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Old 04-08-2017, 01:23 PM   #1
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Filling and management of LPG tanks

I don't have much RV experience so these may be silly questions but here goes.

I'm pretty sure I'm clear on the operation of the automatic regulator and primary and reserve LPG tanks. The owner's manual on my 2017 25' Flying Cloud is also reasonably straightforward on the procedure for removing and filling an emptied tank. Just to be clear, though, after switching the regulator to the reserve tank and then removing the empty one, is it ok to leave the supply valve on the reserve tank open to keep LPG flowing to the trailer or should it also be shut off while the primary tank is disconnected just to be extra safe?

Also, I'm curious whether most people leave both primary and secondary valves open while in service and let the regulator switch between them or whether they just use one tank and open the other manually when the first goes dry. My dealer suggested I just access one tank at a time so that I won't inadvertently run out of fuel but that seems like it could be a problem if the primary tank runs out in the middle of the night. If I understand correctly, one can tell from the color code on the regulator whether it has switched to the reserve so checking the regulator periodically should eliminate surprises, no?
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Old 04-08-2017, 01:58 PM   #2
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If the automatic switchover regulator is working as designed, there is no problem removing the empty tank after switching the valve over to the full one. Even if it failed, the valve on the full tank would close when it sensed zero back pressure.

I leave both valves open and take a peak at the regulator every couple of days for the "red band of emptiness". I hate having the furnace quit or the stove peter out -- it always happened when it was raining or snowing and I would have to suit up and trudge out to open the spare tank.
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:19 PM   #3
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The regulator switch should face the tank that is supplying propane. Both tank valves open. It will automatically switch to the full tank once the first tank is empty. Leave the regulator facing the empty tank while you remove it for filling. Once the tank is filled and in place, with the valves turned on, you can switch the regulator to the second tank. This way you will not lose the pressure in the lines and have a problem lighting the frig or water heater.

I often run one tank down to about a 1/4 full an switch to a full tank. That way when the red flag pops up on that second tank I know I have to get gas but will still have a 1/4 tank to work off of while doing that.
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:40 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums Mike. This is a topic that has some different views. I really like the automatic switch over function and use it as designed. I have never really thought about leaving anything open when I refill. Just me.

There will be some who, like your salesman, suggest that you only run on one tank at a time. That way, they say, you will never "accidentally" run out. Well, if you do this you just might run out of propane during a cold dark night or in the middle of fixing dinner, or while you are in the shower. The key is to monitor the little green window. If you are not willing to check now and then you probably should run on just one tank at a time. I have been using this system for about 15 years now and have never had a problem.

Enjoy your new trailer and use it as they designed it to be used. Yes, you can even run with the fridge on!
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
If the automatic switchover regulator is working as designed, there is no problem removing the empty tank after switching the valve over to the full one. Even if it failed, the valve on the full tank would close when it sensed zero back pressure.

I leave both valves open and take a peak at the regulator every couple of days for the "red band of emptiness". I hate having the furnace quit or the stove peter out -- it always happened when it was raining or snowing and I would have to suit up and trudge out to open the spare tank.
Thanks!

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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The regulator switch should face the tank that is supplying propane. Both tank valves open. It will automatically switch to the full tank once the first tank is empty. Leave the regulator facing the empty tank while you remove it for filling. Once the tank is filled and in place, with the valves turned on, you can switch the regulator to the second tank. This way you will not lose the pressure in the lines and have a problem lighting the frig or water heater.
Howie, I may be misunderstanding something but it seems that the advice to leave the regulator facing the empty tank while you remove it for filling runs counter to the instructions in my manual.

The manual says to "turn the knob on your automatic regulator until the arrow points to the tank opposite the one to be removed", and then to "shut off the gas valve on the tank to be removed". The gas line can then be disconnected.

It would seem that switching to the full tank first would also insure that the lines would remain pressurized and avoid potential problems, as you point out. But I could very well be missing something!

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Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
Welcome to the forums Mike. This is a topic that has some different views. I really like the automatic switch over function and use it as designed. I have never really thought about leaving anything open when I refill. Just me.

There will be some who, like your salesman, suggest that you only run on one tank at a time. That way, they say, you will never "accidentally" run out. Well, if you do this you just might run out of propane during a cold dark night or in the middle of fixing dinner, or while you are in the shower. The key is to monitor the little green window. If you are not willing to check now and then you probably should run on just one tank at a time. I have been using this system for about 15 years now and have never had a problem.

Enjoy your new trailer and use it as they designed it to be used. Yes, you can even run with the fridge on!
Thanks aftermath! We're just planning our first trip and I'm hoping to avoid too many rookie mistakes. Monitoring the regulator window now and then seems a small price to pay for not running out of propane in the middle of the night.

With regard to leaving the propane supply open while refilling, I was thinking about a situation where we might be camping some distance from a propane seller. If the primary tank runs dry I was wondering if it would be ok to leave the reserve tank hooked up and working to run the fridge or whatever while taking the primary somewhere to get it filled.
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:34 PM   #6
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I do exactly that when one of mine runs dry -- unhorse it and take it on my grocery run which, in the summer, is 75 miles each way...
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:03 PM   #7
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Mike,

Here are the steps. When you start off, the switch will be pointing toward the tank where the propane is being pulled out of. When this tank runs dry the switch will automatically draw from the other tank even though the switch is still pointed to the first tank. The red window lets you know what is going on.

