propane fridges - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-19-2007, 12:11 AM   #1
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I am a new member who, with the family, just started to use our new trailer. We just recently got a great 17 ft trailer and it is new to us. After spending a little bit of money fixing it up our Bigfoot trailer and replacing the old battery with a 160 amp hour energizer deep cycle battery and we went camping over to Birch Bay. Everything worked great all weekend and being conservative on the use of power I hooked up to the trailer with the lights and water pump functionning with no noticeable loss of intensity. But on the way home the battery seems to have lost it's charge. I switched the fridge to 12 volt while travelling as I am assuming my trailer hook up also includes power and while driving my battery would get charged by my trucks system.

I am hoping the battery will survive this deep discharge (when I got home I tested the battery and it registered at 3volts, yikes ! ) . I am wondering if the fridge drained the battery and if I should refrain from using it on the 12 volt system from now on ?
Can you drive the trailer with the fridge running on propane ?
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:18 AM   #2
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I know that I will get jumped on by some in this group but I run my refer on propane while driving. You just have to remember to turn it off when you are fueling your vehicle.
I have been doing it for 40 years. Now I feel old!
John
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:09 AM   #3
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As far a I know it is illegal in BC. Don't ever get stopped with your propane on!
Having said that I personally know people who do it.
I am also told running on 12v will runs your battery down fairly quickly.
If you have a charging circuit to your on board battery doesn't seem to be as much as a problem. We have run ours on 12v when were on the road for 7 or 8 hours and noticed no problem. As soon a we were at a RV park we switched over to 110v.
You might look into solar panel backup/recharging. There are several threads here on that subject and some of the members have some good setups for boon docking.
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:09 AM   #4
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But on the way home the battery seems to have lost it's charge. I switched the fridge to 12 volt while travelling as I am assuming my trailer hook up also includes power and while driving my battery would get charged by my trucks system.

I am hoping the battery will survive this deep discharge (when I got home I tested the battery and it registered at 3volts, yikes ! ) . I am wondering if the fridge drained the battery and if I should refrain from using it on the 12 volt system from now on ?
Can you drive the trailer with the fridge running on propane ?
A deep cycle battery should do fine recovering from the discharge. If you have the standard 7-pin tug/trailer connection there should be a hot line from the tug battery to the trailer which should handle the fridge while traveling. I know a lot of folks use propane while on the road... I've not found it necessary for trips on the order of 4-5 hours. Our fridge will warm from around 33F to the low 40's during this time (I don't have the option of 12V use; only propane and 110).
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:13 AM   #5
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A kind soul replied, when as newbies we asked that same question, "some day all you will hear is the KA in KA-BOOM!

We carry a couple of small freezer packs and use the fridge as an icebox between stops. Most days the icecubes are just beginning to melt by the time we re-light the gas or plug in to shore power.

Des & Diane
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:48 AM   #6
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A kind soul replied, when as newbies we asked that same question, "some day all you will hear is the KA in KA-BOOM!
As someone who recently put his face right up against a bunk full of propane and lit it, I can tell you I heard both the "ka" and "boom". (actually, it was more of a big giant "WOOMP"). I still have hair on my face/head, I'm still alive, and hopefully, I won't do it again.

However, the fridge is vented to the outdoors. Even if the flame were to go out while driving, the gas should shut off.. Even if it didn't, you would have to vent a _lot_ of propane in a very short time to build up enough air/fuel ratio to cause any sort of sizable "WOOMP"... Should you put out the fridge if you get into an enclosed space like a parkade, or ferry? Yes, probably. Even though the volume of air in a ferry is still pretty large and usually the doors are open so any leaking propane would probably run out the front/back of the boat. Is there an issue when driving? I seriously doubt it. Is there an issue when refueling? I doubt it.

Obviously, I'm not an 'expert'....
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:57 AM   #7
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This is an annual topic, with strong opinions on both sides.

The "don't do it" side's perspective is first one of safety and also of propane coservation. I personally have seen 3 or 4 burnt-out trailer and motorhomes on the roadside. In the case of the motorhomes, the cab/motor appeared to be intact, suggesting the fire started in the back.

The belief is , that if there were a propane leak, propane may accumulate without being noticed and ignite from some open flame source such as a refrigerator pilot. The fact is, that there is nothing to prevent this same thing from happening while parked, and no one in the trailer.

Most propane is "odorized" and a leak is usually noticed quickly. I had this experience this past week, preparing our trailer for the first outing. I test all systems prior to leaving, and I was commissioning the propane. Inside the trailer, I smelt propane, and began to track it down, soaping joints etc. I venetually tracked it to the oven. The oven propane supply is two stage, main propane off, and pilots off. It was not in the pilots off position. Had we travelled with the propane on in this condition, the trailer would have filled with propane.

