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Old 01-29-2010, 08:39 PM   #1
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Automatic switching LP - Opinions?

Spotted this

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/l...ator-valve.htm

It switches from Tank A to Tank B when Tank A goes empty. It also allows you to pull the empty tank while the system is still on.

Honestly, having no experience with LP gas in the past, I assumed this was how 2 bottle systems worked.

It's low on the list at the moment, but I really like the idea and I wanted to get some input. Maybe later units DID have this from the factory? Or maybe you've installed one? Does it work as advertised? Any troubles?

TIA
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:42 PM   #2
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Hi Ted

The auto switch over regulator is a standard thing on the newer campers. Don’t know which year they became standard but they are handy.

The most handy is the middle of the night, in the wet and cold and the furnace just went out and is only blow cold air due to you ran out of LP in the one tank….

The only drawback, if you want to call it one, you need to keep an eye on the LP level. Your not going to run out fast, but you need to become familiar with the length of time a tank can go for. If your only using the stove and fridge, it goes a long time. The furnace eats the LP. HW heater uses some.

If you are only weekend camping odds are you will not have an issue. Point is if you never check the tanks you can end up with both going dry at once. I see that as more operator error. After you get use to using LP and which system uses how much you can about judge when one will be getting close and that when you get home, remember to get it filled before the next trip.

Here is a post on how they work and with pics. This gets talked about from time to time so I did up a post on it.
http://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/ph...pic.php?t=3479

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:02 PM   #3
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I read your other post, and that's what I understood as far as how they work.

One thing of note is that the one I was looking at does have the option of a remote indicator showing when a change over has occurred. But I don't know if that can be done on a system that's already installed - I'd imagine that it would only work with that regulator...
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Old 01-30-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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Hi Ted

The ones with remote indicators of a switch over, I have heard of them but never seen one myself. Do you have a link?

And I agree a wild swag would be you cannot upgrade after the fact. These things do not cost that much to start with.

What I wish they made was a remote tank fill level indicator. This would be of more benefit to me then knowing switch over. If you have a LP tank cover you can just lift off there are more options to figuring out how full a tank is verses the deluxe tank covers like I have that you have to unscrew the tank holding nut to get the cover off. But the deluxe covers are easy to turn on the gas. RV camping is loaded with choices...
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:03 AM   #5
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I use the auto switching and wouldn't use any other system. It is the only sure way I know of keeping track of how much fuel I have other than taking the bottles out and weighing them. I even tried one of those gages once and it went from green to red almost the minute the two botttles were empty.

Just check each time you use the camper and watch for the red flag that indicates one is empty and it switched. Without it, once you're empty, they both are empty and the fridge goes out and you're cooking out side.

Now I know when one is empty and can change it out without taking the other out of service. I never come close to using a bottle on a long weekend so it's never a rush to re-fill.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
Hi Ted

The ones with remote indicators of a switch over, I have heard of them but never seen one myself. Do you have a link?
Yes, the one I have at the very top. If you scroll down the page they show the regulator, and then the remote indicator below that. Costs about as much as the regulator.... >.<

Quote:
Originally Posted by pwb01
I use the auto switching and wouldn't use any other system. It is the only sure way I know of keeping track of how much fuel I have other than taking the bottles out and weighing them. I even tried one of those gages once and it went from green to red almost the minute the two botttles were empty.
I have a pressure gauge right now and it does the same thing, doesn't tell you nit about how much there is left.

Are there other things that can tell you what's in the tank? Or are you indicating that there's nothing but weighing them?
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:24 PM   #7
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From Caveman Norm,

We only have a single 20 pound bottle and filled it today. I generally just lift it to determine when it's low; if pressed I weigh it.

After 3 months, my wife usually tells me we should get gas and generally I do.

We only use propane use for cooking and sometimes for hot water and rarely the furnace, though we cook most meals in our rig.

Even in our most remote travels there seems to be propane though with a single tank we're more likely to fill it early than letting it get really low. In our travel budget propane is one of our lowest expenses avearging about 12 cents per day.

Safe Travels to all,
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Old 01-30-2010, 02:42 PM   #8
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Hi Ted

H’mm doing some digging, it appears the RCI-24 remote indicator just snaps on the standard Marshall 2 stage auto change over 254 regulator. So in that case you can add it after if one so chose too.

See page 11 http://www.squibbtaylor.com/brochure...gascatalog.pdf

And here it is cheaper the PPL Holmes site.
http://tweetys.com/remotechangeoverindicator.aspx

Gas usage, well it all depends on what you are using. The stove does not take a lot. The furnace, yes. I have gone thru 1 ½ 30# LP tanks winter camping when the power went out on us one weekend. However normally 1, 30# cylinder lasts us a year….

How to find the level, the gage deal is not so accurate. It is better then nothing. I do use the gage on the camp stove and BBQ. But more froma leak check stand point. As once your towards the end the pressure drops quick. It is better to use it then run out on the steaks.....

There are stick on/magnetic indicators that react a color change at the liquid line when the LP is in use. They are looking for a temperature change above and below the liquid gas level line. Some you have to pouir really hot water down the side of the tank. Which can be inconvenient some times.

