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Old 04-20-2014, 03:45 AM   #21
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Yep. That about sums it up.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:17 AM   #22
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I had a 3way fridge a while back and used the 12volt system while towing but find it doesn't work as good as propane so we used the propane while towing and now with a 2 way fridge in our airstream we use the propane all the time while towing,and since it was designed for this ,we use it! 16 years no problem
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:40 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
'cause battery powered wouldn't last too long? ...
The 115V electric heating element is in the 65-100W range, depending on fridge size. I assume the 12V heaters would be similar, so they draw 6-9 amps, pretty much continuously if the weather is warm. A typical fully-charged battery can run a fridge for only 9-12 hours and then it's totally flat.

Speaking of propane, if it's frigid I also run my catalytic heater while towing. Not to keep the water pipes from freezing, since I don't use the plumbing system when camping in freezing weather, but to keep the fridge from freezing everything solid and to keep canned goods from freezing.

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Old 04-20-2014, 10:39 AM   #24
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What?

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Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
I have visited and posted on lots of automotive related forums, I don't think I have ever seen one with so many opinionated people who are so sure that there is only one "proper" way to do things, and are so sure that so many things that are done everyday cannot be done.
Don't get the point of this post. The OP asked a question and people have shared their experiences and opinions. What are you trying to say? This "run with the fridge on" question usually erupts into a war but this thread hasn't done that. Are you trying to start something? I haven't seen any name calling or angry statements.
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Old 04-20-2014, 12:47 PM   #25
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I run down the highway with the fridge on.
If it were dangerous they would have a warning sticker for that...
It it were dangerous they would not make propane refrigerators...
Do motor homes turn off the fridge? No. They do not.
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Old 04-20-2014, 12:53 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
I run down the highway with the fridge on.
If it were dangerous they would have a warning sticker for that...
It it were dangerous they would not make propane refrigerators...
Do motor homes turn off the fridge? No. They do not.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:29 PM   #27
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Got to keep them groceries cold!
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:05 PM   #28
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After reviewing my Airstream owner's manual, the Dometic refrigerator manual, and several sources on Propane safety, I'm going to suggest that while Dometic and Airstream don't insist that you turn off the propane cylinders before traveling, propane safety authorities recommend that you do so. So, we're going to travel with our propane off after packing our fridge with lots of really cold stuff as if it were an ice chest.

Should you choose to run with the propane and fridge on in a modern Airstream, please be sure to set the fridge to "AUTO" and ensure the water heater is OFF. I have no idea whether that precaution helps with vintage models using older propane-fired refrigerators.

Please note, I'm not telling you what to do. It's your rig, your camping trip, your food, and your family.

Citations follow.

Here are some tips to help keep food cold in transit: Keeping Your RV Refrigerator Cool... the Basics - RV Basics .com

Here are three propane safety citations, all of which make identical recommendations using identical wording:
That recommendation is as follows:
On the Road
Most RV refrigerators can keep food and beverages cold
during several hours of travel without a power source.
For your safety, it is recommended that the propane supply
be turned off at the tank while driving.
Here's a citation from http://www.propane.ca/en/about-propane/safety:
  • "In most provinces, it's law that all appliances and pilot lights must be turned off and cylinder valves closed while traveling."
Here's an interesting collection of sources on propane safety: Rules of the Road, which includes the following citations for Manitoba and Nova Scotia: "Open propane cylinders are not allowed while traveling on open highways."

There are of course many citations for the requirement that propane cylinders be turned off before boarding a ferry and that certain sizes and/or quantities of cylinders aren't allowed in certain tunnels under any circumstances.

I have found several secondary sources which claim it's illegal to take your RV on the road with the valve open, but other than the links above from Woodalls, I'm having a hard time at the moment finding the actual chapter and verse for any particular state. On the Airstream website, for example, at Airstream, Inc :: Customer Support, I found this video

Airstream manual:
At the beginning of section "H" on Appliances (Page H-1 of the Airstream International owner's manual) it says:
WARNING: Most LP gas appliances used in recreational vehicles are vented to the outside of the vehicle. When parked close to a gasoline pump, it is possible that gasoline fumes could enter this type of appliance and ignite the burner flame, CAUSING A FIRE OR AN EXPLOSION.
The same owners manual says nothing in Section H (Appliances) on the refrigerator page except to explain that it's not necessary to maintain level operations while moving since the movements will adequately slosh the ammonia about.

Dometic Manual
The Dometic refrigerator manual says at the top of page six under the heading, Refrigerator Lockout
When the refirgerator's temporary gas lockout is energized, the LP gas operation will automatically lock out for 15 minutes when the engine is switched off. This will prevent LP gas operation e.g. when stopping at a refueling station. See installlation instructions ALTERNATOR D+ CONNECTION to install this feature.
In a WARNING box right next to this text, it says the following:
FIRE OR EXPLOSION HAZARD. The temporary gas lockout feature will not work when AUTO mode is turned OFF. Consequently, while refuleling or parking near a gasoline pump, make sure AUTO mode is ON and all LP gas appliances vented to the outside of the vehicle are shut OFF. Otherwise, gasoline fumes from gasoline pumps could come into contact with an LP gas appliance burner flame and ignite. Failure to obey this warning could cause a fire or explosion resulting in death or serious injury.
The Dometic manual then additionally talks about how it's not necessary to maintain level operations while in motion since the ammonia will slosh about with normal travel activity.

