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Can a mechanical gauge be added to the horizontal propane tank?


saflyer

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My electronic propane gauge is basically worthless. For example, in the past it has shown 1/3 full but it only took 4 gallons to fill. I depended on its inaccuracy this week when it showed empty because I didn’t think we had used that much since the last fill. Well I was wrong. We ran out this morning.

I would like to add a mechanical gauge like the one on my home 500 gallon tank but I’ve been told that is not possible. Is that true? If not what would be involved? I know I can add a Sea Level or similar system but I’m not ready to bite that bullet.

Ed         
‘05 HR Ambassador

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SeeLevel is not your solution as it uses your existing gauge sensor to display the results on the SeeLevel panel.

The only people I would trust are ones that deliver propane to residential and commercial customers.

They are the most knowledgeable about propane systems, etc.

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This is a cheap, simple solution.

https://www.amazon.com/GrillPro-00030-Magnetic-Level-Indicator/dp/B000FHZ33C/ref=sr_1_6?crid=PM3QW8KCE2DJ&keywords=magnetic+gas+level+indicator+for+propane+tank&qid=1664728303&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIzLjE5IiwicXNhIjoiMi45MyIsInFzcCI6IjIuOTEifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=propane+tank+gas+level+indicator%2Caps%2C96&sr=8-6

It is not exactly what I bought, but uses the same principle, stick this on the side of the tank, pour hot water over it and watch for the indication of the propane level to show up... seems that the heat sensitive strip 'cools' at a faster rate where there is propane in the tank... so a very 'mechanical indication'.

The strip I found was longer (about 18") but I can see how 3 or 4 of these stacked up would do the same thing.

 

Edited by Cubflyer
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  • Tom Cherry changed the title to Can a mechanical gauge be added to the horizontal propane tank?
8 hours ago, Dr4Film said:

SeeLevel is not your solution as it uses your existing gauge sensor to display the results on the SeeLevel panel.

The only people I would trust are ones that deliver propane to residential and commercial customers.

They are the most knowledgeable about propane systems, etc.

Now that the tank is “empty” do I have new problems? Will the system have to be purged before refilling? If so, can that be done at any fill station?

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3 minutes ago, Dr4Film said:

Purging is only required on brand new tanks.

Filling can be done at any propane station that has easy access for your coach.

I was told if my home tank was below 20% it would need to be purged. However it has been 15%, maybe a little less, and the service technician filled it without saying anything.

We’re in northern New Mexico this week. We were running late leaving home (what’s new) so I didn’t stop to refill at my usual place. I figured there would be plenty of places. Wrong. They are either too confined or don’t take drive up business. Hoping to have better luck Tuesday in Albuquerque as we’re dry camping for the Balloon Fiesta with Monacoers International. 

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Push comes to shove.  CW should have an adapter that works with your rig and you can use a 20# cylinder.  The OTHER option.  Go to an LP a supplier.  Purchase a high pressure ACME or even  POL (the fitting on your regulator.  Take the regulator with you.  Get them to make up a high pressure nose from the tank to your regulator.  It only takes a 1/4” NPT fitting.  Then screw the regulator back in and run the system from a 20 # cylinder.

Good Luck.  Enjoy the festival.  Best shots are from your roof.  Been there….done that.  Tour the museum.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tom Cherry said:

Push comes to shove.  CW should have an adapter that works with your rig and you can use a 20# cylinder.  The OTHER option.  Go to an LP a supplier.  Purchase a high pressure ACME or even  POL (the fitting on your regulator.  Take the regulator with you.  Get them to make up a high pressure nose from the tank to your regulator.  It only takes a 1/4” NPT fitting.  Then screw the regulator back in and run the system from a 20 # cylinder.

Good Luck.  Enjoy the festival.  Best shots are from your roof.  Been there….done that.  Tour the museum.

I had one of those external tank adapters installed several years ago. Haven’t used it, though so it would be a learning process. I hate to buy one or two 20# tanks as I have 5 of them at home and need two, at most. But like you said, “push comes to shove”. I wonder if a 20# tank would last the night running one heater in mid-40s temps?

Edited by saflyer
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----------------------------------------

The ones that you see on the home tanks, I think, are really "Pressure Gauges". 

-------------------------------------------

The standard way to measure the fill percent of a propane tank is with a float.    The pressure will stay about the same from full to empty as long as there is some liquid.   Normally, a propane tank contains liquid at the bottom and the rest is filled with vapor.   The pressure will vary with temperature.   With rising temperature, some of the liquid boils and becomes vapor, thereby increasing the pressure and lowering the liquid level.   The float will not give a precise measurement, but it is pretty good for most purposes.   To get a precise reading, the float gauge needs to be compensated for temperature.   Also, typical float mechanisms are really cheaply made.

