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Old 10-03-2015, 06:45 PM   #1
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freezing weather and liquid propane

The manual for my motorhome says that the propane tank can freeze up and that I should check with a local propane vendor to arrange so it is freeze proof. Is this a real world problem? We live in NJ, not ND. I don't think I ever experienced weather below 5 or 10 degrees here. Which would be more prone to freezing? A mostly empty tank or a full tank?
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Old 10-03-2015, 06:51 PM   #2
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Propane will not freeze till it reaches -305 below zero! Propane bottles on grill are outside all around our country along with all the large propane tanks for home heating.........You don't have to do anything to get your propane tank ready for winter. When full, your tank will be at 80% of its capacity. Does not really matter if full or not when it comes to propane tanks for storage period.
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Old 10-03-2015, 06:59 PM   #3
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The problem is that for propane to be used as a gas it must convert from liquid to gas in the tank. That happens at a much higher temp than freezing. Plus, the tank is a small area and might not provide enough flow to run the furnace.
Propane turns from liquid to vapor at -44 so it's usually not a problem. But some areas sell butane as propane and it has a much higher vapor point, about +30.
We've bought "propane" in the SW, then found that we really got butane and heat, and stove quit working as we got into colder climes.
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Old 10-03-2015, 07:40 PM   #4
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For use in really cold country, your propane dealer can add methanol (I think? It's been a while) to your tank to pretty much eliminate potential for your regulator to freeze. Ask a good dealer in areas that get cold. They'll know about it. Very inexpensive to have done.
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Old 10-06-2015, 07:08 PM   #5
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We were Wallydocking last year between Christmas and New Years in Jasper TX. and I woke up about 4:30 AM to a cold MH because it was cold enough for the tank to not produce gas to run the heater. So now I carry a heating blanket.




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Old 10-06-2015, 07:31 PM   #6
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Not Sure !
In Indy last Jan I ran Propane for heat while working inside and it was -10 deg for weeks - never a problem at all !- I used and external tank. Left for Fla again it was -10 deg and had plenty of Heat all the way down.
Top off your on board Tank and during the winter use an auxiliary tank to heat in the interim !
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Old 10-06-2015, 07:45 PM   #7
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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 10-06-2015, 07:51 PM   #8
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That was likely a frozen regulator that shut down on you. The fuel will vaporize down to silly cold temps. Used to have a home in Northern Mi. that would work fine down into temps to 20 below and colder. It's the regulator that screws up when you aren't getting fuel.

Forgot to mention, methanol is generally a one time treatment. Done once, you shouldn't have to do it again.


http://www.propanecouncil.org/upload...g%20Report.pdf
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:29 AM   #9
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Thanks for the info - it happened two winters ago and I remember that the water droplets on the side of the tank were frozen. The ambian temp was below freezing. I was using a 20# tank because I was trying to empty it so I could get a complete fill. Our dealer charges us a flat rate for any portable tanks that he fills. I want to say that he explained to me that the surface area of the small tank wasn't big enough for the propane to produce enough vapor, at that temp, to feed two heaters and that was why he recommended a 12 volt heater blanket. He also stated that the horizional tank had enough surface area that we wouldn't have that problem. We have not used the portable tank since, when it's going to be below freezing.

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Old 10-07-2015, 09:51 AM   #10
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and he was right.

We were in Morocco and it was below freezing and a neighbor was outside wrapping blankets around the external tank he was using to conserve what was in his fixed tank. Asked him why and he said they froze because the heater cut out at 3am. I warned him that insulating the tank would make things worse but he insisted anyway. Next morning he was out bright and early - and shivering - unwrapping the tank.

Problem is much of the world uses butane and as has been stated here, anything below about 35F means no gas vapour regardless of surface area of tank. Some supplies are a mixture of propane and butane and the propane often vapourises preferentially (like distilling alcohol out of a water-alcohol mixture) so eventually you can end up with just butane and no vapour on a cold day.

On a couple of vehicles I've directed some heated air around the propane locker so that when I have butane on-board, I still have pressure.
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Old 10-09-2015, 12:59 PM   #11
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ive been in wyoming in january, at about minus 20 degrees. i had added methanol to my fixed tank for any water within the tank. i had no trouble keeping the furnace going, but there is no way to keep a rv warm at 20 below. electric blankets are a real life saver.
as are the small electric space heaters.
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