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Old 09-09-2013, 09:22 PM   #1
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Knowing when propane tank is full or empty

Have two tanks, and find it hard to read is tiny ring is red (empty) or green (OK).
How do I see if tank switches to second one. Really can't see a colored ring??
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:32 PM   #2
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Hi. Not sure what kind of trailer you have. On mine, there is a switch pointing to one of the two tanks which is the source of the propane. In between the 2 tanks (toward the top of them where the hoses connect in the center) is a see-through cylinder with a ring laying horizontally on the bottom. It is clearly green. It clearly turns red when empty bWhen that tank runs out, propane is drawn from the second tank HOWEVER, I need to flip the switch to select the full tank so I can disconnect the empty tank and keep that process going.

Do you see that see-through cylinder I'm talking about?

Good luck!
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:26 PM   #3
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So far I am running off one tank. Keeping the second off and in reserve. Like you I did not see how the gauge worked. Plus being red green color blind I can guess wrong. So when and if I run out I have a 50% back up.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Judypetrick View Post
Have two tanks, and find it hard to read is tiny ring is red (empty) or green (OK).
How do I see if tank switches to second one. Really can't see a colored ring??
There is more than one design of automatic switchover regulator. The one on my ’08 model is as previously described. The lever points to the "service" tank, the other can be referred to as the "reserve" tank. The indicator shows green as long as the service tank is supplying the gas. When it turns red, it means the service tank is empty and the reserve tank is supplying gas. Flipping the lever to the reserve tank now makes it the service tank and the indicator returns to green. When convenient, close the valve on the empty tank and it can be removed, refilled, and then put back to assume the role now as the reserve tank. Some find that the tank cover blocks their view of the indicator as it is best seen straight on from the side. For the automatic switchover to occur, both tanks need to be have their valves open. One would think a black/white indicator would be a better design to accommodate those who can't easily discern between red/green.

I believe all modern Airstream trailers come equipped with the auto switchover regulator. Yours may not have the colored ring, but would have some sort of indicator. If you aren't the original owner, it may be that the PO had replaced it with a different model or even a manual switchover that wouldn't have the indicator. You may need to take the tank cover off to get a better look at what you have and if you can post a picture here we can have a better idea also.

The sketch comes from the manual for mine. The indicator is in the small gap at the base of the black cap atop the regulator.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:03 AM   #5
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Knowing when propane tank is empty

Thanks everyone! I have the indicator that is in the posted diagram. Vey hard to see color change on the tiny ring at the bottom of the cap. (which says "do not remove") really need to take off cover to see it. Also, right now it seems like it is showing both colors, red at the bottom and still green above it. What does that mean?
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:37 AM   #6
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...Also, right now it seems like it is showing both colors, red at the bottom and still green above it. What does that mean?
I usually get that when both tanks are closed and the trailer has been sitting for a few days. Then as soon as I open the tanks, I get green only.
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:27 AM   #7
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... right now it seems like it is showing both colors, red at the bottom and still green above it. What does that mean?
The indicator is a plunger with the red and green stripes painted on it. When the pressure from the service tank drops to the point that triggers the switchover, the mechanism inside the regulator causes the plunger to move down displaying the red in the top half of the window. As I recall, if the reserve tank is providing adequate pressure at that point the bottom half of the indicator will still show green. Any red visible means the service tank is empty or its valve is closed. With both valves open, when you flip the lever to point to the full tank, the indictator should immediately return to green. I believe if both tanks are empty or both valves closed and the pressure has bled down, then the indicator will be 100% red.

As previously noted, when viewing at an angle from above, the red may not be so obvious. If you have a compact or a dental mirror handy, you may be able to get a clearer view of the thing.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:57 AM   #8
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What J and D said ...

That's what I've been doing for many years; I just keep one tank valve open with the second, full tank in reserve and shut off. If / when the tank I'm using runs out, then I go outside and change the valves and ASAP get the empty tank filled and I re-install it, with its valve shut off. I even made up a little tag with a carabiner on it that I leave attached to the "reserve" tank so that when I go get the trailer out of storage for a trip, I know to turn on the valve for the other, or "active" tank ... 'cause I can't remember and am too lazy to record which tank is in use.