 

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Check the BTU/hr rating on the heater. Look up the BTU content of a pound of Propane. Multiple by 16. That is the total BTU you have. Divide by BTU/Hr

That is the hours you have. I would guess maybe 50% on and then 50 % off. So, in theory you could double the hours

Did a little googling  typical furnace is 30K BTU  At 100% on, that is about 1/2 gallon  figure maybe 1/4 gal if cycling on and off 50/50

One pound of propane is  0.236 gallon  OK  THEN YOU HAVE 16 hours @50% ON  or 8 hrs if 100%.  Buy a nice blanket and conserve

Good Luck   Find a distributor.  You probably aren’t the only one needing propane   As the grand Pooh Bah of the setup for help.

 

Get on phone locally….Google is your friend.  There are all types of services that come in.  

 

 

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Since the thread has gone from "adding a mechanical guage" to propane filling locations in Albuquerque, perhaps I can ask about how to get the Aladdin level to match the level on the supposedly float gauge on the end of the horizontal tank.  Situation is 100 lb horizontal tank filled about two years ago only used for cooking and outside Bar-B-Que & fire pit 🔥.  Dial Gauge on the tank reads about 1/2 full now (which could be reasonable, and it has consistently & slowly gone down with usage over the two years) while Aladdin has said 88% or up to 92% full pretty much for all two years.  Aladdin does change % a little once in awhile ... sometimes down a tad, other times up a tad, but used to work years ago. It appears to be somewhat electrically "stuck". The dial guage on tank has a wire coming from the center which is where I assume Aladdin is getting the reading so I GUESS a mechanical ???? float is somewhat correctly driving the dial but electrically something is screwed up.  Something measuring resistance at the float????  I'm guessing the tank would have to be empty to screw in another replacement dial guage with the wire feed coming out of the tank for the Aladdin?  The dial guage is on the center of the tank opposite the fill and regulator side.

PXL_20221003_143034847.jpg

PXL_20221003_142941611.jpg

Edited by amphi_sc
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12 hours ago, Tom Cherry said:

Check the BTU/hr rating on the heater. Look up the BTU content of a pound of Propane. Multiple by 16. That is the total BTU you have. Divide by BTU/Hr

That is the hours you have. I would guess maybe 50% on and then 50 % off. So, in theory you could double the hours

Did a little googling  typical furnace is 30K BTU  At 100% on, that is about 1/2 gallon  figure maybe 1/4 gal if cycling on and off 50/50

One pound of propane is  0.236 gallon  OK  THEN YOU HAVE 16 hours @50% ON  or 8 hrs if 100%.  Buy a nice blanket and conserve

Good Luck   Find a distributor.  You probably aren’t the only one needing propane   As the grand Pooh Bah of the setup for help.

 

Get on phone locally….Google is your friend.  There are all types of services that come in.  

 

 

Great info Tom. If necessary I can go that route or buy a Buddy Heater and small propane cans. Might find a connection hose for it to a 20# tank. Hate to do that since I have a Buddy Heater at home and, like I said, 5 tanks.

Thanks a bunch.

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30 minutes ago, amphi_sc said:

Since the thread has gone from "adding a mechanical guage" to propane filling locations in Albuquerque, perhaps I can ask about how to get the Aladdin level to match the level on the supposedly float gauge on the end of the horizontal tank.  Situation is 100 lb horizontal tank filled about two years ago only used for cooking and outside Bar-B-Que & fire pit 🔥.  Dial Gauge on the tank reads about 1/2 full now (which could be reasonable, and it has consistently & slowly gone down with usage over the two years) while Aladdin has said 88% or up to 92% full pretty much for all two years.  Aladdin does change % a little once in awhile ... sometimes down a tad, other times up a tad, but used to work years ago. It appears to be somewhat electrically "stuck". The dial guage on tank has a wire coming from the center which is where I assume Aladdin is getting the reading so I GUESS a mechanical ???? float is somewhat correctly driving the dial but electrically something is screwed up.  Something measuring resistance at the float????  I'm guessing the tank would have to be empty to screw in another replacement dial guage with the wire feed coming out of the tank for the Aladdin?  The dial guage is on the center of the tank opposite the fill and regulator side.

I made a mistake in a previous post and deleted it.  I apologize for a fuzzy memory.

First, Manchester Tank, now in Franklin, TN has been or is one of the oldest vendors.  Marshall (Excelsior) supplied the regulator.  My brain finally woke up and I checked my notes and had called them in early 2009 to get a new sending unit as my MH was still under their factory warranty.

