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RV Propane

LP Gas: Highly Efficient


In our world today, many RV'ers are becoming self-reliant and have more of a do-it-yourself type of philosophy. However, when it comes to propane gas or LP gas (liquid propane), extreme caution should be exercised.

Although many fuels are available to create energy, LP gas is best suited for use in recreational vehicles due to its portability, efficiency, cleanliness, availability and ease of storage.

Liquefied petroleum gas is a petroleum product separated out of natural gas and crude oil in the refining process. Since it is a flammable product, extreme caution must be observed in its handling. When handled properly, LP gas will provide trouble-free operation of energy-producing appliances.

Propane is odorless and colorless as extracted. It looks and acts just like water, except for its boiling point. The boiling of either liquid produces a steam. The "steam" produced by propane is a colorless, flammable gas. An odorant, usually ethyl mercaptan, is added to propane as a warning agent. This sulfur compound gives the gas its rotten egg or skunk oil odor.

A gallon of propane weighs 4.20 pounds and contains approximately 91.500 BTU's (21.500 BTU's per pound). To determine how long your LP gas supply will last, simply total the BTU demand of all your gas appliances and the BTU capacity of your containers at 80% full. Divide the container BTU capacity by total appliance demand. This method will enable you to calculate usage and avoid shortages.

Here are some basic practices to insure safety and trouble-free use:

  • Never allow your LP gas tank or cylinder to be filled above the maximum safe level, as indicated by the fixed liquid level gauge.
  • Do not use the visible gauge for filling. It is to tell you when to refill.
  • Do not use a wrench or pliers to close the service valve or fixed liquid level gauge on your tank. These valves are designed to be closed leak tight by hand or screwdriver as appropriate. If wrenches are necessary to stop a leak, the valve needs repair or replacement.
  • When using your tank, slowly open the POL service valve all the way. Listen to the regulator for a hiss or hum, which indicates a large leak.
  • Check all tank and line connections periodically to be sure they are tight. When testing for leaks, use soapy water - not matches. Make certain your tank is properly fastened in place.
  • On dual tank installations, turn tanks with open part of tank guards towards trailer (travel trailer installation). This protects valves and regulator against flying rocks and mud which may be thrown to the rear on gravel or dirt roads.
  • If you take your LP gas tank to an LP gas dealer for filling, transport it with the valves closed and a POL plug securely inserted. Secure the tank against falling or rolling. It must be hauled with the relief valve in vapor space if in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Since LP gas tanks are shipped with compressed air to keep moisture out, you need not worry about the inside of your tank. However, the outside should be kept from rusting by a periodic coat of paint in a heat reflective color.
  • Practice safety at all times. If you have questions about the operation of an appliance or LP gas system, contact your dealer.
  • Do not store LP gas tanks or cylinders indoors or in enclosed areas.
  • Do not expose LP gas containers to heat. Always store with service valves closed and plugged. Check containers (fixed liquid level gauge) for proper filling before bringing them into an RV shop.

Do not attempt to repair LP gas containers, valves or regulators unless you have been trained and certified.

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