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Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? #5240917 10/16/19 04:26 AM
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billt460 Offline OP
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The previous owner of our home had installed a small propane fireplace heater. It is black hard piped from the fireplace where it comes through the wall, up into the attic, and outside in the back of the house, where it exits under the eve. There it is plugged with a 1/2" NPT pipe plug that threads into an elbow. (See photos). There is no gas in our area.

These type of installations are quite common out here, and they turn a fireplace into something useful, the few times a year it gets cold enough out to actually require some heat in the home. Homes here that are located on non gas lots have heat pumps that are all but worthless as far as delivering any actual heat.

So I'm going to hook this up to a 20 or 30 pound propane tank I can keep outside. What I'll need is a short section of hose, (around 10' should be enough), and some fittings. Not a big deal, but it is going to require a regulator of some type coming off the tank. I'll need to go from 1/2" NPT female input, to a QCC1 Type1 that most all new propane tanks now come with. (POL fittings are becoming rare as older tanks age and go out of service). With a regulator located in the line somewhere in between.

The problem is I have no information or manual on this heater. BTU output, pressure requirements, etc. I'm on my own. So I'm thinking of some type of an adjustable regulator. That way I can adjust through experimentation just how much pressure it will require to operate. The heater itself has an adjustable heat setting from "low" to "high".

These heaters are everywhere, but I've never used them. Does anyone know if a gas grill regulator would be sufficient? I doubt this thing consumes as much fuel as a large gas grill with all the burners running on max.


[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5240926 10/16/19 04:44 AM
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Fawteen Offline
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That's a low pressure LP heater for a camper made by a company called Camco. It's the Wave 3 model, and you should easily be able to search for information on it. If you really insist on using it you can probably find parts from a local camper/RV supply shop or online.

You don't need any sort of adjustable regulator-just use whatever regulator they use in campers and trailers.




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Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5240933 10/16/19 05:01 AM
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billt460 Offline OP
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Thanks. I did some poking around on line, and managed to find the PDF manual on it. It contains some information on regulator pressure.

"The heater is designed to operate with a manifold pressure
(the gas pressure downstream from the appliance controls)
of 10.5" w.c. (0.38 psig). A gas supply pressure of 11" w.c.
(0.40 psig) minimum is required at the heater controls."


https://www.dyersonline.com/downloadfile/download/aitfile/aitfile_id/575/

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5240935 10/16/19 05:08 AM
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Donald Offline
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I do not believe a small 20-30 lb tank will cut it. The reason is vaporization rate. When it gets cold out (when you need a heater) the vaporization rate drops. You need at least a 100 lb tank. You need to get the specs for that heater and see what its propane requirements are and then look up in vaporization charts and see if a 100 lb tank will be enough at the lowest temp you want to use it at. While it might run nicely on a 20 lb tank on a warm day, when its 10F outside it may not.

I cannot see the back but I assume its unvented? It will put moisture in the air. I would have thought a heater for an RV would be vented.

Do you meed the heat in that room? I would rip it out and put in a nice gas fireplace.

A few companies sell a combo hazardous gas/CO detector. I would get one and install it in same room close to floor level.

Last edited by Donald; 10/16/19 05:16 AM.

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Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: Donald] #5240958 10/16/19 05:39 AM
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billt460 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Donald
I do not believe a small 20-30 lb tank will cut it. The reason is vaporization rate. When it gets cold out (when you need a heater) the vaporization rate drops. You need at least a 100 lb tank. You need to get the specs for that heater and see what its propane requirements are and then look up in vaporization charts and see if a 100 lb tank will be enough at the lowest temp you want to use it at. While it might run nicely on a 20 lb tank on a warm day, when its 10F outside it may not.

I cannot see the back but I assume its unvented? It will put moisture in the air. I would have thought a heater for an RV would be vented.

Do you meed the heat in that room? I would rip it out and put in a nice gas fireplace.

A few companies sell a combo hazardous gas/CO detector. I would get one and install it in same room close to floor level.

The coldest it gets around here is low 40's to high 30's right before Sun up. It rarely if ever gets to freezing. And once the Sun comes up it warms up quickly. All that is required is something to take the morning chill out of the air. This was already installed, so I might as well use it.

It looks to be a fairly decent heater. They price around $200 on line. It's only a 3,000 BTU model, so a 20 lb. tank should be plenty. There is no gas in this area, so a gas fireplace is out. It would require the installation of a large on site propane tank.

