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Old 03-09-2013, 08:05 PM   #1
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Propane tank fuel gauge read-out discrepancy

We have just bought a new Solera and are currently having fun on a shakedown trip. However, I have found a large discrepancy between the fuel tank indicator in the motorhome's cabin and the gauge on the propane tank. The cabin indicator shows the tank at 2/3 full, while the tank gauge shows 1/4 full. I expect the tank gauge is accurate, but it's disappointing not to have a good reading in the cabin.

Is this kind of discrepancy to be expected? (We are absolute newbies to RVing.) Is it something that can be easily fixed (e.g., by recalibrating the cabin indicator)? I'll check with our RV dealer. But it would be nice to have some information before going in.

Any and all suggestions/information will be appreciated. Thanks.

Chris
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:48 PM   #2
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My two cents, for what its worth
I believe the only true way to know the amount of propane in a tank is to weigh it. There are many indicators sold to help with propane amount(in-line gauge, strip on side) and the people I know who use these other types say when it says full you don’t have much propane left. They use these gauges as indicators and learn to understand them with their own experience. Temperature also has to do with propane, the colder it is the less pressure you get out of a tank. I believe some winterized campers have heat ducts in the propane storage compartments to help with this.
I remembered another one: I have heard some poor water on their tank, while in use, and can see how full the tank is. I believe it frosts up to the level of propane.
I personally do not use a gauge/indicator, I have two removable tanks and when one runs out I put it in the back of the truck and fill it the next time in town. I know I can go about 3 weeks on a tank if I am not using the gas heater much. As a side note, I have a propane Fire-in-a-Can and when I use it I can use a tank in 2-3 days.
John
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:13 PM   #3
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Hey, thanks for your reply, YoungKopernick. Your comments are well taken. I realize that even if I can't get the discrepancy resolved, I'll figure out how to best deal with it.

I did talk to the dealer rep. today, when we took in the Solera to have some minor work done. After some discussion, I think he realized that my concern is basically, if the cabin indicator only shows full and 3/4 full, it's not really functional - something I have a hard time accepting in a brand new vehicle. Once he understood I wasn't just talking about relatively minor discrepancies between the gauges (I'v known about minor gauge errors in several vehicles I've owned), he said they would take a look at it and see what they could do.

We'll see what happens and like I said, I guess one way or another, I'll figure out how to handle it.

Again, thanks for your reply, YoungKopernick.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:50 PM   #4
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Propane gauges are not accurate and unreliable. At best they are only an estimate. With ur tank gauge reading 1/4 I would suggest filling that tank and seeing how much it holds. Weight is your best indicator.
Anothe suggestion is to only run off 1 tank at a time and stay with the same tank until it is empty. Doing this ensures you will have a full tank when your primary runs out
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:02 AM   #5
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Thanks, SOCAL. Your comment indicates that propane gauges should not be expected, as I have done, to be as accurate as gasoline or diesel fuel gauges. That's good to know. I'll relax a bit about the accuracy.

As per your suggestion, when I fill the tank, I'll check the amount of propane added against the tank gauge and at least over time try to get a reading of what use the gauge may be in estimating the amount of propane left in the tank. Again, thanks for the help.

Chris
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOCAL View Post
Propane gauges are not accurate and unreliable. At best they are only an estimate. With ur tank gauge reading 1/4 I would suggest filling that tank and seeing how much it holds. Weight is your best indicator.
Anothe suggestion is to only run off 1 tank at a time and stay with the same tank until it is empty. Doing this ensures you will have a full tank when your primary runs out

X2 That's my "rule of thumb". Use only one tank until empty then switch over to the full one. Then you know you have a few days to get it refilled. However, I can see the concern for MH owners whos propane tanks are permanently mounted. In that case, I certainly would like to have some sort of accuracy in my guage panel.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:42 AM   #7
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The propane tank can only be filled by the dealer to about 80% full. So your tank mounted gauge will be at about 3/4 full even though it is 'maxed' out. They have to leave some vapor space to allow for expansion so the tank doesn't explode in hotter weather. So likely your cabin monitor is accounting for this and shows more propane than the tank-mounted gauge.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:47 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your comments. I learned from your suggestions. They helped me to relax and accept my perceived fuel gauge read-out discrepancy, realizing I could live with it by monitoring the gauges while watching my use and refills of propane. Unexpectedly and happily, however, the problem has resolved itself.

I now realize I should have been more patient. After using the Solera several months and refilling the propane tank several times, there is no longer a major or any real discrepancy between read-outs of the gauges in the cabin and on the propane tank. I don't know why or how the inconsistency was rectified, but after multiple refillings, I'm no longer seeing any discrepancy between the gauges and am confident that the problem (such as it was) no longer exists.

I do appreciate all your good advice and support, Happy travels.

Chris
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:14 PM   #9
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There's one way to find out for sure where the propane level is. Throw a jug of hot water onto the tank's outer surface. Where it evaporates off real quick has gas behind it. Where it doesn't evaporate or even freezes is roughly where the liquid propane level is.

There are some stick-on LCD temperature strips on the market that you can stick on the outside of the tank that will give you the same indication. The majority are intended for BBQ tanks, which are vertical, rather the the usual motor-home horizontal orientation, but they'd still work, even if they aren't a linear representation.

(on edit) Sorry, Chris. I was composing my response when you made your last post. Glad your'e happy with your system.
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