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Is It Safe To Run Your RV Fridge On Propane While Driving?

Most propane RV fridges are two way, so they run on both the battery and propane. It is safer to turn off your propane while driving.

Propane is a heavy flammable gaseous alkane found in crude petroleum and used especially as fuel. It is used for refrigeration and cooking among its other purposes. Most of the fridges in the RV operate using propane. This is because propane is effective and efficient in preserving the foodstuff and keep stuff cold. It facilitates the fridge in keeping its contents safe from going bad.

The numbers of people who use propane for their RV fridges is high. Use of propane on RVs has a lot of benefits to the RV users. These include its reliability and easier to move around with in RV. They have continuously driven their RV with the refrigerators running on propane.

Whether or not to use propane on fridges while driving, there is no definite answer to this. Most RV manufacturers have been silent on this query and so have their manuals. Most of the RV fridges best run on propane.

The different RV manufacturers do not provide good out guidelines on this. The manufacturer manuals do not offer any clear guidelines on using propane while driving. You might choose to run your fridge on propane while driving. Some people choose to drive the RV with fridge on propane.

Running a fridge on propane while driving RV has presented its advantages to people. It gives people the comfort found at home on the road. But it is not safe to do so.

  1. Propane is a highly flammable gas. Propane is known for its nature of being highly flammable. It may provide a lot of advantages in its efficiency to run a fridge. However, it is risky to drive with propane on because you risk causing a fire. In case of any collusion or break in the propane gas, the likelihood of a fire outbreak is high. This is because a small spark on propane gas is just so risky. You risk losing your property, life and property in case of a fire outbreak.

  1. What then should the person use to keep their foodstuffs preserved?

Since the RV fridge is two way, it’s best to turn off the propane while driving as you have alternatives.

Use a generator to power the fridge. The RV has the capabilities to function and power its appliances. It is best to at least use the generator even if generator is not as effective as propane.

Use the 12 volt battery. The 12 volt RV battery is used in most RVs to run the electric appliances. It should be noted that most fridges are two way. This means they operate both on propane and the 12 volt battery. It’s safe to turn off the propane and use the battery as an alternative.

Reduce the number of times you open the fridge. Since it is advisable to turn off the propane for safety matters, keep you fridge closed. Avoid constantly opening up the fridge. This makes it easily lose its coldness that is required to preserve the food stuffs.

However, if you choose to drive with your fridge running on propane be very careful. Avoid the constant movements of objects likely to break the propane pipe. Also ensure the use of propane tank is protected from any damage.

While using propane has a lot of advantages like its efficiency, it is not safe. Most people prefer comfort over safety. This is seen by the big numbers of people that choose to run their fridges on propane while driving. However these risk causing damage to themselves and other occupants of the RV.

Whether you decide to choose comfort over safety or vice versa, the choice is yours to make. But remember, use of propane poses a threat to you. It is therefore best to choose safety over comfort hence life over enjoyment!

Things You Should Know About Propane

Propane is an alkaline which is made up of three carbons and goes by the formula of C3H8. It is available at room temperature in its gaseous form but can be compressed to convert it into liquid.

As a by-product of petroleum refining, it can be utilized as fuel. Marcellin Berthelot structured propane in 1857, which turned out to be financially accessible to people in 1911. It is one of the three groups which can be named as Liquefied Petroleum gas or the LPG. Propane is used in homes, agricultural lands, and industrial purposes and is utilized for water heating and cooking. Propane is basically used in rural lands that do not have the accessibility of natural gas.

Propane is used in equipment like water radiators, pool heaters, garment dryers, etc. Propane is sometimes used in combustion engines in the form of fuel in vehicles like Forklifts, motors, buses, etc. 

Propane also goes by the name of Autogas when used in vehicles. The gas is available almost everywhere. It does not heat our homes and can be used in various domestic works. Therefore, we can say that propane can be used in almost every type of agricultural and business activities.

What are the Sources of Propane?

Propane is acquired as a by-product of natural gas production and petrol refining. The handling of natural gas includes the removal of propane, raw materials, and butane in order to obtain the pure form of natural gas. In this method, the butane and the propane gas is separated from the natural gas. Moreover, propane gas can be formed as a by-product of petroleum cracking, used to form heating and kerosene.

The propane formation is not that easy because of the increased demands. The United States is said to import 70% of propane from Canada, and the rest 30% is imported from various countries. Recent research shows that more than 10% of total propane available in the United States is used for domestic purposes.

How Much Energy does Propane Produce?

The combustion enthalpy of propane gas is more than that of the other gases. You can have a common idea by looking at the two combustion types by which propane exerts its energy.

Example 1- There is a type of propane combustion in which the products have the ability to return to its standard state. It can be achieved by acquiring a high heating value. You can relate to this scenario by looking at the flow of water.

Example 2- There is a type of propane combustion in which the product loses its ability to return to its standard state. It can be achieved by acquiring a low heating value. You can relate to this scenario by looking at a chimney. The water droplets mixed with hot gas lower the heating value of the water.

