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Old 09-24-2022, 07:50 PM   #1
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Propane tanks

2022 F.R.Wildcat 5th wheel.

Is there a way to test that the automatic propane “switchover” is working properly? We have the type that, supposedly, we turn on both tanks, watch the gauge on the tank, when it turns red switch to the other tank and get the first one filled.

We picked up the 5er in March, presumably with 2 full tanks. A couple of short trips and full time since May. Still on the original tank. Now that temperatures are dropping I don’t want to get stuck finding out if everything is working properly. Don’t want to wake up some cold morning with both tanks empty.

Thanks.
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Old 09-24-2022, 08:03 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russellvh View Post
2022 F.R.Wildcat 5th wheel.

Is there a way to test that the automatic propane “switchover” is working properly? We have the type that, supposedly, we turn on both tanks, watch the gauge on the tank, when it turns red switch to the other tank and get the first one filled.

We picked up the 5er in March, presumably with 2 full tanks. A couple of short trips and full time since May. Still on the original tank. Now that temperatures are dropping I don’t want to get stuck finding out if everything is working properly. Don’t want to wake up some cold morning with both tanks empty.

Thanks.

If you are asking how to really tell how much propane in still in the cylinders, the cheapest and most accurate method is to just weigh them.


See this thread (posts #1 and #3 in particular):


https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ng-133760.html
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Old 09-24-2022, 08:05 PM   #3
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There is history of recalls for the auto changeover regulators; I always leave 1 bottle turned off to avoid both being empty when you need them; Not a big problem to walk outside and change position manually; I actually replaced my defective one with a red fuel gas regulator like used on an outdoor boiling rig
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Old 09-24-2022, 08:34 PM   #4
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We operate from only one tank at a time. I turn one on and when everything quits working, close that valve and open the valve on the other tank. I've had automatic changeovers that did their job. However, when I found out the furnace would not light, the cooktop didn't light to make my coffee, and I had to take a cold shower, I found out I had 2 empty tanks. For that reason, I prefer to control tank usage myself. When one is empty, I switch to the other one and go get one filled. That way I'm never caught with 2 empty tanks.

There are a couple of sets of numbers stamped on the neck of the tank.
WC = water capacity in gallons.
TW = weight of the tank when empty. (about 18 lbs)

In general, a full #20 tank grill tank will have about 4.6 gallons of LP at 4.11 lbs/gal. Therefore a #20 grill tank, when full, will weigh about 37 lbs.

It has been reported that some of the "exchange tank" programs only fill to 80%. Thus one of their "full" tanks will weigh about 35 lbs.

I use our bathroom scales on a level place to weigh the tanks. I write the weight and date in pencil near the tank valve.

LP tanks have a "double seal on the valve". Thus one should always fully open the valve or fully close the valve. Never in between as it may leak around the valve shaft.

Bob
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Old 09-24-2022, 09:33 PM   #5
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Someone mentioned weighing a tank to tell how much propane is in a tank. Propane calculations -
4 pounds of propane per gallon, each 7.5 gallon tank is 55 pounds full, so every 4 pounds on a scale equals a gallon
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Old 09-24-2022, 10:11 PM   #6
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After running out of propane and couldn't cook on our propane stove because we didn't realize it had automatically changed over on our tt, we started doing what Bob K4TAX suggested. We turned off the second propane tank.
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Old 09-24-2022, 10:26 PM   #7
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There is a way to check tanks.

If you have a lazar temp gage. You take a cup of boiling water and pour it down the side of the tank. The temps will get cold quick at the level of the propane.

Unless you use the furnace a lot most folks in the Midwest never use two tanks a year unless you travel to cold areas out west.
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Old 09-24-2022, 10:27 PM   #8
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"When one is empty, I switch to the other one and go get one filled. That way I'm never caught with 2 empty tanks.""

X2 plus I have guages on my tanks to let me know when the first tank is getting low. First time I totally drained my propane tank I also weighed it so I now know the weight of the tank empty and full, just in case I need confirmation of guage accuracy.
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Old 09-24-2022, 11:54 PM   #9
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2022 F.R.Wildcat 5th wheel.

Is there a way to test that the automatic propane “switchover” is working properly?
The short answer to that question is yes. Have both tanks' valves open. Turn on a burner on the stove and while the burner is running (lit, of course), close the valve on the tank that is selected as primary (the arrow on the regulator is pointing to.) The auto switchover regulator should switch to the backup propane tank - you should see a red flag in the regulator window. You should be able to relight the stove top and be burning propane from the backup tank.

For normal operation, I keep the valve on the backup tank closed. That way I know when the primary tank runs empty - nothing will work on propane until I open the valve on the backup tank.
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Old 09-25-2022, 05:41 AM   #10
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Thanks Navy LCDR. This sounds like a great idea. I’m not really concerned with how much is in the primary tank as I am concerned if both tanks are emptying and I think only one is emptying.
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Old 09-25-2022, 05:54 AM   #11
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If you're hooked to shore power ... look at the electric heaters as primary heating source


I have one of them electric fireplaces... but never use the heat much
nice night light though
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Old 09-25-2022, 08:26 AM   #12
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One just needs to get into the routine of looking at the switch-over indicator when out camping but I suppose having an auto switch-over is like having cruise control and then never using it.

