now onto propane regulators.... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-28-2007, 05:05 PM   #1
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I'm back... So my 17 has 2 propane tanks with a T fitting that goes to a regulator and then into the trailer... The problem with this is that both tanks drain at the same time, so when I run out, I'm actually _out_. I also can't run just one tank (while I drive into town to get the other one filled, for example). It's just a dumb setup..

So there's the auto-switchover regulators which will suck off one tank and then switch over to the other (full, hopefully) one. It's not clear from reading whether these regulators need both tanks hooked up to function or whether I can fully remove one tank while it's running on the other. Setting that aside for the moment, my problem is actually slightly more complicated...

See, I have a bbq that I want to hook up when I get to camp. The bbq has its own regulator so it wants high-pressure propane. That's ok, I have a hose for that. I also have an outdoor stove that's in the same predicament..

What I want is an automatic high-pressure switch over between tanks, then to a manifold where various appliances with built-in regulators can connect, and then finally to the RV regulator. But all the automatic switchover frobs seem to have integral regulators? This seems like a really dysfunctional part of the industry. Am I the only person who uses a bbq on their RV? Is the right answer to ditch the bbq regulator and run it off the RV's regulator?

What does everyone else do?
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:54 PM   #2
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What does everyone else do?
I use the refillable small tanks. 9 will fit in a milk crate and they are easy to fill from the extra tank at home. It's better to cook a distance from the trailer.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:11 PM   #3
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The short answer is yes, it can be done.

There are many different ways you could approach your problem. The simplest as I see it would be to install manual valves at both tanks, then you could close the system to run off of 1 tank while getting the other filled. Actually, the simplest would be to shut off 1 tank, and only turn it on when the other is drained. With a tee, you don't have to have both tanks on at once.

You could buy a cap, and when one tank is empty, you could take 5 minutes to shut off the full tank, bleed the system (couple of seconds), remove the empty, and cap the tee.

I guess it's all in what you eventually want to be able to do, and ease of use.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:17 PM   #4
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After re-reading your post, I'd say remove the tee, and run the system off of just one tank at a time. When you pull into a location, you could remove the other tank completely, and run your auxilliary appliances a little way away from the camper.

Little more of a pain, but much safer.

If you are intent on running from mounted tanks, you could build a manifold of sorts, but I can't guarantee that it would meet any certification standard. You could also have a certified gas tech. build you something custom to suit your needs.

As to the regulators, I'd be comfortable either using the camper reg for everything, or using the appliance regs individually, although it would likely be simpler to run from the camper reg.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:49 PM   #5
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We run dual tanks up front on our Trillium (both have their own valves) and only open one tank valve at a time, remembering to remember which one is currently in use is 'another issue' (Old Fartitus is rapidly advancing here, LOL!!!) as we always shut valves off BEFORE we break camp.
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Old 05-28-2007, 11:09 PM   #6
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I would think that a auto switch over between the tanks would cause the same problem that you now have....the tank would switch over and eventually you`d have two empty tanks with out you knowing it anyway.....the idea of having 2 tanks and manually switching is that you know when one tank is empty and can get that one refilled at the nearest opportunity.....that way you always have propane on hand......how do you manage to drain both tanks at the same time if you only open one tank at a time? .....you have shut off valves at each tank, and each hose end at the tank should have a check valve in the fitting that screws onto the tank which doesn`t allow gas to bleed off from the full tank when you remove one tank for refilling.....Benny
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:39 AM   #7
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Maybe I'm over analyzing this... I want to avoid the 3AM "damn it's cold, I better go outside and turn on the other tank, bleed the system and light all the pilots and while I'm out here I may as well go pee too" incidents. So for that reason, an automatic switchover is good. If I've run through two tanks and not noticed, then I have other problems... The problem with the "T" and selective valving, as some have mentioned, is in order to re-fill the empty tank, I have to turn off the whole system, remove the empty tank, plug the end, restart the whole system, drive into town, fill the tank, drive back, turn off the whole system, add the tank, restart the whole system... Once that issue is resolved, I also want to be able to run my exterior appliances but from the high pressure side...

There are fittings to address this, but there are no 2 way valves to address this. So the closest I can get is to get an inline POL (male to female) with an ACME fitting at a T. Get one of these per tank and then plumb in the switchover regulator... That's the better part of $150, and means I can run up to two external appliances assuming both tanks have LP in them. Not quite the automation I was looking for but it'll do..
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:50 PM   #8
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Every problem has a solution based on time, money, and fiddle factor.

2 regs, manual valves on low pressure side, presto--a system you can turn off without bleeding to refill one tank. You'll still have the nighttime issue though. lol
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:16 PM   #9
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...looks like all you really need is a pair of magnetic or paste on propane fuel level gauges.

