What Is An RV Propane Regulator?
Propane is a common necessity among RVs of any size, make, or type. Propane is the fuel for items such as your stove/oven, water heater, furnace, and fridge.
The source of propane, of course, are your propane tanks. Refillable propane tanks contain the fuel, and when open, release it to your RV. The propane system on your RV is very simple and trouble-free for the most part.
RVs, although rugged enough to be hauled around down bumpy roads, have some delicate components that need protection. In the case of the plumbing components, we use water regulators to limit the pressure coming into the RV and flowing through the plumbing system. On the electrical side, we have surge protectors to prevent spikes or drops in voltage from damaging electronics.
The fuel system is no different and requires a steady pressure of propane to operate safely. This is where propane regulators come in.
Propane tanks store the fuel under pressure. When released from the tank, this pressure can be anywhere from 100 to 200 PSI (pounds per square inch).
A propane regulator’s job is to control and reduce this pressure before entering your RV. This is needed for your appliances to operate correctly and keep you safe. As we know, propane is highly explosive and can be a danger if not controlled and used in a safe manner.
The regulator is located between the tanks and main fuel line leading to your RV. It is attached to the propane tank valve and usually mounted at the tanks for easy access. RV dual tank propane regulators allow for the uninterrupted use of two tanks.
Do you need a propane regulator?
Yes! Having propane flowing to your RV at 150 PSI is definitely not going to be safe. Regulators are standard features on RVs and are cheap to purchase new if a replacement is needed.
BBQs, fire pits, and any other appliance connected to propane tanks use regulators for proper operation and safety, and your RV needs one as well.
RVs require propane flow to be approximately 11 inches of water column for safe use. Inches of water column are a more precise measure of pressure than PSI. To understand the importance of a propane regulator, keep in mind that 11 IWC is only 0.4 PSI compared to over 100 PSI leaving the tank!
This excess of propane pressure could cause damage to components and/or be too much fuel to be fully burned by appliances, resulting in propane building up and/or being released into the RV.
How does an dual tank RV propane regulator work?
A dual tank regulator will have three connections: one for each of the propane tanks and one for the main fuel line to the RV.
The connections for the tanks and fuel line are different, so they can’t be mixed up. Each tank will have a line connected with the regulator in the middle and a single line coming from the bottom of the regulator like a tee.
When the propane tank is open, the fuel flows to the regulator and is immediately dropped down to 10-15 PSI by the first stage regulator. The second stage drops this further to the 0.4 PSI required by the RV. The fuel then leaves the regulator and flows to the RV.
Having two propane tanks is pretty standard on most RVs. It allows for continued use of propane if one tank empties.
An RV dual tank propane regulator, as the name suggests, is connected to both tanks. In addition to the pressure regulating duties, it also allows switching between tanks as needed.
An indicator is usually green for full and red for empty on the front signals when one tank is empty. A lever on the regulator lets you easily switch over to the second tank.
Benefits of a dual tank regulator
When one tank runs out of propane with a single tank regulator, you would need to unhook the tank and hook the regulator to your new full tank.
RVs have two tanks for convenience, and this is also the benefit of dual tank regulators. When one tank is empty, a quick flip of a switch continues the flow of propane.
This means you can leave both tanks hooked up and change out the empty one when you choose by unhooking the dedicated line for that tank.
Propane issues are not super common but do happen. If you don’t have propane for some reason, a quick look at your RV dual tank propane regulator will determine if it is because of an empty tank or if there is something else going on.
As beneficial as manual switch-over regulators are, there are also automatic switch-over RV dual tank propane regulators available.
The benefit to these is that they sense when the tank is empty and automatically switch over to the full tank. This means no running out of propane through the night while cooking or having a hot shower.
Propane regulators vs dual tank propane regulators
Propane regulators are a must; this is without question. The question is: do you need an RV dual tank propane regulator?
You may not need one, but for the cost, it makes sense. The peace of mind of not running out of propane along with being able to quickly check for an empty tank make it a smart buy.
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