It is a great tool but you have to use it the way it is intended.

In 50 years of camping I've never totally run out of propane using a switch-over LP system but I look at it often and usually daily during heavy LP use like in the fall when using the furnace. Sure beats getting up at 4:00 AM and going out to open a valve!
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Old 09-25-2022, 08:57 AM   #13
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One just needs to get into the routine of looking at the switch-over indicator when out camping but I suppose having an auto switch-over is like having cruise control and then never using it.

It is a great tool but you have to use it the way it is intended.

In 50 years of camping I've never totally run out of propane using a switch-over LP system but I look at it often and usually daily during heavy LP use like in the fall when using the furnace. Sure beats getting up at 4:00 AM and going out to open a valve!
X2!
It takes 2 seconds to check the indicator for a fifth wheel, but can be a pain for a TT where you have to remove the cover. But less PITA than the heater quitting in the wee hours and having to get up and manually switch tanks!
I have several friends (with fifth wheels) who prescribe to the manual method of turning off one tank and will not use the auto switch over as designed. I will never understand their thinking.
I laugh and give them grief all day after their wife kicks them out of bed at 3am because the heater quit And it invariably happens in the middle of night
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:25 PM   #14
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Thanks 5picker. I move every 2 - 3 weeks and check it then when I turn off both tanks for travel. Also check it, when I remember, between moves.
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:30 PM   #15
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I laugh and give them grief all day after their wife kicks them out of bed at 3am because the heater quit And it invariably happens in the middle of night
It's better than having the wife kick you out of bed at 3am because the heater quit and you discover that now both the primary and backup tanks are empty because the auto-switch regulator switched over to the backup tank and the owner did not notice.

I would rather know when the first tank runs empty, rather than having to look for the red flag on the regulator on a weekly basis. Look at it this way - I can pull the cover off the tanks and regulator and look at the regulator once a week - or I can pull the cover off the tanks and open the valve on the backup tank once. Which is less effort? (even if it is at 3 am).
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:34 PM   #16
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It's better than having the wife kick you out of bed at 3am because the heater quit and you discover that now both the primary and backup tanks are empty because the auto-switch regulator switched over to the backup tank and the owner did not notice.

I would rather know when the first tank runs empty, rather than having to look for the red flag on the regulator on a weekly basis. Look at it this way - I can pull the cover off the tanks and regulator and look at the regulator once a week - or I can pull the cover off the tanks and open the valve on the backup tank once. Which is less effort? (even if it is at 3 am).
That is definitely one way to look at it
I do know if I ever let the propane run completely out on a winter boondocking trip, Liz would be hooking up the truck and leaving with or without me! So I always have at least one extra tank in reserve
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:37 PM   #17
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Been using the Mopeka Bluetooth system for a few years with very good results. There is also an app for your phone.
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https://www.amazon.com/AP-Products-1...eae8f9840&th=1
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:38 PM   #18
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That is definitely one way to look at it
And, actually, my tank cover has the access door on the top. I don't even need to pull the cover off to operate the valves, just open the access door. But if I want to see the red flag window, I can't see it from the access door on top (without an inspection mirror). So it is even more work to check for the red flag than to operate the valves.
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:41 PM   #19
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It's better than having the wife kick you out of bed at 3am because the heater quit and you discover that now both the primary and backup tanks are empty because the auto-switch regulator switched over to the backup tank and the owner did not notice.

I would rather know when the first tank runs empty, rather than having to look for the red flag on the regulator on a weekly basis. Look at it this way - I can pull the cover off the tanks and regulator and look at the regulator once a week - or I can pull the cover off the tanks and open the valve on the backup tank once. Which is less effort? (even if it is at 3 am).
Everyone has their way so whatever works best for you.

My hang up is with those claiming the auto-changeover is useless and one is better off never using it. That has not been my experience over at least a dozen different R/Vs and I doubt the R/V industry thinks that either or as cost conscious as they are, they'd never install them.
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:45 PM   #20
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As I said earlier, I only keep one tank on service (valve open). The regulator arrow points to that tank. When it runs empty, I move the lever on the regulator to the other tank and open its valve. it is now the primary tank. I take the empty tank, refill it, attach it to the regulator. It is now the backup tank.

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Everyone has their way so whatever works best for you.

My hang up is with those claiming the auto-changeover is useless and one is better off never using it. That has not been my experience over at least a dozen different R/Vs and I doubt the R/V industry thinks that either or as cost conscious as they are, they'd never install them.
I think auto-changeover had more of a useful place when pilot lights needed to stay lit. If it could changeover with enough pressure left and quickly enough to keep the pilots lit, that would definitely be easier than having to relight pilot lights. Now that DSI is standard, I just don't see it as being all that useful, especially with the extra effort required to routinely check for the red flag if you have covered propane tanks and the regulator is under the cover.
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