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Old 02-07-2019, 01:39 PM   #1
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Where to put propane cylinders?

I've been debating for awhile how to do the propane in our short bus (6-window). We're planning an on-demand hot water heater, small space heater, and a camp stove, all using propane. That said, we'll not be using any all that often (short trips, typically not during winter), so we don't need a large propane tank setup, but the 1lb bottles are just too expensive over time, and I don't want a pile of them rattling all around.

I'd love to do 20lb BBQ tanks as they're easy to swap/fill almost anywhere. However, I don't know if there's a good way to mount them on the bus. Hung underneath the floor they hang just below the plane of the center of the axle, which I don't think is allowed or safe. Inside is definitely not my preference either, even if I build a sealed box and vent down through the floor as I've seen many seem to do, especially the van crowd.

Alternatively, I've looked somewhat at 5lb tanks and mounting brackets like the one linked here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004M9KX52/ The initial investment (especially in the 5lb tanks) is higher, but they can be filled just about anywhere that also fills BBQ tanks (just not swapped). The tanks are only 12" tall, and are much lighter, so they fit better under the bus and are not as difficult to lift into place or carry around.

Thoughts on these options? I'm leaning towards the last option, if for no other reason than I'm not sure it's smart to put the propane bottle in the bus, even if in a sealed and bottom-vented box.

What have others done on their short busses who don't have permanently-mounted RV tanks, with space at such a premium?

Chris
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:58 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by farok View Post
I've been debating for awhile how to do the propane in our short bus (6-window). We're planning an on-demand hot water heater, small space heater, and a camp stove, all using propane. That said, we'll not be using any all that often (short trips, typically not during winter), so we don't need a large propane tank setup, but the 1lb bottles are just too expensive over time, and I don't want a pile of them rattling all around.

I'd love to do 20lb BBQ tanks as they're easy to swap/fill almost anywhere. However, I don't know if there's a good way to mount them on the bus. Hung underneath the floor they hang just below the plane of the center of the axle, which I don't think is allowed or safe. Inside is definitely not my preference either, even if I build a sealed box and vent down through the floor as I've seen many seem to do, especially the van crowd.

Alternatively, I've looked somewhat at 5lb tanks and mounting brackets like the one linked here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004M9KX52/ The initial investment (especially in the 5lb tanks) is higher, but they can be filled just about anywhere that also fills BBQ tanks (just not swapped). The tanks are only 12" tall, and are much lighter, so they fit better under the bus and are not as difficult to lift into place or carry around.

Thoughts on these options? I'm leaning towards the last option, if for no other reason than I'm not sure it's smart to put the propane bottle in the bus, even if in a sealed and bottom-vented box.

What have others done on their short busses who don't have permanently-mounted RV tanks, with space at such a premium?

Chris
if there is no room in the 'basement', I've seen many camper/motorhomes with 20 or 30 lb bottles mounted in a rack on the back bumper - a 5lb bottle will last for a frustratingly short time
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:07 PM   #3
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I saw a conversion several years ago where they built a propane locker inside of the bus with an outside access door and vent.

The interior portion was sealed to prevent propane from getting into the living space.
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:47 PM   #4
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If you have the ground clearance you could weld in a steel frame or box under the floor with a door on the outside.


I think several of our more "handy" skoolie friends have done just this....
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:14 PM   #5
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Manchester makes some of the best DOT approved tanks around. And they hold up so well, used ones are fairly easy to find at big discounts. Check out Ebay or any RV wrecking yard. Also easy to hang. I welded some steel strap, drilled a few holes and was done.


They come in a very wide range of sizes. As I recall, mine is about 30 pounds.





The "DOT Thing" can become a big deal at times. You can be denied entry into most tunnels and quite a few parks with bumper mounted tanks.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:02 PM   #6
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if there is no room in the 'basement', I've seen many camper/motorhomes with 20 or 30 lb bottles mounted in a rack on the back bumper - a 5lb bottle will last for a frustratingly short time
This is what I'm planning to do. My propane needs are limited (cook with kerosene and heat with diesel and a kerosene backup - just need the propane for the water heater) so I too originally looked into smaller tanks, but once you start finding a place to put one outside the bus, you might as well go to a 20 pounder.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:42 PM   #7
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marine propane lockers are a possibility although the are VERY expensive, thinking of building one myself.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:53 PM   #8
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Is your diesel heater air or hydronic?

If it is hydronic you could use it to heat your water.

The water heater that I put in my last bus had a heat exchanger loop for that purpose as well as electric element and propane burner. I have seen marine water heaters that have just the heat exchanger and electric.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:35 PM   #9
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Manchester makes some of the best DOT approved tanks around. And they hold up so well, used ones are fairly easy to find at big discounts. Check out Ebay or any RV wrecking yard. Also easy to hang. I welded some steel strap, drilled a few holes and was done.

