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Old 11-01-2017, 04:53 PM
GR8Dane GR8Dane is offline
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Hey guys.

My first post here, but been lurking for a little while. Didn't find exactly what I was looking for in my search, so here goes. Feel free to point me to another thread if needed.

I'm looking to add propane to my suburban Utah home primarily for heat and also for cooking in the case of an extended power outage in the winter or even just for cooking in the summer. I plan to plumb the patio BBQ as well for convenience and to keep the system in use on occasion. Obviously things would need to be pretty bad for the natural gas to fail, but earthquakes are a serious concern here and probably our most likely natural disaster. I may need to deal with broken propane lines too, but I'm planning on most everything above ground for this project and and easy to access and repair if needed. I can still cook with the power out but NG on, but propane lets me keep heat.

Here's my initial plan. Give me your thoughts and help me fill in the gaps if you can.

Tank Purchase: I want to buy, not lease. My usage will generally be small and won't hit the minimums which means I'll get hit with minimum use penalties, tank rentals and be locked in to high priced refills. I'd like to choose my provider for the service and maintain the tanks myself. Used tanks run $400 for 100 gallons. I could even use a bunch of the 100#/25 gallon tanks which are only $125 a piece from Home Depot and may be easier to acquire over time and cheaper to fill since I could put them in my truck.

Tank Size: I like the idea of having tanks semi-portable. I'm looking at 100-120 gallon vertical tanks which weigh roughly 250-300 pounds empty meaning me and a couple guys can muscle it around if needed for installation. These smaller tanks also don't seem to be subject to the same city codes for placement meaning I could put them against my house or against my property line if needed. May not be a good idea, but they are portable enough I could move them without significant expense. I could also take them with me if we moved after burning or purging the fuel. Space is also a concern, so vertical tanks would be nice.

Tank Valves: This is where I am most lost. I understand you need something for bulk fill if I'm going to have a truck deliver propane occasionally. Is there a separate valve for connecting to the house? What about when I get 2 or 3 of these tanks and want to switch between tanks? I don't mind moving a hose between them when one runs out. I'm trying to find out what comes on these used tanks and about certification. I'll need to consider the purchase of the right valves and adapters into the cost of the project.

Plumbing: I have a family member that does gas piping, so I'll let him do that work. I'm planning on running a big line to my basement and then teeing off a few connections for the vent free heater, stove, maybe a lantern. These will all have their own regulators, so I just need to make sure I have enough flow to that point. I don't plan to have these appliances hooked up unless I need them in an emergency. I'll have the plumping and connections all ready to go.

Safety: This probably has more to do with the appliances and gas plumbing in the house, but any special considerations or warnings I should consider?

Motorhome: I have a motorhome that runs most everything off of propane. If the house was a total loss and I was bugging in, it might be nice to be able to hook up the RV to the propane source for fridge/heat/hot water. I could just drag the individual tanks to the RV if needed as long as I have the right hoses and adapters right? I could also bring the extra tanks with me in the trailer if we were bugging out.

Natural Gas Infrastructure and Stability: Just a general curiosity about the availability of NG during a disaster. Is it possible for the utility to simply shutoff supply centrally after a huge disaster? Could that mean outages for several weeks while they re-certify lines and bring the grid back online? What about pandemic type situations where everyone is staying home? Are NG operations likely to shut down if people stop going to work? How long could they last? These questions/answers will help me prioritize this project.

Thanks.
(Hope this isn't a double post. I tried earlier and it didn't show up. Mod please delete if a duplicate. Thx.)
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:41 PM
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So do you have NG at your house now that you are using? Propane uses different jets and regulators. My cook top came with both but I hooked it up to a bbg bottle, after switching the stuff out. I can cook for myself almost a year, even with the X who could only cook on full blast we used only 3 or 4 of the bbg bottles a year.

You need to check your local laws. Here if the system runs out they will not come and fill your tank with out doing a pressure test. If you haul your tanks then that is different. One guy built a stand pickup bed height and wiggles a 100 gallon tank out of the truck onto his stand. I think he has two and hauls them one at a time to town to fill. A different guys has a 300 gallon tank on a trailer he hauls to town to fill. Not sure if the have permits/placards to haul that much propane.

