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View Poll Results: Does the use of Propane scare you?
I have or had gas appliances in my house, so propane doesn't bother me. 56 78.87%
I have or had gas appliances in my house, but don't trust it in an RV. 3 4.23%
Never experienced a house with gas, but not afraid of Propane in my RV. 8 11.27%
Never used gas in a house so don't feel safe using it in my RV. 1 1.41%
I saw, heard, or personally had a very bad experience with Natural gas or Propane. 3 4.23%
Voters: 71. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-16-2011, 12:31 AM   #1
Rivet Master

2005 25' Safari
Salem , Oregon
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Propane phobia.

Hi, from time to time I read that some people, Airstream owners, have great fear of the use of propane in their trailers. [and motorhomes] And I'm curious as to why. I have no problem with using propane and I feel that it has something to do with me always living in a house that uses natural gas for the water heater, stove and oven, and furnace. I feel that natural gas and propane are very similar in the way they work. [Natural gas is lighter than air, so it rises; And propane is heavier than air so it falls or settles] Compared to an all electric house system without any gas. If you are afraid of propane, or if you are not; Why?
Bob 2005 Safari 25-B
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Old 04-16-2011, 04:48 AM   #2
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I am cautiously aware of what propane can do. I am not, however, afraid to use it. Propane is a very useful energy source. It works great as a mobile source of energy. Like most supplies of energy, it had some dangers associated with its use. I have never had a bad experience with propane, but I have shocked myself a few times while "messing" around with electrical wires.
When we are camping I run the refrigerator on propane while rolling down the road. I do shut it off before pulling into the gas station to refuel. We use the furnace for heat. We use the oven often. I think propane is great.

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Old 04-16-2011, 05:52 AM   #3
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gas is great

I'm with Top -- propane is great for its intended uses and we always turn off the fridge before pulling up to the pumps to put gasoline in our truck (or just try to refuel when we're solo).

We added a catalytic propane heater to our home on wheels, think grilling outside on our propane heater is the best, and our refrigerator runs better on propane than electricity. Our gas stove and oven work fantastically.

In fact, the only shortcoming we've found for propane is for portable or mounted auxiliary power generators. We spent a cold morning helping friends in Ketchum Idaho figure out why their propane-fired generator just couldn't get started. Turns out, the altitude of 4,000 feet is well above the owners manual maximum recommended altitude. Gasoline-powered generators all ran strongly with zero problems.

We always tow with the propane turned on so the fridge can run. Some writers claim they can tow with their fridge turned off, so they can be safer with all propane turned off (in case the bottles jump off their rack). We tried, and found the fridge needs to be on for any but the shortest drives.

Anything can go wrong, including a rock piercing the exposed soft copper lines under the trailer's belly. The way our propane bottles are mounted and tightened down I don't think there's any chance we'll be dragging our bottles on the pavement.

We're careful with piping and fittings for our propane plumbing, but otherwise have no undue concerns about propane safety. And yes, we used natural gas for water heating, comfort heat, and cooking in our sticks and brix house we abandoned when we started full-timing. So we already were comfortable with gas.
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Old 04-16-2011, 06:14 AM   #4
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i've lived all my life with natural gas.

i've seen a leak on a bbq grill connection catch fire.

i'd be more inclined to ride with it off if i could unless the outside temps were too extreme. (hot-refrigerator or cold-furnace) not so much from explosion but from fire.
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Old 04-16-2011, 06:31 AM   #5
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Colfax , North Carolina
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Bob, your poll doesn't allow for multiple answers, but I'm not afraid of LP in an RV. I have had two instances of customers coming into the shop for removal of the LP system because they were concerned about fire. One customer had their Dometic fridge catch fire while on LP, and only very quick thinking and actions on their part saved their Airstream.
I've personally had more incidents with electricity than LP or natural gas.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:41 AM   #6
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Fridge is on propane when I tow. Don't shut it off in gas stations. I think the odds of static electricity are much greater at starting a fire in a gas station that the burner on the fridge.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:06 AM   #7
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There's not much natural gas service in my area so lots of folks have propane in their homes. Works fine for me in the AS and converted a generator to use it (I'd rather use LP for it than carry a can of gasoline). Run my BBQ off the AS tanks as well.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:34 AM   #8
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Have lived with either natural gas or bottled propane most of my life. I respect gas, but I am not afraid of it.

We run Lucy with the gas refrigerator on when underway.