I called Manchester this morning.  If you have a Manchester tank, as I do, the gage is “ACTUALLY” a float or mechanical gage as On_the_road pointed out.  I asked specifically about how long that had been in production….and the tech support said a long time….as in from probably day one and certainly back into the 90’s.  He said that they also supplied the “electronic” potentiometer that gives an analog signal for whatever tank reading or level device is being used.  BUT, as stated, it was based on a certain ambient temperature. 

Therefore, I assume that if the OP has a Manchester unit, he has a Mechanical Gauge already on it.  Past that, it would be speculation.  Manchester is tough to get hold off…but 615-370-6300 and a little perseverance and politeness got me to “RV Tank” area and the attendant then got an experienced and knowledgeable Tank tech support person on the line.

The question as to how to “get the Aladdin calibrated” might also be one for them, as they select the potentiometer sending unit.

Sorry for the misinformation.

 

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50 minutes ago, amphi_sc said:

Since the thread has gone from "adding a mechanical guage" to propane filling locations in Albuquerque, perhaps I can ask about how to get the Aladdin level to match the level on the supposedly float gauge on the end of the horizontal tank.  Situation is 100 lb horizontal tank filled about two years ago only used for cooking and outside Bar-B-Que & fire pit 🔥.  Dial Gauge on the tank reads about 1/2 full now (which could be reasonable, and it has consistently & slowly gone down with usage over the two years) while Aladdin has said 88% or up to 92% full pretty much for all two years.  Aladdin does change % a little once in awhile ... sometimes down a tad, other times up a tad, but used to work years ago. It appears to be somewhat electrically "stuck". The dial guage on tank has a wire coming from the center which is where I assume Aladdin is getting the reading so I GUESS a mechanical ???? float is somewhat correctly driving the dial but electrically something is screwed up.  Something measuring resistance at the float????  I'm guessing the tank would have to be empty to screw in another replacement dial guage with the wire feed coming out of the tank for the Aladdin?  The dial guage is on the center of the tank opposite the fill and regulator side.

The video by The RV Geek that Cubflyer has in his reply shows what might be the same type sending unit you have. It’s a dial gauge with wires on a fitting at the center of it. Mine is probably the same without the dial. Tom Cherry has some good info on the manufacturer. As On The Road said it’s probably a float gauge. I’m guessing I was told I couldn’t add a gauge like on a home tank was because it would have to go on the top of the tank and not in the line from the tank. There is no place on top to put a gauge. So I’m thinking Cubflyer’s suggestion of the stick on the side temperature sensing gauges is my solution for now.

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1 minute ago, saflyer said:

Great info Tom. If necessary I can go that route or buy a Buddy Heater and small propane cans. Might find a connection hose for it to a 20# tank. Hate to do that since I have a Buddy Heater at home and, like I said, 5 tanks.

Thanks a bunch.

As a former Safety Director and also knowledgeable about Propane “heaters” as I worked for a company that sold them and was involved in a SAFETY RECALL….I URGE you to read up on them.  A BUDDY heater is typically recommended for a “tent”…and not a sealed motor home.  We had a death and almost another death in NC recently from a generator running is a garage.  CO2 is DEADLY!

Please read and review the operating manual and the safety warnings on a Buddy Heater. YES, these do, now, have a “Low Oxygen Depletion” sensor, but they are advertised for “large tents”.

From a cost standpoint, the $200 or so cost, plus the disposable cylinder costs compared to using your existing “hookup” and purchasing a 20 or 30# cylinder might be more cost effective.  The Operators Manual safety warnings also recommend the use of a vent fan in an RV.  If you left a vent fan on overnight, you might deplete your house batteries….and your Propane and CO2 alarms are HARD WIRED to them.  Thus, no monitoring or protection in the bedroom.  Otherwise, it would be prudent to open a window and also leave the fan vent open….and turn off the fan.  But that will also vent or exhaust the heat.

Just passing this on…..
 

 

 

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Not trusting the electronic gauge in the coach I look at the mechanical gauge on the side of the tank.  Problem is I can't see it directly, I have stick my hand down there and shoot it with my phone.  Takes 3 - 4 tries before I get a good pic.

- bob

 

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6 minutes ago, Tom Cherry said:

As a former Safety Director and also knowledgeable about Propane “heaters” as I worked for a company that sold them and was involved in a SAFETY RECALL….I URGE you to read up on them.  A BUDDY heater is typically recommended for a “tent”…and not a sealed motor home.  We had a death and almost another death in NC recently from a generator running is a garage.  CO2 is DEADLY!

