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Old 24-02-2014, 15:33   #1
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Propane system

Hi, I bought a 26 foot boat and I'm working up a propane system. I've read a couple articles on safety and how to design the system, and thought I could run it by you guys and let me know what you think and give some recommendations for a galley.

Last year I shivered through many a cold night and morning with no heater. This boat came with two portable heaters, but if you don't think they will get the job doe I could get a better one. One is a basic plug in electric one, I think for the rare occasions I will be hooked to shore power, the other is a propane, heater portable buddy

https://www.mrheater.com/product.aspx?catid=41&id=24

Next to my sink there is a blank spot, I assume where a galley goes. I would like to get a marine propane single burner to semi permanently affix there. I would be glad to hear recommendations.

I'll also probably get a propane magna grill for the stern. Every single cruiser I have ever talked to says I simply have to have one.

So now I have three uses for propane. The best idea I can think of is to hook an 11 lb tank at to the transom. Because they have to vent right? So anywhere else would be unsafe since the boat doesn't have a propane locker? The cockpit lazerette would be better but unsafe?

Then I'll get a pressure gauge and regulator and solenoid and I was thinking only one line to keep it simple. I can run the line to the grill of the galley. So I will leave it running to the galley.

The propane heater website says it has to run off one gallon tank for pressure reasons, and the grills also use one gallon tanks, so I will get an adapter to be able to refill one gallon tanks from my bigger one and unattach the hose from the galley whenever I need to refill a small tank.

Does this all sound reasonable and safe? Any suggestions to make it better? The portable heater eats propane. One green tank lasts six hours. Eight if you're lucky. It probably wouldn't be safe to have a whole bunch of those sitting around anyways.

I see that they make a dedicated switch for the solenoid, but I have extra switches already installed on my boat not being used, can I use one of those or do I have to get the special solenoid one?

Thanks for your advice. I am totally inexperienced with propane and open to suggestions.
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Old 24-02-2014, 15:49   #2
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Re: Propane system

I think it sounds ok. The basic rules are not fittings inside the cabin except where the line hooks to the appliance....so dont try to hook up two appliances from one line by tee'ing inside the cabin.
I have one of those little cabin heaters, havent run it alot but doubt it runs 4 hours on one little tank, they go amazingly fast.
Not sure what grill you are talkng of, but most BBQ's can run off a big cylinder. My magma ran off a 5 lb for years.
as always, error on the side of caution with propane, keep the cabin well vented while using it due to C0 poisening etc.
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Old 24-02-2014, 15:52   #3
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I think everything you said is spot on. A couple of things I can add. The one pound cylinders are really not made to be refilled so be very careful making sure the seals are good, don't ask me how I know that. Make sure you have plenty of air coming in to the boat when using the catalytic heater no carbon monoxide but they use oxygen. I would think it would provide plenty of heat for your size boat. Also be aware that you have to turn the big propane tank upside down when you're filling the small ones up. As pointed out on other threads a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel put under your blanket provides tremendous comfort. I have a catalytic heater, its not a Mr buddy but it runs almost exactly 7 hours. And the propane grills can run off a big tank with a pressure regulator
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Old 24-02-2014, 15:58   #4
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Re: Propane system

Based on my little green heater I wouldnt want anything less than a foot from the front or above, maybe even 16 inches. pretty hot. I'd be far more comfortable with you getting a catalytic RV type for "permanent" installation.
http://ventedcatheater.com/2.html
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Old 24-02-2014, 16:04   #5
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Re: Propane system

Olympian Camco Wave 3 Catalytic Safety Heater

Like this? What it the difference?
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Old 24-02-2014, 16:16   #6
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Re: Propane system

Oh, here is what I was thinking about buying

Tank
WORTHINGTON 11lb. Powder-Coated Steel LPG Cylinder at West Marine

Solenoid
TRIDENT RUBBER Low-Pressure Brass 1/4" Solenoid Valve at West Marine

Regulator and pressure meter
TRIDENT RUBBER Single-Stage Tank-Mount LPG Regulator at West Marine

Galley hose, might need longer

TRIDENT RUBBER 6' High-Pressure Propane Hose at West Marine

Here's the switch, but I was thinking I could use one of mine
TRIDENT RUBBER Propane Gas Control System at West Marine

How are little stoves like this?

