RV Propane Safety

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by DR Dave, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. DR Dave

    DR Dave
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    I keep hearing of people traveling with their propane on and their appliances running. This is NOT smart. In fact it is really dangerous. Their have been people that have blown themselves up by pulling into a gas station to refuel only to blow themselves sky high because they had their RV refrigerator running on propane. As soon as those gas fumes found that open flame. Boom!

    If you are going on a camping trip get your food cold by using your house refrigerator the night before. At the same time turn your Absorption refrigerator on to get it cold. Then on the day you leave for your trip, just throw your already cold food in the already cold refrigerator and shut the door. You can travel for hours and your food will stay cold with the refrigerator off, until you get to your camp sit. If you must keep your refrigerator on use the power from your Generator or from your 12v inverter.

    Also NEVER, NEVER travel with your propane DOT tanks on their sides unless they are designed to do so. This is another accident waiting to happen.

    Hope this keeps someone out their safe. Happy Camping.

     
  2. NYDutch

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    I agree with your second and third paragraphs, but please provide some links to support the first paragraph. Every time I've researched the issue, the only mentions of LP explosions while refueling have been anecdotal stories with no facts to back them up. I am aware of one refueling fire, not an explosion, that occurred many years ago when someone accidentally sprayed gasoline from the pump nozzle into a conversion van's operating water heater grill, but little else. And no one was hurt in that one. Gasoline fumes are heavier than air and quickly settle. Wind blown fumes are typically too diluted with air to ignite. It's still a good practice to make sure your LP appliances are turned off when refueling of course as recommended by the manufacturers, but the risk of a disaster is statistically extremely low. Consider that the catalytic converter that's under most gas powered vehicles runs at a temperature well above the ignition point of gasoline.
     
  3. mdcamping

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    I agree with NYDutch, one thing I must point out is any appliance mfg is subject to some level of design standards/regulatory standards. Is this system perfect, certainly not as we all could point out many exceptions where a particular design was flawed and lead to tragedy.

    As far as general safety, I agree it would be best if we all traveled going from A to B with the propane off... the food will keep , that said I keep my propane on.

    Mike
     
  4. docj

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    With all due respect, this topic has been discussed ad nauseum on the larger RV forums. The "design authority" for RVs is the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). RVIA's position on this topic is that RVs are designed to have their refrigerators in use on LP while in travel mode.

    The following is an email from RVIA that was posted in a similar thread on another forum several years ago:

    From: RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association)
    Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 12:00 PM
    Subject: FW: Recreational Vehicle Propane Usage while In-Transit

    Dear Mr. Tryon

    Propane use while going down the highway is not a direct safety issue, in our opinion.

    The only evidence we have on this topic involves tunnels. We have been aware that several tunnels had prohibitions for propane being on when the RV unit went through the tunnel. The issue was always reported that propane is heavier than air and if there were leaks, propane would gather in the bottom of the tunnel (particularly tunnels under bodies of water where both openings are higher than the center of the tunnel). About 5 years ago or so, the Maryland Transit Authority called RVIA, as they were seeking information to change regulations they had in place regarding a propane prohibition at their bay tunnel in Baltimore. We discussed the regulations, the safety problem potentials, and their proposed actions. In the end, Maryland allowed up to 100 pounds of propane thought the tunnel. Their rationale was the tunnel is big, which would allow propane and air to mix quickly beyond an explosive mixture and there had never been documented propane issues. Maryland has since eliminated all their propane restrictions, except for the 100 pound maximum limitation.

    We would agree with Maryland there is not a safety issue with propane being used as the RV travels down the highway. Hope this helps.


    Bruce


    IMHO it doesn't do anyone and good to dredge up unjustified fears about RVing. There are plenty of real issues to concern oneself with that RV owners don't need to worry about imaginary ones.

    For example, with respect to RV refrigerators the very fact that, on their own, they represent a fire risk of unknown degree strikes me as more important than the imagined risk of fire while traveling. Six months ago I had the opportunity to witness a Norcold fridge, on which the safety recall had been performed, burn and "total" a 5er while it was simply running while plugged into shore power. That made us feel real good about having replaced our fridge with a residential one.

    Joel (AKA docj)
     
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  5. BankShot

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    The day we picked up our coach two guys went thru everything with us to help bring us up to speed on the "do's and don't's" of the RV lifestyle. One thing that was discussed was the issue of whether it was considered safe to run down the road with fridge on and running on LP. Both of them said it was safe to do but it would be a good idea when gassing up to turn off the fridge and the propane valve just to be on the safe side. I have tried to follow that advice but have slipped a few times along the way at fueling stations and so far so good, no BOOM as yet thankfully. I always side with caution when it comes to LP, natural gas or any other flammable liquid or substance. Better to be safe than sorry IMHO. Running down the road with the fridge on doesn't "bither me a bot" but if it does come out, with backup proof, that it is a dangerous thing to do, then by all means the fridge will be off while tooling down the road.....

