Propane safety question.

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bum4evr

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Heya all. I currently live in an old RV (1990ish I think) parked next to a house. I am disabled and on SSI and the price was right so here I am. Due to the distance from the RV to the house I have to hook up an orange extension cord to the RV power cord to reach the house, and the end of the RV cord already has a little melting damage on it from previous tenants using more power then it can handle. (or a loose connection) so I want to put as little stress on those cords and plugs as possible so I use a 250 watt ceramic heater and the propane stove for warmth.

When I use the stove for heat I only use one burner and turn it down very low, you cant even hear it hiss its down so low.

My question is, why do they say its dangerous to use the stove for heat when its perfectly ok to use all 3 burners to cook something but if I use one burner on a very low setting I am in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning? That does not make logical sense to me.

Also.. this RV does have LP gas detector and carbon monoxide detector but due to age who knows if they really work, even though both green lights are lit, but LP gas detector has no test button, just reset.

I turn gas off before bed and have a note above my bed that says "turn gas off!" just to be safe. I dont need heat when under my warm blankets, just when I am awake in this 30 to 40 degree weather.
Any advice or comments are appreciated.

Sean G
 

DearMissMermaid

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Does your propane furnace work?

An electric mattress warmer draws very little and does magic for staying warm all night.

The 200 watt heaters do an amazing job, you could run 2-3-4-5 of them in various areas.

Some people use clay pots from the garden to make a heater.

http://theselfsufficientliving.com/10-clay-pot-heaters-an-inexpensive-way-to-warm-your-room/

By the way they do make heavy duty  extension cords, kind of pricey but well worth the security.
 

Gizmo100

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We have a sticker on our vent over the stove that states "Vent must be turned on when using the stove" Reading thr manual to the stove not only states to turn on a exhaust fan but also open a window to bring in fresh air.

You didn't ask but have you checked the extension cord gauge.

You are wise to limit your use of electricity, it can add up fast.

I would guess that you may have around 1200 watts to play with. If you are running the refrigerator, heater, lights and maybe a TV you could already be over.
 
 

Isaac-1

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Propane stoves in RV are a potential Carbon Monoxide danger, they are not intended to be used hour after hour, they also have no safety feature to prevent them from using up all the oxygen in the coach.  You are right about your carbon monoxide monitor, chances are it went nose blind years ago, these units are good for about 5-7 years (the manufacture date should be printed on the back of the CO monitor).  This of course leads to the question of does your main propane furnace work, if not you might consider getting a safer propane heater to use in the coach.  At the lower end are heaters like the Mr. Heater heater buddy, with adapter hose,  You could probably buy one for about $80 https://smile.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-F232000-Indoor-Safe-Portable/dp/B01DD6C4MY/, another $50 for an extend-a-stay tank adapter like https://smile.amazon.com/Stanbroil-Propane-Adapter-12-Feet-Motorhomes/dp/B06X1C59X1/ then if you want to go cheap, and don't plan to ever move the coach, just drill a hole in the floor to bring the hose inside, though this too is a safety issue if you ever plan to run the engine.  A better option would be to run a dedicated propane connection line.  Another popular option is the Olympian Wave 3 heater at about $190, though regardless if you choose to run an exposed burner propane heater inside the coach,  you should always open a window a bit to let some fresh air in, as all flames consume oxygen.
 

John From Detroit

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Propane if properly adjusted won't produce much CO but it will CO2 (And water) and suck up O2. it really sucks up O2 and when you run out of O2.... You die.. CO can also kill you as can CO2 if the concentrations are high enough.

All combustion sucks up O2 and produces both CO and CO2..

Cooking you rarely cook for more than an hour or two. Heating you run it 8 hours or more.
I would make the outside vented furnace do the job... That way the CO/CO2 goes OUTSIDE and the O2 comes from OUTSIDE where there is a much much much greater supply.

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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As others have mentioned, the stove danger is oxygen depletion.  Using the stove burner(s) for lengthy periods consumes a lot of the oxygen in the air and there may not be enough air leaks in the RV to replenish it.  Is using one burner on very low enough to do that?  Shear guesswork.  The best we can say is that depletion takes longer on low than on high, and  longer using one burner vs three.  A CO detector that might warm if the oxygen level gets way low, but not much else will warn before you slowly lose consciousness.  The symptoms of oxygen depletion are described here:
https://www.airproducts.com/~/media/Files/PDF/company/safetygram-17.pdf

You should be using the RV's propane fired furnace, which gets its combustion air externally and vents exhaust the same way.  Alternatively, use a catalytic LP space heater, which will have an oxygen depletion sensor built it and shut itself off before the O2 level gets too low.

