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Old 11-14-2013, 05:33 AM   #1
Seasoned Camper
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Castle ton
Posts: 52
M.O.C. #13872

It seems like all I've done since finding this forum is post one question after another but I can't tell you how much information I've garnered since joining. My latest dilemma is with our furnace and propane use. My wife and I keep our 3402RL next to our house and plugged in at all times. She's in and out of it numerous times daily and we keep the furnace on and set at 50 degrees constantly to keep liquid items from freezing. I realize that the colder it gets the more propane I'll use but here's the problem ... When the propane runs out it leaves an odor throughout the RV. This may not be a real problem except when we're using the unit and possibly asleep when theropane runs out. Does this signal a problem with the furnace or is this a normal occurrence? Also, is there a gauge that I can use on my tanks that will give me notice when the tanks or low that is better than the one already on the unit?

Secondly, has anyone had a problem closing the cover on their fantastic vent? We have no problem turning it on/off and opening it up but it doesn't seem to want to close. Is it on a timer or something where it stays open for a time after you shut off the fan?

Thanks for all your input.
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:03 AM   #2
Montana Master
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I don't know about the odor but I keep both tanks on and keep an eye on the changeover valve. When it goes red I know it's time to switch over to the other tank and get a refill.
As for the vent, no there is no timer. Call Fantastic, they have "fantastic" customer service
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:29 AM   #3
Montana Master
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I deal with this all the time as I have a mobile home with 2 100 pound tanks. When one tank is low, we get the odor especially through the pilot on the stove. The propane company explained that the 'perfume' that they add to the gas settles in the bottom of the tank and when it gets low, the odor is noticeable in the home. The solution is to switch the tank before it runs out. The odor dissipates rather quickly.

Propane is odorless thus they add the perfume for safety sake.

If I'm not mistaken, you have to press the off switch twice to close the vent. First press turns off the fan, second closes the top.

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Old 11-14-2013, 06:35 AM   #4
Carl n Susan
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Forgive me if some of this is already known, but I want to cover all the bases. You have two propane tanks, one on each side of the coach. There is a regulator connecting the two tanks. The location of the regulator seems to change periodically from the curb side to the street side but I think the current practice is to install the regulator inside the curb side propane tank locker.

The regulator has a lever switch that selects which tank to draw propane from. If the lever points to the hose connecting the curb side tank, that is the one used. If it points to the hose on the street side tank, then that tank supplies propane. The regulator also has a circular gauge which is either red or green. the gauge shows green while the tank pointed to by the lever has propane. When that tank runs out, the gauge turns red.

When the currently selected tank (the one the lever points to) runs out of propane an automatic switch over valve kicks in. The system will draw propane from the other non-empty tank in order to not interrupt the flow. The gauge stays red until you flip the lever to the other tank. For this to work, you need to have propane in the "backup" tank and ensure the valve is open.

Given all this, what I (and others) do is to leave both tanks on all the time. Periodically, check the gauge to ensure it shows green (you still are drawing propane form the selected tank). If the gauge shows red (meaning the "primary tank is empty), flip the lever to the other side thereby selecting the "backup" tank (which now becomes the "primary" tank), ensure the gauge changes from red to green, and close the valve on the now "backup" and just emptied tank. Disconnect the tank, remove it, refill and replace. After you put it back in, open the valve (slowly) and it is now ready to take over when the other tank empties.

You don't have to check the gauge every hour. You will learn how frequent the check should be depending on usage. In the summer when we only use propane for the stove, once every week is adequate. In the winter the furnace, hot water heater (we boondock in the winter), and the stove consume much more propane so we have to check every couple of days.

Using this system means you should never run out of propane. But should you not check the gauge and consequently run out, you are truly out of propane in both tanks and only getting a refill will rectify the problem. Some will keep the valve closed on the "backup" tank so they know for sure when one tank is empty. It also means you have to physically go and turn on the "backup" in order to get propane flowing again when the "primary" runs out. Not fun at 3 AM when the heater isn't running and it is 20 degrees.