Where and how is Propane Made?

Propane is a fantastic alternative to petroleum. It is considered one of the best petroleum alternatives and that too, at a cheap rate. However, the main question arises is that where does it come from? How is it made? Propane is basically made from natural gas. It is extracted from fossil fuels that are present in open lands. It is a combination of various types of hydrocarbons and can be obtained from natural gas processing and oil refining. It is covered, pressurized for liquefaction, and is stored in high-pressure containers followed by shipping and distribution.

The processing of natural gas involves refrigeration. It can be extracted from crude oil by heating and through a distillation tower, followed by keeping it in sealed cylinders and tanks.

How can Propane Be Used?

As Domestic fuels

In the country areas of North America and Australia, Propane is used to check the livestock, dryers, and other facilities. When it is used for heating services, they are usually isolated in large circular tanks. These cylinders are refueled by propane trucks that attach to the rear end of the tanks opening the hatch, which allows the gas to enter.

It is estimated that around 1100 trucks are filled daily with approximately 3000 gallons of propane gas. These trucks install all these propane inside the circular tanks where they are kept for further use.

In Vehicles as Fuel

One of the benefits of propane in vehicles is its lightweight. The liquid state is very light and can be carried anywhere. These features allow it to be a budget-friendly fuel. You can also get a quick refueling through the propane fuel. Moreover, various environmentalists support the use of propane oil because of its purity and cleanliness. 

Propane is also utilized as fuel for little vehicles. These vehicles include the small motors cars that are used in less ventilated areas. Some of these vehicles emit a large amount of Carbon Dioxide that can harm nature. Due to this problem, scientists suggest using Propane as fuel.

Propane vs. Natural Gas

Propane is stored in a Liquid state. That is why many people call it LPG. Due to this property, it can be stored in places having little space. Natural Gas or CNG, which comprises methane, is another alternative to petroleum. CNG is a very heavy gas and cannot be compressed to a liquid state at room temperature. CNGs are heavy due to which they require a considerable amount of space to be stored.

This property makes the place vulnerable to leaks and bursts. Imagine the cylinder containing CNG is leaking, and accidentally, there is a spark. The palace will immediately blow up and will destroy all the nearby places. Therefore, CNG is very risky and challenging to store in a small area due to its volume.  An alternative for CNG is the LNG or the Liquefied Natural Gas. It requires very low storage pressure and is 3x more efficient than the compressed one.

Propane is more preferred over the CNG due to its less input over the equipment. Propane requires a very less amount of pressure of 1,222 kPa and requires a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius.

Chemical Framework of Propane

The propane is made up of three carbon and eight hydrogen particles. The chemical formula for propane gas is C3H8. Propane is one of the few gases that are not made synthetically and can be found naturally. Propane is obtained by natural gas processing or petroleum refining. The cycle of processing and refining starts by drilling. One cannot extract propane directly after isolation. Propane must be Separated and collected from petroleum in a very tideous method. After extraction, propane is stored in high-pressure tanks and further distributed in gas or liquid.

Is Propane Inflammable?

Propane tanks do not blast frequently. According to research, a propane tank blast is very uncommon and can be witnessed rarely. Although the Gas cylinders can be explosive, the gas inside the cylinders is not flammable. However, if you want to explode a propane gas cylinder intentionally, you have to put a lot of effort into doing that. 

The gas is unstable in certain circumstances. A propane cylinder is likely to blast if it exceeds the limits of combustibility. A typical combustibility range of propane gas is between and 2.5% to 3.5% of propane and air mixture. Moreover, for the propane gas to become explosive, it would require a very congested place and require very high pressure.

Is Propane Poisonous?

Propane is asphyxiant. It is denser than air and can be accumulated on the floor and near small areas. If we accidentally inhale the propane gas, it might cause hypoxia, pneumonia, cardiac arrest, and numerous other diseases. However, propane is less toxic due to its low absorptive capacity and inactive nature. 

As propane is denser than air, it is more likely to be settled in small areas. This settlement can have the risk of catching fire. You can relate this with a leaking cylinder kept in the basement. The propane from the cylinder will settle on the floor, creating a disturbance in the propane and air mixture, causing an explosion or fire. Due to this property, people do not prefer propane to be used as fuels for boats.

Bottom Line

Propane is one of the primary gases that are included in the Liquid Petroleum Gas Family. In the United States, propane and LPG often mean the same.

This is because propane is the most used form of LPG in the United States. Just like water, propane can exist in the liquid and gaseous states. Under high pressure, propane becomes liquid, whereas, under normal conditions, propane acts like a gas. Propane is stored in huge cylinders as it takes a very low space and has a low volume.

The gaseous propane takes more space than the liquid ones because when converted into liquid, the bonds become lost, resulting in increased surface area. The tanks have more than 11,000 gallons of propane, enough to be used as fuel for multiple families for over three weeks. Therefore, Propane is considered one of the best alternatives for petroleum and CNG.

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