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Old 16-05-2024, 22:41   #1
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Propane for Dummies

I know less about propane than the average modern human. My new boat has a propane stove/oven. It was obvious, to me, that the system was probably not installed according to recommended best practices, and that it had suffered a bit of neglect.

The survey identified a couple of specific issues, but I want to give it a complete end-to-end examination and possibly a complete or partial overhaul. I just want to make sure it is done right.

Where can I find a good reference for the proper way to do this? A lot of what I am finding assume you know at least something about propane systems. Here's what I've gleaned, so far:
  1. Propane tanks need to be stored in a dedicated storage locker that vents overboard and is otherwise isolated from the cabin.
  2. Attached to the tank is a pressure gauge which is either built into the regulator or precedes the regulator. The regulator reduces from tank pressure to appliance pressure. I guess there are low pressure regulators and high pressure regulators. I believe boats pretty much use low pressure systems (about 0.5 psi).
  3. Then comes the solenoid valve. To me, it seems more reliable to use a manual shutoff valve, but I guess that's not how most folks do it. I guess I get why.
  4. All of the above needs to be in the vapor-tight propane locker. An LPG supply hose passes through a vapor-tight fitting out of the propane locker directly to the stove in one piece - no intermittent fittings.
  5. Not strictly required, but it is smart to have a propane detector as low in the boat as possible which is ideally wired directly to the solenoid.
There's some additional nonsense about 3/8" vs 1/4" fittings that seems to add unnecessary complications. I only have the one appliance and it takes a 3/8" connection, so I don't "think" I need to worry about this. The regulator will have a pigtail to the tank, and a 3/8" outlet. So, I should only be dealing with 3/8", right?

I think that the purpose of the pressure gauge is that it allows you to detect leaks. Presumably, you would open the system, then shut off the propane at the tank. The pressure should not drop. (Not sure how long to wait before calling it good.)

Do I have it right? Am I missing something important?

I'll have someone look at it when I am done - just because of the stakes, but this doesn't seem hard and it seems like something I can easily do myself.
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Old 16-05-2024, 23:17   #2
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Sounds like you have done your research and got it all right. It is not rocket science.
If you require a certificate of compliance for insurance etc, depending on where you are, the requirements for installation details may diffe,r and you may have trouble getting a licensed professional gas fitter to sign off on your DIY work.

Good luck
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Old 16-05-2024, 23:46   #3
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Re: Propane for Dummies

The storage locker of course needs to outside and the vapor vent on the bottom needs to be kept clear and open.The solenoid switch is mounted inside the boat and should be shut off whenever not in use. you know that the gas is heavier then air and sinks which is why there is drain under the tanks if it leaks. soap test fittings for leaks
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Old 17-05-2024, 00:02   #4
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Re: Propane for Dummies

I have just been going through this matter myself.

I most certainly won't try to tackle it myself as :
  • It will invalidate my insurance AND
  • In the event of a gas explosion it would almost certainly kill everyone board.
In Western Australia we have strict regulation/regulation of all sorts of trades including plumbing, electrical, gas fitting, pest extermination .....


What types of gasfitting licences are issued?

Class G - Covers all gasfitting work except gasfitting work classified as of Class I, E, or P. [Includes general gasfitting - natural gas, LP Gas. Also includes installation and servicing of Domestic, Commercial, Caravan and Marine craft installations]
  1. Class I - Covers gasfitting work on a consumer's gas installation associated with a Type B appliance [Industrial - including all Type B appliances - installation, commissioning and servicing]; or on piping that has an operating pressure of more than 200kPa, not being gasfitting work referred to in paragraph (a) or classified as Class E or P.
  2. Class E - Covers gasfitting work associated with a mobile engine.
  3. Class P - Gasfitting work on a gas installation associated with the storage and dispensing of gas for the refuelling of a motor vehicle as defined in the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008 section 4.

There's not a lot of Class G licensed people around but I think that is a good thing. That ensures the guys that are licensed are very experienced and are aware of different types of gear, dangers etc.

I got a quote to have my yacht plumbed up and was shocked when he quoted $2900. He had to supply about 15ft of copper tubing, some fittings. But you can bet his Insurance Premium cost p.a. are massive. One thing he pointed out is the regulation that forbids a stove burner being closer than 15cm(?) to timber. He said he'd fit a metal shield to overcome that problem. About the most expensive bit of gear was a BEP Gas detector with auto shut off etc etc. and they are around $800

https://www.bepmarine.com/en/p/600-G...t-with-Control

In my memory we haven't had a boat gas explosion for many, many years and I don't plan to be the next. I think getting an expert to do the work is the way to go.
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Old 17-05-2024, 01:16   #5
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Using gas safely in marine craft

Dept of Energy, Mines Industry Regulations and Safety.

