Tanks a Lot
I have been busy upgrading my propane storage and generator bay. Up until now I have been running all of my propane appliances off of a single stage home BBQ type regulator. To be fair, it has worked perfectly. My Platinum Cat propane heater strongly recommends a dual stage regulator though. I also had one occasion where I ran out of propane at night when it was raining. I had a 2nd tank with me, but it was a minor inconvenience to go outside and swap the tanks. I also ran through a 5 gallon tank of propane in about 2 weeks and this was during the summer, so it probably mostly went into the toilet. For all these reasons I decided to upgrade my propane supply.
I purchased a dual stage, dual input ďautomatic changeover regulatorĒ here:
250 LP Regulator Automatic Changeover with 2 LP ACME Hoses - $48...
The idea is that when you run out of propane in one tank it automatically switches over to the other tank and the indicator window turns red to let you know that the first tank is empty. I also added storage for 2 more 5 gallon propane tanks for a total of 4. As a practical matter each tank holds about 4.5 gallons so I have a total capacity of 18 gallons.
Let me be a little more clear about how the changeover regulator works, for the benefit of anyone who hasnít had the opportunity to play with one. It has a plastic lever that is used to select which tank is indicated. There is only one ďemptyĒ indicator so it will indicate the status of one tank or the other depending on which way the lever is positioned. The lever does not select which tank is supplying propane, except possibly in the case where both tanks have propane in them. It will draw from whichever tank has propane in it regardless of the lever position.
When one tank is empty, you can flip the lever to the other full, or at least partially full, tank and the indicator will no longer indicate that there is a problem. You can then disconnect the empty tank and replace it with a full one without interrupting the flow of propane to your appliances. Once the new tank is connected, you can flip the plastic lever back, or not, it really doesnít matter. Itís your choice which tank you want to draw down next.
There is a catch though, and I think this is a significant safety concern that they donít tell you about. If you run one tank empty, and then remove it without flipping the plastic lever, a small amount of propane will leak from the full tank, through the regulator, and out of the disconnected hose that would normally go to the other tank. From what I can tell, this leak will continue indefinitely, until your full tank is empty, or your truck blows up.
YOU MUST FLIP THE LEVER TO THE FULL TANK BEFORE REMOVING THE EMPTY TANK.
Alternatively turn both tanks off at the tank valves before disconnecting anything. You would think they would tell you this stuff, but they donít. I suppose this characteristic might be unique to the particular regulator I bought, but I doubt it. To be fair, the leak was small. I only noticed it by placing my thumb over the hose end, letting it build up a little pressure, and then hearing the pssst when I removed my thumb. Do your own testing and donít take my word for it.