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View Full Version : How do you know when Propane Tanks are low?


earl9653
02-10-2011, 09:02 AM
Newbie question:
How do you know when the propane tanks are low before it actually runs out? I just took delivery Tuesday of a Flight 22FB, my first TT. The dealer said to only open one tank at a time. Ok, but how do I know when the propane is about to run out for that tank so I don't wake up in the middle of the night freezing?

Thanks

Mopar1973Man
02-10-2011, 09:05 AM
Well like on my Jayco Eagle I got automatic switching tank which have a red/green indicator that tells you when it turns red that the first tank ran dry and should be removed and filled. So you don't have to shut it all down just flip the source lever and pull the tank.

I'll have to get a pic for ya...;)

Tanker42
02-10-2011, 09:12 AM
I picked up a propane gauge at Wally World. It has a nice dial. Tells you when it's time to switch tanks.

Duran1
02-10-2011, 09:39 AM
they say not to do this, but i usually leave both tanks on... and take them to refill every 5 trips or so (they still only need half refill). I'd go with Tanker's suggestion though (i will do the same)

namusmc65
02-10-2011, 09:46 AM
Geez, I thought if you had two tanks they all had the automatic switchover valve any more. You learn something new every day. Here is a link to the Marshall valve on my unit. Maybe it will help. And it does work as we have camped a couple weeks in the mid 20's and switched over a couple times during the cold nights.

http://www.dyersonline.com/marshall-254-automatic-changeover-regulator.html

Crabman
02-10-2011, 01:42 PM
Geez, I thought if you had two tanks they all had the automatic switchover valve any more. You learn something new every day. Here is a link to the Marshall valve on my unit. Maybe it will help. And it does work as we have camped a couple weeks in the mid 20's and switched over a couple times during the cold nights.

http://www.dyersonline.com/marshall-254-automatic-changeover-regulator.html

No, they do not all have the auto changeover feature, as mine does not. It appears the Jayflight line does not have them. I have thought about adding one but do not use that much propane. I only turn one tank on at a time so I always know I have a full tank in reserve. I always use an electric heater so the furnace does not run much. I use the electric hot water heater instead of propane, and only run the frig on propane when towing. And I cook outside quite a bit. That all added up to less then one 30 lb bottle being used last season. Now if you do a lot of boondocking, propane use would of course be considerably more, thus increasing the chance of running out in the middle of the night.


-Lee

Mopar1973Man
02-10-2011, 02:00 PM
For those that have auto change over regulators... This is what it looks like...

http://www.jaycoowners.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=615&stc=1&d=1297367812

Where you open both bottles and select your primary tank like mine is on the left tank as primary. The window shows green because the bottle is still got fuel left.
http://www.jaycoowners.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=616&stc=1&d=1297367812

But when the bottle runs out and switches over to the secondary tank the window turns red and now you can remove your primary bottle and take it to be refilled without shutting down the RV. You can leave the RV running on the second bottle. Just remember to flip the supply valve to the other side...
http://www.jaycoowners.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=617&stc=1&d=1297367812

namusmc65
02-10-2011, 02:26 PM
Hey Moparman, that was a nice demo with good pictures. Should explain that to anyone.

Mopar1973Man
02-10-2011, 02:34 PM
Hey Moparman, that was a nice demo with good pictures. Should explain that to anyone.

Thanks... Fairly easy to do... Just turn off the main tank while you have the stove burner going and the red disc falls for you. So now you know how to test the change over function so you know it works... :D

earl9653
02-10-2011, 02:54 PM
Thanks for the pics Mopar. If I understand how it works: you would open both propane tank valves, point the primary valve to one of the tanks, when it runs out the red indicator shows and the Marshall automatically begins taking propane from the secondary tank. One can then disconnect and remove the empty tank to be filled. The purpose of switching the primary indicator is because the remaining tank is now the primary tank.

So the black lever is just an indicator of primary tank rather than a switch valve?

Mopar1973Man
02-10-2011, 03:54 PM
Its actually a valve too... Hard to explain that the direction it point is biased for that tank till it run out (0 PSI) then flips over to the second.

You should change the black lever over so now that it biased toward the full tank. This (I think) also prevent it from leaking back on that open hose too. (guess)

I've not had a bunch of time to play with everything yet...

(I just found out I got a timer on my microwave! Ohhh... Wow!) :D

clutch
02-10-2011, 04:23 PM
I keep one tank open and the other closed. When I get the red indicator I shut off the open tank and flip the valve, then I open the second tank. Just remember to fill the empty one. There is nothing worse than having both tanks empty.