ENO Two-Burner Built-In Propane Cooktop at West Marine
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Old 24-02-2014, 16:49   #7
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Re: Propane system

You can get an RV cooktop for $100 or less. Paid $110 for a nice 3 burner stainless for my trawler. RV's have the same issues as boats safety wise... in fact thare's a lot more vibration etc on the road. Many big boats used RV "Magic Chef's" for years.
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:06   #8
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Re: Propane system

Don't forget to buy a CO detector and mount inside, maybe get 2 for redundancy. Also there is a special Teflon tape made just for gas. Do not use the standard plumbing Teflon that is white.
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:32   #9
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Re: Propane system

The co sensor will tell me if the heater is using too much of my oxygen?
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:51   #10
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Re: Propane system

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
The co sensor will tell me if the heater is using too much of my oxygen?
It will tell you if the CO level is too high in the cabin. BTW, they are infamously unreliable, two of differing brands would be good. or one, maybe hold it in your car exhaust and see if it works!
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Old 24-02-2014, 17:54   #11
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Re: Propane system

Whoa. Hold up. we had this discussion a while back. You do not use teflon tape on compression fittings, they can cause leaks. Unvented heaters are NOT safe, and not for use in an enclosed space, and, in addition to a CO detector, a propane sniffer is a must.
All bottles, including 1 pounders, need to be mounted either where they can vent overboard, either in a locker, or outside where venting propane will dissapate, and you should use the proper switch, with indicator light, to tell you if you forget to turn off the bottle. Sorry, all who suggest otherwise, but propane and boats just don't mix well unless proper installation is done to code. I have no interest in how many years you have been doing it a certain way, you don't ever want the nickname "Boomer."
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Old 24-02-2014, 18:29   #12
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Quote:
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Whoa. Hold up. we had this discussion a while back. You do not use teflon tape on compression fittings, they can cause leaks. Unvented heaters are NOT safe, and not for use in an enclosed space, and, in addition to a CO detector, a propane sniffer is a must.
All bottles, including 1 pounders, need to be mounted either where they can vent overboard, either in a locker, or outside where venting propane will dissapate, and you should use the proper switch, with indicator light, to tell you if you forget to turn off the bottle. Sorry, all who suggest otherwise, but propane and boats just don't mix well unless proper installation is done to code. I have no interest in how many years you have been doing it a certain way, you don't ever want the nickname "Boomer."
+1 on compression fittings..... Catalytic heaters produce no CO ( carbon monoxide) but use oxygen. I know you are correct about the code but to me a 20 pound tank outside attached to a "plastic" hose to the heater doesn't seem as safe as a one pound steel cylinder connected direct even though code says different. And let me add that I never store the cylinders inside. One more edit. Catalytic heaters don't use an open flame
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Old 24-02-2014, 18:49   #13
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Re: Propane system

I know they are expensive but I'd feel safer with a ready-made propane lockers as opposed to hanging the tank off the transom. That always seemed precarious to me and fumes can find there way into the cockpit if conditions are right.

TRIDENT RUBBER Marine LPG Cylinder Lockers at West Marine
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Old 24-02-2014, 19:00   #14
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Re: Propane system

I just did this on my boat, so a couple of suggestions:

1) With the proper regulator and fittings you can absolutely run a stove/heater designed for 1 lb cylinders off a bulk tank. I've been doing it for years of camping.

2) The propane solenoid sold by west marine is identical to the solenoids used in propane forklifts, and can be bought online for under $30 (check ebay).

3) If you do decide to refill the 1 lb tanks be aware that you need to turn the bulk tank upside down while refilling. To check for leaks, I weigh each 1 lb cylinder after filling, leave it sit overnight, then reweigh. I find that the 1 lb cylinders start leaking after 3-5 refills.

4) You can use any 12V switch you like for the solenoid. I used a mechanical timer switch (bought at home depot) to ensure that the propane gets shut off in case I forget.

5) Does your boat have a dedicated well or lazarette for the portable fuel tank? If so, that makes a great place to put your propane cylinder, since it's already externally ventilated (at least it was on my 27' boat).

6) The worthington tanks can be bought a lot cheaper at an RV or camping store.
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Old 24-02-2014, 19:46   #15
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Re: Propane system

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post

The propane heater website says it has to run off one gallon tank for pressure reasons, and the grills also use one gallon tanks, so I will get an adapter to be able to refill one gallon tanks from my bigger one and unattach the hose from the galley whenever I need to refill a small tank.
This will not work as there is not enough pressure in the line at the stove to fill a tank. It has to be tank to tank without a regulator in the line.

Fittings that are not compression type - like those in and out of the solenoid and regulator - need yellow teflon tape. Compression fittings are rarely used for propane in North America. Flare fittings are and teflon is not used on those.

Get a high pressure solenoid and make it the first in line after the tank. Regulators are not 100% reliable, especially if exposed at the stern and not in a locker.
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