So within the Airstream and Dometic manuals, there's plenty of room to assume that it's possible to safely travel with your refrigerator on and your propane running. Within the other documents I found, there's plenty of room to assume it's a really good idea to turn off the propane while traveling after you've gotten your fridge good and cold and packed it with things to help it stay cold in the interim. Your call, folks.
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:58 PM   #29
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Whoa, Bill, that's a heck of a summary! Thanks for taking the time.

I do agree there are special occasions where it is more important to shut off the tank valve(s)--on a ferry, most underwater tunnels or toll tunnels, places like that where the hazard to others is increased and there is no escape.

But I'll hazard a guess that this is really (mostly?) about the tank and not the fridge pilot light. I've seen some RVs burn while parked and camping, but very few (like, none in my recollection) while being towed.

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Old 04-21-2014, 08:17 PM   #30
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Is it ok to run fridge on propane while towing ?

Good point, though a personal observation does not constitute a statistically significant sample. I see far too many people on forums speaking as if that were true...and it's just not.

From what I read, I would agree with your observation that much of the concern revolves around the ignitor / pilot light and the open flame when the fridge is actively cooling via LP. However, some concern also revolves around the risk of pressurized gas lines in the event of an accident.

That said, I'm totally sympathetic to the urge to run with the fridge on. In fact I did exactly that last year with our motor home. It worked great, and our observational "n" of 1 indicated it was a perfectly great thing to do.

I started wondering about this question once we got the AS TT, questioning whether it was really a good idea to leave the propane on while towing. For now, I'm personally coming down on the side of being cautious. We also live in the Pacific NW, so unless we travel into the hotter parts of the country, we're more likely to be successful in stuffing our fridge with cold stuff and keeping it cold until we get to our destination that day.

Bottom line, I re-emphasize that I'm not telling anybody else what to do...just how we got to our current state of mind. This is simply what we've decided to do for now. If our fridge was a 3-way device (AC/LP/DC), I'd gladly run it on DC while in transit!
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Old 04-21-2014, 08:33 PM   #31
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Good point, though a personal observation does not constitute a statistically significant sample. I see far too many people on forums speaking as if that were true...and it's just not.

From what I read, I would agree with your observation that much of the concern revolves around the ignitor / pilot light and the open flame when the fridge is actively cooling via LP. However, some concern also revolves around the risk of pressurized gas lines in the event of an accident.
Your sample size of 0 carries no more weight, however. Many more than just Zeppelinium have towed with LP fridges on for many years without mishap, so N>>1 in this case. Living in Texas, everyone I camp with tows with the fridge on without reducing our Airstreams to smoking piles of scrap (far from Canadian jurisdiction, I confess.)

I had no issue with your presentation of all that information, one-sided though it was, until you start talking statistics as a way to dismiss Zeppelinium's observation. At best you lose style points for denigrating someone else's statement and following that up with "But I'm not trying to tell you how to do it."
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Old 04-21-2014, 08:50 PM   #32
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Is it ok to run fridge on propane while towing ?

My comments weren't intended to be hostile, though yours certainly appeared to be so.

Anyway, it's a free country. I understand and respect the point of view that it seems safe enough to you for you to run with your propane on. As I clearly said, I did the same thing last year. I may do so again at some point. No problem. Seriously.

Again, I'm not telling anyone what to do nor am I criticizing anyone for reaching a conclusion different from my current state of mind. I'm totally comfortable with those differences. I don't need anyone to agree with my conclusion for me to feel good about it, and I reserve the right to change my mind on this for my rig anytime at all.

However, I will continue to point out that statements like "Hey, I've never seen that happen, nor has anyone on this forum." holds no statistical weight whatever. Surveys compiled from the entire membership of this forum are equally insignificant from a statistical perspective. Ad-hominem attacks hold even less weight. Our discussions can be interesting, useful and even educational, but personal observations, especially my own, are not statistically significant. If you can cite a source that provides contrary information (e.g. in a traffic study with a sample of N, there were 0 propane related accidents) or some reasonable authority on propane announces that it's no more dangerous to run with the propane on than off, or new safety devices in addition to the Interlock feature I noted for the Dometic fridge make it safer than before I will read it avidly, just as I would the reverse.

Honestly, this morning I had almost convinced myself to run with the propane on after reading the Dometic and AS manuals, because that's what I really want to do. Then I found the other citations, and decided for now to turn my propane off while in transit.

Everybody's risk tolerance is different. That's why some of us tow with teensy vehicles and others tow with 1 ton trucks, and everything in between. (ducking)

So, to answer the OP question of whether it's OK to run the fridge on propane while towing, the answer seems to be, unless you're in certain provinces of Canada it may be legal, and members of this forum who have done so while ensuring the fridge is off when fueling a gasser have had good experiences so far. So, given your personal risk tolerance profile and what little information you find here and elsewhere, do what seems best to you.
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:21 PM   #33
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"though a personal observation does not constitute a statistically significant sample. I see far too many people on forums speaking as if that were true...and it's just not.”

