces allow propane to be on/in use when under way....altough some are a definite yes and others don`t require legislation to be able to do it.....now in the event of a serious problem, could the areas that don`t need legislation be afraid to say yes or no and possibly be open to lawsuits if there is negligence involved or the RV owner didn`t use proper discretion? .....who knows.....apparently it is illegal in all states to fill a vehicle at a gas station when the propane is in use...but then of course you aren`t filling your trailer but the tow vehicle.....kinda gray area........Another question....if you are running with your propane on and are in a lot of traffic and approach a tunnel.....do you attempt to pull over and shut off your propane bottles, which is usually req`d by law, or just stay in the traffic lanes and go right on thru?...Benny
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Old 11-26-2005, 08:10 PM   #10
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The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta have a tips page which includes a linked Provincial Towing Regulations document. While not authoritative, and only covering Canada, it does list "Yes", "No", or "Not Regulated" (or "Not Specified") for each province and territory. As Benny says, the unregulated grey area is common. Apparently only Newfoundland and Labrador (that's one province... don't ask) specifically bans having the propane on.

Nova Scotia apparently allows the propane on "providing cut off valve", which may be either the dry break fitting in the connection hose which I suggested in my previous post, or perhaps a valve that cuts off flow if the rate is too high (suggesting an open leak rather than normal use).
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Old 11-26-2005, 08:13 PM   #11
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Another question....if you are running with your propane on and are in a lot of traffic and approach a tunnel.....do you attempt to pull over and shut off your propane bottles, which is usually req`d by law, or just stay in the traffic lanes and go right on thru?...Benny
If you are in Mass and approaching a tunnel, they don't care if your propane is on or off --- They won't let you bring a propane tank in the tunnel regardless -- They will even hold up six lanes of rushhour traffic to allow you to make a Uturn to go back the way you came with your propane tank -- Voice of Experience speaking here -- Fortunately, the bridge was visible and the toll attendant's directions were good.

I imagine that most laws regarding open flames are the ones in or near refueling stations. Personally, when I see an RV at a filling station, I don't park near it and I look around for the filling station's master cutoff switch....

People who would rather not tempt fate by running down the road with a propane tank turned on, regardless of whether an appliance is running or not, precool their reefer on 120VAC for a few days before, only put already cold stuf in the reefer, fill the extra spaces with small containers of frozen water and don't open the reefer door until they get to campsite and can turn propane on -- Drinks and food for the trip are carried more conveniently in a cooler in the car/van/truck.

People who like to overload their vehicles, don't check bearings or fluid levels, don't have or adjust brakes and think it's cool to have bald tires, trusting in the "So Far, So Good!" philosophy may be inclinded to have their reefer running on propane while on the road and prolly leave both tanks turned on with the autoswitchover also set...
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:29 PM   #12
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Here's a device that turns off the propane when the engine is turned off.
Flaim Out

But I don't see it helping in an accident where the bottles might rip free allowing the gas to escape through the broken hoses.

To be fair, let's hear the stories from everyone who's died in a RV/propane related fire if you please. Oh. Wait a minute...nevermind.

I suppose there are a lot of sources of sparks at a gas station. Do the brushes spark on the starter motor when you start your car? I occasionally get a shock touching the door as I exit the vehicle (I'll be needing a set of those straps that drag from the back bumper.)

I wonder if we can find accident statistics on the web. I looked briefly but found nothing satisfactory.

My feeling is that "normally" doesn't hurt me. It's the far ends of the bell curve that bite. As RVing miles go up, so do the chances. It's probably the curmudgeon in me, but the bonehead factor also seems to be rising. Junk science. Selective anarchy (It's ok for me but you can't. Don't even get me started on this.). I can throw up my hands figuring it's all a crap shoot or I can do those things I think are reasonable to minimize.

Personally, the gas is off at the bottles on my trailer while traveling.
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:41 PM   #13
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Hi Brian, The site that I searched spec'ed that in NFLD, propane on while under way, legislation is not required.....grey area......same as 6 other provinces and territories.....this site is... Provincial RV Regulations..........just checked the site that you went to and it`s possibly more up to date......Benny
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