The wife is getting tired of constantly messing with charcoal when she grills. (I can't say I blame her. The stuff is a dirty mess to clean up after). So she wants a new gas grill. None come with LP tanks any longer. So I figure I'll buy a couple of 20 pounders and have one for the grill, and one for this.

That way if one runs out, (which always happens when you're in the middle of grilling something), I'll have an extra tank to switch over to. I'm done with those Rhino exchange tanks. There is never anyone around to unlock the cage. And they short fill them compared to getting your own filled. They are basically a rip off. I have a propane supply place just down the street from me. So it's nice, close, and convenient.

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5240975 10/16/19 06:05 AM
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Donald Offline
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Even after you solve the gas issue, the space heater in a fireplace does not look great. Its not like having a wood fire in the fireplace on a cold evening.


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2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5240981 10/16/19 06:12 AM
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I suspect that heater the OP shows is probably 30,000 BTU or so.

Any typical small 20 or 30 lb LP tank can easily flow enough gas. They are used on RVs all the time, and by design must be able to sustain flow for all gas appliances in the RV at the same time (gas water heater, gas furnace, gas stove; easily 75k BTU up to 100k BTU). Further, those same small LP tanks and regulators can also supply enough volume flow to support the large twin-burner type turkey fryers, etc (again 100k BTU). I have a small portable 80,000 BTU propane open-flame heater used for temporary heat in new-home construction; runs WOT perfectly fine off a typical portable LP tank and regulator. If you've ever seen a small LP tank blow off vapor in an unregulated state, you'd know there's PLENTY of volumetric flow available through the main control valve.

There is no reason the tank cannot just set inside the home near the appliance. (following obvious safety protocol). The tanks themselves are not a risk of being inside, and will vaporize their flow better in a warmer climate. The regulators can freeze up if the tank is outside if the OAT is uber-stupid-cold. I suspect the reason it's plumbed outside is because they probably have it set up for a 100-lb tank; enough gas that would last a few weeks before refill and not have to lug that giant bottle indoors. The small 20lb tank will need more frequent filling, obviously.

As for the regulator question ... you do need both a high pressure and low pressure regulator. The tanks are at high pressure; you need the typical pressure regulator that comes with most common-use hose sets. The appliance is set to deal with low pressure; it will have an internal regulator inside it, and you should not have to mess with it.

I have a 20,000 BTU blue-flame wall heater in my small man-cave loft in my barn. I use a 30 lb tank with regulator to feed the wall heater. Pretty much works exactly like what you're trying to do. The tank sets about 3' away, and there's a 5' hose set I bought to feel the appliance. Just had to cobble together a few fittings at the hardware store to feed the gas from the hose output to the hard-pipe inlet of the heater. Been working perfectly fine for several years now. When it's time for a tank exchange I just unscrew the fitting right at the tank like any normal exchange. Could not be happier; perfect solution for my application.


Last edited by dnewton3; 10/16/19 06:20 AM.

The act of preventative maintenance, in and of itself, is FAR MORE important than brand/grade/base choices among lubes and filters.
- under maintaining something is akin to abuse/neglect; that can kill equipment by shortening the lifespan
- over maintaining something has never been proven to be anything but a waste of time and money
Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5241014 10/16/19 06:52 AM
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billt460 Offline OP
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Thanks Newton. The "Wave 3" model I have is showing a rating of just 3,000 BTU's. According to this chart there is 91,000 BTU's in a gallon of liquid Propane. I'm rough guessing there is a good 4 gallons or so in a properly filled 20 pound tank. That comes to a total of 364,000 BTU's in a filled 20 pound tank.

364,000 divided 3,000 BTU's per hour comes to approx. 121 hours of run time on "High". I doubt I'll use a 20 pound tank all Winter at that rate. It just doesn't get all that cold here. I'm going to try and get this going today, just to see if it works OK. I can get the tank, along with whatever fittings and regulators I'll need at either Lowe's or Tractor Supply.

https://www.exothink.com/Pages/btu.html

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5241120 10/16/19 08:03 AM
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we were camping at 10F in our travel trailer and that morning after a night of heat we turned up the heater and took our morning showers (propane water heater) and cooked breakfast. Never even close to any sign of running out.

The outside tank was covered n frost to the fill line, never an issue with supply.

If in fact a store propane supply cage has routinely under filled tanks by weight, then contact your state division of weights and measures. They do take that rather serious.