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Old 04-16-2011, 08:42 AM   #9
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I've been in the heating business for 20 plus years and about once a year I have a customer that will have nothing to do with gas because they are afraid of explosions. As long as a person uses the proper safety precautions there typically will not be a problem. Problems usually come from someone not pressure testing or leak testing lines because they don't know better or are in a hurry. propane is more dangerous then natural gas because it is heavier then air and can pool up, just have to make sure there are no leak. Gas is definitely the way to go.
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Old 04-16-2011, 09:15 AM   #10
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My folks used to go down the road with a roast in the oven in their MOHO. They probably used a cooking bag. Gawd' that was some good roast beef. They knocked it off when someone suggested it was a pretty dangerous practice.
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Old 04-16-2011, 09:46 AM   #11
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There are many risks involved in an RV and a rational enthusiast will understand them and his role in reducing them.

Propane is one of the smaller risks.

From the data I have seen, it is electrical problems that cause most RV fires.

Then there's the batteries themselves.

Falling asleep while driving might be a bigger risk. Then there's the DVT risk if you don't stop and get the blood moving in your legs frequent enough.

Don't forget underinflated tires causing blowouts or failure to check lug nut torque after service.

The problem with fueling is often the spark ignitors in modern DSI equipment - but setting gasoline fumes on fire requires just the right vapor concentration at the right place. A bigger problem might be hot brakes if refueling just after a downhill run.

Keep in mind, one pint of gasoline has about the same energy as a stick of dynamite. A friend with a 345 had an engine fire and if he hadn't been trained in how to react and hadn't had the proper clothing, he would have lost the moho.

Fear needs learning, not avoidance. You trade one thing for another. I think people removing propane systems just because they are afraid of dangers are tossing one thing for either a significant inconvenience or something even more hazardous.

If you have fear, you need to learn confidence. Confidence in knowing you have made good risk versus benefit decisions. Confidence that you have engaged in proper maintenance practice and are doing things to minimize risk as appropriate. Confidence in that you can handle what happens when a failure occurs and know what to do.
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Old 04-16-2011, 10:09 AM   #12
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I was nervous about it at first, but we had a lot of trouble with our vintage furnace and fridge when we first bought the trailer. The furnace was very hard to light and we had a little incident where it blew up in my face while I was down on my hands & knees lighting it - leaving my ears ringing. But now that we have a nice new heater and a 3-way fridge that pretty much light just by throwing a switch, and we had all the lines inspected and replaced the ones that were beat up under the trailer, I have no problem with it at all.

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Old 04-16-2011, 10:24 AM   #13
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Bakersfield , California
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The issue of an open flame at the gas station keeps coming up, but being involved in an accident isn't mentioned often. I was involved in a crash while driving our motorhome. This is what happened to the water heater. The gas was on, the propane tank safety valve did not trigger and the gas was venting full flow. The propane compartment door was damaged so bad I could barely get it open to shut it off (by law the propane and generator compartment doors do not have locks). The valve handle was nearly sheared off which would have made things much more complicated if the 25 gallons of propane had been able to leak out into a crash scene with dozens of people around. We camp all year and use our furnace, cook with the stove & oven and have a health respect for the gas (electricity too!).
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:13 PM   #14
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If you are nervous about propane, just convert your trailer completely to diesel, like Smokeless Joe did.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:54 PM   #15
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Love the Gas - no smell ok - if it smells run for cover....

And btw - why do you think we have those sensors in our Airstreams?
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:44 PM   #16
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Propane is great.
Always shut off iginition sources before refueling.
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Old 04-23-2011, 07:13 AM   #17
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The big plus for propane is in the amount of energy you can carry with you for the weight involved.

If you are boondocking you can expect to run your fridge and cook for about 3 weeks on a 30 lb bottle.. You could not do that on battery powered electric for any length of time.
I suppose you could do it with a generator but then you have to deal with how to carry all that gasoline and you won't make friends with your neighbors.
We carry 2 bottles on the trailer and one in the truck.
There really are not any other good options if you camp with out hookups
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:59 AM   #18
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I have no fear, though I did install an LP gas detector on my trailer to bring it up to modern codes. Propane has been used in RV's forever and IMO has been proven safe so long as you aren't careless.

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Old 04-27-2011, 11:37 AM   #19
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Bowie , Maryland
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In general, I love propane. It's great stuff.

Unfortunately, motorhomes have the propane tank permanently mounted. That is very annoying, because it makes filling it much less convenient (drive the camper wherever), and because if there's a problem with the tank, it's much harder to replace.

Also I don't understand trusting gas in your house but not your camper. The camper is less well sealed than your house, so any leak is more likely to escape the camper.
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