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Author Topic: Propane and the Refrigerator  (Read 3066 times)

aguablanco

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Propane and the Refrigerator
« on: November 30, 2015, 01:21:49 PM »
We will be boondocking soon and I am concerned about propane for the refrigerator. We have a Norcold with a small freezer and I am hoping to get 7-8 days out of two 5 gallon tanks. We will be using the shower occasionally and cooking some meals on the stove. I will only run the water heater as necessary and keep it off most of the time. I have the ability to take 2 extra tanks, but would prefer to use that weight differently. Any thoughts are appreciated.
RichH
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halfwright

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2015, 05:42:33 PM »
I do not think you would have a problem with a month or more. We full time and go for 2-3 months on a 7.5 gallon tank, as long as we do not use the furnace. We boondock over 75% of the time.

There is almost always a place close so that you can trade tanks. Most convenience stores will have a rack of tanks. If one does run out, trade it in on your next trip to town. 
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John From Detroit

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2015, 05:53:57 PM »
For the fridge. two five gallon tanks will last 7-8 WEEKS without issue..  For the water heater not so long but I'd say you should have no problem espically since it's two tanks.. you did say five gallon (20 pounds) (I was thinking something smaller)

Droup the "You should not" replace with "You will not" you should be good for at least a month.. What's more with two tanks open ONE tank, if it runs dry switch over (There are check valves so you can do what i"m about to suggest) remove the empty to a propane refill place and run off the other one.. When it runs dry switch back...

NOTE: My family did this for like ...20 years.
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racer4

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 09:55:35 PM »
My 8 cu-ft refrigerator and a small amount of hot water use will go through a little less than 1/2 gallon of propane per day.
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aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 04:37:01 PM »
Thanks everyone for the great info. My mind is now at ease.
RichH
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2010 Freedom Spirit 24 FBSL
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Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2015, 10:05:54 AM »
Thanks for the info guys. I will be using a Champion 3100 watt inverter generator most days, for a few hours, to run AC and charge the battery. I am taking 15-20 gallons of stabilized gas for the generator.  I would hope that my existing battery would run the fridge, and other small draws like the CO detector and smoke alarm for 24 hours between charges. Had a great suggestion for running the water heater off the generator, hadn't thought of that for some reason. Will take showers then. My understanding and observations have indicated that the fridge basically runs off of a "pilot" flame. I had a suggestion to convert BTU's to gallons so I found this example on the net https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110220230954AAQ2HVg  It seems a bit optimistic to me, however, if it is even reasonably accurate I am encouraged. It seems to say that a cylinder will last over 18 days for a 1000 BTU/hour pilot light. Even if off by 50% that would be 9 days which is excellent for 1 cylinder. I really don't anticipate using the furnace much, if at all. That's what fleece layers and blankets are for.
One more issue if you guys have the time. Since this event has porta potties we will be using them as much as we can and only using our toilet for night visits. Based on this it is obvious the the gray tank will fill much faster than the black tank. I can carry 35 gal. of fresh water and both the gray and black hold 35 gal each. Would there be a problem with transferring some of the gray water to the black tank if necessary? Any issues that this might cause? I will also have ~35 gals. of fresh water in Jerry cans for drinking and cooking. I will be putting some of this water in the fresh tank for washing as well.
While the wife and I are long time expedition whitewater rafters, and we have no problem at all doing the logistics for a 23 day Grand Canyon rafting trip for 16 people with no re-supply, this is totally new to us and I know the learning curve can be very steep. I certainly don't want to be in a trailer with empty propane cylinders and no fresh water on day 3. Not to mention full gray and black tanks.
Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and insights.
RichH
2012 Silverado 1500 5.3L 6 Speed
2010 Freedom Spirit 24 FBSL
Curt 10K WDH
Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

Trivet

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2015, 05:16:19 PM »
I have a Norcold 1200 LR that has four doors:  2 doors on the refrigerator that open to one large compartment, and 2 separate freezer compartments.  12 cubic feet total.

It uses 1/2 gallon of propane a day. 

Are you planning on emptying some gray water into a bucket and putting it in the toilet?  That will work and won't cause problems, but in case you're not familiar with gray water, that stuff can be really nasty, especially if it's been sitting in a tank and is rather concentrated because you're conserving water.  It won't hurt the black tank, but it will stink and be gross when you're transferring it.

Stephen S.

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2015, 07:00:04 PM »
There is no problem with using a bucket to transfer some grey to black if the grey tank fills too fast. You just don't want to go the other way. ;)
Stephen S.
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aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2015, 05:14:43 PM »
I will be using a bucket as needed. Certainly won't put more than a couple of gallons in the bucket at a time to ensure a smooth transfer.  Plan to pre-clean all dishes, pots pans and glasses with paper as much as possible. Really think the majority of the gray water will be from the shower. I don't usually use chemicals in the tanks but may try some in both tanks for this trip in the hope that it will eliminate some of the potential odors. We actually use some chemicals in the toilet system when we raft and they are amazingly efficient at odor control even though there is very little to no water in the box.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 05:18:08 PM by aguablanco »
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2015, 05:32:30 PM »
A better way is to get a large plastic tray for the sink and wash the dishes in it.  Then carry the tray full of water over to the toilet and pour it in.