Rod

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5241125 10/16/19 08:07 AM
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Any big box store (Lowes, Home Depot, Menards) will have the regulator and hose for that heater. I've the wave 6 model, uses 3/8 fittings and a low pressure regulator. Whole setup with a 12' hose runs around $40 under the Mr. Heater brand.

Just for math purposes there's roughly 21,000 BTU's in a pound of propane, at 3000BTU you should get 7hrs per pound or roughly 140hrs out of a full 20lb tank. Just an FYI those 20lb cylinders that you get at the exchange racks (Blue Rhino and similar) are only filled to 15lbs

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: ragtoplvr] #5241126 10/16/19 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ragtoplvr
we were camping at 10F in our travel trailer and that morning after a night of heat we turned up the heater and took our morning showers (propane water heater) and cooked breakfast. Never even close to any sign of running out.

The outside tank was covered n frost to the fill line, never an issue with supply.

If in fact a store propane supply cage has routinely under filled tanks by weight, then contact your state division of weights and measures. They do take that rather serious.

Rod


Those tanks are filled to 15lbs at the exchange cages, just look at the label on them. It's spelled out pretty clearly that they only have 15lbs in them.

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: billt460] #5241150 10/16/19 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by billt460
The coldest it gets around here is low 40's to high 30's right before Sun up. It rarely if ever gets to freezing. And once the Sun comes up it warms up quickly. All that is required is something to take the morning chill out of the air. This was already installed, so I might as well use it.


If it were me I'd fix whatever is wrong with your heat pump system first. That's about what we see here a few days each winter and our heat pumps/air handlers have no issue with it whatsoever. A heat pump is more efficient and a lot less expensive to operate.


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Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: Fawteen] #5241210 10/16/19 09:22 AM
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You will only need a standard BBQ type regulator; you may be able to find one with a hose long enough for your needs. These are relatively inexpensive and will provide plenty of BTU capacity at the the right pressure for your heater. Amazon would be a good resource. Add fittings and you are good to go.

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: Fawteen] #5241303 10/16/19 11:10 AM
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billt460 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Fawteen
Originally Posted by billt460
The coldest it gets around here is low 40's to high 30's right before Sun up. It rarely if ever gets to freezing. And once the Sun comes up it warms up quickly. All that is required is something to take the morning chill out of the air. This was already installed, so I might as well use it.


If it were me I'd fix whatever is wrong with your heat pump system first. That's about what we see here a few days each winter and our heat pumps/air handlers have no issue with it whatsoever. A heat pump is more efficient and a lot less expensive to operate.

There is nothing "wrong" with the heat pump system. I just don't like the way they work. Perhaps it's because I am used to gas forced air. Nothing heats a home up faster. With both heat pumps I've had, it seems regardless of how long they run, all you get is lukewarm air out of them. And it seems like it takes forever to raise the temp, and uses a LOT of electricity while they're doing it. The heat pump we had in the last house we owned here was no better. And we bought that house brand new from the builder. In fact, it was the exact same model of home we have now. Well insulated with 2 X 6 exterior studs.

If it did get cold and windy, we would end up turning on the oven and a couple of burners on the stove. My neighbors all did much the same. Everyone who had one here complained about them. Perhaps it's because the relative humidity is so low here. Humid air feels like it holds heat better. And when you get down to it, they're really nothing more than an air conditioner that runs backwards.

One of my neighbors went the wood burning stove route. It worked too well and got the place too hot. If I have to run the thing I will. But as long as I've got this, I'm going to try it. It's not like it's a major investment to get it fired up.

Re: Who Knows About Propane Regulators, Pressures, & Heaters ?? [Re: ironman_gq] #5241309 10/16/19 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ironman_gq
Any big box store (Lowes, Home Depot, Menards) will have the regulator and hose for that heater. I've the wave 6 model, uses 3/8 fittings and a low pressure regulator. Whole setup with a 12' hose runs around $40 under the Mr. Heater brand.

Just for math purposes there's roughly 21,000 BTU's in a pound of propane, at 3000BTU you should get 7hrs per pound or roughly 140hrs out of a full 20lb tank. Just an FYI those 20lb cylinders that you get at the exchange racks (Blue Rhino and similar) are only filled to 15lbs

I agree, most all of the exchange tanks are all short filled. That's why I'm going to buy my own. If I have to go and get the stuff, I at least want the thing filled to capacity.

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