    Safe travels everyone, BankShot..............(aka Terry)
     
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  6. Texasrvers

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    I agree that food will stay cold in the fridge for several hours, but the frozen food will start to get a little soft especially if we are in hot weather or have had a long drive, so we like to keep the fridge on. We aren't worried about running our fridge on propane while traveling, but most of the time we use the generator. The reason is because our cab air does not cool the coach in very not weather so we turn on the generator to run the roof air, and if the generator has to be on for the roof air, why not just go ahead and turn on the fridge also.
     
  7. Ghettomedic

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    I have researched this subject as well and cannot find any stories where anyone went boom due to running their fridge on propane going down the road. Why do you want to try and scare people without anything but opinion to back it up?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. DR Dave

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    Of course people can do whatever they want. I am not saying that driving down the road is dangerous. It's all the little stops and unforeseen events (like accidents) that can happen that can turn a bad situation into a nightmare. I was just stating that I thought it was dangerous, because of that. Just because you have not been blown up does not mean it can't happen, it means you have been lucky. I have heard of stories that have been told to me that where supposed to be true. They did not show me the documentation of the supposed facts or stories. But doing a little research has caused me to find that they do in fact happen. I did not save the stories in the past that I had read, feeling I would never be called on to prove them. For that I am sorry. But searching online today we can find them. I know that propane is hard to get to explode, you need a 2.15%-9.6% ratio of propane to air mixture for combustion. But why push chance? I had a couple that where traveling with their RV and behind their hind wheel under their slide out, the cable that held up their electric wires and propane hose broke loose and got ripped up in the tires as they were going down the road. The wires were bouncing against the chassis throwing sparks. It ripped their propane hose in half. They told me that they were so thankfull that they had their propane off. I don't know if anything would have happened. Probably not. But then again we don't really know.



    Here is what amerigas says about RV safety.
    On the Road
    Most RV refrigerators can keep food/beverages cold during several hours of travel without a power source. It is recommended that propane systems be turned off while driving. Other safety tips while traveling:

    • Shut off propane supply valves, pilot lights, ignitors, and appliances, and have everybody exit the vehicle during refueling.
    • Do not use range burners for heat, or any appliances for means other than their intended use.
    • Extinguish all smoking materials any time you are near tanks, filling stations, or other equipment where gasoline or propane may be present.
    • Turn off propane supply valves before entering tunnels or enclosed areas. Be sure to follow any postings around restricted areas, such as military bases.
    - See more at: https://www.amerigas.com/amerigas-blog/2011/july/rv-propane-safety#sthash.KG84fUzD.dpuf

    Here is an Article Also: http://www.houmatoday.com/news/20100325/gas-station-fire-destroys-indiana-couples-rv


    So in summation, just be careful.
     
  9. docj

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    With all due respect your most recent post mixes apples and oranges. I don't think anyone here is advocating leaving a propane appliance on while refueling a vehicle. That is basic RV propane safety. Yet the article you link to at the end of your post is about an accident that occurred when couple failed to do that with their RV which has nothing to do with the risks of operating the fridge while driving.

    Furthermore, I have also done extensive online research on this topic and have found no evidence of an actual incident having occurred with an RV fridge that wasn't also associated with either failure to turn it off while refueling or with a fire caused by failure of the RV fridge "system". As I noted in my previous post, RV fires are unfortunately not uncommon but those can occur while the fridge is on either propane or electric power and have nothing to do with the "safety while traveling" issue. If you can find an example of a fire or explosion due to operation of a fridge on propane while traveling I would definitely be interested in reading it.

    I think the best way to handle a controversial subject such as this is to evaluate the advantages of both approaches along with the associated risks. The following link is to such an analysis prepared by AIS one of the largest RV insurance brokerages in the country. Note that even though AIS as as insurance agency could reduce its risks by simply stating "don't run your propane fridge while traveling," that's not the approach it has taken. Instead, it evaluates both positions and leaves it up to the individual RVer to make the decision appropriate for him or her.
    https://www.aisinsurance.com/products/recreational-vehicle/rv-articles/traveling-with-propane.aspx

    Life is full of risks and everyone has to evaluate how risk-averse he chooses to make his life. My wife and I had RVs with propane fridges for nearly two decades before finally changing to a residential one. Some could be run electrically while traveling, most of the ones we had could not. The smaller fridges found in many trailers don't stay cold well if they're not being actively kept cold by operating while traveling. Our vacations were made a lot more pleasant by being able to operate the fridge while underway. We evaluated the issue and decided that the benefit outweighed the risks. Each person should make their own decisions.
     
  10. John S.

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    Been traveling for almost 20 years with the propane on. As long as your system is in good shape there is no issue. Also some tanks are designed to lay flat as well.
     