Filling a bucket from the common black/grey water outlet means that water is infectious waste, not something I'd care to bring back into the house to pour down the toilet.

Another way to stretch grey tank capacity is to get a couple of 5 gallon plastic jerry cans and a sewer outlet cap with a garden hose outlet.  Make sure you mark the jerry cans as being for drain use only. Cut a short section of garden hose and use it to drain part of the grey water tank into the jerry cans, then take them to a dump station or other suitable location for emptying.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 05:39:20 PM by Lou Schneider »

Gennaver

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2016, 06:38:30 AM »
Glad to read this thread.

My learning curve is high and I had no idea how I would full time with a propane fridge since I'd never used one. I'll be living at a park that sells propane too so that will help.

Until I figure it out though, I'll be living without!  :P

Jen

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 06:53:02 AM »
If you are living in a park with electric service, the fridge won't need any propane. It almost surely uses 120v electric as an alternate power source and most will automatically select electric power if available.
Gary
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aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2016, 09:02:56 AM »
Update: Went out for the New Years weekend and had the fridge on propane from Monday to Sunday and was surprised how little propane we used. Even had to run the furnace some and also used the stove for a couple of meals and still came back with some propane. I will get the cylinders refilled this weekend and let everyone know how much I really used. Thanks again for all of the input and advice.
RichH
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 09:07:54 AM by aguablanco »
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Kevin Means

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2016, 11:42:29 AM »
You didn't say what type of RV you have but propane furnaces in RVs consume a relatively high amount of both propane and battery power. I'll bet there are few longtime RVers here who haven't, at one time or another, run their batteries down while using their furnaces. Reading your post, it seems like you'll be boondocking. If that's the case, you might want to look into catalytic propane heaters. They only sip propane (one handheld disposable bottle will last an entire night) they're nearly silent, they do a good job of heating a room and they don't use any RV battery power. They're designed for RVs and safe to use indoors.

We've been using one for years. We keep a couple windows and vents cracked for airflow, and we've never had any of our CO detectors go off (Three motorhomes, 21 years). I plumbed ours to run off the RV's propane supply, and we've never had to refill our propane tank even once since we bought the RV 2 & 1/2 years ago. Like I said, they just sip propane. We're heading out tomorrow to an isolated Arizona camping area, and since the temps are only forecast to be in the low 40s at night, that's the only heater we'll use.

Kev
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 11:51:36 AM by Kevin Means »
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aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2016, 02:55:38 PM »
You didn't say what type of RV you have but propane furnaces in RVs consume a relatively high amount of both propane and battery power. I'll bet there are few longtime RVers here who haven't, at one time or another, run their batteries down while using their furnaces. Reading your post, it seems like you'll be boondocking. If that's the case, you might want to look into catalytic propane heaters. They only sip propane (one handheld disposable bottle will last an entire night) they're nearly silent, they do a good job of heating a room and they don't use any RV battery power. They're designed for RVs and safe to use indoors.

We've been using one for years. We keep a couple windows and vents cracked for airflow, and we've never had any of our CO detectors go off (Three motorhomes, 21 years). I plumbed ours to run off the RV's propane supply, and we've never had to refill our propane tank even once since we bought the RV 2 & 1/2 years ago. Like I said, they just sip propane. We're heading out tomorrow to an isolated Arizona camping area, and since the temps are only forecast to be in the low 40s at night, that's the only heater we'll use.

Kev

Kevin,
Thanks for the heads up. I doubt that we will be doing much boondocking in the future. Where my real concern is is when we attend Burning Man this year. That will definitely be in the boonies as far as services are concerned. We are avid outdoor people, regularly do 3 week Grand Canyon rafting trips unsupported, so heat is a luxury we can get past. Fleece and blankets go a very long way. We will be taking our Champion 3100W inverter generator as well for some AC use and to keep the batteries charged. While we don't mind cold, extreme heat is another issue. We have a Dutchmen 240FSU trailer. My main concern is keeping food cold for the 7-8 days we will be at Burning Man. We will have a 105 quart cooler with us as a back up. The really good news is the honey truck that we may be able to find while there. I will certainly look into the catalytics.
RichH
2012 Silverado 1500 5.3L 6 Speed
2010 Freedom Spirit 24 FBSL
Curt 10K WDH
Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

aguablanco

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2016, 10:46:14 PM »
Thought I would post an update with my findings after our recent outing. Got the trailer out of storage on a Monday and immediately cranked up the fridge on propane. BTW, discovered my cylinders are only 4 gallon. Ran the fridge on propane the full time until Sunday. Also used the furnace more than I thought I would along with a small amount of stove use. Went to get the cylinders refilled and only needed 3 gallons total. I was amazed! Looks like we will have no problem if we are lucky enough to get Burning Man tickets. Thanks to all for the great information and suggestions. 
RichH

2012 Silverado 1500 5.3L 6 Speed
2010 Freedom Spirit 24 FBSL
Curt 10K WDH
Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

Gennaver

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Re: Propane and the Refrigerator
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2016, 08:00:20 AM »
I'm happy for you!

This is turning out to be more awesome than I'd hoped for in my situation too.

Thank you very much to everyone for their guidance!

Jen

 

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