Natural gas has been fairly dependable, but in a grid down all bets are off for how long it lasts.

I would suggest having wood heat. I cook a lot on my flat topped wood stove in the winter. I have melted snow/ice on it for years, before the well. A solar shower bag works very nicely when filled from big stainless stock pots/turkey fryer one the stove. It didn't take me long to shower out off the back when it was 30 below.

If I had the money I would get several underground big tanks with isolator valves. I would plumb in some propane lights and a water heater. Propane from the store is about 30% more than electricity for the same energy - but some times there is no electricity to to buy - sometimes for weeks. I hauled water for years and did without grid electricity for 7 years.
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:59 PM
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This is going to be quite the expense project for something that can cure both of your issues with a wood stove.
Your nat gas furnace dosnt need power to work? If it does your also looking at adding a generator. Wood dosnt need any of that.
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:48 PM
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Thanks guys. Yes, the house runs everything on natural gas today. I'm adding the propane manifold to the basement only for emergencies to run a vent free heater and stove when NG isn't available. I don't plan to convert any of my NG appliances to propane as this is just supplemental heat. I can run my furnace with my generator or eventually solar as long as the NG holds up. So, I'm pretty set on this approach and really looking for feedback from the guys who are running on propane at home or in the cabins.

As much as I'd like to do wood, that would be a much more costly and intrusive project as my home does not even have a chimney today and I'm not willing to make the changes in order to make it happen. Running gas pipe from a set of tanks in through a basement wall and having them stubbed and ready for emergency is pretty easy for me in comparison. A 30k btu heater in our smaller basement should be great for emergencies where we are isolated to that small space. Hopefully our next home will be custom built and I'll be making sure to get a wood burning fireplace/stove at that time.
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:48 PM
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Just get a 250 or 500 gallon tank and bury it. That should last at least a year - longer than that without a national power grid and we have bigger problems.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:49 PM
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There you go, nothing like planning to avoid costly mistakes. A tri fuel generator would be the one to have. I have one of those ventless propane/NG heaters. I have several propane lantern that I run on the 1# throwaway cans that I refill 10 times before I toss then (about seventy cents to refill with the apparatus I built 30 year ago).

I have a IR propane heater/cooker that hooks to the lantern tree that goes on top of a bbq tank. Lanterns put out a lot of heat.I have a Coleman fuel 2 burner stove converted to run on propane that also connects to the tree. Also have the Coleman folding stove stand. Makes for a complete camping kitchen. Used it a lot in the summer kitchen for pressure canning.
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Old 11-01-2017, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by GR8Dane View Post
Hey guys.

I'm looking to add propane to my suburban Utah home primarily for heat and also for cooking in the case of an extended power outage in the winter st.
I've installed propane at al three of my places. When I lived in New York state, tank ownership was frowned upon by most of the propane sellers where I was. I bought my own 1000 gallon tank and was only able find one place willing to fill it. Here in northern Michigan, tank ownership is very common. I bought two tanks from the place I get my propane from. 330 gallon, refurbished for $660 each.

Piping it into the house usually means vinyl-covered copper line that gets buried. Hooks to the regulator outside the house and it is all black cast-iron pipe from there (never galvanized). Dirt cheap from Home Depot and the will cut the lengths and cut the threads for free.

Usually, to keep flow adequate, a two-regulator system is used. A high-pressure reg. on the tank, and a low-pressure regulator on the house.

Your RV has a low pressure system with a two-stage regulator (basically a high and a low in one device). It would be easy to put a T in your propane line with a valve and cap on it. This so you could hook your bulk tank to it. BUT - it has to be low pressure and must only come from the 2nd low-pressure regulator at your house.

One of my places has four 100 lb. tanks. Three hooked up and one spare. The three that are hooked in are all piped to the same regulator with a gate-valve in each line. I only run on one tank at a time. When it runs out, I turn that valve off and turn on another. Doing it this way keeps me aware of what tanks are full and which ones are empty.

120 gallon vertical tank is tough to move when full.

None of my 100 lb. tanks hae fill valves so they have to be unhooked to get filled. 120, 330, 500, and 1000 gallon tanks DO have fill valves. All this tanks are ACME tanks so inspection or certification is not and issue like DOT tanks require.