Bob Landry
02-10-2011, 04:38 PM
You do not have to flip the lever over. The Marshall flips to the full tank. At least mine did. I think the Jayco regulator is also auto switching, but you never know which tank you are running on. If one feels lighter than the other you can disconnect it and take it for a refill. The pigtails that connect the tank to the regulator have check valves in them so you can disconnect when needed.

Also, I'm having to replace a Marshall regulator for leaking. Open a valve and the green indicator on top will show. Close off both tanks. The green indicator stay visible indefiinitly. If you see red, then you have a leak and it's time to start looking. I narrowed mine down to the regulator. No propane leak regardless how small is acceptable.

namusmc65
02-10-2011, 06:03 PM
Hey, I think you got it! I think that is what Mopar Man was explaining. That is how I think mine works also.

Merlinspop
02-12-2011, 06:54 AM
A quick way to check you level is to take a container of really hot water and pour it down the side of the tank. Then feel it with your hand. Where the hot metal turns to cool metal is where the propane level is. A gauge is better, but this will give you a feel for how much you got (pun intended).

Mopar1973Man
02-12-2011, 08:15 AM
Sometimes you'll even get lucky and have a frost mark where the propane level is at...

Or better yet...
http://toolmonger.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/clearproptank.jpg

earl9653
02-12-2011, 04:03 PM
I swapped my OE reg for an automatic changeover reg from Camping World. Easy to do, even used yellow pipe thread tape instead of the white tape Jayco used and checked for leaks with soapy water.

Reminded me of when I was a kid my dad worked for the natural gas company back east. As a 10 year old boy I'd help him run some gas lines for space heaters, BBQ grills, or gas-AC.... after we'd tighten the gas line he'd check the joints for leaks with a match. Occasionally he'd have a little pop of flame that he'd blow out and fix the leak. I did it that way too until I got my first job in industry and learned about soapy water...now you buy it in a spray bottle.

Jim Manley
02-13-2011, 05:30 PM
Okay, so this about the 5th time I've seen this and have to ask.....
My dealer told me, under no circumstances, should I ride with the propane tanks turned on. I asked my DMV, they say you can't (CA anyway). Are people driving their RVs around with the propane on and things, like the fridge, running?
Thanks guys.
Jim

kcconawa
02-13-2011, 05:49 PM
Yes, over hills, through valleys and tunnels.

Mopar1973Man
02-13-2011, 07:02 PM
Wow... I've been driving around with my previous RV's with everything burning... (Water heater, refridgerator, heater, etc)

But I plan on running my refridgerator when I travel...

SmokerBill
02-13-2011, 09:07 PM
Something I do, and I don't know how accurate it is, is to turn on the main stovetop burner while the furnace is running. If the burner flame is weak, I know that the tank's about empty.

It's just an oddball test I came up with, but it gives me some idea of when the tank's about to run out. Then I switch tanks, and refill the emptier on soon as I get around to it.

Bob Landry
02-14-2011, 06:44 AM
Everyone drives with their fridge running.

Crabman
02-14-2011, 07:13 AM
Everyone drives with their fridge running.


I was thinking the same thing. I know I do.

-Lee

namusmc65
02-14-2011, 10:36 AM
I have always driven with the fridge on and never been a problem.

Terry
02-14-2011, 10:40 AM
I have a very unscientific method to do a quick check....I use my hand and tap my my wedding ring against the tank. An empty tank has a much more "echoey" sound...once you do it a few times you will know what I mean. You can also get a pretty good idea of the level by tapping the ring up and down the tank and listen for the change in sound. You can also sometimes feel the tanks and feel the colder level where the liquid starts, especially after the furnace or water heater has been running a while.

namusmc65
02-20-2011, 03:29 PM
I travel with my fridge on all the time.

altar1
02-20-2011, 08:56 PM
I travel with my fridge on all the time.

Unfortunantly, the fridge uses no more propane than a pilot light, so that's not enough draw to cool the tank.

Tom

Seann45
02-22-2011, 04:52 PM
Since I always leave my covers on I only turn on one tank at a time when it runs dry I flip over the valve and then take the empty to the filling station...

llerberg
03-01-2011, 04:40 PM
I've always run with the refrigerator on propane and never had any problem. I'm sure it is illegal in some states and probably in most tunnels. I would guess many people even leave it on while they are refueling, I know I have, but probably shouldn't.