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Old 10-10-2010, 01:02 PM   #1
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Re: remote/auto control for propane tank?

Propane is a heavy gas. It sinks to the lowest levels and hangs around there unless the breeze disperses it. On your bus, you SHOULD have the floor of the LP locker vented to allow the gas to flow out if it leaks. On a boat, it kinda defeats the purpose of a boat to have holes drilled thru the floor/hull to allow the gas to escape. You can lessen the chances of the tank connection leaks by using an LP Handwheel POL (no tools need... tightens by hand, great for cold weather, makes a good connection that rarely leaks). You can buy them in many places that sells LP stuff like Hardware stores, camping stores, LP stores. There are two kinds. Most of the new LP tanks take both. I prefer the kind that is on the GasWatch (the big black plastic knob) as I think it's a better connection... Most of our fitting happen to be Mr Heater brand. We can find them in most any hardware store that sells LP stuff (often ACE hardware)

I like to use a Gas Watch on our tanks. It doesn't do a great job of showing how much LP is in the tank (since LP expands due to temperature it shows more during hot weather, less during cold... most accurate when gas is actually being used) BUT it is great to keep an eye on the gauge as it will show if your LP is disappearing from a leak in the lines.
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Old 10-10-2010, 01:58 PM   #2
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Re: remote/auto control for propane tank?

Having your belly bin un-vented might create a potentially dangerous situation. I would make some kind of escape vent. One possibility is to remove part of the floor under the tank and install expanded metal. Or put louvers in the door or the back wall.

Failing that, paying $445* may be a small price to pay, if it helps you sleep at night without worry. If I were putting that system in your bus, I would install the included remote sensor in the belly bin wall lower than the tank, *plus purchase another sensor to install near the floor inside. The automated system promises to shut off the low-pressure supply (after the main pressure regulator) if any of three sensors triggers.

If one were interested only in the remote turn-off ability, and can install switches and wiring, the actual solenoid valve without the automated leak detector control system is only $106. As an alternative, propane standby generators have solenoid valves that open during "call for start/run" conditions. It may be possible to get one from a generator dealer, or even salvage a working one from a generator being scrapped, if you have the right connections.

The solenoids used in generators require a continuous flow of DC to an electro-magnet valve to keep the gas flowing. When the generator is running and charging the battery, that isn't an issue. If you are boondocking and running down your battery bank to keep the gas valve on, it is an issue. Yachtsmen are often more conscious of power use than boondockers, so the automated system may actually employ a motor-driven manual valve. Momentary application of power might turn the gas on, and another momentary application turn it off. This would be more acceptable in terms of power use. The sensors and the "brains" of the automatic system will require some constant power, though.

Remember, if any of your LP appliances have a pilot, turning the gas off and back on without thinking may cause gas to flow unburned through the pilot jets. Having a remote switch makes those mistakes easier. if you had no gas refrigerator, but only had a stove that used no pilots (spark or match light), and if any LP water heater or furnace had electronic ignition, it would be OK to install a manual remote switch without concern.

I would think that the only non-emergency use would be to turn the whole system off for travel, going through tunnels and other controlled areas. If a leak was sensed without the automated brain, it would be handy to have a remote switch to shut down the system without running outside. But I would not want to be throwing manual electrical switches in an enclosed space during a gas leak, possibly causing a spark. I would go outside and close a manual valve. A ball valve installed at the tank, where a quick 90 swing of the lever is all it takes to kill the gas flow not too hard to operate. The handle position also serves as positive indication of whether the gas is on or off.

For my designs, I would not want to be running down my batteries with a valve, nor would I like to spend that much. I would have my tank(s) either under the bus, or in an outside cabinet with no floor by a back door if I were to build a porch or similar mod. I would have ball valves, one for the system plus one for each tank if installing a manifold set-up. As a side note, we have no propane detectors in our home, and found that more than once at least one of the cats has climbed onto the cookstove and cracked the valve for a burner on a little bit. The first time it happened, it took a couple of days before I figured out what the odd smell was, because in the house the propane scent didn't seem normal. Propane needs to be taken seriously, but not fearfully.
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:05 PM   #3
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Re: remote/auto control for propane tank?

Either several holes (I'd use a 1" butterfly bit) or the expanded mesh. Even a small vent (about the size of a postcard or index card) placed at the lowest part of a side wall would suffice. I would never have an unvented LP locker... LP detector or not. If you want an LP detector for the living area of your bus, pick up one of the little battery powered ones at Lowes/Home Depot. While you're at it, get a carbon monoxide detector AND a smoke detector. Fair warning.. in the small confines of an RV, the smoke dector may go off just from cooking. We've had ours go off when the smoke from our gas grill blew in thru one of the screen doors! At least we know it works and works well!
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:13 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Re: remote/auto control for propane tank?

[quote=Iceni John]
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Dr LuLu":6jtudjf4
... and LPG should stored be within the wheelbase (i.e. not ahead of the front wheels or behind the rear wheels)....
[/quote:6jtudjf4]
Our permanent mount LP tank on the Class C is mounted BEHIND the rear wheels and right in front of the rear bumper... So much for RVIA rules and codes! For the bus, we will use two 20lb BBQ grill type tanks, mounted on a open shelf under the middle of the bus (probably behind the diesel tank) with another homemade quick-connect "extend-a-stay" setup. I think I'm down to 5 of the 20LB tanks... that means one for the food cart, two for the Class C (so Stacey doesn't have to buy any) and two for the Bus. We can swap the 20lb tanks out pretty much anywhere at any time (I love those 24 hr unmanned tank swaps that Amerigas has!). Refills are a little more tricky at our current location. Can't do that with a 30lb tank.
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