As for the "orange extension cord", the color is meaningless and most such cords are only capable of light loads (10 amps or less).  You need to get a power cord that has an amperage capacity adequate for your RV power demand.  If the RV uses 30A shore power and the outlet you are plugged to can supply 30A, then you must use an extension with 10 gauge wire. If the outlet has a max of 20A, you can use a less expensive 12 gauge extension for distances up to 25 ft or so.  I realize your budget is limited, but you need adequate power and wiring that will deliver it without melting or catching fire.  You can get 12 gauge or 10 gauge extension cords at Home Depot, Lowes, local hardware stores, or Amazon.com.

Here's a 25 ft 12/3 cord for $23. A 50 footer is $28.
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-SJTW-Heavy-Duty-Lighted-Extension/dp/B01IN11IJ4/?th=1

A similar 10 gauge cord is around $30.  https://www.amazon.com/Foot-Lighted-Outdoor-Extension-Cord/dp/B078KFMGP4/
 

bum4evr

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To DearMissMermaid: Not sure if propane furnace works, the 4 vents in the floor would have to be vacuumed out as they have acquired a lot of junk that fell through. I am lucky the propane tank shows 2/3 full and that might last me the winter just using the stove. The RV runs but it owes DMV over $1200 on back registration and so it would be hard to drive it to propane refill place and even though I have a regular propane tank I could hook up, I dont have the connecting hose and I bet those are expensive as heck.

To Gizmo100: The fan over the stove in this RV just blows air downward, seems kinda pointless. My electric use is covered in my rent but I still try to conserve. I have LED lights I have plugged in and never use the 12 volt lights that are built in, they run so hot I can't touch the light covers for more then a few seconds so I know they waste power. I am amazed the fridge works in this thing because every other RV I have ever seen this old didnt have a working fridge. I turn the heater off when I use the built-in magic chef microwave.. not sure how many watts it uses.

Other things: CO monitor has no date on back, it didnt work at first so I removed it from the wall and attached a cigarette lighter plug to it and plugged it in and now it works. Probably useless due to its age.. I will just get another one on ebay or at home depot. Some 12 volt things dont work, maybe a blown fuse or 2, no biggie as I rarely use the 12 volt stuff.

The orange cord I am using now goes under the front door of the house which can still close, if I get a bigger one that may not be the case and there is no other way to plug in, other then through a window and I don't want to create unnecessary hardships on the people I am renting this RV from. Imagine me telling my landlord: "oh I need to cut a hole in the bottom of the front door" or "i need to cut through the screen on your bedroom window and have you keep that window slightly open so I can run a cord through" These are things I want to avoid at all costs. I have been homeless before and kinda want to avoid that, so I am going to make due with what I have and be grateful I have it. 

Thx for all the replies! :) You all seem like a great bunch! Please feel free to give any more advice.

Sean G
 

blw2

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DearMissMermaid said:
Some people use clay pots from the garden to make a heater.

http://theselfsufficientliving.com/10-clay-pot-heaters-an-inexpensive-way-to-warm-your-room/

I've never seen that done before.  Nifty ideas though...can't believe I've never thought of it.  Seems like a good way to capture that convective energy that goes up and away!  Some of the write ups though, make it seem that they don't really produce all that much heat...

 

John From Detroit

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The orange cords often start at 16 Ga (about 12 anps max)( thenb 14 (15) than 12 (20) and none are really up to electric heat in an RV though the 12ga ones (i have one) may do the job.. But go under the door.. I don't think so.. And I'd not want anything else (Like the converter or eletronics) on that cord.
 

HappyWanderer

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To get a decent cord under the door, they make flat 12 gauge "appliance" extension cords. A twelve-foot cord is less than $20. Once outside, you can transition to a proper 10 gauge cord.

It's a compromise, but certainly less of a fire hazard than a round cord small enough to fit under a door.
 

grashley

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Welcome to the Forum!

Understand your situation.

The  second item Isaac referenced is only $56 and will allow you to run propane from the portable tank you have, which is much easier to refill.
I also fear using the stove for heat.  The potential problems - CO poisoning or O2 depletion are both silent killers.  You get sleepy, doze off and never wake up.  The referenced catalytic heaters are much safer and more efficient.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I understand the concerns but think you are making the potential problems worse than they really are.  A 12 gauge cord isn't much different diameter than a 16 gauge, a Tee for an external tank isn't terribly expensive, and the amount of propane you would use depends solely on the temperature you maintain inside. If you are getting by on one stove burner set low, you obviously aren't keeping the place real hot!