Turn off the propane to the empty tank and remove it. When it is filled put it back on the trailer, open the valve and then turn the switch over to the other tank. When the window goes red it switched to the second tank. You can remove the empty tank while leaving the propane still connected to your appliances.

Hope this makes sense.
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Old 04-09-2017, 12:59 AM   #8
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^^aftermath, that sequence is different than the one described in my owner's manual; the manual says to turn the regulator switch toward the reserve tank before disconnecting and removing the empty one and if I understand correctly you're saying to switch after the empty tank has been filled and reinstalled.

Of course, there may be more than one way to safely skin this particular cat and I don't pretend to know one way or the other.
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Old 04-09-2017, 07:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeinca View Post
^^aftermath, that sequence is different than the one described in my owner's manual; the manual says to turn the regulator switch toward the reserve tank before disconnecting and removing the empty one and if I understand correctly you're saying to switch after the empty tank has been filled and reinstalled.

Of course, there may be more than one way to safely skin this particular cat and I don't pretend to know one way or the other.
There is more than one way, but if you follow the manual and don't want to prescribe to the one tank on at a time model, you'll be fine. Just keep an eye out for the red indicator letting you know that you need to get the used to be primary one refilled.

Also, it depends on how and where you camp, at least temperature wise if you are running the furnace, but after just over 70 nights so far we have only had to refill one of our 30# tanks. I think the other one is probably getting pretty low, but that's not too bad, and it's not like if I forget to check the indicator for a few days it would sneak up on me.
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Old 04-09-2017, 12:49 PM   #10
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There is more than one way, but if you follow the manual and don't want to prescribe to the one tank on at a time model, you'll be fine. Just keep an eye out for the red indicator letting you know that you need to get the used to be primary one refilled.

Also, it depends on how and where you camp, at least temperature wise if you are running the furnace, but after just over 70 nights so far we have only had to refill one of our 30# tanks. I think the other one is probably getting pretty low, but that's not too bad, and it's not like if I forget to check the indicator for a few days it would sneak up on me.
I've read that the LPG can last a long time without running the furnace a lot, as your experience suggests. I imagine that I'll have a better handle on this myself after a few trips. Thanks to you and everyone else for the input; it's a big help.
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:30 AM   #11
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We're of the school that prefers to do one tank at a time. Sure, occasionally we run out of gas in the middle of use, but to us no big deal to go outside in weather and spend 30 seconds switching over.

The benefit is to know more accurately where we stand on gas, especially when long distances from propane fill ups. What I would really dislike is to run low on both tanks when we're off in the boonies. Better to know that one tank is empty and you have half left and can plan accordingly.
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Old 04-11-2017, 10:10 AM   #12
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The problem with removing both tanks at the same time is that allows the system to vent off and air gets into it. That air can not be purged by the water heater or the frig, the pilot orifices are very small, and you will have relight problems.

If you are in that condition you can crack the flared fitting at the frig and heater gas valve till you smell gas. Tighten and relight.
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Old 04-11-2017, 10:58 AM   #13
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I don't find purging that difficult at all:

1) Open windows

2)Turn on all burners on stove and hit the igniter knob every 5 seconds. After about 6 - 8 tries, burners fire up. Turn off stove after all burners stabilize.

3)turn on furnace, it always fires first time as it is between the tanks and stove. shut off furnace

4) Turn on water heater. It will not fire on it's first round of 3 tries. Turn off and back on. Always fires on 2nd or 3rd auto-try of the second round. Shut off water heater.

5) go back and turn on fridge. It always fires on it's first sequence of auto tries, as it is between the tanks and water heater.

Your unit may be different in sequence and layout. The trick is to fire up the large gas flow items before trying the fridge, which has a very small orifice, relatively speaking.
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:43 AM   #14
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MIke, follow your manual. Although Howie meant well, his instructions are contrary to your manual and confuse the issue, IMO.

When the tank being used indicates "red" on the regulator, I switch the regulator to the opposite tank, and remove the empty tank and have it refilled.
I then install the refilled tank...and wait until the tank being used also indicates "red"...then switch the regulator again to the "full" tank and remove the empty tank for refilling...
...and there's no reason to make your life more complicated than to use your automatically-switching-regulator in a "defeatist" mode. Why have an automatic regulator if you are going to deliberately over-ride it's function?
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Old 04-11-2017, 01:51 PM   #15
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I have always kept both tanks on, and the switch pointed to the tank in current use. When the indicator turns red, I turn the switch to the full tank and turn off the empty tank. At the next opportunity, I remove and refill the empty tank, put it back in place, and turn it on. This system has worked for me for many, many years. I have never "run out" of propane.

Of course, when I put the trailer in storage I shut off both tanks and leave the selector pointed to the "in use" tank.

Additionally, when I have a tank refilled, I write the date of refill on the tank with a Sharpie so that if I forget which was last refilled, I have a record handy.

Our propane use is rather frugal and I only have to refill one of our 30# tanks once each year or so.

As I said, this is the system I use, and it works just fine for me.
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Old 04-11-2017, 02:52 PM   #16
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Boxite has it. It's no more complicated than that.
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