When was the last time you checked your LP gas installation?

Follow this simple checklist to see if your marine craft is safe and complies with the regulation

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publi...y-marine-craft
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Old 17-05-2024, 01:21   #6
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foswick View Post
I know less about propane than the average modern human. My new boat has a propane stove/oven. It was obvious, to me, that the system was probably not installed according to recommended best practices, and that it had suffered a bit of neglect.

The survey identified a couple of specific issues, but I want to give it a complete end-to-end examination and possibly a complete or partial overhaul. I just want to make sure it is done right.

Where can I find a good reference for the proper way to do this? A lot of what I am finding assume you know at least something about propane systems. Here's what I've gleaned, so far:
  1. Propane tanks need to be stored in a dedicated storage locker that vents overboard and is otherwise isolated from the cabin.
  2. Attached to the tank is a pressure gauge which is either built into the regulator or precedes the regulator. The regulator reduces from tank pressure to appliance pressure. I guess there are low pressure regulators and high pressure regulators. I believe boats pretty much use low pressure systems (about 0.5 psi).
  3. Then comes the solenoid valve. To me, it seems more reliable to use a manual shutoff valve, but I guess that's not how most folks do it. I guess I get why.
  4. All of the above needs to be in the vapor-tight propane locker. An LPG supply hose passes through a vapor-tight fitting out of the propane locker directly to the stove in one piece - no intermittent fittings.
  5. Not strictly required, but it is smart to have a propane detector as low in the boat as possible which is ideally wired directly to the solenoid.
There's some additional nonsense about 3/8" vs 1/4" fittings that seems to add unnecessary complications. I only have the one appliance and it takes a 3/8" connection, so I don't "think" I need to worry about this. The regulator will have a pigtail to the tank, and a 3/8" outlet. So, I should only be dealing with 3/8", right?

I think that the purpose of the pressure gauge is that it allows you to detect leaks. Presumably, you would open the system, then shut off the propane at the tank. The pressure should not drop. (Not sure how long to wait before calling it good.)

Do I have it right? Am I missing something important?

I'll have someone look at it when I am done - just because of the stakes, but this doesn't seem hard and it seems like something I can easily do myself.
Yes, you have it all correct

All these rules are because LPG (which includes propane and butane) is heavier than air, and if leaked inside a boat will collect in the bilge, rather than dissipating harmlessly like natural gas, creating a bomb which can go off with any spark. A lot of sailors have been killed or maimed as a result over the years. It's one of the most significant risks of cruising and it's worth thinking it through and spending time and money mitigating.

Just do all that stuff, AND by all means, install a gas leak detector. AND be conscious of the risk and treat gas with respect and attention. Keep an eye on the gas tightness of the gas locker, and the condition of the lines and hoses and appliances. Like that the risk can be reduced by orders of magnitude.

Pay particular attention to the gas locker -- the most common probably defect in gas systems is inadequately gas-tight lockers. There was a case where an actual Royal Navy training yacht blew up despite incredibly elaborate safety procedures, because of a small defect in the sealing of the gas locker. Also -- a defect which got past probably the best surveyor in the UK, when I bought my own boat in 2009 -- the drain line from the gas locker MUST exit above the heeled waterline, and MUST NOT have any bend in it which can cause a water lock. Otherwise leaked gas won't drain out, and you will inevitably spill some gas in the gas locker when you change bottles etc.

Another gas safety method which I use is to simply use it less. I have an induction hob which I use for MOST cooking, so the gas stays off except when someone is cooking a meal elaborate enough to need several burners. The risk of using gas is proportionally reduced like this.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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Old 17-05-2024, 01:31   #7
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Re: Propane for Dummies

The design, installation and testing of each LPG system must meet BYC A–1, ‘‘Marine Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Systems,’’ Chapter 6 of NFPA 302, or other standard(s)* specified by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.