But it's your life & health that are at risk, so it's your call. Well, except for the potential of burning down the rented RV.
 

bum4evr

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Luckily the bedroom has its own door so I can close that, and I can see sunlight coming in through the side door so I know its needs weatherstripping. And yes its not as warm as I would like, sometimes I wear 2 sweatshirts when I sit in front of my PC even with the ceramic heater (tonight's low temp is 32)

One question I have is about the device that converts 120 to 12v - is that device always running and draining power? Because I could certainly live without it if I could find a way to just turn it off, but I would want all my 120 stuff to continue to work, the outlets and microwave etc.. I assume the fridge runs on 120 as well..
 

Molaker

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Do you not have a 30 amp power cord that normally powers the RV? The RV should have either a permanently attached power cord or a twist-lock 30 amp (might be 50 amp) inlet connector. This will be on the outside and all you need to do is adapt an extension cord to connect to it. Then you have no need to go under a door or through a window.


I was reading back over this thread when I realized you said the orange cord went under the HOUSE door, not the RV. Sorry, my bad.
 

Lou Schneider

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bum4evr said:
One question I have is about the device that converts 120 to 12v - is that device always running and draining power? Because I could certainly live without it if I could find a way to just turn it off, but I would want all my 120 stuff to continue to work, the outlets and microwave etc.. I assume the fridge runs on 120 as well..

There are a few RV refrigerators that have manual controls along the bottom edge of the box, but most RV refrigerators have a control board that needs 12 volts to operate in addition to the 120 volts or propane that provides the heat to drive the cooling unit.

One thing about electricity, it's energy is never wasted.  It's either doing work or producing heat.  When you replaced the incandescent lights to "save energy" you lost the heat they generated inside your living area.  This can be a significant amount of heat, one winter when I was in WA state I walked into a well insulated mobile home on a 30 degree morning and it was a comfortable 65 degrees inside.  The only source of heat was a single 100 watt light bulb left on in each room.  Combined with the excellent insulation, it was enough to keep the house warm over a sub-freezing night.

The same thing holds true for the 12 volt converter.  Most of the power going into it is converted directly into 12 volts, but some of the incoming power is transformed into heat.

All of this "waste" heat is being generated inside your living area, so if you replace the light bulbs with cool LEDs or shut off the converter you'll just have to replace the heat they generated with additional heat from another source.

The only energy savings happen in the summertime, if you're using an air conditioner it will have to work a bit harded to transfer that "waste" heat outside.

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Your RV will be dead without some 12v power - appliance circuit boards (including the fridge in AC mode), interior lighting, etc. Yes, the 12v converter runs all the time but basically consumes power only as needed. On average it's probably no worse than a 40W light bulb and hardly worth worrying about.  If the RV has no battery installed, the converter is probably using more like 10-15 watts rather than 40W.
 

John From Detroit

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bum4evr said:
One question I have is about the device that converts 120 to 12v - is that device always running and draining power? Because I could certainly live without it if I could find a way to just turn it off, but I would want all my 120 stuff to continue to work, the outlets and microwave etc.. I assume the fridge runs on 120 as well..

First YOU CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT IT.. IT runs the furnace. and control power to the Fridge and Water heater and Air conditioners and other stuff It also lights up your life (Runs the lights) and fans and .. Well dang near everything save the TV and Microwave.  (Though on some stuff it is only the CONTROLS that it powers not the device itself)

Second yes unless you turn off the breaker it runs all the time. but how much power it "Sucks" varies.. Mine can suck up to about 1,000 watts if the batteries are "Hungry" or if the batteries are full up less than 100 watts. way less.  Totally dependent on how much power it is supplying. add about 20 percent and that's how much on mine.. Some you only add 5-10 percent.
 

Gizmo100

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I think something we all have to keep in mind....Sean is trying to live on SSI and I willing to bet it doesn't go very far.

The price of extension cord could be a choice of eating the next day or two.

I agree you will need to keep the 12 volts live in order to keep the refrigerator and water heater running. (Maybe some other items as well)

You mentioned sunlight coming in around the door. Consider hanging a blanket over the door to block the cold air coming in though the crack. If you can, consider this for the windows as well. RV windows are not known for their R-rating. It's a good idea closing off the bedroom and only heating the one room.

Something I haven't seen mentioned....Do you have running water and if so is it protected against freezing?

I'm concerned about the amount wattage you may be drawing. But I understand not wanting to rock the boat with the landlord. Just keep a eye on what your running and try and be safe.
 

mel s

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blw2 said:
I've never seen that done before.  Nifty ideas though...can't believe I've never thought of it.  Seems like a good way to capture that convective energy that goes up and away!  Some of the write ups though, make it seem that they don't really produce all that much heat...
blw2
A single "burning candle", (or tealight), has an energy output of about 100 BTU/hr....A 1500 watt electrics space heater produces 5100 BTU/hr.
You would need fifty one (51) "burning candles" to equal the heat output of one (1) 1500 watt electric space heater.
 
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