Sorry I can't help with the smell when you run out of propane or the Fantastic Fan problem.
Carl (n Susan)
There is more to life than fuel mileage.
2012 Montana 3700RL Big Sky Package towed by a 2015 Ford F350 6.7L PSD 4WD CC LWB

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Old 11-14-2013, 07:10 AM   #5
Seasoned Camper
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Castle ton
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M.O.C. #13872
Thanks for the in depth explanation on the propane changeover. Some of it I knew but I wasn't aware of the "automatic" change. I'm always looking to expand my understanding so all information is appreciated.
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Old 11-14-2013, 07:15 AM   #6
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Why is it that the tank runs out in the middle of the night,or early morning when I want heat. May have to leave both tanks turned on and check periodically to see when one runs empty. Sometimes I have to change tanks from one side to the other because switching lever doen't switch over. Not fun when it is cold outside.
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Old 11-14-2013, 07:36 AM   #7
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Where I live the price of propane would dictate that I would be heating my RV parked by the house with electricity. I only have a 30 amp supply to mine but that is sufficient to power a 1500 watt heater which will certainly keep things from freezing in the RV.

You could still have the furnace set to 50 deg but it would come on far less and burn much less propane because the electric heater would be doing most of the work.

Usually the smell from the propane does not occur till the bottle is empty or close enough it won't run the furnace, when the furnace opens the valve to try to start up some air may still come from the tank with no liquid and you will get the smell.

I have remote thermostats on my Fantastic fans, sometimes they are finiky but I have not had your described issue. Somebody will have encountered it I am sure.

bigred715, those tanks are not too bright or considerate, you would think they could put light/heat sensors on them so they could not run out in the dark or cold, maybe someday....

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Old 11-14-2013, 07:56 AM   #8
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If you are a "Good Sam" member, you can buy propane for $1.99 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:03 AM   #9
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quote:Originally posted by HOOK

If you are a "Good Sam" member, you can buy propane for $1.99 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I assume you mean at Camping World? Is that at all locations?

Bingo and Cathy - Our adventures begin in the hills of WV. We are blessed by our 2014 3850FL Big Sky (previous 2011 3750FL and 2007 3400RL) that we pull with a 2007 Chevy Silverado Classic DRW CC dually.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:18 AM   #10
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Good instructions but I am not sure about the gauge. The regulator on my 2011 Big Sky 3580RL is on the street side, the handel is pointing to the curb side gas line. The gauge dial face is about the size of a quarter. The gauge shows a red & green symbel on one side and the same red & green symble on the other side. Both the symbles have a equal amount of red & green on them. How do I read the gauge?

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Old 11-14-2013, 09:38 AM   #11
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Frank, if you are not using propane, the display will display as you indicate. Go in and turn on a stove burner, leave it on, and then go back out and look at the display. If the tank selected has LP in it, the color will be solid green. If empty will show solid red.

The red green thing works kinda, but really works if you are drawing LP thru it.

The odor thing is normal. Next time you get the tank filled, turn it end for end a few times. Lp in the tank is in liquid form and the percaptain is a oil like substance added to the LP so you can smell it. Just need to mix it up a bit.


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Old 11-14-2013, 09:47 AM   #12
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Always leave both tanks open. That way you never run into that 3:00 a.m. cold chilly feeling going outside to open the full tank. Don't ask how I learned this.

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Old 11-14-2013, 01:43 PM   #13
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If you know you have an autochange over regulator, you should always leave both tanks open. You still need to check the indicator but when one goes red and the other is green, then point the lever to the green tank. This closes the red side so you can remove the tank and go get it refilled. Then put the new full tank in place until the other tank goes red (it's now run out) and do this again with the other tank. I use a propane gauge at the bottle, then connect the supply line after it. When it starts to show red or is red, I either manually move the lever over and get this tank refilled. There are also stickon propance indicators that don't take up as much room. Both of these styles require propane from the tank to indicate it's measuring correctly.

