Best Location For A Smoke Detector In A Two-Story House RV Propane Savvy

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RV Propane Savvy

LP gas is a camper’s best friend. It gives us warmth on cold days, hot water for showers, cold food in the fridge and the ability to cook on the road just like when you’re at home. It’s there when we need it, instantly providing us with all the amenities and creature comforts we’re used to. We don’t even really think about it, it’s granted that when you push that button, almost like magic it responds to your demands.

But what is LP gas? Should we fear it, or just take it for granted? Liquid propane, commonly known as LP gas, gets its name because it is stored in a liquid state. When LP gas is produced it is compressed and stored under pressure, causing it to liquefy. When the pressure is released, the liquid turns back into vapor. LP gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. A smell is added to it during manufacture to help you detect a leak. If you’re not familiar with the smell of LP gas, ask the attendant the next time you visit an eligible fill station to smell it. Most people describe the smell as something like rotten eggs or garlic.

We’ll get back to more features of LP gas in a minute, but let’s address the second question first. Should you fear it? You should respect LP gas, because all gases have dangerous properties. If you check for gas leaks using an open flame, you are definitely in danger. I guess what I’m trying to say is that LP gas is the safest of all petroleum products if handled properly. Many times, when an accident involving LP gas occurs it is due to negligence or improper handling.

LP gas is portable, safe when handled properly, and very efficient, so it makes sense that it’s only used in RVs. I mentioned a while ago that LP gas is compressed into liquid form and stored in containers. Vessels are manufactured under very strict codes due to the amount of stress involved. There are two basic types of bodies, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). DOT containers, commonly called cylinders, are the upright type you see in pop ups, travel trailers, or your BBQ grill. ASME cylinders are referred to as tanks and are mounted horizontally like the type you would see in a motor home.

Regardless of type, all LP gas containers are filled to 80 percent of capacity when the temperature around the container rises. LP gas cylinders are equipped with overfill protection devices or OPD valves to prevent overfilling.

LP gas can be measured by weight or gallons. You may have heard someone say their travel trailer gas cylinders are 30 pound cylinders, or they may say their cylinders hold 7 gallons. One gallon of LP gas weighs 4.26 pounds. The typical BBQ grill uses a 20 pound cylinder, so it will hold 3.75 gallons of LP gas when 80 percent full.

When you open the valve on the gas cylinder, the liquid gas turns into vapor and goes into a two-stage regulator. In the first stage the pressure coming out of the cylinder drops significantly to near the proper combustion range for LP gas appliances. The second stage reduces this to the required 11 inches of water column required to operate the machinery properly.

Inside the RV is an LP gas leak detector that will set off an alarm to alert you if there is a gas leak. It is usually located near the floor level because LP gas is heavier than air and will settle on the floor. If you ever smell LP gas while camping, or if the LP gas leak detector goes off, there may be a leak somewhere in your system. If this happens, you should:

*Extinguish any open flames, pilot lights and do not smoke or touch electrical switches.

*Evacuate the RV and close the main gas supply valve.

Leave the door open and do not return to the area until the smell clears.

* Have the system checked out by a qualified technician before using it again.

* Hair spray, perfume, cleaning solvents and low battery voltage can cause false alarms.

Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the dos and don’ts related to LP gas.

*Remember to turn on the main gas supply when you are ready to use the gas appliance.

*Check the system at least once a year if you suspect a leak, disrupting the gas system or otherwise.

*Take proper steps to transport, store and use LP gas cylinders safely.

*Review all warnings and cautions regarding LP gas systems and appliances in your owner’s manual.

*Do not use an open flame to check for leaks.

*Do not use a range burner or oven as a heat source; It does not flow outside and the depleted oxygen can cause suffocation.

*Do not go to a gas station to refuel unless you extinguish any open flames and pilot lights and turn off the LP gas appliance.

*Do not transport LP gas cylinders inside any vehicle.

*Don’t fear LP gas, but respect it and handle it properly.

Happy camping!

Copyright 2006 Mark J. Polk, owner of RV Education 101

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