  11. NYDutch

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    As Joel mentioned, the gas station incident linked at the end of Dave's post was caused by an individual not following the most basic safety rule of no open flames regardless of the source. That's actually the incident I referenced in my previous post, although my failing memory incorrectly recalled it as the water heater that that gas was sprayed into rather than the fridge. I stand corrected on that point.

    "Binder, 73, said the blaze started as he prepared to fill up the Roadtrek recreational vehicle and the nozzle spewed gasoline, igniting when it came into contact with a pilot light on the RV."

    "The (pilot) light is accessible through a vent on the RV and connected to a propane tank that powers a refrigerator, he said."

    I find it interesting how concerned we tend to get about an LP system operating at about 0.5 PSI, but not about going down the road with gasoline pressurized at around 40-50 PSI. Like Joel, we've converted to a residential fridge as well, eliminating one LP using appliance, although fire safety was not a big part of our decision to do so. We don't hesitate to travel with one or both LP furnaces operating in cold weather though. Turning them off while refueling of course, although they're both on the opposite side of the coach from the fuel filler, so the risk even then would be minimal.
     
  12. franklyn4

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    I also run mine while traveling, but I think it is a good idea to shut it off while fueling your propane tank.
     
  13. Fitzjohnfan

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    I leave my propane and pilots running while fueling, but with one caveat. My fuel filler is at the rear of the coach below the license plate, so very far from any open flames.
    My previous coach had a fuel fill on the side, so I turned off the pilot for the appliances on that side of the unit.

    Chris G.
     
  14. Rollin Ollens

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    For the little extra time it takes, we shut everything down when we refuel or fill the propane (under slung tank on the coach). We don't start anything up until after we have left the station. After that, everything stays on. We have often used the oven to heat a casserole while traveling.

    Darrell
     
  15. BankShot

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    Just curious, you say you have an "under slung" propane tank on you coach. Your avatar shows a Class A so wouldn't the tank be inside one of the storage bays as in most Class A coaches? Surely it isn't hanging down underneath the frame as I take under slung to mean............. :eek: We haven't tried baking a casserole whilst tooling on down the road but that's probably because we don't got no oven in our coach............:oops:

    All the best, BankShot..............(aka Terry)
     
  16. Rollin Ollens

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    Hey Terry; Our tank is behind a bay door. My description may have been a bit misleading. What I meant was that it is permanently attached. We do not have the capability of removing the tank for filling. Thus, just like filling our gasoline tank, when we fill propane, we shut everything down.

    No oven??? For us, a full galley was an important feature when we bought. We use our oven quite a bit.

    Darrell
     
  17. Texasrvers

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    Our class A does not have a propane oven either. It has a microwave/convection oven, but we have never used the convection feature, just the microwave. It also has a 3 burner stove top, but we rarely use it either. We have a toaster oven and an electric skillet, and if we can't cook something with the either of those or the microwave, then we don't need to eat it. We also eat out a lot or get take home.
     
  18. BankShot

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    I did forget to mention that we also have a micro/convection oven plus a George Foreman grill and an outdoor propane grill so being without an actual oven hasn't presented any problems for us. We use the convection oven if we want to serve up a frozen pizza or some other stuff that takes an oven to prepare it in, etc, and it works great for that. Not having an oven gives us a couple more storage bins which we can never seem to have enough of. Next fridge we get however will be larger commercial style as we could use a tad more room in that dept..................

    BankShot...............(aka Terry)
     
  19. docj

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    I think the question of what cooking capability is needed in an RV is largely driven by whether or not you're talking to a full timer or a weekend/vacation RVer. It's quite reasonable for short-term RVers to take the position that they don't cook all that much in the RV and go out for a lot of their meals.

    That really doesn't work for most full-timer RVers I know. It would be too expensive to go out that much and, frankly, I couldn't tolerate having to go to restaurants for a lot of my meals.

    We have a rather large kitchen in our MH by RV standards and it supports a microwave/convection oven, a Breville convection countertop oven that also broils and toasts, a residential-quality 2-burner LP cooktop which we hardly use, an 1800W induction burner, and an Instant Pot pressure cooker which doubles as a slow cooker. From our perspective, an LP oven would be unnecessary; microwave/convection ovens are perfectly fine for most baking and roasting chores.

    I do find amusing how many RVers seem to treat convection ovens as if they are some exotic foreign devices which require special talent or training to use. Having had convection ovens in our homes for the past two decades it's hard for me to consider them exotic or unusual. The bottom line is that they cook just like regular ovens, albeit maybe a bit faster for some recipes.
     
  20. BankShot

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    Hey Joel -
    First time I ever used a convection oven I treated it as tho was a microwave. Put the frozen pizza in and pressed the start button. Forgot that it needed to be heated up to the correct temp prior to putting things in it, etc. That pizza wasn't the best we had ever eaten...... o_O We really like it and as mentioned before the space we saved in the kitchen by not having a regular oven was put to good use...........

    Terry
     

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