Propane off/empty detector ?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-28-2020, 08:57 AM   #1
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Propane off/empty detector ??

Thinking out loud here, but I was thinking of installing an alarm beeper or somesuch across the DC indicator in our Casita's Dometic Fridge with a switch to disable. The LED probably drops about 3V so a beeper across that LED with a switch in series to disable would let us know if the fridge switched over to DC - something I would want to know about without constantly looking at the fridge display.

I'd have to gain access to the display panel guts and install the beeper and external switch somewhere, but this way I could leave one tank closed off and know when one tank had emptied.

Thoughts ?

John - Colorado Springs (doing lots of mods to our 2011 LD)
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:13 AM   #2
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I must be mis reading your post ? The refrigerator automatically shifts from propane to A/C when you plug into shore power and automatically shifts back to propane when shore power is lost
To run your refrigerator on DC you need to manually place it in DC .
If you run out of propane , the refrigerator does not automatically shift to DC
The refrigerator also has a low voltage sensor for the DC so if your DC voltage supply drops below a certain level the refrigerator shuts off .
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:36 AM   #3
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Or you could spend $90 at Camping World (less if you are a Good Sam member) and purchase a Mopeka TankCheck LPG Dual Sensor with Monitor Kit. You would save a lot of work and assuming the refrigerator is a Dometic, redoing the work if the refrigerator’s control board quits working, an occurrence that is not all that rare. I have an acquaintance who says Dometic is an acronym for: Defectively Or Miserably Engineered Then Incompetently Constructed.
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:41 AM   #4
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Could install the automatic tank switchover device. Not expensive.
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Old 09-28-2020, 11:45 AM   #5
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Just walk past the fridge vent now and then when you're outside. If you don't feel heat, it's not on. Also, tap both propane tanks and listen for big pitch difference - empty tank will be much higher. No big deal if you miss by a couple of hours.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Could install the automatic tank switchover device. Not expensive.
If you read his original post I think he already has the automatic switchover device but wants a way to know when the first tank is empty.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:29 PM   #7
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The Auto-Changeover LP Regulator allows you to hook up 2 Propane tanks and the regulator automatically switches over to the second tank once the first one runs out (and vice versa). The indicator changes color to let you know when a tank has been depleted and needs to be refilled.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:49 PM   #8
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fwiw, the original crossover regulator on my Casita never showed red, although it would feed from the 2nd tank. And the one on my Escape did the same thing. I swapped the Escape for a Marshall-Excelsior and that one indicates just fine.
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jaevans View Post
Thoughts ?
I expect it's feasible if your comfortable with electronics and board-level work.

As Steve posted, the fridge won't automatically switch into 12 VDC, only 120 VAC. The refrigerator will give you a visual fail alarm if the propane runs out and 120 VAC is not available.

We run with the second cylinder's valve turned off so that I can be aware if the first one runs out. Some folks prefer to do it this way, some prefer not to.

I have used a little luggage scale to periodically track our propane consumption often enough that I generally have a sense for when we might be running low. At that point I invest five or ten minutes in disconnecting the lead cylinder, weighing it, and deducting the tare weight to see how just much propane is remaining.
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:54 PM   #10
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THen that dual propane tank level monitoring kit that was linked a few posts back would be the trick way to go. the good ones work by ultrasound sonar, the cheap lousy ones work by temperature sensors on the surface on the sides fo the tank (and really don't work very well). pressure based gauges will only tell you EMPTY vs NOT EMPTY since the partial pressure of Propane is constant at a given ambient temperature regardless of the amount left. you /can/ get propane tanks with float based gauges built into the tanks, but these have to be looked at, too.

I keep meaning to get an inspection mirror and velcro or something to the access hatch on my tank cover, so I can see the failover indicator without having to remove the whole tank cover, but thats the epitome of laziness for something I check maybe once a week.

if I'm just using propane to heat in the wee hours, and for the fridge, a single tank lasts for weeks.
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Old 09-28-2020, 07:02 PM   #11
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Mopeka is a great system. I liked it so much I put a sensor on my barbeque tank at home. No need to remove the tank cover to figure out how much you have left........


https://mopeka.com/
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:01 AM   #12
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Please endeavor to address the RV related question in the original post rather than directing negative comments at each other.
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:02 AM   #13
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Seems like they do make warning systems for propane tanks, as they do for holding tanks. Also seem to recall the really good ones for either system are on the not cheap side.

Myself I was always manual cut over because like the original poster I want to know tank #1 is empty and I'm running on #2. On the other hand on a chilly night up in the mountains having to crawl out of sleeping bag and go outside and switch tanks was NOT making me very happy.

Ideal probably would be an auto system that provided a read out to let one know the second tank was engaged and first one was empty. Heck a low fuel warning light has come in handy on auto a few times so.... that would be a nice feature for propane monitoring if you asked me.
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Old 09-29-2020, 11:07 AM   #14
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Isn't this an automatic changeover with display?
If it shows red, then the tank that the lever points to is empty. You move the lever to the other ( full ) tank and take the empty to be filled.
It's all in the instructions.
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Old 09-29-2020, 12:07 PM   #15
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Glenn, You are correct.
Me, I just look at it every time I walk by and instantly know.
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Old 09-29-2020, 12:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
Mopeka is a great system. I liked it so much I put a sensor on my barbeque tank at home. No need to remove the tank cover to figure out how much you have left........


https://mopeka.com/
That is an amazing product, assuming it works. Though I doubt it would work on my aluminum tank:
https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...ank-49385.html
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:21 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Could install the automatic tank switchover device. Not expensive.
I think he doesn't want to have both tanks on so that he wouldn't run out of propane either. We have an auto switch over and keep one tank off. We ran out of propane at a bad time once so we never have both tanks on. We put a thermometer remote in the fridge and can read it from anywhere we put the monitor, even in the car if we want to.
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:24 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by jaevans View Post
Thinking out loud here, but I was thinking of installing an alarm beeper or somesuch across the DC indicator in our Casita's Dometic Fridge with a switch to disable. The LED probably drops about 3V so a beeper across that LED with a switch in series to disable would let us know if the fridge switched over to DC - something I would want to know about without constantly looking at the fridge display.

I'd have to gain access to the display panel guts and install the beeper and external switch somewhere, but this way I could leave one tank closed off and know when one tank had emptied.

Thoughts ?

John - Colorado Springs (doing lots of mods to our 2011 LD)
You have to put your fridge on DC on purpose. It never switches on its own. It will stay on propane until you plug into power. Then back to propane when you unplug or if electric goes out. That has happened to us and we were happy for that feature.
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:35 PM   #19
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I think he doesn't want to have both tanks on so that he wouldn't run out of propane either.

That's like ignoring the gas gauge in your car because you have a gallon container in your trunk.
All you have to do is look at the gauge from time to time. Surely that's possible before you run through two 20 lb. tanks?
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Old 09-29-2020, 11:00 PM   #20
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That's like ignoring the gas gauge in your car because you have a gallon container in your trunk.
All you have to do is look at the gauge from time to time. Surely that's possible before you run through two 20 lb. tanks?
Ours doesn't have a gauge so it's impossible to know when they run out. We let one run out then turn on the other one and refill the empty as soon as possible but know we have time to do it.
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