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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Propane On While Driving an RV - Oh Boy!

Should I turn off the propane to my refrigerator when driving down the road? Should I turn off the propane at the tank at all times while driving? What about the food in the freezer? Can you tell me what is right for safety? Gerri & Oscar, (Hershey, PA) 

Gerri and Oscar, you must really want me to get a bucket load of mail into my inbox! Okay, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ll bite. There are two schools of thought concerning running down the road with the LP container open and the refrigerator on; one is that it is safe and permissible IF you are absolutely sure the entire propane system is set up properly and completely leak-free. Understanding, of course, the propane system does contain built-in safeguards in the event of a collision. However there are certain LP restrictions concerning some tunnels, turnpikes, ferries and bridges, etc. It may still be illegal to travel with appliances operating, so you must check your route and determine if there are any restrictions in the areas you will be driving. There may even be some state or municipality-imposed regulation. But according to the proponents in this camp, as long as the RV has been maintained properly; that is, all components cleaned and serviced regularly, the LP system inspected and adjusted properly, the entire system checked regularly for leaks, etc., then as long as there are no local restrictions, go for it. After all, it IS a self-contained motorhome! Right?

The second school of thought is, why? There really is no need to run the refrigerator on LP while physically driving down the road. As long as the refrigerator is already cooled and the contents in the freezer already frozen, with properly sealing door gaskets, nothing will spoil or melt during the course of a normal day driving down the road. Even if you occasionally open the door to grab a quick soda, the interior of the refrigerator will stay cool enough over the course of a one-day’s drive. When you stop that night, open the LP container (or plug into shore power), and start the refrigerator. Of course, some RV absorption refrigerators are equipped with a DC heating element so keeping the refrigerator cooled by battery power is totally acceptable while driving. The problem is, many RVers are not aware of the many facets of propane safety as it relates to RV preventive maintenance. So if I’m driving my RV down the road, I just may have my LP container open and the refrigerator fired up, but as I pass other RVers, I’m hoping they do not!
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