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Propane Systems Installation and Safety


Safety is Paramount When Installing a Propane System


By Jack and Alex Wilken Propane (LPG) aboard a boat can


be an installed system or a stand alone appliance such as a barbecue. This article is about the former. What exactly is the liquid petroleum


gas (LPG), known as propane? Under pressure in the bottle, it is a liquid which permits convenient transportation and storage, yet when back in the atmosphere – at the burner, where it will be used for cooking or heating – it returns to its gaseous state. Dangers: In this gaseous state, LPG presents a fire and explosion hazard. Being heavier than air, it sinks to the bottom of an enclosed space and cannot be readily dispelled by overhead ventilation. This


means you can have all your hatches open and the LPG can remain in the bilge unless you force ventilate it. It is also non-toxic and invisible


but it can displace the air you need to breathe. By law, commercially available LPG has an odorous gas added to help with leak detection. Be mindful that since LPG is a two-phased fuel (liquid/vapor), the odor concentration can vary depending on how much fuel is still in the bottle. Also, the odorous gas can dissipate, even though the concentration of LPG gas may still be present.


Figure #1 - This is a flare fitting on the left side and pipe threads on the right side. Use yellow Teflon tape or thread sealant only on the pipe threads.


SAFE INSTALLATION: So you won’t have an explosion (giving peace of mind) and to pass a marine survey for insurance or resale purposes, you will want to follow ABYC (Ame r i c an Boating and Y a c h t i n g C o u n c i l ) s t a n d a r d s .


The following should


give you the information you need:


Figure #2 - The order of assembly


for the regulator, tank adapter, gauge, and flare fitting.


48° NORTH, MAY 2011 PAGE 38


Figure #3 - Picture shows tank with adapter connected by a short hose to a high pressure solenoid valve. The solenoid is mounted directly to the regulator and then to the hose that connects to the appliance. Note proper size wrench kept in locker.


What you must have: Propane bottle/tank/cylinder, regulator, gauge, solenoid & control panel (shut-off valve), hose or supply line, vented containment, warning plaque, detailed printed instructions for operation and testing and, of course, the appliance(s) you want to run. What you should have: All of the


above, plus a sniffer/gas sensor with auto shut-off and a Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Propane tank- It must have an


over-fill protection (OPD) valve, a Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and date of manufacture stamp. Periodic required inspection process - For metal (steel or aluminum) tanks - recertification after the first 12 years from the date of manufacture and every 5 years after that; Fiberglass - recertification every 5 years for the 15 years life. These tests consist of visual inspection of the exterior and pressure testing. LPG tanks must be used in their designed orientation- either vertically or horizontally. Regulator - Must be for LPG


systems. Use yellow Teflon tape (white breaks down in the presence of petroleum), Permatex High Temperature Thread Sealant #592 14,


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