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Old 14-02-2020, 20:18   #1
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Propane stove won’t light when cold

On Saturday mornings I like to go to the marina and cook breakfast. When the temperature in Texas is in the 50’s the stove lights. When the temperature is in the 30’s or 40’s, the propane won’t flow.

The tank is in a cockpit locker about 10 feet away.

Any suggestions on getting the propane to flow?

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Old 14-02-2020, 20:25   #2
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Without going into the thermodynamics, the flash point of gases decreases with temperature. Your question implies you think temperature has some effect on the gas flow rate which is dependent only on pressure. Assuming the regulator isn’t dysfunctional, what you describe is normal.
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Old 14-02-2020, 20:45   #3
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Many marine stoves have safety thermal shutoffs. If the solenoid is old the lubricant can have issues with temperature ambient temperature change.
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Old 15-02-2020, 11:28   #4
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
Without going into the thermodynamics, the flash point of gases decreases with temperature. Your question implies you think temperature has some effect on the gas flow rate which is dependent only on pressure. Assuming the regulator isn’t dysfunctional, what you describe is normal.
Does the temperature drop to 0 overnight and are you sure you have propane and not butane? If butane cools to below 0 it ceases to boil so no flow. A cylinder will take a while to warm up as temperatures rise.
Flash point only applies to liquids, not gases. The temperature a gas ignites at is its fire point. Any normal ignition device will generate an ignition source well above the fire point of LPG.
Not sure why there is a suggestion that temperature of a gas does not affect pressure: Boyle's and Charles' Laws show the temperature, pressure and volume of a gas are proportional.
When I had this problem with butane I ran the engine for 10 minutes then poured a bucket of exhaust water over the cylinder.
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:12   #5
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Low pressure from the cylinder due to cold temps not providing enough pressure at the regulator or a dysfunctional regulator or both.

Try warming to tank.

Or go to an all electric galley and do away with the propane.
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:20   #6
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Its normal for gas stoves under cold conditions. The gas mixture of propane / butane or plain propane / butane regulates the gas's ability to be functionally used at low temperatures. Do you have the gas indoor or outdoor? If its outside in the cockpit area it might work better if you get it inside the warmer cabin.
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:27   #7
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Many marine stoves have safety thermal shutoffs. If the solenoid is old the lubricant can have issues with temperature ambient temperature change.
I would suspect something similar as well. For example, on many of the stoves I've seen one must hold in the knob for a bit after lighting whilst the thermocouple warms up; the flame will go out if you release it immediately.

Propane: boils at -42 °C
Butane: boils at -1 °C

Either way, there shouldn't be a pressure problem due to temperature alone. Strangely I've heard of propane regulators icing up in very cold temps (water in the mix?).

WacoLen: along with the type of fuel question, are you using a match or lighter where you can see the flame, or using a built in electric or piezo lighter?
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:46   #8
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

What we call propane is Liquified Petroleum Gas, LPG. It's a mix that includes propane and butane, and I guess whatever petroleum molecules of about the same chemistry come out of the cracking tower. It boils at below -40 (C or F), so I'm inclined the suspect that the problem is not your gas itself, as several people have suggested. Might you have some moisture in the system that is freezing and constricting flow?
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:55   #9
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by capt_TE View Post
Its normal for gas stoves under cold conditions. The gas mixture of propane / butane or plain propane / butane regulates the gas's ability to be functionally used at low temperatures. Do you have the gas indoor or outdoor? If its outside in the cockpit area it might work better if you get it inside the warmer cabin.
Unless the system is very unusual the tank is outside the cabin and is in a location that drains overboard. Plumbing for the gas is also set up for this location.

Bringing the tank would require modifying the plumbing and doing so would violate various safety regulations and void insurance.
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Old 15-02-2020, 16:03   #10
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

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Unless the system is very unusual the tank is outside the cabin and is in a location that drains overboard. Plumbing for the gas is also set up for this location.

Bringing the tank would require modifying the plumbing and doing so would violate various safety regulations and void insurance.
Hmm. I see. I dont have any gas onboard my boat. My kitchen onboard is all electrical, run by my power plant, so Im not used to gas stoves except in the outdoors. However, maybe it would work to heat the tank somehow where it is stored.
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Old 15-02-2020, 19:04   #11
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

My camping gas powered blowtorch routinely fails to light below about 45F with the piezoelectric ignition. Warm it up with my body heat for 30 seconds and it's ready to go.
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Old 15-02-2020, 19:30   #12
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
Without going into the thermodynamics, the flash point of gases decreases with temperature. Your question implies you think temperature has some effect on the gas flow rate which is dependent only on pressure. Assuming the regulator isn’t dysfunctional, what you describe is normal.
Say WHAT???

Illusion, you are saying it is NORMAL for propane to not work at temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees F? That is just nonsense. People heat their houses with propane--from outdoor tanks--in temperatures of -30F and lower.

What you are saying is just wrong. I don't know why you THINK it is true, but practical experience just says NO!
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Old 15-02-2020, 19:55   #13
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

So then my tank outside here in Wisconsin shouldn’t light in the winter? Not so far and it’s colder than on any boat I’m sailing on. So nope something else is going on
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Old 15-02-2020, 21:44   #14
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

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So then my tank outside here in Wisconsin shouldn’t light in the winter? Not so far and it’s colder than on any boat I’m sailing on. So nope something else is going on

^^ This. Propane is used in FAR colder places than Texas. It's generally reliable well below zero. 30-40 isn't cold, that's refreshing at best.


The solenoid could be sticking or the regulator could be dead.



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Old 16-02-2020, 09:54   #15
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Re: Propane stove won’t light when cold

Here in the netherlands, lpg for cars is a mix of propane and butane. We are not allowed to fill our bottles with that and I understand the reason. They miss out on the tax, ut overfill is danverous too.AND WHEN USED AT LOW TEMPERATURES THE UTANE STAYS AS LIQUID IN THE CILINDER, IT WILL NOT BOIL OUT.
Refilli g whe that is the case will certainly cuse overgill and when a buta e bottle is opened at temps below ,ero C you can hear it succ in air.
It is an i teresti g combination inside that gascili der after that..........
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