Our tanks came with them already on them. We also use a pair of batt. operated magnetic sensors that 'stick' onto the bottom-most part of the tanks and they flash a red LED light AND beep when fuel is low.
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:33 PM   #10
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Talking

There is a solution to your conundrum.

I run an automatic switch over regulator. It shows red on the empty tank.
You can remove the other tank to fill it.

As to the problem of accessories using full pressure from the tanks.

Install a tee with a small shutoff valve in the line just above the regulator that way you can run your accy heaters,bbq or what ever no matter which tank is in use.

Harv in Colo. soon to be moving to so central MO.
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:45 PM   #11
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I must be missing something here...

I have a manual switch over. I pay attention to the tank being used, you can always have a general idea when it is getting low by feeling the sides(It will be much cooler where there is gas) To avoid running out in the middle of the nite as you fear, I switch it over when I think it's close. I can remove the "Empty" with no fuss or bleeding of anything..well, maybe my knuckles from getting stupid with the wrench...

Am I doing something wrong? Will I 'splode?
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:53 PM   #12
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Same setup here, same issues.

The only solution I see to refilling one tank while continuing to use the other is to insert manual shutoff valves at the tee for each tank's hose, as suggested earlier. Since these would both be left open at all times except for tank filling, they would not interfere with auto-switchover operation. Check valves would work, too, but my stock setup does not have them (the two hoses are just teed together into the reg inlet). I have not resorted to either of these yet.

Without the auto-switch, of course the way to use only one tank at a time is just to open only the tank valve on the one you want to use... the auto-switch is just a nice way to make the switch without interruption of service when you need it, even if you don't personally notice that the switch is needed. When I need a new regulator, if I stay with dual tanks, I will use an auto-switching reg.

I run my barbecue from the trailer's tank, with a tee fitting attached between one tank and its hose. I agree that it would be nice to have a tap point after the auto-switch but before the reg; instead, I settle for using the curbside tank first, tapping only that one for the barbecue, and risking it running out in mid-steak... it would be easy to re-light compared to (for example) the furnace. I also have a tee to split this line off to two appliances, so I could use a campstove as well as the barbecue from the same tank tap (but so far I have only used the barbecue).

A low pressure barbecue is the other approach (buy an RVQ or just convert one like mine which has the control and reg separate), but camp stoves are tougher to convert, and low-pressure stoves are a specialty RV item. I also wonder about running the long hose I want for trailer-to-barbeque separation at low pressure, and like the idea of keeping the appliance normal for home use.

The small extra tank for the separate appliances is a very practical alternative, and in hindsight my collection of fittings and hose cost much more and weighs about as much as a 5-lb tank. Jim's "refillable" small tanks - if nine fit in a milk crate - are presumably 1-pound disposables, not intended for refilling. If you do refill these, please be careful to avoid over-filling them. A small bulk tank (e.g. 5-lb or 10-lb) filled at a service station seems safer to me, and could also be home-refilled from the bigger tanks.
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:15 AM   #13
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As Harvey Craft pointed out earlier, there are automatic valves that will handle this problem. I did a web search for "dual propane tank" and found this little gem. It looks to be the exact same dual tank valve & regulator that came with our Scamp 5er.

With our valve-regulator combo you point the lever to one tank, and the system draws propane from that tank until it's empty then switches over to the alternate tank when the first one empties out. The little black knob-looking-thing on top is actually a tank pressure guage; switch the lever to one tank or the other and it'll tell you whether the tank is low or empty. When you need to fill an empty tank you just you point the lever to the other tank and disconnect the empty for filling.

Something I've thought about for our setup with this vale is to swap our two 20lb tanks for one 30lb tank plus a smaller 5lb "backup" tank. The small tank would provide a night or two of backup heat & cooking during the winter and function as a small & easy to carry summer barbeque picnic tank.

One last thought. A standard, disposable one-pound propane tank will work as an emergency backup tank for the night if you have one of these adapters.

--Peter
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Old 05-31-2007, 07:28 AM   #14
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yeah, I carry one of "those" adapters as a 'just in case'. I lost one so bought another.

I went to plumbing/gas supply shops yesterday trying to find all the right bits and finally ended at Barbecues Galore here in Calgary. They have an impressive shelf of fittings from Fairview Fittings (who themselves seem to supply all the gas fitters). I stood there trying to find tee's, valves, and various POL/QCC/Acme converters, etc... I did manage to get 90% of the way but was continuously stymied in transitioning between hose and regulator... No matter which approach I tried, there was always one missing fitting... In the end I was told that only certified gas fitters can buy the correct fittings. I'm not a certified gas fitter, but it's not like this is rocket surgery. I'm acquainted with all the "this is your life, is it worth it?" arguments which I don't normally go in for...

I walked out of there with $90 worth of fittings/valves and still don't have enough to "get there".
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