Please read and review the operating manual and the safety warnings on a Buddy Heater. YES, these do, now, have a “Low Oxygen Depletion” sensor, but they are advertised for “large tents”.

From a cost standpoint, the $200 or so cost, plus the disposable cylinder costs compared to using your existing “hookup” and purchasing a 20 or 30# cylinder might be more cost effective.  The Operators Manual safety warnings also recommend the use of a vent fan in an RV.  If you left a vent fan on overnight, you might deplete your house batteries….and your Propane and CO2 alarms are HARD WIRED to them.  Thus, no monitoring or protection in the bedroom.  Otherwise, it would be prudent to open a window and also leave the fan vent open….and turn off the fan.  But that will also vent or exhaust the heat.

Just passing this on…..
 

 

 

Great information Tom. Thanks

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On 10/3/2022 at 9:54 AM, saflyer said:

Great information Tom. Thanks

Alls well that ends well. We found a Chevron in Chama with propane. Our dry camping was saved. 
 

Here’s a good article on heating with portable propane:         
https://www.thervgeeks.com/can-you-use-a-propane-heater-indoors/

Thanks all

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/3/2022 at 9:49 AM, cbr046 said:

Not trusting the electronic gauge in the coach I look at the mechanical gauge on the side of the tank.  Problem is I can't see it directly, I have stick my hand down there and shoot it with my phone.  Takes 3 - 4 tries before I get a good pic.

- bob

 

My coach manual shows a combo manual/needle gauge with two wires I assume are for sending the reading to the electric gauge, like the one in the RVGeeks video. Despite the manual showing that gauge I don’t have it. For that matter, I can’t find ant wires in the vicinity of the tank for electric reading. My tank sits transverse to the coach so I can only see one end.

B60FA04A-EF2B-4F42-899B-0F80295E2673.thumb.jpeg.1d24e49af4dbd21155362109712c9d97.jpegBF3782EB-3721-4646-B054-72E63FC4E3D3.thumb.jpeg.0677d0fbed8183d92146733356bf82e5.jpeg

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2 hours ago, saflyer said:

My coach manual shows a combo manual/needle gauge with two wires I assume are for sending the reading to the electric gauge, like the one in the RVGeeks video. Despite the manual showing that gauge I don’t have it. For that matter, I can’t find ant wires in the vicinity of the tank for electric reading. My tank sits transverse to the coach so I can only see one end.

B60FA04A-EF2B-4F42-899B-0F80295E2673.thumb.jpeg.1d24e49af4dbd21155362109712c9d97.jpegBF3782EB-3721-4646-B054-72E63FC4E3D3.thumb.jpeg.0677d0fbed8183d92146733356bf82e5.jpeg

There is only TWO Ways to resolve this.  One is easy....the other, NOT SO EASY...

IF you have what we call the ORIGINAL BUILD SHEET or the Recreational Vehicle Data Card (mine is attached), then you will see the Manchester LP Tank Info.  You can call Manchester Tank (you have to do some googling to find the REAL number or call the CORPORATE ONE as the Tech Support is all email....but I easily got through) and then ask them to pull the prints.  That will tell you.  IF you have the electronic gage....then it is ON THE TANK....

There is a data plate on the tank.  That MUST be on the side....which unfortunately you can NOT see.  Wish there was a better answer....but all the tanks, USUALLY, if there is a WORKING electronic gage, MUST have the sending unit on the gage.  I had to replace mine when it was still under warranty as the face was cracked.  BUT, my valving and such and gage are on the side....as mine is mounted front to rear and not side to side...

Camelot Components 001.pdf

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If you are looking for an easy way to keep tabs on your propane tank level then try this….https://www.amazon.com/Mopeka-024-2002-Sensor-Magnets-Steel/dp/B08RR2HP1Z/ref=pd_lpo_1?pd_rd_w=RFLXI&content-id=amzn1.sym.116f529c-aa4d-4763-b2b6-4d614ec7dc00&pf_rd_p=116f529c-aa4d-4763-b2b6-4d614ec7dc00&pf_rd_r=ZZGNDXKYYA4KXQF16ZPM&pd_rd_wg=SmGYb&pd_rd_r=3c105933-4007-4171-b432-b6ae4e47a8f4&pd_rd_i=B08RR2HP1Z&psc=1

I have used this for years and it works great. You just stick it on the bottom of your tank, put in your tank dimensions, download the app and you have your tank level on your phone. I used it on my old Motorhome and moved it over to the Dynasty when I purchased it last year

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