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Post Info TOPIC: Dual Propane Tanks and Valving System


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Dual Propane Tanks and Valving System


Our 5th wheeler has two #30 propane bottles, one on either side of the unit. I believe each will hold 7 gallons of LP and they are connected together with a bidirectional regulator.


When we did our predelivery inspection walkthrough, our guide said that we should keep one bottle's main valve open and draw from that one first, and have the other bottle's main valve closed, and only draw from the second bottle when the first one is empty. That way I'll always have a full bottle available.


Now, I thought the point of the dual regulator was that when one bottle emptied, that it automatically drew from the other full bottle. Doesn't having the second bottle's valve closed negate the purpose of that regulator valve? When running the fridge and hot water heater off propane (we're testing those systems right now) ... how will I know when the first tank is empty and I have to open the valve to the second bottle? The fridge and water heater will just stop running, right? Yes, there is a "green-to-red" flag on the regulator valve but, I'd have to constantly check that to see if the first bottle is empty before manually switching over to the second bottle.

I'm confused. Should I take the dealer's advice and have one bottle's main valve open with the other bottle main valve closed? Or, should I use the regulator system and just keep an eye on things. I know there is no real propane gauges available to help me out with this.

I'd like feedback on other people's experiences and methods.

Paul



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Paul and Jo
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You should leave both tanks “on” or open.  Your correct IMO assuming you have the standard “$45.00” automatic regulator which it appears you do.

As you thought, when the first tank runs out it does indeed change to the second tank automatically.  There is usually an indicator as you have – it changes from green to red or has a red flag on some of the older ones.  This requires the other full tank to be on.

When the red comes up, you change over manually with the lever and take the empty tank for refill.

You can actually “test” this by turning off the “on-line” tank with the hand valve (the one that’s been selected by the manual change over lever) and watch the red flag come up.  You then use the manual change over to select the tank that has the gas turned on and watch the red flag either change to green or go away.  This does require some gas to be flowing.  The range or heater operating will make this test complete much faster.

When I purchased my current rig about 4 years ago, the dealer told me the same incorrect thing about how these work and what should be "open" and when.  Having been in RV’ing for 30 years I just smiled knowing better.  So do you.  Leave 'em both open, that way you never run out and also get all of the gas from each bottle. 

Hope this helps.

Save travels

Bill



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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2012 Chevy 3500HD Duramax-Allison \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



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Paul you are correct---Bill's info is right on, the key as he so aptly put it is the manual change over lever.  You can always tell which tank is (or was) the primary tank when the lever is pointing to it and a green indicator is shown all is good when that indicator turns red that tank is now empty and the lever should be flipped over to the next tank (which thens becomes the primary tank) the empty one can be taken off and re-filled. The regulator will use the secondary tank when the primary tank is empty.  Just keep an eye on the tanks when one goes empty simply flip the indicator over. My brother in law was told by the dealer what you were, one night he had to get up in the middle of the night to a cold trailer and had to run outside and manually open the other valve.  I think he was finally convinced it is not necessary if you use the regulator properly.
   
Flyone


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If it a Marshall Brass automatic change over regulator they also make a remote indicator that can be added to the change over indicator. It clips onto the valve indicator. When the valve indicator changes to red, a very bright yellow LED will flash on the remote panel until you manually switch over the valve. It takes 2 AA batteries to run and comes with about 20' of wire so you can mount it just about anywhere you want. It is very easy to mount. We have this on our 2nd unit and would not be without it! I mounted ours inside, beside the indicator panel for the water and holding tanks. Cost less than $30 (three years ago). smile

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RickandJanice wrote:

If it a Marshall Brass automatic change over regulator they also make a remote indicator that can be added to the change over indicator. It clips onto the valve indicator. When the valve indicator changes to red, a very bright yellow LED will flash on the remote panel until you manually switch over the valve. It takes 2 AA batteries to run and comes with about 20' of wire so you can mount it just about anywhere you want. It is very easy to mount. We have this on our 2nd unit and would not be without it! I mounted ours inside, beside the indicator panel for the water and holding tanks. Cost less than $30 (three years ago). smile


Thanks Rick and Janiced but, I have a Fairview Automatic Changeover Regulator so,  the system you are talking about probably won't work for me.

Paul

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Paul and Jo
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2011 Keystone Montana 3455SA 5th Wheeler / 2010 Ford F-350 Crew Cab Lariat 4X2 SWB
Our geocaching name at 
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Paul,

If you like the salesman, you should give him a call and point out his error. He sure isn't helping his rep with bad info like that.

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Fred Wishnie

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“If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”


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Luvglass wrote:

Paul,

If you like the salesman, you should give him a call and point out his error. He sure isn't helping his rep with bad info like that.