On the subject of back-up heat that requires no electricity or chimney? Hard to beat the infrared catalytic propane wall heaters rated at 30K BTUs I have 8 of them in various places.
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:01 AM
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I've installed propane at al three of my places. When I lived in New York state, tank ownership was frowned upon by most of the propane sellers where I was. I bought my own 1000 gallon tank and was only able find one place willing to fill it. Here in northern Michigan, tank ownership is very common. I bought two tanks from the place I get my propane from. 330 gallon, refurbished for $660 each.

Piping it into the house usually means vinyl-covered copper line that gets buried. Hooks to the regulator outside the house and it is all black cast-iron pipe from there (never galvanized). Dirt cheap from Home Depot and the will cut the lengths and cut the threads for free.

Usually, to keep flow adequate, a two-regulator system is used. A high-pressure reg. on the tank, and a low-pressure regulator on the house.

Your RV has a low pressure system with a two-stage regulator (basically a high and a low in one device). It would be easy to put a T in your propane line with a valve and cap on it. This so you could hook your bulk tank to it. BUT - it has to be low pressure and must only come from the 2nd low-pressure regulator at your house.

One of my places has four 100 lb. tanks. Three hooked up and one spare. The three that are hooked in are all piped to the same regulator with a gate-valve in each line. I only run on one tank at a time. When it runs out, I turn that valve off and turn on another. Doing it this way keeps me aware of what tanks are full and which ones are empty.

120 gallon vertical tank is tough to move when full.

None of my 100 lb. tanks hae fill valves so they have to be unhooked to get filled. 120, 330, 500, and 1000 gallon tanks DO have fill valves. All this tanks are ACME tanks so inspection or certification is not and issue like DOT tanks require.

On the subject of back-up heat that requires no electricity or chimney? Hard to beat the infrared catalytic propane wall heaters rated at 30K BTUs I have 8 of them in various places.
Thanks a ton for the info. That's exactly what I was looking for. After further research about the bigger tanks, I'm leaning towards a group of 100 lb. tanks setup just like you have done. I can make the plumbing permanent but the tanks can be portable for filling and would be much easier to move to the RV location if needed or to even take with me if I needed to bug out of town. It will also lower my up front costs and I can add more tanks to the system over time.

Thanks again for the feedback.
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Old 11-02-2017, 03:28 PM
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I wrote this yesterday evening before jdemaris's excellent post, but could not get it to post. I am too lazy to make any changes, so here it is as written.

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Originally Posted by GR8Dane View Post
Hey guys.

My first post here, but been lurking for a little while. Didn't find exactly what I was looking for in my search, so here goes. Feel free to point me to another thread if needed.

I'm looking to add propane to my suburban Utah home primarily for heat and also for cooking in the case of an extended power outage in the winter or even just for cooking in the summer. I plan to plumb the patio BBQ as well for convenience and to keep the system in use on occasion. Obviously things would need to be pretty bad for the natural gas to fail, but earthquakes are a serious concern here and probably our most likely natural disaster. I may need to deal with broken propane lines too, but I'm planning on most everything above ground for this project and and easy to access and repair if needed. I can still cook with the power out but NG on, but propane lets me keep heat.

Here's my initial plan. Give me your thoughts and help me fill in the gaps if you can.

Tank Purchase: I want to buy, not lease. My usage will generally be small and won't hit the minimums which means I'll get hit with minimum use penalties, tank rentals and be locked in to high priced refills. I'd like to choose my provider for the service and maintain the tanks myself. Used tanks run $400 for 100 gallons. I could even use a bunch of the 100#/25 gallon tanks which are only $125 a piece from Home Depot and may be easier to acquire over time and cheaper to fill since I could put them in my truck.
I would go with the 100#/25 gallon tanks, with 3 or 4 20#, and a couple dozen 1# bottles.

Tank Size: I like the idea of having tanks semi-portable. I'm looking at 100-120 gallon vertical tanks which weigh roughly 250-300 pounds empty meaning me and a couple guys can muscle it around if needed for installation. These smaller tanks also don't seem to be subject to the same city codes for placement meaning I could put them against my house or against my property line if needed. May not be a good idea, but they are portable enough I could move them without significant expense. I could also take them with me if we moved after burning or purging the fuel. Space is also a concern, so vertical tanks would be nice.
All doable. Still would go with the 100# tanks.

