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Old 11-09-2016, 04:27 PM   #1
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Propane Question

I'm a new class A rv owner, with a propane question. I recently purchased a 2007 Itaska from a dealer in the Phoenix area. During the walk through everything propane was lit and performed perfectly. This is at about 1200 feet. When we did our maiden voyage we went to about 7500 feet and had nothing but trouble with everything propane. Water heater wouldn't stay lit, etc. I took it back to the dealer and of course everything worked fine. I was told that there was nothing they could do and that it would need to be taken back up to Flagstaff and have it set up for that elevation. Is this correct? And if I did that would it still work at lower elevations? I have learned a lot by reading this forum but I couldn't find this problem addressed anywhere.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:40 PM   #2
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I would expect it to work like they are saying.. I would contact manufacturer of appliances for their take. There should be a happy medium.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:41 PM   #3
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I have seen a couple of threads that mentioned altitude as a possible issue. That would lead me to think it is yours. Some of the western folks with higher mountains than I deal with will probably chime in soon. Now I linked so I can see what happens when I head out that way.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dennys67 View Post
I'm a new class A rv owner, with a propane question. I recently purchased a 2007 Itaska from a dealer in the Phoenix area. During the walk through everything propane was lit and performed perfectly. This is at about 1200 feet. When we did our maiden voyage we went to about 7500 feet and had nothing but trouble with everything propane. Water heater wouldn't stay lit, etc. I took it back to the dealer and of course everything worked fine. I was told that there was nothing they could do and that it would need to be taken back up to Flagstaff and have it set up for that elevation. Is this correct? And if I did that would it still work at lower elevations? I have learned a lot by reading this forum but I couldn't find this problem addressed anywhere.
Well Sir,
Our Itasca is an '04 (only 3 years difference) and, we've ran and operated this coach, and all it's appliances at zero feet (Salton Sea area of CA) and Fish Creek area (south of Panguitch UT) at 9,800 ft. and anywhere in between those and, have never had any operational issues. Our fridge, stove, water heater ('nother story) and furnace have always performed flawlessly in any give situation and or altitude.

As for our water heater, it's a sort of known issue that based on the compartment it's in and, the design of the water heater door, that it will starve for air and, it will simply quit, re-lite, quit, re-lite and on and on 'till it figures out what it needs to self correct. But, that's been our only issue with anything propane related.
Scott
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Old 11-09-2016, 06:41 PM   #5
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What kind of regulator do you have.

My regulator started to leak so I had to replace. During my research I found that my regulator was a 2 stage type. In reading about regulators it mentioned that 2 stage regulators are used in instances where elevation differences might occur and/or if there may be large draws on the propane i.e. propane generator.

Regulators are relatively inexpensive so you could try replacing if yours isn't a 2 stage.
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Old 11-09-2016, 06:56 PM   #6
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The furnace and water heater have an air shutter on the end of the burner tube. Since the air is thinner at elevation, the shutter needs to be opened a bit more to supply more oxygen. At high elevation, if you adjust the air until you have a clean blue flame with a dancing yellow tip, you should be fine when you come down to lower elevations.

Your gas range doesn't have an air shutter as it just uses the available air around the burner.
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:05 PM   #7
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The orfice size is what he was referring to and it does have to be set with elevation but the ought to be a happy medium. You might to talk to the manufacturer for is recommendation. Hope this helps
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:23 PM   #8
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I may have a different unit than yours but I live at sea level (well, actually 77 ft. and was in Flagstaff just a few weeks ago. All gas appliances worked just fine. You probably just need some adjustment and if not done recently a good cleaning/service of your gas appliances.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:09 PM   #9
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RV propane appliances operate on 11" WC (that is ~0.4 psi) so air/fuel ratio is critical.

