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Old 04-13-2012, 03:03 AM   #1
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Low Power to LP Detector

Okay, 2 am, and my propane detector gives three (LOUD) chirps and flashes red and yellow every three minutes. Aargh. Drag out manual. It means there's a low power problem.

Great. 7 hours before I'm supposed to fly out to New Orleans for four days for work.

Tomorrow morning I'll check that everything's still plugged in and nothing's eaten the cord anywhere. If that fixes it, great. If y'all never hear from me again, I died of propane poisoning while the dang thing was inoperative. If I leave it til I get back from my work trip, is it going to hurt anything?

P.S. Yes, me and my cute little flashlight went out to check the cord and connection, all looks about right. It COULD be a power failure, because I see no lights in the immediate area, but it's 2 am, so would I anyway. Ooh, I love my life.

P.P.S. No, it can't be a power failure, because the 110v plugs are all working.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:12 AM   #2
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It could be the converter has stopped working, or the breaker that powers it has tripped.
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:46 AM   #3
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P.P.S. No, it can't be a power failure, because the 110v plugs are all working.
The propane detector runs on 12v, so the fact that the 110v outlets are working is not an indicator. Any problem would be on the 12v side. I can't say for sure about yours, but mine is an Atwood ProTechTor. It will sound a low-voltage alarm when the voltage drops to 10v. It will still work to detect a leak and sound an alarm down to 8v. When it drops below 8v, it won't work.

So, if your detector is like mine, you've got power going to the detector somewhere between 8v and 10v, based on what you describe.
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Old 04-13-2012, 08:02 AM   #4
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You could pull the fuse to the detector for now, and work on it after you get back home from your trip. That will stop it from chirping while you're gone.

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Old 04-13-2012, 01:34 PM   #5
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If y'all never hear from me again, I died of propane poisoning while the dang thing was inoperative.
Propane isn't especially toxic as such. It does explode when mixed with air however.

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If I leave it til I get back from my work trip, is it going to hurt anything?
No, although if the problem is that your converter isn't working and the batteries have run down to 0% charge, you may damage the batteries.


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It could be the converter has stopped working, or the breaker that powers it has tripped.
+1

Or that the battery switch is in "store" so the converter is disconnected. I believe that some propane detectors are wired to the battery upstream of the switch.

After careful consideration and reflection, I removed the propane detector from my trailer because I am not convinced that it provides any actual safety benefit. RV fires started by propane leaks are rare. RV fires started by propane leaks inside the RV while the RV is occupied are unheard of.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:19 PM   #6
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Propane isn't especially toxic as such. It does explode when mixed with air however.
Not entirely. According to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for Propane, from commercial propane sources such as Airgas, Inc, propane is a flammable gas, with a lower explosive limit of 2.1% (21,000 parts per million) and an upper explosive limit of 9.5% (95,000 parts per million). So far, in line with what you said.

The "not entirely" part has to do with toxicity. The ACGIH has set a permissible exposure limit of 1000 ppm time-weighted average over an 8-hour period. Exposure to propane is considered an immediate danger to life and health (IDLH) at a concentration of 2100 ppm (just 10% of the lower explosive limit), with inhalation causing damage to the heart and central nervous system. Kind of like breathing carbon monoxide in that regard.

If you want to check out the MSDS for yourself, you can find it at: http://www.airgas.com/documents/pdf/001045.pdf

My Airstream Interstate has an Atwood ProTechTor propane detector, that will sound an alarm at 2000 ppm. Not enough for a fire or explosion hazard, but close enough to the IDLH that if the alarm sounds, it's time to get my lungs outdoors rather than continuing to breathe the stuff.

If you can do without a propane detector, power to you, but I'll keep mine fully operable.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:54 PM   #7
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Or that the battery switch is in "store" so the converter is disconnected. I believe that some propane detectors are wired to the battery upstream of the switch.
As I understand it, in my 2008 Safari 20' the propane detector is indeed wired in upstream of the use/store switch. So while I am plugged in to shore power, if the switch is in "store", the detector is entirely dependent on the batteries even though most of the other 12 volt items are driven off of the converter. Switching to "use" links the converter to the batteries, and that would be a good thing to check if the detector is giving a low battery warning.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:04 PM   #8
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Well that pretty well covers it....

zlee, 'ya still with us?

Bob
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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We were awakened similarly while camping in Colorado in January. Your problem may be low propane level in the tank(s). Our propane alarm went off after the furnace failed to start due to low pressure, even though the tank was approximately 1/3 full. This was probably due to relatively high altitude (Denver) and low overnight temperatures in the single digits.

I think when the furnace fails to start, raw propane fumes leak in through the heat exchanger. This only occurs when the furnace does not ignite. I aired out the trailer and switched over to the other (full) tank; and the alarm did not repeat until five days later when the propane was low again.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:51 PM   #10
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We were awakened similarly while camping in Colorado in January. Your problem may be low propane level in the tank(s). Our propane alarm went off after the furnace failed to start due to low pressure, even though the tank was approximately 1/3 full. This was probably due to relatively high altitude (Denver) and low overnight temperatures in the single digits.

I think when the furnace fails to start, raw propane fumes leak in through the heat exchanger. This only occurs when the furnace does not ignite. I aired out the trailer and switched over to the other (full) tank; and the alarm did not repeat until five days later when the propane was low again.
If propane could make its way from inside the heat exchanger to the interior of the coach, so could CO. Anything inside the confinement of the heat exchanger should only vent to the outside.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:45 PM   #11
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Well that pretty well covers it....

zlee, 'ya still with us?

Bob
Metaphorically, yes. I'm in NOLA, god help me, currently sitting in a cab in traffic on the way to the convention center...

But all this is quite interesting!
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:28 PM   #12
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I'm in NOLA, god help me, currently sitting in a cab in traffic on the way to the convention center...

But all this is quite interesting!
Welcome to the Big Easy! Here for the French Quarter Festival, or just inconvenienced by it?
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:24 PM   #13
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Welcome to the Big Easy! Here for the French Quarter Festival, or just inconvenienced by it?
Largely inconvenienced. We're at the convention center for an expo. Man, you guys have a huge convention center.

Had my first ever charbroiled oysters tonight at Drago's. Wow.
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