Tank Valves: This is where I am most lost. I understand you need something for bulk fill if I'm going to have a truck deliver propane occasionally. Is there a separate valve for connecting to the house? What about when I get 2 or 3 of these tanks and want to switch between tanks? I don't mind moving a hose between them when one runs out. I'm trying to find out what comes on these used tanks and about certification. I'll need to consider the purchase of the right valves and adapters into the cost of the project.
There are basically either two or three valved connections for stationary propane tanks, barring special circumstances. One is the fill connection, which the propane truck connects to in order to add propane to the tank. The second one is the outlet that furnishes the feed for the gas line that feeds the appliances. The third connection is optional, usually only for commercial and farm users. This is the 'wet leg' connection used to draw liquid propane from the bottom of the tank to fill smaller tanks, such as propane forklift tanks. (Modern tanks pretty much always have this valve on top of the tank, with a pipe going down near the bottom of the tank. Some older tanks actually had a valve in the bottom of the tank to draw liquid propane. For some special applications, but often used to refill smaller tanks. I hate this type!) If you do get a stationary tank, do try to get a wet leg. Very, very useful. But not always available to residential users. There is a fourth valve, the pressure relief/safety valve. There will usually be an opening in the tank with a pressure gauge attached, too. Might be some other plugged openings that are used for purposes not related to final use.

There are combined regulator/valve systems that can be connected to two portable tanks. When one is empty it switches to the other. Both tank valves are left open so they can be switched inside the control. Other than that, it gets really tricky connecting multiple propane tanks together. Not too bad if they are just connected together, used together, and refilled together. But if one tank is at a lower pressure than another, and both valves are openned, some very bad things can happen. For the situation in the OP, this is one of the reasons I suggest the 100# tanks. You really do not want to try to interconnect multiple tanks.

And of course, there is an exception to this. For RVs with a mounted propane tank, there is an aftermarket assembly that you plumb in to the mounted tank. It allows you to run an outside grill, plus connect an external tank to the system. This is what I would suggest getting. As well as a 1# bottle filling adapter, if you are sure you can handle the process safely. It requires inverting the source tank (ergo at least one 20# tank). It is easiest and safest to have a stand made to hold this inverted tank, at a level where it is easy to work the valve, and with a shelf to hold the 1# tanks when connected. As a side note: To get maximum usage, placing the empty 1# bottles in a freezer for a few hours before refilling them works wonders.


Plumbing: I have a family member that does gas piping, so I'll let him do that work. I'm planning on running a big line to my basement and then teeing off a few connections for the vent free heater, stove, maybe a lantern. These will all have their own regulators, so I just need to make sure I have enough flow to that point. I don't plan to have these appliances hooked up unless I need them in an emergency. I'll have the plumping and connections all ready to go.
I am not sure what you consider a 'big' line to the basement. I would not consider anything over 1" tubing, and 3/4" would probably be adequate. Check with the family member to make sure he/she understands the correct material for propane. Black iron pipe is great for natural gas. And PVC works, though I do not like it. Black iron can be a bit of a problem with propane. I prefer copper tubing, using flare fittings (never sweated fittings).

Safety: This probably has more to do with the appliances and gas plumbing in the house, but any special considerations or warnings I should consider?
100% absolutely have CO, CO2, O2, smoke, and fire detectors in every area where you will be using propane, even if the devices and appliances have them built in. And also remember that while there are unvented, indoor safe heaters, they still require ventilation, not so much because of the gasses they put off, but of those they use up, as in oxygen. You need oxygen at close to 20% or better. Indoor save heaters can burn up enough before going out to put humans in serious danger, especially those with any breathing problems.

Motorhome: I have a motorhome that runs most everything off of propane. If the house was a total loss and I was bugging in, it might be nice to be able to hook up the RV to the propane source for fridge/heat/hot water. I could just drag the individual tanks to the RV if needed as long as I have the right hoses and adapters right? I could also bring the extra tanks with me in the trailer if we were bugging out.
Note the valve assembly mentioned above. Perfect solution for this.

