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Old 06-21-2021, 09:53 AM   #1
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Batteries, propane, water in a small van

Hey guys

So I've mounted the solar panels to my roof, and I'm approaching the point where I'm going to install my batteries and such. I've been reading the instruction manuals for my components and I've realized that having components that have the potential to spark anywhere near a propane line or water line sounds terrifying. I'm building in an e250 and while I think I have the room to fit everything, I'm wondering if I should change my design.

does anyone have a propane system in their van that also has a solar system? What precautions did you take with the placement?

since I have no experience I almost just want to put all of the components that use water/propane on the opposite side of the van from the batteries, inverter, etc.

Any advice appreciated!
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Old 06-21-2021, 10:53 AM   #2
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My advice is to follow RVIA, NFPA standards and appliance mfgs intructions, exactly.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:56 AM   #3
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Well, today I learned that safety standards can be behind a paywall.
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:13 PM   #4
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any way to get electronic copies of these?

NFPA 1192 Standard for RVs (2021 Edition) ( this can be viewed on the NFPA website if you create an account - so this one is covered)

ANSI/RVIA Low Voltage Systems in Conversion and RVs Standard (2020 Edition)
ANSI A119.5 Park Model Recreational Vehicle Standard (2020 Edition)
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:31 PM   #5
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Might be easier if you post the proposed layout. Virtually all RVs on the road share electrical (DC and AC) and propane in the same space. Sparking is not really an issue unless something is way wrong. If you have a propane leak you will likely know it by smell but they aren't common.

You don't want to underthink this stuff but don't overthink it either. If you've been reading and studying other builds here, Youtube and other places you are likely on the right track.

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Old 06-21-2021, 03:26 PM   #6
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Hi I have my propane tank mounted under my van along with a solenoid valve. I have a switch inside the van by my stove that will activate the solenoid. When cooking is done, I turn the switch off, cutting off the propane to the interior. It works well and gives me peace of mind knowing if a leak ever happened it would be outside.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnew View Post
Hi I have my propane tank mounted under my van along with a solenoid valve. I have a switch inside the van by my stove that will activate the solenoid. When cooking is done, I turn the switch off, cutting off the propane to the interior. It works well and gives me peace of mind knowing if a leak ever happened it would be outside.

I turn my propane off at the tank each time after I use it. A small annoyance to step outside but the habit keeps me from forgetting.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnew View Post
Hi I have my propane tank mounted under my van along with a solenoid valve. I have a switch inside the van by my stove that will activate the solenoid. When cooking is done, I turn the switch off, cutting off the propane to the interior. It works well and gives me peace of mind knowing if a leak ever happened it would be outside.
sounds like a space saver, too. so far, I've been planning on building top-loading sealed box to put the tank in with a vent on the bottom. Problem is, I'm also going to have a propane shower at the back and a propex heater, so I've got to run lines basically the length of the living space unless I also put the range at the back. so with either solution, I've got to get the lines past the electrical bits. A leak at the tank isn't the main worry.

Seems like the most popular solution is to just have a gas detector...
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
Might be easier if you post the proposed layout. Virtually all RVs on the road share electrical (DC and AC) and propane in the same space. Sparking is not really an issue unless something is way wrong. If you have a propane leak you will likely know it by smell but they aren't common.

You don't want to underthink this stuff but don't overthink it either. If you've been reading and studying other builds here, Youtube and other places you are likely on the right track.

Thanks for the encouragement! I'm thinking about just ensuring I have no connections in the same compartment as the electrical components.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:37 PM   #10
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I don't want to trivialize the design task, but also realize this is a DIY question and so there is probably as much danger of overlooking the obvious by trying to address the problem as a commercial design problem (i.e. from the safety standards). If you are an engineer then have at it.

So in that context, I will point out some of the obvious and what is generally safe DIY practice. This may not achieve professional standards as I'm not familiar with them but you will certainly do much worse than these recommendations. I'm observing most of this in my own DIY build.


Rules of Thumb:
  • Propane if flammable; can leak and needs to be outside or vented. The is a higher risk with high-pressure leaks.
  • Lead-acid batteries give off hydrogen when charging; venting req the same as propane.
  • Most electronics manufacturers warn of sparks and not to mount their equipment near flammable or explosive sources of energy.
  • Note: Sparks can easily happen when connecting to a device that has capacitors (e.g. invertors and chargers). Depending upon a disconnect switch the may or may not expose a spark. These problems are aggravated by LiPO because of the higher rating devices that are typically used.

Installation Tips:
  • If propane or lead-acid (even AGM) are inside the vehicle you should have them vented to the outside (preferably with a small brushless fan). This also helps with the isolation problem where you have a potential spark hazard.
  • It is typical to put a propane canister/LA battery inside a closed box and vent to the outside.
  • A high-pressure solenoid at the propane canister should help to reduce the risk of downstream leaks. Another option is to close the valve when not in use.

    Minimize to the extent possible routing high-pressure propane around inside the vehicle. It is always preferred to drop the pressure down in larger distribution networks. One of the issues I have is with a MisterBuddy heater setup on a 20 lbs propane can; this is a high-pressure setup. I recently tried a regulator to adjust the pressure to the high pressure input. It worked.

This worked with a Little Buddy.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


This type of device is advisable inside the vehicle regardless of the propane stowage method.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


This is a solenoid that will control various gases and liquids at 145 psi pressure.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/324514575217
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