I think if we are talking about low base rate events such as likely rare explosions in the event of accidents or rare ignitions in some otherwise odd ball event....stats probably are the only thing that will constitute something worth regarding much of.

In the case of very low probability base rate type events, what you can expect on internet forums are 10’s, hundreds, even thousands of posts describing anecdotes declaring personal experience negative of the rare base rate event. Not surprising at all....exactly what you would expect (thank goodness!).

If the base rate is so very low (and I very much suspect it is), then these anecdotes while re-assuring offer no meaningful sense of the risk.

woops, sorry, im a self proclaimed “geek” so there ya go....

I run with the fridge on so far, but honestly I have not read the stats, and I can say that perhaps if after finding these stats and reviewing them....maybe I would not accept the risk...but I am assuming at this point that the base rate is extremely low and I will ignore this risk for convenience....

Others may look at a stat of a low base rate event and decide not to accept that risk and say that from their standpoint, that low probability event is totally avoidable as such with a few easy steps so why not?

That point of view is equally valid from that standpoint I think...ill try and dig up any useful stats on da google and report back....honestly it will take some serious stats to get me worked up about it at this point...even if I find the stats...being that my background is not in something like the epidemiology of risk management...it will be rather difficult to wrap my head around the stats.....but that wont stop me from trying

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Old 04-21-2014, 09:43 PM   #34
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Just to present the alternative view, I run with the propane off. I'm not really concerned about how others run, or their opinion of my choice in this matter; it's just what I prefer to do.

There doesn't seem to be any meaningful statistics on the matter out there, at least not gathered and published on the Internet. As just about EVERYTHING gets published on the Internet I shall assume that a lack available data online is a lack of available data in general.

Personally I looked at the relative risks, you know, what COULD happen rather than what is likely to happen or what has happened (it's a long stint in IT security that's made me that way ) If you leave the propane on then you do have a length of relatively exposed live gas line under the A-frame which could, in theory, get fractured when hit by a rock thrown up, or in an accident. At best a quick emptying of the LPG tanks may occur if the line is fractured, at worst a fire. There IS a risk, but is it a big one? Probably not. Do I HAVE to have this line live when running? Well no, I don't. So for me, then, it's just the removal of a risk, however slight - and I actually shrugged my shoulders as I wrote that. There are many other risks we take daily, and dismiss them, this is just another that's up for consideration.

As an alternative to running the fridge when moving, we've put a bag of ice in the fridge when breaking camp and hit the LPG when we've stopped for lunch. The ice barely melts at all and the food stays cold. The freezer stays cold enough without the ice. It seems to work for us.
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:43 PM   #35
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Risks are to be assessed and either assumed, mitigated, or declined.

I am thinking that it is likely that showers prove far more dangerous than pulling a trailer with the propane on, but I will still take showers too.

Besides all that, frankly, if a camper is going to catch fire, I would rather have it do so when I am towing it as opposed to when I am sleeping in it.

Who here turns off the propane when they sleep?
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:13 PM   #36
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Run with fridge on with all three trailers I have owned, then again all three TV's were oil burners, diesel is harder to ignite said fumes than a gasser....
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:41 PM   #37
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poor equivalency.

what is so complicated about it...the danger is real...albeit likely statistically tiny...someone chooses to avoid said small risk because they makes them feel comfortable.

Who is to say they are wrong for that? I won’t.

Keeping propone on during sleep is not the same objective risk or subjective sense of the risk at all so that seems not relevant to ask. WHile the base rate for ignition while driving is likely small....its easy enough to conceptualize the occurrence....while sleeping? possible? well yes, but it has to be even more extremely rare....and it is hard to imagine and conjure fear of that risk at all the same.
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:52 PM   #38
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I beg to differ.

If a trailer catches fire and burns down while being towed, I say the chances of a person being seriously injured is very very low. I say that if a trailer catching fire while it is occupied by sleeping people, the risk of injury is much higher.

Why would it be more likely for a propane induced fire to start in a moving trailer than a parked trailer?
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:00 AM   #39
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I will admit to never riding in my trailer so I can't be sure, but I am going to assume that there is a greater exchange of air between inside and outside of the trailer while it is in motion.

If this is true, would the risk of a propane explosion be higher or lower in a pulled trailer or a stationary trailer?
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:02 AM   #40
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The risk of being hurt within a burning trailer while asleep is arguably quite high...but the risk of ignition in the first place while sleeping is what I was pointing to.

I can conceptualize the risk of how ignition could happen in the event of a collision of some variety.

But what is the hypothetical where in the propane ignites while sleeping? And should that hypothetical be quickly thought of as equal in the mind of folks? Im not sure.

Perhaps you can illuminate, and for those people that turn off the gas during the drive better understand the hypothetical they will turn off the gas at night if hooked up.

If boondocking and relying on the gas, I assume folks will just accept that risk...that would not be an equivalency.
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