What every RV owner should know before using LP gas in their RV
LP gas is the fuel of choice for all RV’s due to its affordability and efficiency. LP stands for “Liquid Petroleum” and is sometimes referred to as “LPG” or propane. LP gas is extremely flammable, but when used in the proper manner, with the proper safety precautions, it is a very safe fuel for use in your RV.
What RV appliances operate on LP gas, and why?
RV appliances that operate on LP gas include the refrigerator, furnace, range or oven, water heater and hydronic heater. Some of the items will operate on LP gas, but also have an option for electric operation. There are two main reasons for having LP appliances on your RV:
1) It allows you to use your RV when no electricity is available. This gives you the freedom to camp anywhere and still have all the comforts of being at a campsite, and it can keep your refrigerator cold while you are traveling.
2) Most RV campgrounds have limited power hook ups. If all of your appliances were running on electric at the same time, your RV would require more electricity than a small cord can supply.
By having most of your high-energy consuming appliances on LP gas, it allows you the needed electricity for other important things, like using your air conditioner or charging your cell phone.
How can I remain safe with LP gas in my RV?
There are several things you can do to ensure LP gas does exactly what it was designed to do in your RV, and nothing else. Here are some things to consider when using LP gas:
- Inspect your tanks and hoses. Travel trailers and motorhomes have different types of tanks, but it’s a good idea to inspect them for damage or rust. Also check the mounting bolts and hold down brackets to make sure everything is in proper order. Excessive rust or small cracks in the hoses should be addressed immediately.
- Make sure your LP detector is in proper working order. You should test your LP detector before every camping trip. If you are using your RV for a long trip, or fulltime, check the LP detector every 30 days. Lp detectors are designed to be used for a maximum of 5 years. Make sure you replace it with a new one before then.
- Install a Gasstop safety device on your RV. A broken line, bad LP regulator or a faulty RV appliance could cause an LP gas leak to become dangerous very quickly. The Gasstop device shuts off the flow of LP in the event of an excess flow event and can neutralize the danger instantly.
How can I tell if there is a LP gas leak in my RV?
LP gas is heavier than air and will sink to the floor level when released. It also has an additive, called ethyl mercaptan, that gives it a distinctive odor to alert you when there is any leakage. It’s often compared to rotten eggs or a sewage smell. Most of us have got a nose-full of LP gas at some point in our lives, but if you smell LP gas, or simply are not sure, you should immediately shut off your LP tanks. If the smell is inside your camper, open the door and evacuate the area for some time to allow the gas to dissipate. Call a qualified RV technician to test your LP system and verify or repair any leaks before using the LP system.
Is it safe to travel with the propane turned on in my RV?
RV’s are designed to allow for travel with the tanks installed and turned on. Motorhomes will have a permanently mounted tank. Visually verifying that the mounting bolts are tight and there is no rust on the brackets or bolts is always a good idea. Travel trailers and 5th wheels have removable LP tanks that need to be properly fitted in the LP holding pan with the tank hold down bar properly seated on the tanks and the wing nut snugged tight. LP hoses should be replaced if there are any signs of cracks or aging.
LP hoses are often exposed to the exterior and there is always a chance that flying debris could come into contact with them. LP lines are often ran beneath the trailer and are susceptible to road debris or a tire blow out. There’s also been instances of animals or rodents chewing into and damaging LP lines. Having a LP cover on exterior tanks can help protect hoses, and having the security of a Gasstop is always preferred for the very best protection.
LP gas is a safe and efficient fuel for RV’s and is an important part of enjoying the RV experience. LP gas can be dangerous if not taken seriously and proper precautions used to ensure its safe use. RV’s are built with some safety devices included but they should be checked frequently for proper operation. There are aftermarket safety items that can be purchased for an added layer of security while using LP gas.