A good starting reference would be the current edition of:
ABYC A-01: Marine Liquified Petroleum Gas Systems

Here’s some very old versions:
2018 Preview only ➥ https://webstore.ansi.org/preview-pa..._A-01-2018.pdf

1993 ➥ https://law.resource.org/pub/us/cfr/....A-01.1993.pdf

2000 ➥ https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&sourc...rPD2arBXrmSldL

See also:

* Standards for installation of LPG-Propane and CNG systems for Cooking, Heating, and Propulsion
https://newboatbuilders.com/pages/lpg-cng.html

“Safe Boat Propane Installations” ~ by PCMS, <boatpoker>
Safe Boat Propane System Installation

“Best Gas” ~ by Steve D’Antonio
https://stevedmarineconsulting.com/w...PGas169-02.pdf

“Some Propane Dos and Don’ts” ~ by Darrell Nicholson
https://www.practical-sailor.com/sys...-dos-and-donts

“How To Handle Propane On A Boat” ~ by Mark Corke
https://www.boatus.com/app/views/201...-propane-on-a-
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Old 17-05-2024, 01:40   #8
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Re: Propane for Dummies

My concern is that if the installation is not certified:


  • it may invalidate your insurance AND
  • in this part of the world you won't be allowed to enter a marina without the gas compliance plate
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Old 17-05-2024, 02:27   #9
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by coopec43 View Post
My concern is that if the installation is not certified:
it may invalidate your insurance AND
  • in this part of the world you won't be allowed to enter a marina without the gas compliance plate

The OP should certainly check about the insurance and local legal questions.


In my neck of the woods neither of these is an issue, provided CE certification hasn't been violated, but YMMV.
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Old 17-05-2024, 02:41   #10
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Having it installed a certain way matters only if: you're a slave to insurance and they require some standard, or: you want to sell the boat to someone who cares and can't be bothered to alter the installation.
I'd do everything you said except for a pressure gauge and solenoid. On my boat the gas goes from a vented outide locker, through one hose with a pressure regulator at the tank to a gas-rated shutoff valve in the galley, and from there to the stove. All the line rubber propane-rated hose, whatever diameter the stove (and the fitting for the bottle, coincidentally) wanted.
While the ABYC would get their knickers in a bunch about an inside shutoff valve, it is the standard installation in the EU.
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Old 17-05-2024, 03:26   #11
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Re: Propane for Dummies

"While the ABYC would get their knickers in a bunch about an inside shutoff valve, it is the standard installation in the EU"


Well what are you supposed to do? I'll have an inside shut off valve too as I wouldn't relish going out at night (or in a storm) to shut off the valve at the locker.
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Old 17-05-2024, 03:34   #12
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
Having it installed a certain way matters only if: you're a slave to insurance and they require some standard, or: you want to sell the boat to someone who cares and can't be bothered to alter the installation.
I'd do everything you said except for a pressure gauge and solenoid. On my boat the gas goes from a vented outide locker, through one hose with a pressure regulator at the tank to a gas-rated shutoff valve in the galley, and from there to the stove. All the line rubber propane-rated hose, whatever diameter the stove (and the fitting for the bottle, coincidentally) wanted.
While the ABYC would get their knickers in a bunch about an inside shutoff valve, it is the standard installation in the EU.
Standard installation in the EU is a solenoid at the tank which is switched off whenever not using the gas.

Otherwise you've got pressurized gas in the interior of the boat 24/7 rather than merely at the times when you are using gas. To each his own, of course, but I would, personally, never, ever do it like that.

Pressure gauge is rare in the EU, and I don't have one, but it's a very good thing to have and I will be installing one next time I mess with my gas system.
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Cushion me soft . . . . rock me in billowy drowse,
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Old 17-05-2024, 03:36   #13
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by coopec43 View Post
"While the ABYC would get their knickers in a bunch about an inside shutoff valve, it is the standard installation in the EU"

Well what are you supposed to do? I'll have an inside shut off valve too as I wouldn't relish going out at night (or in a storm) to shut off the valve at the locker.

That's why God made solenoids.
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Old 17-05-2024, 04:20   #14
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
That's why God made solenoids.

Didn't think of that (That's why I'll leave it to the experts)

Just came across this article which should bring me up-to-date.


NOTE After looking at the linked article I am definitely leaving it to the experts.



Safe Boat Propane Installations

The advice comes from a firm of Marine Surveyors

Please click on the following link


Safe Boat Propane System Installation
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Old 17-05-2024, 04:24   #15
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Re: Propane for Dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Standard installation in the EU is a solenoid [valve] at the tank which is switched off whenever not using the gas...
Presumably, with the control switch, located inside the galley, but not too near the stove.
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