We have since found out that he worked for the Camping World store attached to the Camping World RV sales place. In many comments that we have already given back to the RV sales place, I don't think they'd ask him to be a walk-through inspector again or, not without a lot of additional training. We knew more than he did!

Paul

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2011 Keystone Montana 3455SA 5th Wheeler / 2010 Ford F-350 Crew Cab Lariat 4X2 SWB
Our geocaching name at 
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Just for the heck of it, I'll play devil's advocate.  The advice given by your walkthrough person does defeat the purpose of the automatic changeover regulator.  However, I won't go quite so far to say that his advice was completely wrong.

There are many RVers that use the system just as he described.  We've done it both ways - leaving one cyclinder closed and leaving both open.

With the automatic changeover, many people are not diligent about checking their propane levels or they simply forget to monitor it.  By having one tank turned off, if their propane-based appliances stop working due to lack of propane, they at least have another cylinder to run on and they have lots of time to get the other one filled.  Having to get up in the middle of the night to turn a cylinder on is a heck of a lot better than getting up in the middle of the night to find you have no propane at all with no way to get it.  smile

Just another perspective.  If you tend to be oblivious or forgetful (like me), keeping one tank closed isn't such a bad idea.  But if you lean more toward obsessive compulsive (like Linda) and are diligent about checking, keeping both tanks open is the better way to go.  biggrin

Now, one risk to leaving one propane tank closed and then turning it on when the furnace or stove quits is this.  You may find that turning on the full propane tank while those appliances are "on" does nothing.  If you find yourself not getting a propane flow when you know you have a full cylinder, make sure you have all propane appliances turned off and leave them off for a few minutes before turning on the cylinder.

Click on this link to my "Propane Lessons" Journal entry to find out the technical reasons why that might happen.  That entry gives some details and photos of what the heck we are talking about here as well.  smile 



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Yup, closing one tank to hold in reserve is just like having a manual thermostat on the AC or furnace. When you get hot, get up, go to the AC thermostat and start the AC. Then, when you get cool, turn it off.

Makes no sense to me to have an auto system and run it in manual.

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One of the nice things about our Fuzion is that we have the dual propane tanks with the auto change over. AND a spare tank located in it's own storage space on the side. I was cooking dinner last week when I noticed the flame on the stove was getting lower and lower. Sure enough, went out and checked the tanks and they were both empty. Pulled both those tanks, grabbed the extra tank, hooked it up and finished dinner. Took all the empty tanks to be filled and put them back in place the next day. Should be good for another year or so...

We also always travel with a spare propane tank for the grill.  Guess I've learned my lesson by running out of propane more than once while cooking dinner!

-- Edited by Ckerr on Saturday 25th of September 2010 09:02:29 AM

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I have an update to this thread with my Fairview Automatic Changeover Regulator.

This afternoon I knew (or thought) my offside tank was empty since the regulator said RED, so I switched to the curbside tank. It also said RED. It blew my mind since I'd filled both tanks with about 6 or 7 gallons each just about a week ago.

Up until today, we seemed to be having a constant gas supply but, now I'm doubting that. Tried the furnace and it kept on cutting in and out so, went to our camp propane filling station and tried to get both tanks refilled.

The offside tank took 4.4 gallons and the curbside tank took nothing! If both were empty it should have been 14 gallons.

What the heck!

After several tries, I and others decided that both my tanks had to be full because they just would not take anything from the pump, even after venting via the side screw. Even though one of them definitely felt lighter than the other, we reattached them both to the RV. Not sure why one was lighter but ... it was.

The changeover regulator seemed to indicate that both were still empty so, flushed the lines several times using the changeover valve, the furnace, and the stove. Tried several more times over the next few hours but that darn regulator would not get off RED. However, it flipped to GREEN occassionally, then flipped back to RED when I put the furnace on. Seems like it will only let a small amount of gas through to the rig, from either bottle.

What should I do? Replace the regulator? Replace the connect tubes with the screw connectors that I heard from somewhere else already have regulators built in? Have an expert inspect the system? Is there any quick way I can check? Seems like the whole propane feed system is just messed up.

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Paul and Jo
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http://mlordandmlady.blogspot.com/
2011 Keystone Montana 3455SA 5th Wheeler / 2010 Ford F-350 Crew Cab Lariat 4X2 SWB
Our geocaching name at 
http://www.geocaching.com/ is M'Lord and m'lady


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I would try calling the manufacturer and if they can't help, I'd get a certified tech to look at it.

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Fred Wishnie

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“If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”


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I suggest reading the "propane lessons" link that Howard put in his post. It's possible that you are opening the valve too quickly and engaging the flow limiting device.

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Ditto's on what Dan said.Ask me how I know.wink All I had to do on mine was shut it off then open it SLOWLEY.

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