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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the days/weeks after a SHTF scenario, I plan on using Propane as one of multiple sources of energy for heat as well as cooking. (I have some long term solutions that I'm working on such as a wood burning stove, but for the sake of this thread let's assume that propane is my only option for the following scenario.) I have some small 1lb containers, a few BBQ size (20 gallons I believe) and plan on adding a few tall 100 pounders soon. Here's my question / dilemma though.

For storing them, I will not keep them in the house, the chance of one leaking and the destruction that could cause is not worth it to me. I have an un-insulated and un heated attached shed to my house, 2x4 construction, siding, shingled roof, etc., looks like a small room off the side of the house basically, this is where I keep my tanks. I know that propane will store and stay good indefinitely, but I have heard that when moving them from a cold to warm environment can cause them to leak or let off pressure or something.

Lets say power goes out, its middle of winter, very cold outside, say 5 degrees. I have a propane tank in the garage and I need to use it for cooking, heating, or whatever in the house on a portable device (think camp stove, buddy heater, etc.) it seems from what I have read that bringing one of those tanks from very cold to a warm setting can cause issues, so what to do??

If I had to run a buddy heater inside for an emergency, is there a way of me storing that propane or bringing it inside without the added risk? This is just something I am thinking of that I thought maybe some people could shed light/experience on. Input, ideas, stories?
 

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Propane tanks have a pressure relief valve built into them as a safety measure, loss through that valve from your activity won't release enough to concern anyone. If you want to keep the tanks in one location but use a heater in another, you can obtain longer hoses with proper fittings. If you have a facility that manufactures hydraulic hoses, they could build one or more for you of any length you need.
 

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Business Owner
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You should have no problems. I often have heated the 20lb tanks using hot water so that I could refill the 1lb tanks from them. The 1lb tanks were stuck in the freezer to get really cold. I have never had one vent. Mine are regularly stored outside in Texas heat (in the shade) and have never vented (to my knowledge) Just keep them dry and rust-free and you should be good.
 

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From my experiences as a firefighter in Australia responding to vehicle LPG "leaks".

Gas expands when heated and contracts when cooled. If you fill up a cylinder in the cold of the morning, by the mid afternoon heat it expands enough to trip the pressure relief valve (if correctly fitted and functioning).
Note: These temperature changes occur often in the Australian summer and may not apply around the world, but the principal applies regardless of the cause the temperature difference.

If we assess this is the case, we advise the owner of the car to go for a drive. It consumes some gas through the engine and the remainder that leaks out the over-pressure valve is spread out by the motion of the vehicle and poses no risk as it can't build up enough concentration to meet the fuel/air ratio needed for ignition.

The reverse however poses no risk at all.

Filled up in the heat of the day slowly all it can do is cool down. When it does so, it reduces the internal pressure (the same as if gas were being removed).

WORST CASE scenario, ensure it has a functioning overpressure valve installed and move it to a ventilated location with no ignition sources BELOW the level of the gas bottle's pressure relief valve.
Propane like most flammable gases is heavier then air and will sink down to the lowest levels. A bit of wind will spread it out and it's all good.

Also while we have large ventilation fans, due to the risk of ignition we ventilate gas using water. Turn the hoses onto a spray (30 degrees is ideal) and aim at the leak.
Just like a fast truck moving past you, the water causes drag in the surrounding air.

While not as strong as the draft of a large truck, you'd be surprised how much air can be moved by a 38mm fire hose.
A 12mm garden hose isn't as effective, but a lot better then nothing. Also if it is indeed heat causing the leak, the water will cool the cylinder down thus reducing the pressure and slowing/stopping the leak.
 

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6 Boys and 13 Hands
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In the days/weeks after a SHTF scenario, I plan on using Propane as one of multiple sources of energy for heat as well as cooking. (I have some long term solutions that I'm working on such as a wood burning stove, but for the sake of this thread let's assume that propane is my only option for the following scenario.) I have some small 1lb containers, a few BBQ size (20 gallons I believe) and plan on adding a few tall 100 pounders soon. Here's my question / dilemma though.

For storing them, I will not keep them in the house, the chance of one leaking and the destruction that could cause is not worth it to me. I have an un-insulated and un heated attached shed to my house, 2x4 construction, siding, shingled roof, etc., looks like a small room off the side of the house basically, this is where I keep my tanks. I know that propane will store and stay good indefinitely, but I have heard that when moving them from a cold to warm environment can cause them to leak or let off pressure or something.

Lets say power goes out, its middle of winter, very cold outside, say 5 degrees. I have a propane tank in the garage and I need to use it for cooking, heating, or whatever in the house on a portable device (think camp stove, buddy heater, etc.) it seems from what I have read that bringing one of those tanks from very cold to a warm setting can cause issues, so what to do??

If I had to run a buddy heater inside for an emergency, is there a way of me storing that propane or bringing it inside without the added risk? This is just something I am thinking of that I thought maybe some people could shed light/experience on. Input, ideas, stories?
Don't go with a buddy heater use a vent less propane heater instead. These type of heaters usually require a 100lb bottle to keep it burning as they have a low pressure shut off. I ran one in my work shed 5000 BTU on a 40lb bottle and it would shut off when the temperature reached 25 degrees. Now on a 100lb bottle it still functions even at -10 so far. It has shut off twice but I think it had more to do with improper purging of the new tank leaving traces of oxygen in the tank.

Propane loses it's efficiency in cold temperatures and electric blankets can be purchased to keep the tank warm, but that is useless if the electric is out.

