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Old 05-09-2007, 12:56   #1
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Installing Propane Systems - KABOOM!

Does anyone know of a good web reference to help a novice figure out the correct way to install a propane system? Yes, my 5 year plan includes being on land for 5 years before buying our next boat to save up the kitty. I will be using the dreaded propane devil gas fuel for cooking, running a refer and whatever else I can squeak out of the devil's fart gas.

So anyone have any tips or know where I can read extensively about regulators, tanks, proper methods of installation, etc... etc...?

Thanks
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Old 05-09-2007, 14:00   #2
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Propane is not rocket science to install or use, and it's fast and clean.

We have a propane cooktop with electric oven in our house as well as a propane heat stove in our bedroom.

In the boat, I converted from a glass kerosene fired cooktop to a propane system.
The difference in speed and quality of control of the heat is like night and day.

Our house has 2 120 gallon tanks outside (State regs say they have to be more than ten feet from an openable door or window). The piping is black iron and there's a yellow tape which is similar to teflon which is used on the joints.

On the boat I installed a sniffer in the galley and a pressure gauge on the tank.
The tank is in a locker with an overboard drain at the low point as propane is heavier than air.

You should be able to do an internet search for installation.


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Old 05-09-2007, 15:30   #3
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Sorry Sean, I can't help, so only adding to the noise. But Propane is safe as...??? well it's pretty safe. I would rather have Propane (we call it LPG...liquid petroleum gas) here in the South Island. The North Island has Butane (CNG..compressed natural gas) pipe to many homes for there cooking and heating.
The system on my boat follows the principles of good safety with Gas. The tanks are in a cabinet for protection and the cabinet has an air vent both top and bottom. This is to ensure any possible leak allows the heavier than air Gas to drop out the bottom and clear of the boat. On each tank I have an electric shut of solinoid valve. This allows me to control which tank I want to use and it allows me to shut of the gas at the tank at night if I wish or when I leave the boat. Most importantly, it is connected to the Gas detector which if it should detect any gas, it will shut the valves of. The switches are in easy access to the galley and companoinway to ensure you can shut them off manualy should you have a galley fire. All gas line is a proper Gas/Fire rated plastic line. It is double cored. I prefer this than copper. Although copper is a comonly used material, I hate old copper on boats. You are just never sure of the stuff. And finaly, I have two gas detector sensors. One is close to the lowest point internaly in the boat and the other is directly below the gas cooker.
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Old 05-09-2007, 15:42   #4
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Good input, thanks. I guess it's somewhat straight forward. I will be in a large vehicle for a few years here to make a few extra bucks before we buy the next boat. (Math works out well this way)

Anyway, the fititng the propane lines has me a bit nervous - I was very anti-propane on boats, but when it comes to land... and there are filling stations everywhere, it becomes more economical and makes sense to me.

I found a few resources, but nothing gets into the technical such as:

If I have a 3 burner stove and oven PLUS propane(lpg) refrigerator, PLUS propane heater, etc... how do I calculate line sizes?

I have found that a 2 stage regulator is mandated on all land vehicles using propane. That was a new one to me.

Also, I have read about people using the hose Wheels is describing, soft copper and black iron as seniormechanico says. Not sure which would be best.

A separate, vented location for the tank is paramount, and will definitely be done like in a boat (sealed off from the cabin).

So maybe it's more simple than the propane industry wants me to believe?
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Old 05-09-2007, 15:58   #5
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Sulli,
It sounds like you are back to building the RV again. If that is the case you may want to look at some of requirements the RV industry has put together. While you don't have the "settle into the bilge problem" like a boat there will still be problems with vibration that require special consideration with the type of hoses you use. As I recall the lines on our RV are all 1/4" (stove and fridge, no oven).

Two weekends ago the house next to our burned to the ground. They have a 200 gallon propane tank in the yard and it took the heat from the fire and associated grass fire in stride (there were several nervous firemen). Propane is really fairly safe, but on those rare occasions when it does explode...
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Old 05-09-2007, 16:08   #6
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PV:

Yes, I'm back on the RV thing. It's our ticket to be able to afford a boat AND go cruising.

