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Old 01-26-2017, 08:25 PM   #1
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Default Portable propane tank vs traditional, permanently mounted tank

Why donít American Bs use internally stored propane tanks like many European Bs do? Is there a valid safety issue stopping manufacturers (unlikely given Europeans arenít blowing themselves up)? Is there just no demand for that approach? Or is it simply illegal?

From my perspective, there are a lot of advantages to portable tanks. Refilling is as simple as swapping the canister, you can leave the propane behind, and it frees up space for bigger waste tanks. And for self builds, using a portable propane tank is much easier as well. If one used a Truma Combi and a large battery bank and/or second alternator, propane would only be needed in the coldest months.
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:34 PM   #2
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It is certainly nice not to tie up valuable, accessible, space with the propane tank. Underbody works well for us.
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:45 PM   #3
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.

You can put a portable propane tank in the van.
All you need is a locker that vents outside.

Traditionally American vans are rear wheel drive,
they have lots of space under the floor for the tank.
Most European vans (except the Sprinter) do not have the underfloor space.

Upfitters are installing propane tanks under the RAM ProMaster. The space is tight, and some users found it difficult to fill the tank.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:05 PM   #4
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Swapping out those standard 20 lb tanks is a crap shoot. Start out with a nice brand new one and end up with an old one that the next time you go to exchange they tell you your tank is out of date. That happened to me. Needless to say I was pretty ticked off. The other reason for having a permanent mounted tank is you can get more capacity.

Yes they should be vented to the outside. Storing inside also takes up a lot of space when you could otherwise have it stored under the chassis. Built in ones are pretty much trouble free. Only the certified filler need to mess with it. You need not have to reconnect the hose. It is just there ready to go. I think if you check, even with a Sprinter, you are not going to be able to design a holding box that will sit under the floor that you can easily access such as simply lifting it out of a box. I looked into that possibility when I was designing my Advanced RV without propane when I thought maybe I would still want to barbecue outside with a 20 lb. Tank. I couldn't even make a 5 lb tank work.

Waste tanks are a function of available contiguous space constrictions and allowable weight. In the two Bs I had with the built in propane tanks were in locations where not having them would not have resulted in potentially larger waste tanks.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:55 PM   #5
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on our euro rental- I wasn;t fond of a gas bottle ( and a spare) strapped to the wall under the bed.


clinking and clanking...maybe safe but I dont want it that close to me.

doesn;t help that they are shaped like bombs.

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Old 01-27-2017, 12:11 AM   #6
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@booster & @BBQ I suspect those are the reasons propane tanks are under mounted in the States. Not sacrificing valuable accessible space, rear wheel drive, and the solution works well enough.

@Davydd I imagine that was really annoying. I imagine needing to check each tankís expiration date would get old quick. Now that I think about it, eliminating propane likely wouldn't free up much usable space, otherwise Alvarís would be even larger. I wonder if moving to a single waste tank would make the freed space contiguous.

@mkguitar Heh heh. Youíd think theyíd mount it securely enough to eliminate clanking. Iím going to be in this class C until at least two of the three kids are born, so clanking doesnít sound that bad.
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Old 01-29-2017, 11:20 AM   #7
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The short answer to the OP's question is that all RVs produced in this country, including Bs, are effectively regulated by the fire prevention standard known as NFPA 1192. The 2015 edition is 60 pages long and largely devoted to propane-related specifications. It costs about fifty bucks to get a copy of the standard, or, if a person registers with the NFPA website, they allow a low-resolution reading copy to be displayed in an active server page (but no download).
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:24 PM   #8
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5.2.3.3 Propane containers with their control valves shall be installed in compliance with one of the
following:

(1) Mounted in a recess or compartment, other than on the roof, that is vapor resistant to the
inside of the recreational vehicle
(2) Mounted on the tongue or A-frame of a travel or camping trailer or forward of the front
bulkhead below the overhang of a fifth-wheel trailer and not lower than the bottom of the trailer frame
(3) Mounted on the chassis or to the floor of a motorhome or chassis-mount camper, provided
neither the tank nor its support is located in front of the front axle, as follows:
(a) Tanks mounted between the front and rear axles shall be installed not lower than the front axle
height.
(b) Tanks mounted behind the rear axle of a motorhome or chassis-mount camper shall be
installed in such a manner that the bottom of the tank and any connection thereto shall not be lower
than either the rear axle height (excluding the differential) or any section of the frame immediately to
the rear of the tank, whichever is higher.
(c) All clearances shall be determined from the bottom of the tank or from the lowest fitting,
support, or attachment on the tank or tank housing, whichever is lower when all axles are loaded to
their gross axle weight rating.
(4) Mounted on the chassis or to the floor of a travel trailer or fifth-wheel trailer as follows:
(a) Tanks mounted behind the rear axle of a travel trailer or fifth-wheel trailer shall be installed in
such a manner that the bottom of the tank and any connection thereto shall not be lower than either
the rear axle(s) height or the lowest section of the frame to the rear of the tank, whichever is higher.
(b) Tanks mounted forward of the rear axle(s) shall be installed in such a manner that the bottom
of the tank and any connection thereto shall not be lower than the lowest section of the frame in front
of the tank.

5.2.3.4 Containers shall not be mounted on the exterior of the rear wall or the rear bumper of the
vehicle
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruceper View Post
::

5.2.3.4 Containers shall not be mounted on the exterior of the rear wall or the rear bumper of the
vehicle

No wonder we do not have propane tanks on the rear anymore;
I remember seeing them there in the 70s.
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Old 01-29-2017, 05:03 PM   #10
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I have an extend-a-stay adapter and can connect an external tank should my onboard tank empty before I can have it refilled. I have never used it but it came with my previously owned (3 or more owners before me) American Cruiser. I sometimes carry an external tank with me on my golf cart trailer or on my front-mounted hitch hauler.
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