Natural Gas Infrastructure and Stability: Just a general curiosity about the availability of NG during a disaster. Is it possible for the utility to simply shutoff supply centrally after a huge disaster? Could that mean outages for several weeks while they re-certify lines and bring the grid back online? What about pandemic type situations where everyone is staying home? Are NG operations likely to shut down if people stop going to work? How long could they last? These questions/answers will help me prioritize this project.
Short term disasters will have TPTB getting natural gas going again as quickly as possible. However, while industry is usually secondary to residential in the winter, there are industries that will get priority if there is limited natural gas available.

Outages could be a few hours to a few weeks. On the other hand, if TPTB will not be back in operation for some time in some types of disasters, natural gas, when it stops, could be stopped for many years, to decades, to centuries. Best to have the propane back up.


Thanks.
(Hope this isn't a double post. I tried earlier and it didn't show up. Mod please delete if a duplicate. Thx.)
I would also seriously consider an outside multi-fuel furnace/water heater. You could use natural gas when it was flowing, propane, wood, coal, and in some units, also heating oil or even waste oil. If you have a natural gas heating system that uses ductwork for heated air, that ductwork can be connected to the correct version of the outside furnace to get the heat from any of those fuels into the house cleanly. And with a small solar power system to run the blowers, pumps, and controls, you can have an off-grid heat and hot water system with many ways to run it.

Just my opinion.
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:22 PM
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I wrote this yesterday evening before jdemaris's excellent post, but could not get it to post. I am too lazy to make any changes, so here it is as written.



I would also seriously consider an outside multi-fuel furnace/water heater. You could use natural gas when it was flowing, propane, wood, coal, and in some units, also heating oil or even waste oil. If you have a natural gas heating system that uses ductwork for heated air, that ductwork can be connected to the correct version of the outside furnace to get the heat from any of those fuels into the house cleanly. And with a small solar power system to run the blowers, pumps, and controls, you can have an off-grid heat and hot water system with many ways to run it.

Just my opinion.
Jerry, this stuff is great and just what I was looking for. I appreciate the time you put into the response. Hopefully this will be helpful for others looking to add propane into their list of available options. The propane tank dealer I have been talking with also just came back with a recommendation of multiple 100# tanks, so it seems that is the way to go. Thanks again and best regards.
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Old 11-03-2017, 09:03 PM
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if your going 100lb tanks they do make ones that can be filled on site with a truck just as any bigger propane tank can. home depot, lowes and I believe tractor supply all have them but you will have to ship them to the store. there not a normally carried item. they cost about $30 more and I suggest you get at least one just incase. just incase could be you getting hurt and cant physicly move the full/empty tank, vehicle that can move the full tank is broken or any other thing.
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Old 11-03-2017, 09:51 PM
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Last time I checked the price on a 100 lb DOT tank with a fill-valve instead of a plain POL valve, it was $80 extra. Where can I buy one for just $30 extra? I know not through my Tractor Supply store. ASME 100 lb. tank is even more.
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Old 11-04-2017, 08:32 AM
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Last time I checked the price on a 100 lb DOT tank with a fill-valve instead of a plain POL valve, it was $80 extra. Where can I buy one for just $30 extra? I know not through my Tractor Supply store. ASME 100 lb. tank is even more.
I think that's good advice for at least one of the tanks. I've got 100# used and recertified tanks for $75 which is almost half the cost of a new tank without one of those valves. Seems like it may make the most sense to just replace one of the valves with a multi-valve so I can have the flexibility. Luckily I'm still young enough to muscle one of these around, but I'm going to get a dolly to make it easier to put them in the truck when it's time for a fill.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by GR8Dane View Post
Seems like it may make the most sense to just replace one of the valves with a multi-valve so I can have the flexibility.
If I wanted a tank with a liquid fill valve - I sure as heck would not waste my money on a 100 lb. tank. What would be the point? If you want at least one tank that a gas-seller can come to your place to fill - seems a bigger tank makes a lot more sense. I can buy a used 120 gallon ASME tank for the price of a new 100 pounder (24 gallon) with a fill-valve.

As far as moving around full 100 pounders? I am 70 years old and weigh 140 bs. and I still do it. Nice thing about them is you can lay them down and roll them pretty easy. Hard part is getting them into the back of very high 4WD F250.

