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Old 02-10-2011, 09:23 PM   #1
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Refueling and the Refrigerator

I came across an comment in an RV magazine recently that I am curious about. The writer was expressing concern about refueling his tow vehicle while the refrigerator pilot was burning. Has any one ever thought about this?? I have refueled a hundred times without concern...... but, should I be?

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Old 02-10-2011, 09:33 PM   #2
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Not if you're at the diesel pump. I always try to keep the frige upwind of the pump. If that is not possible, I turn the gas off and relight it after I pull away.


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Old 02-10-2011, 09:46 PM   #3
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It's something to be aware of....always. But, How many times have you smelled gas fumes while refueling with a modern pump? Yes, sometimes. If so, take action. My pilot is some 25' away from the pump nozzle when refueling. I don't shut off the fridge regularly....but....if I smell fumes, I'll take the time to extinguish the fridge. Even in the rare event YOU spill a little, you have time to get to the AS and shut down. Gas fumes have to be RELATIVELY condensed to ignite.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:14 PM   #4
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Refer and travel

The AS manual recommends that the LP be turned off during travel.

The safest mode is to not travel with the LP turned on, especially while refueling even if you do not smell fumes or are refueling diesel. You are still in the vicinity of fuel fumes and by the time you detect them it may be too late to act--e.g. turn off the LP.

Some have suggested that the pilot could blow out on a windy day/travel.

Others make certain that before travel, the refer is cold and they have stowed "blue ice" packs in the freezer and/or the main part of the refrigerator. When closed, and cold the refer should remain cold for most of the day.

Having seen severely burned people in the past, and knowing how rapidly fire can spread and destroy, I personally am afraid to use the LP in travel.

There is no "mulligan" when it comes to fire!
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:43 PM   #5
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We routinely travel with the LP gas on and the frig cooling. Our frig is on the opposite side from the gas pump (curb side). If the proximity of the neighboring pump is close to the frig side of the Bambi I am more likely to turn it off while fueling.
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:09 AM   #6
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We have a marine battery switch that completely disconnects the batteries from everything. We always turn the battery switch to OFF when approaching the fuel pumps to insure that the refrigerator and all electrical items in the Airstream are turned off while fueling.

Also, we leave the refrigerator ON while underway. When towing in the Arizona heat, the refrigerator interior warms to temperatures unsafe for food storage in very short order. We even freeze water bottles and put them in the lower compartment to reduce the heat load on the refrigerator. Otherwise, interior temps can reach 50+ degrees during the heat of the day. Also, the outside fan for the refrigerator runs continuously during the daytime.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:52 AM   #7
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No LP on !!

We USED to travel with the refer on and cooling. We don't do it anymore. While travelling across I-10 just North of New Orleans, we had a little mishap. Our '59 AS got bumped along just a little too much and the front lower panel split, and started to drag on the road. Every time we hit a bump, and there are MANY along that stretch of I-10, the panel 'scrunched' on the road. When we pulled over, we discovered that the propane line was the only thing holding the panel. The line was pulled out from the connection to the refer, and had also dragged along the road. We're sure that the next bump would have severed the line, thus allowing propane to escape, and perhaps the next spark could have caused the big bang. We were extremely lucky. We spent a couple of days making repairs and then continued along our way. We were on a four-month road trip at the time.
Now, we put a bag of ice in the bottom 'crisper' drawer at the beginning of the travelling day, and then when the refer is running when we stop, we use that ice in the cooler. It works out well, and the ice is not wasted. Not much melted ice in the drawer at the end of the day, even in Arizona. Amazing.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:22 AM   #8
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We always turn ours off just before we pull into the pump -- no if's, and's or butt's about it -- it takes all of 5 seconds to jump out and turn the tank off. We do the inverse just as we pull out of the station.

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Old 02-11-2011, 08:30 AM   #9
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We turn ours off while fueling, an action made much easier with the more recent refrigerator.

That said, we don't refuel very often with the Airstream attached anyway. If we can't make our destination of the day on one tank, then it's too far.

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Old 02-11-2011, 09:21 AM   #10
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I always travel with the refer on. It is just to hot in FL in the summer time to do other wise. I do however make sure that it is on 12volt before moving. Before I knew of any dangers of LP while in motion I used it with no problems.

I believe that each person has their own level of comfort with thinks like this. If I did not have 12volt then I would still be using LP.

I however do not refuel with the refer on LP.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:44 AM   #11
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OK, so if my Tradewind is hooked up electrically to the truck, the fridge can run off of 12volt/electric when in motion? I ran it on prpoane last time, and did not even think about the pilot light being on when refueling (whoops) MPJ
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by moparjohn View Post
OK, so if my Tradewind is hooked up electrically to the truck, the fridge can run off of 12volt/electric when in motion? I ran it on prpoane last time, and did not even think about the pilot light being on when refueling (whoops) MPJ
Only if you have a 3 way fridge. That would be 120vAC/12vDC/LP. Not all have this option I however was very lucky that my grandfather installed this before he gave the AS to me.
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:10 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Hwjoe View Post
Has any one ever thought about this??
this is an annual question,

so there are many threads and 100s of responses on the issues...

and those are just the most recent ones...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:37 AM   #14
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As 2air points out the more general question on whether to leave the propane system and fridge on while driving has been discussed at great length with the only real conclusion being that a vocal 10-20% of RVers think it's dangerous and most of the rest of us seeing it as an minor, acceptable risk. The while driving concerns usually voiced involve the risks posed during a crash or when the tanks, lines, or tank tiedown components fail while driving.

The specific question in this thread, of whether to shut off the fridge while refueling, is different.

Fires caused by ignition of gasoline or gasoline vapor while refueling a car or truck at a commercial gas pump are extremely rare and are nearly always caused by static electricity discharges when the driver touches the dispenser nozzle after fueling. The other significant source is cigarette smoking while refueling.

Despite the brouhaha there have been no reliable, confirmed reports of cell phones or pagers starting gasoline fires, and there are vanishingly few reports of fires starting from on-vehicle ignition sources (switch and relay contacts, engine running, etc). A vehicle that has been driven hard may have exhaust manifold temperatures well in excess of the autoignition point of gasoline (around 500 degrees F depending on formulation), for several minutes after being shut off.

Gasoline vapors must be concentrated in order to ignite and being heavier than air tend to sink. I do not believe there is any significant ignition risk outside the area within a couple feet the fuel filler and the area below it down to the ground.

Even in the event of a spill large enough to form a gasoline puddle it is not possible to ignite the puddle from a height of more than a few inches.

Because the burners in the fridge, water heater, and furnace are well above ground level and farther away that the exhaust manifold I don't believe they pose any significant risk while fueling.

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