Plus... I like making stuff if that isn't evident yet. ha ha ha

The lines will indeed be subject to vibration and chafe as they pass through partitions and whatnot.

Thanks for the tip on the 1/4" lines. That's a good start.

And I know it belongs in another thread, but WOW those big fiberglass tanks were cool for collecting water in!
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Old 05-09-2007, 16:56   #7
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PV:


The lines will indeed be subject to vibration and chafe as they pass through partitions and whatnot.
If you are seriously worried about chafe you can use off-the-shelf bulkhead fittings to pass through "partitions & whatnot

If you are seriously worried about vibration you can use either a pigtail (smaller gauge line) or a section of flexible hose (approved for the gas, of course).
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Old 05-09-2007, 17:26   #8
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Sulli
When installing the gas lines don't have any joins or seperate bends if possible. If using copper you can get it with a tough insulation bonded, the aircon installers use it, great for chaffe and vibration.
Mike
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Old 05-09-2007, 18:42   #9
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PV:

Yes, I'm back on the RV thing. It's our ticket to be able to afford a boat AND go cruising.

Plus... I like making stuff if that isn't evident yet. ha ha ha

And I know it belongs in another thread, but WOW those big fiberglass tanks were cool for collecting water in!
I'm hip on making stuff. Sometimes I kid that the problem with the C&C is I sail it too much and some of the projects never get done. As an aside the wife and I are serious about green building. Good luch with the RV. You may want to look into some of the european caravan websites. They seem to have some different ideas on how to use the limited space of a vehicle, more of a yacht approach than the "trailer house" approach we see here so often.

pv
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Old 05-09-2007, 18:45   #10
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Sully,
If Hank Hill can do Propane, so can you.

Raed the ABYC and apply it to the RV
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Old 05-09-2007, 20:20   #11
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Ok Sully - Yellow card. If you are gonna get RV building advice on a boat forum you are going to have to pay "double" for the advice ;-)

Seriously, an RV sounds way, way better than an iron barge.
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Old 05-09-2007, 20:54   #12
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Sean, I bought and lived in a small (had to go outside to change my mind) RV before moving onto my boat. Its propane system used a combination of 1/4" hose, 1/2" black pipe, and 3/8" copper tubing. I made a couple of modifications and used 1/4" hose with 3/8" flare fittings on the end. A "full-service" propane shop can make the hoses whatever lengths you need and has the tools to properly crimp on the fittings, and it's not all that expensive. Cheaper and easier to work with than copper tubing, and can be taken apart anywhere unlike black pipe where you have to start at the end and work backwards. I had thought of installing a boat-style solenoid as I am now used to turning it on and off only when gas is needed, but it didn't make sense when running the fridge with propane. I like Alan's setup with the gas-sniffer connected to the solenoid, but it would use up a fair bit of juice at 1A 24/7.
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Old 05-09-2007, 21:08   #13
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Hey Sully, maybe you should hop over to the "airstream" forum. Surely those guy's play with Propane in the things. They'll know about RV stuff I guess.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:18   #14
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True... there are RV forums, but betwen you and me - they're not so bright on those.

They are not people who have to rely on their wits to survive or make their traveling homes to such standards as sailors.

So... I'm really putting together a "land boat" for the next 5 years. In fact, I'll be using many of the pieces from the "land boat" to move onto the new boat. (batteries, charge controller, panel, switches, some plumbing items, refrigerator, etc... etc...

I'd like to stay if it's all the same.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:13   #15
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I've owned several RVs - all had propane. Installation quality varied with the sticker price - go figure. Just be sure to install the leak detector / sniffer that controls the solenoid... and don't put the solenoid close to the appliance like I saw in a homemade unit once. Solenoid close as possible to the tank of course as you already know.

One surprise to me was in the current draw of different leak detectors... one unit I had would run down the (single) house battery overnight. You may want to check the specs on the unit you plan to install... and then of course run the amp hour calculations you've led us all through here.

Good luck with the project!

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