RV propane appliances are rated to properly function up to ~5000' elevation.
Operation above this elevation may require derating by 4 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

How does one 'derate'....change out the propane orifice (go smaller)
None of the RV appliance mfg.s have a 'derating' (high altitude kit)
Actually Suburban does .....but it is just the burner tube and orifice used on their 3 gallon water heater

So due to the less O2 at higher elevations the propane is being delivered is now too 'rich'
Smaller orifice would make for better air/fuel ratio
Adjusting LP Propane Regulator DOWN to 10" WC might improve that air/fuel ratio .....BUT it might be too low for other appliances that use higher flows (water heater/furnace)

Some folks have had success by opening doors/vents on the appliance and leaving them open \ even modifying so air to burner area is not obstructed

Not all brands/models have issues

AND......as always a thorough cleaning and adjustments of burner area, burner spark electrodes, burners etc can do nothing but help
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:38 PM   #10
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Wow. Thanks for all the info that you folks passed on. I have learned so much on this forum already. I will check out my regulator and see what ir is. Thanks again.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:00 PM   #11
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Now I don't want to get myself in a hole bunch of trouble, but there may be a simpler answer. Your propane may not be propane, but butane. The boiling point of propane is around -40 (forty below zero) the boiling point of butane is around 31 degrees F. If you have butane in the tank, get where temperature is in 30's, when you draw gas off the temperature (of the liquid butane) will fall below boiling point and stop flowing.
I have found the farther South I go the more likely to get a mixture of both. Butane has less BTU's per lb. but much cheaper so more markup for seller.

I of course have no idea what is in your tank, but maybe some way to check before you spend a bunch of money.
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Old 11-10-2016, 01:53 AM   #12
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Now I don't want to get myself in a hole bunch of trouble, but there may be a simpler answer. Your propane may not be propane, but butane. The boiling point of propane is around -40 (forty below zero) the boiling point of butane is around 31 degrees F. If you have butane in the tank, get where temperature is in 30's, when you draw gas off the temperature (of the liquid butane) will fall below boiling point and stop flowing.
I have found the farther South I go the more likely to get a mixture of both. Butane has less BTU's per lb. but much cheaper so more markup for seller.

I of course have no idea what is in your tank, but maybe some way to check before you spend a bunch of money.
I would agree that it's a possibility that the tank is filled with something other than HD-5 propane. Here is some information I posted a while ago on the same subject.

As mentioned earlier all "LPG" is not the same. Technically to be legally sold as HD-5 "liquid propane gas" the mixture must contain at least a minimum of 90% propane gas and less than 5% butane and ethane.

The term "LPG" is used for 2 commercially available gasses. It can be either Liquid "Petroleum Gas" which can contain as little as 60% propane, or Liquid Propane Gas which must contain at least 90% propane. Liquid Propane Gas will vaporize down to -44*F. Liquid Petroleum Gas may not vaporize below 33*F depending on the amount of Butane in the mixture.

To be sure you're getting Liquid Propane Gas as opposed to Liquid Petroleum Gas ask the dealer if it meets the HD-5 standard.

Here's a little more information on the subject. Most of what you're asking is covered in the "Uses" section.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propane
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Old 11-10-2016, 04:33 AM   #13
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Replace your regulator, they are cheap. Of all the campers in the Us and high and low altitudes this isn't a problem. We have also camped at sea level and in Flagstaff and never a problem. I would change regulator first as it's easy. The butane idea is quite interesting and has credibility also.

I can say this from experience but it is based on cold weather. We have a large above ground propane tank for a fireplace in our office and for our bbq. I noticed that when it got really cold out we were having problems with the units not working properly, low gas flow. The propane guys replaced the regulator and bam, all good.

Since altitude is the only thing that changed that would be my bet.
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Old 11-11-2016, 01:29 AM   #14
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Unless I missed it. No one has mentioned that it's a good idea to check the pressure on the outlet of the regulator. Using a manometer this can be checked and easily adjusted to the correct 11"wc. Regulators may be cheap but I would check pressure 1st then try other things previously mentioned.
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