Winter RVing and Frozen Propane

Summer camping or winter RV camping. What is your preference? People use their RVs in different ways. Some only use their RVs occasionally for taking a weekend trip or family vacation in the summer. Others, use RVs for an extended time each year, often escaping the cold northern winters. There are still others who, because of jobs or family commitments are not able to go south for the winter. They live in their RVs during the cold winter months. This winter we have found ourselves living in our RV during the cold weather. Temperatures have recently been in the teens and single digits. There is even a possibility of negative digits as well. Some aspects of winter living in our RV have gone as expected. Others well let’s just say we have learned some lessons about how to better handle cold temperatures.

Winter Landscape

One area I previously wrote about was winter camping and propane use. When a propane cylinder gets colder the rate of vaporization slows. As our recent temperatures were heading lower, we experienced this firsthand. We were going to be more stationary, we had previously bought a 100 lb. propane tank. We wanted to fill up less often, so having a larger tank was a good option for us.

After filling the 100 lb. propane tank we were not getting sufficient propane flow to meet our demands. This problem was apparent when the RV’s furnace would not start. The furnace would start normally. However, the flame would quickly go out. While there was initially enough propane pressure in the system for the furnace to start, the system could not sustain enough propane pressure for the furnace. The pressure of the propane in the system would quickly drop to below 10 inches WC. This drop effectively starved the furnace, causing it to shut down.

Fixing Our Propane Problems

So, how did we fix the problem with having enough propane flow? Well, we used a combination of different types of insulation and heat tape. For the 100 lb. propane tank we took heat tape, wrapped it around the tank from top to bottom. Next, we wrapped the tank in the silver bubble insulation. Finally, we built an enclosure for the tank from foam insulation, sealing the seams with sliver foil tape.

Propane Regulator with Frost

However, we were also starting to have problems with the propane regulator developing frost on the outside. It was just a matter of time before the propane regulator froze up completely. To prevent the regulator from freezing, we added heat tape in the propane bay, wrapping it around the 30 lb. propane tanks and regulator. Once the heat tape was in place, we stuffed loose insulation into the propane bay to feel in the gaps. Over night the ambient outside temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the propane tanks in the propane bay were measured at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The propane regulator was measured 59 degrees Fahrenheit. I am confident we will have no other issues with the propane tanks or regulators for winter RV camping this season.

Propane Tank temperature, ambient outside temperature at 14 degrees Fahrenheit
Propane regulator temperature , ambient outside temperature at 14 degrees Fahrenheit

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