I just built a cabin in a very remote area in the Michigan UP. 3/4 of a mile from the nearest public road. I wanted large tank that a gas-seller could come and fill once a year - but I could not find anybody to do it to my remote spot. My next idea was to mount a 330 gallon horizontal ASME tank on a trailer. When a fill was needed - I'd just tow it out to the road. Gas seller refused to fill my tank when on a trailer. So I said the heck with it, and put in several 100 pounders instead. Easy to find used for $30-$40 each.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jdemaris View Post
If I wanted a tank with a liquid fill valve - I sure as heck would not waste my money on a 100 lb. tank. What would be the point? If you want at least one tank that a gas-seller can come to your place to fill - seems a bigger tank makes a lot more sense. I can buy a used 120 gallon ASME tank for the price of a new 100 pounder (24 gallon) with a fill-valve.
Great advice! I'm hoping to have 6 100# tanks over the next few months which should be good for my backup plan.

Tractor Supply has Mr. Heater on sale today for 20% off, so I just ordered a 30k blue flame for $169 and a Big Buddy for $103.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:23 AM
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For those that have been there... Your friend 49CFR and what follows in it storage, transportation, and volume limits.

Be wary of used tanks, most places will not fill them if they are past inspection dates they have to be given a visual inspection prior to each fill, rust dents cracks stickers stamp. Every 10 years and then every 5 after that they have to be re-certified, the valve will usually have to be replaced so that cost can be almost as much as a new tank. Probably around 50$ for inspection and valve so used tank plus re-certification may not be cost effective.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GR8Dane View Post
Great advice! I'm hoping to have 6 100# tanks over the next few months which should be good for my backup plan.

Tractor Supply has Mr. Heater on sale today for 20% off, so I just ordered a 30k blue flame for $169 and a Big Buddy for $103.
I am not trying to tell you what to do, but . .

I'd stay away from the "Blue Flame" and get the infrared catalytic with a thermostat.. Much nicer working heater. Less fumes too. My first ones were made by Procom. Then Tractor Supply switched to Redstone. Now they have switched again to Mr. Heater. The Mr. Heater brand has battery ignition instead of a push-button Piezo lighter.

By the way - if buying used tanks. DOT tanks need inspection dates. ASME tanks usually do not unless someone has removed the metal ID plate. If the plate is missing - it is not supposed to be filled.
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Old 11-04-2017, 04:20 PM
Brettny Brettny is offline
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Originally Posted by jdemaris View Post
Last time I checked the price on a 100 lb DOT tank with a fill-valve instead of a plain POL valve, it was $80 extra. Where can I buy one for just $30 extra? I know not through my Tractor Supply store. ASME 100 lb. tank is even more.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Worthington-Pro-Grade-100-lb-Empty-Steel-Propane-Cylinder-with-Multi-Valve-327701/202936849

Regular ones are $137. I thought the regular ones were cheaper a few years ago.
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Old 11-04-2017, 05:16 PM
jdemaris jdemaris is offline
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Originally Posted by Brettny View Post
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Worthington-Pro-Grade-100-lb-Empty-Steel-Propane-Cylinder-with-Multi-Valve-327701/202936849

Regular ones are $137. I thought the regular ones were cheaper a few years ago.
i bought three new 100 lb. tanks at Tractor Supply 3-4 years ago. On sale for $99 each. Manchester tanks. I needed one in a remote area this summer in the Michigan UP. Same Manchester tank at an Ace hardware store. Cost me a total of $200 after having them fill it.
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Old 11-05-2017, 10:22 AM
GR8Dane GR8Dane is offline
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Originally Posted by jdemaris View Post
I am not trying to tell you what to do, but . .

I'd stay away from the "Blue Flame" and get the infrared catalytic with a thermostat.. Much nicer working heater. Less fumes too. My first ones were made by Procom. Then Tractor Supply switched to Redstone. Now they have switched again to Mr. Heater. The Mr. Heater brand has battery ignition instead of a push-button Piezo lighter.

By the way - if buying used tanks. DOT tanks need inspection dates. ASME tanks usually do not unless someone has removed the metal ID plate. If the plate is missing - it is not supposed to be filled.
Thanks jdemaris. I appreciate the feedback, especially on the tank certification.
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