Two big benefits: 1.) When it's time to re-fill, the tank I'm taking in to re-fill is completely empty, so I'm only refilling totally empty tanks. Thus, for those places which won't sell propane by the pound or gallon but only by the tankful, I can buy a complete tankful, and I don't get ripped off; and 2.) I always KNOW I have a full tank in reserve. I've talked to a lot of folks who didn't pay enough attention to the little red/green indicator (many are very hard to see, down inside the cover for the tanks) and ran BOTH tanks totally out when they were way out there in East Tumbleweed.

And what's the worst case scenario? Your "active" tank runs out and you need to change the valves at a time when you don't happen to want to go out and change over. Once in all the years I've been doing it this way it happened when I was cooking supper and it was raining. Got a few drops of water on me. Didn't melt.

I suspect that if you're diligent and check the little indicator regularly, you'll never have a problem. But I've got better things to do, and basically, I'm too lazy to check it all the time!
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:25 PM   #9
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~~
And what's the worst case scenario? Your "active" tank runs out and you need to change the valves at a time when you don't happen to want to go out and change over. Once in all the years I've been doing it this way it happened when I was cooking supper and it was raining. Got a few drops of water on me. Didn't melt.

I suspect that if you're diligent and check the little indicator regularly, you'll never have a problem. But I've got better things to do, and basically, I'm too lazy to check it all the time!
I'd describe the worst-case scenario more like this: You're boondocking someplace warm and enjoying the sights and activities away from your campsite. Shortly after you leave for the day, the only tank with an open valve runs dry and the flame in your refrigerator promptly goes out, allowing the temperature in the fridge to rise all day and potentially get warm enough that it might take 12-24 hours to get it down to food-safe temperatures by the time you return, figure out the problem, open the valve on your full reserve tank and eventually get the fridge lit again.

Unless you're camping in cold temperatures with lots of furnace usage, you really only have to check the switchover indicator every couple of days and should still catch it with plenty of time to refill the empty cylinder.

I just leave the switchover valve pointed to the same "service tank" until it runs dry, so I don't have to remember which one I used last trip, the handle is already pointing to it. When the indicator goes half-red, I know the one the valve has been pointing to for months is empty and that's the one that needs a complete fill. I switch the pointer over to the other tank, and leave it pointed there until that one runs dry, then repeat the process.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:32 PM   #10
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Howdy neighbor
There are a few tricks that could also help in figuring how empty your tank is:
1 The simplist is if you spray some hot water over the tank you should see a line showing the LP level (never did have to good luck with this one)
2.If you are muscically inclined you bang on the tanks and compare sounds. You can kinda get an idea how full or empty they are sorta.
3. You can add on a guage to the tank valve which will tell you how much gas there is left sorta
4. If you have steel tanks there is a magnetic guage which will kinda tells you how much gas you have.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:50 PM   #11
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The best way is to have a real float gage in the tank. With the advent of the OPD valve you have to have a tank with two bungs in it. One for the valve and one from the float indicator. I don't like relying on the switchover regulator. It is one of those things that you don't know if it is going to work or not. I tried to get mine to switch by cutting one tank off and it did not seem to do anything. You can also weigh the tank or pick it up and shake it. They make a gage that goes on the valve but it only tells you that the pressure is getting low as a result of the fluid level getting close to the bottom. I am not sure how reliable these gages are and they probably require flow to work. If you are drawing alot of gas from the cylinder it will be cold on the bottom.

Perry
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:03 PM   #12
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I have twin aluminum 40#er's on the trailer that the previous owner had added. He gave me the original alum. 30's when we bought it. The 40's do not have the gauge connection so need to be manually checked. The 30's have both a dial gauge on them as well as the wire connection to be monitored from the inside panel. Right now I'm using one of the
30's to fuel my gas grill. The other is empty. I keep the ones on the trailer both open
and let them switch over as needed. Monitor it periodically and re-fill when I can. Has worked well for us so far.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:42 PM   #13
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I'm old school and typically two full tanks will suffice for the season. I pick one to run off of and if and when it runs out I just switch over to the other tank. I've never run into problems with method...
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:48 PM   #14
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The 40's do not have the gauge connection so need to be manually checked.
There is an aftermarket gauge that goes in between the bottle valve and the hose connection. Probably not that accurate but will give you a general idea of when you are low. CW has them.
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