Our system is as follows:
1. Place all items destined for the trailer in the house refrigerator and freezer a couple of days prior to departure.
2. Fill a 2 litre plastic milk jug with drinking water and freeze it in the house freezer. We don't fill out jug completely, and freeze it on its side, so it will easily fit on the trailer refrigerator door.
3. Bring the trailer refrigeratore to temperature 24 hours prior to leaving.
4. Place all pre-chilled items destined for the trailer refrigerator in it the night before.
5. Place the 2-liter frozen water jug on the fridge door just before we leave.
6. Lock the trailer fridge, and shut down the propane.

We find the water jug maintains refrigerator temperature even in the warmest summer days when travelling up to 10 hours between stops, and usually takes 2-3 days to melt. If we are travelling several days before setting up somewhere, we throw the jug in the trailer freezer when we are parked, to ready it for the next morning.

Victor
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:15 AM   #8
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As was said , safety is the issue. My concern is the rubber hoses. In my case I have rubber hose going from the tank to a regulator then another going to the propane plumbing inside the trailer. Those hoses are exposed to any and all road debris that's around. A small cut could be a real problem. Chances are it wont happen, chances are you're not going to lite a "bunk" full of propane, but ......
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:38 PM   #9
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I am assuming my trailer hook up also includes power and while driving my battery would get charged by my trucks system.

I am wondering if the fridge drained the battery and if I should refrain from using it on the 12 volt system from now on ?
Everyone is answering the propane question, let me take a crack at these two.

Just because your truck has a 6 or 7 pin plug does not guarantee there is a "charge" wire connected to it, and if there is, there is no guarantee it is a heavy enough gauge. As discussed in a recent post (see below), a minimum of 12 gauge wire is needed to supply the fridge with the correct voltage, 10 or even 8 gauge might be needed to both charge the battery and provide enough to power the fridge.

Yes, I would say the fridge drained your battery, and until you have the proper "charge" wiring (I am assuming you don't from what you described), don't run on 12 volt.

When or if you add a charge wire, you also need to make sure the white ground/neutral wire is at least 12 gauge as well, both from the trailer plug to the fridge, and from the truck plug to the battery.

Edit: The forementioned link http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=24595
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:10 PM   #10
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...Those hoses are exposed to any and all road debris that's around. A small cut could be a real problem....
Yes, I agree. A small leak (not an outright rupture) would be a real problem whether it occurs with the propane running on the road or not. In either case, there would a real safety hazard when the campsite is reached, as in the stationary environment propane could accumulate and be ignited by campground activity.

Everyone who does a leak test of the propane hoses each time they setup camp, as part of turning on the propane, put up your hand....

I don't. I doubt there are any other hands up, either. Maybe we should do the check?
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:13 PM   #11
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...Is there an issue when refueling? I doubt it.
My understanding from previous discussions is that the refueling risk is simply that the running refrigerator pilot is an ignition source for gasoline vapours; the pressurized propane plumbing itself is not the concern. A relatively open flame does seem somewhat risky in this situation, and I can understand its prohibition.
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:48 PM   #12
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another 'con' for running on propane while moving - it is illegal on ferries - so you'd have to remember to turn it off/on.

I vote with the folks who either run the fridge on battery while traveling (my car is then charging the camper battery) or more often, I just turn the fridge off. As folks have said, if you don't open the door a lot, everything stays pretty chilly until I'm stopped and ready to turn it back on.
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:03 PM   #13
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My understanding from previous discussions is that the refueling risk is simply that the running refrigerator pilot is an ignition source for gasoline vapours; the pressurized propane plumbing itself is not the concern. A relatively open flame does seem somewhat risky in this situation, and I can understand its prohibition.
I see this as similar to the "turn off your car when refuelling" requirement. The guy on the other side of the island from you, just turned his key to 'start', causing a big-azzed solenoid in his starter to kathunk against a big contact causing 100A of current to spark across a fairly small gap..... His starter is closer to your fuel hole than your engine is...

A far greater danger is people filling gerry cans on their tailgates and you don't see big signs warning against that ....
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:26 PM   #14
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I have seen signs about filling portable containers on the vehicle... but I agree, there are lots of hazards which are not well controlled.

The one I find hilarious is the prohibition against using a cell phone in the refueling area, because one guy was apparently so unlucky he started a fire with one. How? Did he put a torch to it? I bet MacGyver would have a tough time blowing up a gas station with an intact cell phone...
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