One thing you need to watch is for carbon monoxide build up. Either purchase a carbon monoxide detector or watch for signs of the windows sweating on the inside.
 

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patriarch
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When the temperature is as cold as it is now, I have seen a #20 tank valve freeze. The valve & tank will need to be warmed up by a hot towel or blanket for the frozen valve to work again. Gas withdrawn at a fast rate produces cold, plus the cold temperature equals a frozen valve. Maybe some one else more familiar can explain this scenario and reason for the freeze up.
 

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Prepaired
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No. There is not a safe way to use a propane tank in a confined structure. Follow the rules and gas is a safe energy source, break the rules and it can be a bomb. It is also a violation of the National Fire Code and if ,god forbid, you had a fire with one in use inside the house, your insurance company may not pay.

Google...propane tank in house fire.
 

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reluctant sinner
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I'd build a big dog insulated house to store the propane tanks in the shade away from your house. Doubtful you can get an overfilled tank these days, Most places will not even fill them to the "full" point.

Tanks can vent when they get hot, and they don't need to be full to do that.

Directed flame on the top of a tank can lead to a heck of an explosion. That same flame directed to a lower portion of a tank with liquid propane will usually just vent not explode.

BLEVE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_liquid_expanding_vapor_explosion
 

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Don't go with a buddy heater use a vent less propane heater instead. These type of heaters usually require a 100lb bottle to keep it burning as they have a low pressure shut off. I ran one in my work shed 5000 BTU on a 40lb bottle and it would shut off when the temperature reached 25 degrees. Now on a 100lb bottle it still functions even at -10 so far. It has shut off twice but I think it had more to do with improper purging of the new tank leaving traces of oxygen in the tank.

Propane loses it's efficiency in cold temperatures and electric blankets can be purchased to keep the tank warm, but that is useless if the electric is out.

One thing you need to watch is for carbon monoxide build up. Either purchase a carbon monoxide detector or watch for signs of the windows sweating on the inside.
Windows sweating because the heater releases a lot of water vapor.
 

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The reason they freeze up in the cold is due the reduction of pressure.
If you increase pressure, you also increase heat, reduce the pressure and likewise to the temperature.

You can see this happen on air compressors, the heat build up on the pump head is NOT due to friction, but the increase in pressure.
Likewise, take ANY aerosol can, measure it's temp and then spray a good portion of it out and check it's temp again.

Assuming it's not frozen, you can pour water over the bottle making sure to cover the valve area to help unfreeze the cylinder.

And as stupid as it sounds, you can wrap a couple of blankets around the cylinder.

If you wanted a more reliable design, you could always build a vent that draws warm air from your house via a couple of large 12v computer fans into the propane shack attacked to the side of your building and then out the bottom of the shack via vents.

A small car battery with solar panel spins the fans keeping your cylinders warm while the cylinders help keep your house warm. It will also push any vented gas down and away.
But unless you want to keep the fans running 24hrs a day, you'll need a door/cover to seal the house to shack vent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Some good ideas and interesting feed back. I think I'm going to stick with a longer hose through a window for operating the stove/heater from a 20# or 100# tank (most likely just the stove). Then I can take in the small 1# tanks if needed, but will come up with method of bringing them up to temp and doing a leak test before bringing them all the way into the home for use. I think I will also try to come up with a designated storage area for them with some type of insulation, just to keep them warmer/safer.

Actually I could probably just store them inside of my pop up camper (which is let down and covered in the winter), this would keep them away from the house and away from spark in case of a leak, and would also keep them our of the wind and somewhat insulated. I could throw a blanket over them to help. Hmmmm, kind of liking that idea actually, out of the way, out of sight, safe, warm, and if I need to get to them I can have them out rather quickly.
 

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Some good ideas and interesting feed back. I think I'm going to stick with a longer hose through a window for operating the stove/heater from a 20# or 100# tank (most likely just the stove). Then I can take in the small 1# tanks if needed, but will come up with method of bringing them up to temp and doing a leak test before bringing them all the way into the home for use. I think I will also try to come up with a designated storage area for them with some type of insulation, just to keep them warmer/safer.

Actually I could probably just store them inside of my pop up camper (which is let down and covered in the winter), this would keep them away from the house and away from spark in case of a leak, and would also keep them our of the wind and somewhat insulated. I could throw a blanket over them to help. Hmmmm, kind of liking that idea actually, out of the way, out of sight, safe, warm, and if I need to get to them I can have them out rather quickly.

that may work for your locale but it isn't for everyone ... there's already been a discussion about LP tanks freezing .... we've had double digit below zero weather lately .... you aren't going to get a decent flow - if anything - when a 20lber is sitting out in that condition ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
that may work for your locale but it isn't for everyone ... there's already been a discussion about LP tanks freezing .... we've had double digit below zero weather lately .... you aren't going to get a decent flow - if anything - when a 20lber is sitting out in that condition ....
I'm in Michigan, so yea its -30 F outside with wind chill right now haha. Although that is a record for us since like 60+ years ago. If it were that cold I could use the smaller tanks inside, when the weather is around or above freezing I would think the tank outside would be fine wrapped in a blanket or something, the pressure may be a bit low, I guess I could experiment with it and see! Good point though.

Underground propane tanks solves cold problems with propane.
This is true if you have pipe ran to your house from a propane tank, but for the smaller size tanks and not having a propane house, it would be a bit of a hassle.
 
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