Propane troubleshooting help

Discussion in 'Propane - Got Gas' started by TDS-MN, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. TDS-MN

    TDS-MN Active Member

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    Hey All,

    I found that I am having an issue with the propane system which I cannot figure out, partly due to a lack of familiarity/knowledge with propane in general. Hoping that someone else can share some insight/ideas.

    On my Jayco, I have a single tank. The propane powers only the stove in our pup., which has lines run to the counter inside the door, and to a port on the exterior. I purchased an inline gauge to try and monitor propane level in the tank.

    Have run the stove successfully with that setup, the gauge direct connected to the tank, and the line to the regulator into the output side of the gauge. When the valve is closed, the gauge reads empty, but will move the needle when opened.

    Recently, I started having trouble getting the stove to light. We used the pup in May, and the stove was fine. I got my propane tank refilled for July, reconnected everything, and found that I could not get the stove to light afterwards. I think that I could hear a slight hissing when I opened the burner at the stove, but a match would not ignite it. Gauge read that there was plenty of gas in the tank.

    Originally thought that maybe I was having a regulator problem. But I was camping again last weekend and had some time to troubleshoot a little bit, after it would not ignite Saturday AM. Decided to just try removing the gauge and put the regulator line direct into the tank. And found that this allowed me to get the stove to light with a match.

    So my gauge would react to the opening of the tank valve. And I do THINK that there was gas getting thru, based on what I was hearing at the stove, but it would not light. But when I removed the gauge entirely, I was defionitely getting gas to the stove, and it ignited and ran as intended again.

    Any idea why, first that it would have worked a few times with the gauge in place. and secondly, why it might have stopped working with that in place?

    I really would like some sort of method to track the status on my propane tank, it does not get used all that often, and trying to remember when I last refilled or whatever seems difficult. The gauge seemed like it was a great solution for a year, and now I find myself back to square one.

    Anyone with similar experience? I would be interested to hear any possible solutions or alternative methods to track tank status, if you have them.
    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I have a dual tank setup on mine. However - if just running a stove and nothing else your tank will easily last a season, if not longer. These low pressure stoves are pretty thrifty on fuel, at least that has been my experience. There are some hand held scales you can get - just hook onto the tank and lift it up, and it will tell you the approx amount of weight left in the tank.

    Could be that there is an obstruction in the valve, or it is not seating right with the camper connection. They can be finicky some times. The camper regulator is expecting unregulated flow in order to knock it down to low pressure. If there is a restriction or partial connection then it may not be enough to trigger the regulator, resulting in minimal flow.

    I had a gauge on one of my BBQ tanks for years, but last season I had to ditch it and get a new one, as it wasn't getting good flow to the burners. I haven't tried placing one on the camper since I have the two tanks.

    There are some magnetic gauges that work off temp changes as the propane is consumed. I think the reviews are so so on them, but it might be another option.
     
  3. ScoobyDoo

    ScoobyDoo New Member

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    The gauge might restrict flow.
    Most gauges that hook in line are pressure gauges, and made to sell, not use. The pressure in the tank does not drop until near MT. A scale will tell you exactly how much is in the tank, but how useful is that? Do you know how many ounces it takes to cook your meal?
    A can of beer, pick it up, give it a gentle shake. Need another? A 5 gallon bucket. Pick it up, little shake. Have a idea how much is in it? Now what is the magic of propane?
    You got a gas grill on the deck? Every spring, first time need gas for the grill I take tank off camper, put it on grill, put full one on the camper. Never run out on camper...YMMV
     
  4. TDS-MN

    TDS-MN Active Member

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    The thing is, the tank on the pup is bolted down to the frame, not a practical way to lift and weigh. I could change over to some sort of quick-release hardware, something easier than the nuts and bolts used now.

    I have used (or tried I should say) one of the stick-on magnet 'gauges'. I must not be smart enough for that however, I could not tell anything from looking at it.

    I've got 3 tanks, between the grill, the camper and the propane heater. Camper gets a full one much less frequently than either of the other two. That is where I have struggled to stay on top of usage. Although I have not ever run out yet either, maybe I'll just run without a gauge, and not worry about it. Rotate the tanks in the spring and know I start the season with a full one, and unlikely to ever use it all up in a summer.

    Thanks for the thoughts/ideas!
     
  5. ezakoske

    ezakoske Active Member

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  6. flingwing1969

    flingwing1969 Active Member

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    Or this. http://tweetys.com/accu-level-tank-gauge-magnetic.aspx?gclid=Cj0KEQjwx96-BRDyzY3GqcqZgcgBEiQANHd-ngTvdk5h1TyXI-4DWP1iUES5AMHdIRpF_Q_O_P3iLRsaAtvg8P8HAQ

    Regarding the inability to light your stove. You might be opening the valve too quickly. The "new" low flow regulators are designed to choke off gas flow if a leak is detected. The sudden increase in gas flow is what the regulator senses. By quickly opening the valve, you sometimes trick the regulator into thinking there is a leak and it substantially reduces flow - to the point where you might not be able to light the gas or to the point where it is producing very little heat.