We stayed in very cold weather only once (I live in So. Cal and the 30 degrees we were having is too cold to us) and I was replacing a tank about every two to three days at the CG supply center, but it certainly depends on how warm you like things how much the propane is being used for other things (fridge, stove, oven, W/H). After about five days of this and the second refill, DW got sick and I got tired of the refills so we left. If I wanted cold weather we would have towed our Montana, to Montana. But we were in Santa Barbara, CA and we were not tolerating the cold spell that came through very well so we left.
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Old 11-14-2013, 02:54 PM   #14
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I'm also curious about the $1.99 fuel. We winter in Mesa and have a Camping World near by. Going to have to check and see if they do that. I'm paying about $21.00 to fill my tanks; that includes sales tax in Arizona.
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Old 11-15-2013, 01:28 AM   #15
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You will get that smell from the stove if it is on and you run out. However the furnace is a sealed system and vented to the outside, you should not get that smell when you run out. I never have had that smell when I ran out. It could be the seal on the outside is not installed properly and allowing the fumes to enter back into your unit. I have added the kit to the regulator that has a blinking light inside the unit when one of the tanks is empty.
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Old 11-15-2013, 01:55 AM   #16
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M.O.C. #13667
Thank you Carl for the excellent description of the propane system! A GREAT help for me.
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Old 11-15-2013, 04:07 AM   #17
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quote:Originally posted by ols1932

Always leave both tanks open. That way you never run into that 3:00 a.m. cold chilly feeling going outside to open the full tank.
So, now with your both tanks open system, when you run out of propane at 3am, you're truly out of propane! And you're going to freeze your heinie until you can get to place to purchase more propane. No heat, no refrigerator, no hot water, unless you've got shore power. And if you're like me with an LP generator, you're really SOL.

So instead, I like to have one run out, and then physically go and change to the other. This is a no-so-gentle reminder for me to purchase propane for the empty tank. This "system" has never failed me.

I also take a Sharpie and write directly on the tank when the last time I filled it was, how much propane I purchased, and the cost.
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Old 11-15-2013, 04:47 AM   #18
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we have not noted a odor but will pay more attention. These are auto changeover regulator's are they not. Right now my right tank is indicated as in use and shows green. When that tank goes empty it will auto change to the left tank and the indicator will be red indicating that the right tank is empty. When I throw the indicator to the left tank it will again show green indicating the left tank is in use. No interruption in service. I now remove the empty tank and refill it. I do not get the idea of disabling the auto function?? It is a matter of checking the indicator every once in awhile but we will never completely run out of propane. If the auto function is disabled there is a chance that you will run out....
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Old 11-15-2013, 06:24 AM   #19
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I bought two gauges for my tanks about a week ago. They looked like good quality and were half priced (reg. $30 each). I found that it didn't matter if the tanks were empty or full, drawing propane or not, they registered in the "almost empty" area of the gauge. I returned them for a refund yesterday. Interesting about the different prices on propane. My local hardware store charges .79 for just what they put in your individual tank. I just had both tanks topped off and it was under $23.00.
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Old 11-15-2013, 06:35 AM   #20
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I am definitely with Rainer on not having both bottles on at the same time even with the auto switching regulator. I have 40# tanks, both have small gauges on them that may not be completely accurate but they sure tell me when they are approaching empty.
I don't switch my regulator, if one bottle is off it is supposed to automatically switch to the other bottle, that must be happening on mine because I never flip it from one to the other. I would much rather go out in the night and turn on a full bottle than have two empty bottles and no additional propane.

The $1.99 price for propane at CW is less than what I paid for propane last winter in Yuma when it was around $2.20 or so a gal. Since a 30# propane bottle holds approx 6.8 gal I would have saved about $1.43. Not much if you have to drive a fair piece to get it.

I just filled a 20# bottle for my barbecue at the cheapest place locally and paid $21.65. Some places here are still charging by weight but either way propane is far more expensive here in BC than it is in the US.

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