There's a free one of CL right now. I'm guessing it's gone already though because the guy has not responded to me.

I didn't realize bumper mounting was a no-no. Guess I will rethink that.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:46 PM   #10
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marine propane lockers are a possibility although the are VERY expensive, thinking of building one myself.
I was just looking at those, $600 or so. Yikes.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:04 PM   #11
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A locker is a relatively easy build on most buses. You just need to make sure it vents dawn and out without any restriction. Expanded metal makes for a good bottom. A few air holes up high help move any fumes out as well.



Being heavier than air, you really need to make sure it cannot pool and collect in a closed space and certainly NOT one inside the bus.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:15 PM   #12
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This is what I'm planning to do. My propane needs are limited (cook with kerosene and heat with diesel and a kerosene backup - just need the propane for the water heater) so I too originally looked into smaller tanks, but once you start finding a place to put one outside the bus, you might as well go to a 20 pounder.
Yeah I know the 5 pounders are small and not terribly convenient, but then again we're not using much propane - just for quickie showers and cooking, primarily. If I could find a way to put a 20 pounder outside without it sitting too low, I'd like to, but just don't know if there's a spot that'll work on the short bus.

Tango, a locker put inside the bus like what you mentioned, sealed other than the bottom with vents down through the floor, is still a big no no, I take it?

Chris
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:21 PM   #13
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It has been done and successfully. But it must be absolutely sealed to the interior and very open to the exterior. Remember that once you are rolling down the road, it can be easy for air pressure to force any gas back into the cab. A well designed locker will use any such air to clear the locker rather than pressurize it.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:26 PM   #14
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Thanks! That may be my answer then. Properly angling louvers (or otherwise) below the locker to suck air and cause lower pressure inside the locker would be one way to do that, not difficult, and would be worth the effort in my opinion. I have a friend who can fabricate something pretty easily if need be.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:42 PM   #15
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If I could find a way to put a 20 pounder outside without it sitting too low, I'd like to, but just don't know if there's a spot that'll work on the short bus.
Well, before I started thinking bumper my plan was to mount a cage over one of the small back windows on either side of the back door and house a propane tank there. Then someone pointed out how easy it would be for a person walking to the back door to smack their head and knock themselves out by crashing into the propane cage, which would be about head height for most people. But I would think it would at least be DOT legal because it wouldn't be in direct bumper-to-bumper line. Maybe if it were painted fluorescent orange, or padded, no one would get killed.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:17 AM   #16
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I have seen 20 pounders that lay on their side. Would only be 12 inches deep. they can be oriented only one way. I am pretty sure they will be marked as to which side must be up during use.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:56 AM   #17
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the outlet would need to be upwards, otherwise the hose would fill with liquid propane ?
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:20 AM   #18
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The valve on these bottles have a curved dip tube that angles to one side so as to draw vapor only when that side is up. The UP side should be clearly marked by the assembler. It all depends on where that dip tube ends up when the valve becomes tight.
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Old 02-10-2019, 07:11 PM   #19
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What do you think about this?

I've been trying to come up with a way to do my rear-window propane storage "cage" seeing how I don't weld and don't have access to anyone who welds. In my quest for the low tech solution I can do myself i came across what looks like an option, but I don't really know if it's workable.

Do you think a bracket like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Nashfuel-Univ...gateway&sr=8-1

Could be bolted on the back of the bus - over the spot where the little side window now is? (see image)

And then covered with something like this:
https://www.campingworld.com/heavy-d...lack?rrec=true

Would that be a safe, acceptable solution? I'm probably not looking to connect it from there to anywhere else, I would use it to refill smaller bottles (the legally refillable ones, not the little green one pounders).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg propane goes here.jpg (263.0 KB, 20 views)
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Old 02-10-2019, 07:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
I've been trying to come up with a way to do my rear-window propane storage "cage" seeing how I don't weld and don't have access to anyone who welds. In my quest for the low tech solution I can do myself i came across what looks like an option, but I don't really know if it's workable.

Do you think a bracket like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Nashfuel-Univ...gateway&sr=8-1

Could be bolted on the back of the bus - over the spot where the little side window now is? (see image)

And then covered with something like this:
https://www.campingworld.com/heavy-d...lack?rrec=true

Would that be a safe, acceptable solution? I'm probably not looking to connect it from there to anywhere else, I would use it to refill smaller bottles (the legally refillable ones, not the little green one pounders).
looks like it would work fine to me
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