And if it is cold out and you can lift the cover off, when the gas is in use, you can see the frost line where the level is.

There is a tip I picked up that I will try soon. Use an infrared thermometer. Just shoot it against the side of the tank with the LP in use and scan for the temp change. I saw a flyer in the mail for $14.99 in Harbor Fright for one. Lot no 93984. They have the bigger unit on sale too for $26 something. If you go this route where ever you buy one, they have lots of other uses. Like wheel bearings on the camper.

Basically most methods deal with the temp change above and below the gas liquid line when the gas is in use. Or take it off and weigh it. Taking it off to just check is a bit much for my setup.
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Old 01-30-2010, 10:19 PM   #9
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Oooo. There's a Harbor Freight in York. Me thinks I'll stop by there soon - I like the Infrared idea. I knew about the temp strips, they are like the ones you can get to stick on the outside of an aquarium, except those show temp.

However, they leave a bit to be desired for readability and so forth as I understand it. An IR thermometer however seems like just the thing.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:05 AM   #10
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John

You make a great point:

"What I wish they made was a remote tank fill level indicator. This would be of more benefit to me then knowing switch over."John B

It seems to me that this might be releativley easy to engineer if you could rig up load cells under each tank and monitor the out put from
inside your camper. In fact there is potenial for a lot of things that could be monitored on a TT Not sure its cost effective but it is fun to consider the potential.

I have an auto switch over system on my Sunline and never use it. We do very little cold weather camping thus seldom use the furnace which is the largest user of propane in the TT. I refill my tanks in the Fall and check their weight in the Spring and thru out the camping season.



[/quote]
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Old 01-31-2010, 06:51 PM   #11
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Making something that can monitor the weight should be pretty easy.

Making it weather proof.... that would be hard I think.

My bottles are empty at the moment so I put them on the shipping scale at work - 18.5 lbs each empty.
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:51 PM   #12
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Actually making the load cells work is not that complex and they can hold up to the weather. We use them at work to track level in 15,000 gallon tanks. However the cost of those industrial components may be more then your entire camper…. They for sure will be in the 4 figure range for those industrial type of waterproof components.

We may be able to find something more RV type affordable and less accurate. However the one problem I have not been able to think thru is the stability needed. When you travel down the road the tanks need to be rigidly held to the A Frame or else….

I had a camping buddy with a new Starcraft TT. During the 1st 6 months of camping his tank holder broke off the frame leaving the 2, 30# LP tanks dragging under the camper…. The valve broke off one when it hit the ground and was spewing liquid LP all over. He stopped the truck slowly and he and his family ran from the truck and called 911. Luckily no fire occurred and after the fire company came they loaded his parts back up in the truck and they made it home OK. Starcraft only spot welded the LP shelf to the frame and spot welds not done right are notorious for breaking off.

Seeing his miss hap I looked at mine. Sunline has the LP tank tray welded at 4 locations to the frame and done well on mine. A lot better setup so I dismissed that thought of having ours separate.

Point is to have the load cells work we have to unbolt or unhook the LP tank hold down so the scale will work. Then one has to be 100% sure they remember to tighten it back down before towing. This is no worse then making 100% sure you have hitched the TT up right, but one has to be really be sure they remember.

While all this is doable, need to think of something simpler. A magnetic float inside the tank when it is made is an option. A sensor is then added outside the tank that trips digital hall effect switches when the magnet passes by. And they have little magnetic flags that trip too to see the level. It is simple however we need the tank making people in on this. These folks make a variety of level sensors. http://www.gemssensors.com/Search.as...ite-indicators The cost however may not make this practical in the RV world.

The IR thermometer gun will hopefully be a very good working option.
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:00 PM   #13
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Well yeah, that's the trick - use something that more consumer priced BUT weather proof. I have a scale in shipping at work that can do it. About 12" x 12" with a remote display on a long coiled cord, but it wouldn't withstand any weather at all.... plus as you said, there would have to be a way to lock down and release the bottles to weigh them.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
I read your other post, and that's what I understood as far as how they work.

One thing of note is that the one I was looking at does have the option of a remote indicator showing when a change over has occurred. But I don't know if that can be done on a system that's already installed - I'd imagine that it would only work with that regulator...
I installed the remote indicator last season and it works great. It just gives me a little piece of mind that I know when the regulator switches over to the next tank. My only complaint is it adds one additional item to my weatherization list - removing the two AA batteries from the indicator.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
Hi Ted

H’mm doing some digging, it appears the RCI-24 remote indicator just snaps on the standard Marshall 2 stage auto change over 254 regulator. So in that case you can add it after if one so chose too.
John is correct, it does indeed just snap onto the 254 regulator.

I put a 254 on a few months back, and purchased the remote indicator a week or so later. I didn't like the idea of mounting a black box with a cable hanging out of it on the coach wall, so I modified the box and mounted the indicator LED in the tank monitor panel. I have pictures I've been meaning to post, I just need to find which card they are on!

- Frank
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:10 PM   #16
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