    The trick is to slowly open the valve when you start.

    If you have opened the valve too quickly and you can't light the stove, or you have an weak flame regardless of how high you turn your valve, you need to reset the regulator. Do this by closing all the stove's valves, then shut the tank's valve, then disconnect the regulator from the tank, wait 20 seconds or so and reconnect the regulator to the tank and SLOWLY open the valve, only then open the stove's valve and light the burner.
     
  7. EricB

    EricB New Member

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    Thanks for not being the only one with questions of how this all goes.
    So, here's what I'm seeing on my side. I just got the pup a few months back, 1st trip out with kids is planned for next weekend, however we've done a few driveway campouts to let them enjoy. I have 2 tanks with 1 connection to current regulator. I purchased an inline tank gauge and have been using it. The issue I'm seeing is that I'll set up and turn gas on, show an almost full tank in afternoon/evening, then by morning show almost empty or empty on gauge from running heater only at night. On 2nd day gauge comes back up to green.........as outside temp increases. Not sure what the deal is with the gauge reading like it does when it gets colder out...... I'm definitely looking at the auto change over dual regulator setup for install before next season though. (without a inline gauge)
     
  8. flingwing1969

    flingwing1969 Active Member

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    I've found the inline gauges to be inaccurate during use. They give a fair representation of the contents at startup but otherwise, they are not very dependable. If you run hot water down the propane tank's side, and thereafter feel along the tank's skin you will feel the point at which the liquid propane is - where it turns noticeably colder. That is very accurate. Test your tank when it's full - 5 gal (usually) and then you will know where you stand when you test it later. You can mark your tank with a Sharpie "full", "half", "quarter", and "change", if you like.
     
  9. EricB

    EricB New Member

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    Thanks for the tip. Funny part is kids and I slept in camper last night, gauge indicated almost empty at 6 this morning when it was 40 outside, and now it shows almost full.....it's not accurate at all.
     
  10. flingwing1969

    flingwing1969 Active Member

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    I believe they measure gas pressure, they certainly cannot measure fluid level. If you have a leak in your system or if you are using it they will read differently moment to moment. If you close your valve too, a bit of pressure will drain off as it sits and it will read low. Temp in a static state will also be an issue because of expansion and contraction of the liquid and gas - expansion is why they never fill a propane tank/bottle more than about 80%.
     
  11. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

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    Ditto on opening the propane tank valve slowly, I have the level indicator that I added on mine and do not have any issues.
     
  12. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    If you are concerned about running out, why not get a 5-pound tank as a backup and just keep it stored in a compartment while towing, and under the tongue when camping. That way if the 20# tank runs out you've got enough in your backup tank to last a week.

    https://amzn.com/B000SKX63U

    This one is 10 pounds empty, and almost 15 full. It would provide about 720 hours of single-burner cooking, or 360 of dual-burner cooking. A little expensive for a small tank, but I might just pick one up myself to haul down to the camp table so we can cook on an outdoor stove without using so many disposable tanks. It would also work well with my Mr Heater Buddy, which we bring along as a backup in case our furnace fails.

    Seems like a great backup plan.
     
  13. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    This is what I have always done. Foolproof, unlike the gauges and side stickers.

    My new-to-me PUP has a gauge on it, but it's coming off, along with the single stage regulator he has on there. [?:~{] And he was carrying the second tank in the storage. I'll be moving that back to the hitch and making the appropriate connections, with the proper equipment.
     
  14. ScoobyDoo

    ScoobyDoo New Member

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    The problem with inline gauges? They measure pressure, not volume. The pressure will vary more with outside temperature than the volume of liquid in tank.
    The problem with stick-on gauges? They work on the change of tank temperature, at the line between liquid and gas. A fast change in the temperature of the tank, you can find the line, sometimes, because the liquid will heat slower than the gas. If you are using gas at a high rate, compared to the volume of the tank, the "boiling" of the liquid will show a line where the gas is cooler than liquid. But most RVs do not use gas at a rate fast enough to show a line. The slow rate of use means that for most campers one 20 lb tank will last for many trips.

    Carrying, or even storing the tank in a closed compartment is not smart, (and in your SUV with yourself and family is stupid), before you spend the money to hook up the 2 tanks, mount both, but hook up and turn on 1. Write the date, on the tank. Record the dates of all trips, and the weather for trips. (Furnace is the biggest user of propane) Bet you will find that for most trips that nearly 40 lbs on the tongue could be better used. Of course, it's your ship, and your money, do what you want...
     

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