Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

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  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    They may be allowed, but don't trust them. I sure wouldn't.

    Sounds like you've got the connection dilemma. Over here we have three propane tank fittings: 'household', 'automotive', and the new, dreaded 'BBQ'. The last one was added to make it easy for people to change tanks on gas grills. It's prone to leakage. The other two are a matter of how much tax they're collecting from which segment of the market at the time you refill the tank. This is why people with propane powered vehicles have made up adapters to connect BBQ tanks "in an emergency". Avoids that road fuel tax.

    Surely there's some method of attaching your standard tanks without the leak-prone hoses? What would you use on a portable grill? A tank connector of that type might be just the right piece of flex line to do the job.

    And why are hose clamps dangerous? They use them on air fittings, right? Only, when compressed air leaks out your house doesn't explode.
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    I'm afraid mine are of the BBQ type. I use the same fitting on my BBQ at home. I guess the reason is that we do not use propane much over here. In my house we only use propane for BBQ a few times a year. We have an electrical stove, fridge, hot water heater, heat cables in the floors in the basement and in the bathrooms and so on.

    I will also point out that the regulations are different for a cabin than in my house. In my cabin I can install everything myself and in my house I need to use a certified company to do the installation.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,851 admin
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    One possible safety tip... Place some screened vent holes (1/2 low, 1/2 high) in your cabinet. Don't want propane accumulation/leak to be set off by a spark (door mechanism, somebody with a cigarette, etc.)....

    Not likely to happen--but better safe than sorry.

    -Bill

    PS: And ground the copper pipe to the metal cabinet (and both to your cabin safety ground)... The paint may provide enough insulation that you could get a static discharge between the copper line and cabinet.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?
    _OS_ wrote: »
    Here is a picture of the copper pipe with valve to the propane heater


    Is COPPER an approved gas pipe for your gas ? Here in the USA, copper and natural gas have a bad reaction with each other. Please check to see that copper is OK for your gas that you use, and that you have the "right' kind, soft copper or hard copper.
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  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?
    BB. wrote: »
    One possible safety tip... Place some screened vent holes (1/2 low, 1/2 high) in your cabinet.

    Propane (and Gasoline) is heavier than air, which is why it's discouraged in boats, and water heaters in garages are elevated 18" above the floor.
    Natural gas is lighter than air, and rises to ceiling / attic. Venting is needed
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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,851 admin
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    From what I understand, in some states (like California) we have H2SO4 in our natural gas which can corrode the inside of copper lines. Other locations do not have this problem so copper is still approved (not usually an issue with propane?).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Copper is approved for Propane use in many jurisdictions. I have never seen it for Natural gas.

    As for Marc's suggestion about the flex line. I agree that rubber with simple hose clamps are probably not a good idea in the long run. There are some rubber flex lines that are. On the other hand,, with the small volume in the tank I'm not sure I would worry about it.

    Along the lines of Bill's suggestion,, remember that the tank AND the regulator are subject to venting as the temperature changes,, so that you want to make sure that your enclosure is far enough away from sources of ignition AND that the enclosure itself is vented. As has been suggested, Propane is heavier than air,, and will seek the lowest spot.

    Other than that,, nice clean, professional looking install.

    Tony
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?
    mike90045 wrote: »
    Is COPPER an approved gas pipe for your gas ? Here in the USA, copper and natural gas have a bad reaction with each other. Please check to see that copper is OK for your gas that you use, and that you have the "right' kind, soft copper or hard copper.

    Yes the pipes are approved for this use. I bought the pipes, cabinet, leak detector, regulator and fittings together in the same shop. The pipes are of this type: 3/8" Soft Copper Pipe

    EDIT: I asked google and to me it seems like copper is widely used for Propane with some exceptions. On this page http://www.propane101.com/lpgasserviceline.htm it reads:
    Important Note About Underground Piping Materials - Allowable materials used for underground piping/tubing vary from state to state. The photos here depict copper tubing installed underground in a state where copper tubing is approved for underground yard line installations. Copper tubing is not an approved underground piping material in some states. Consult a licensed propane company in your state for more information about approved underground gas piping and yard line requirements.
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Thanks Tony,

    The enclosure is vented and approved for this use.

    Ole
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Ole,

    Very good!


    Enjoy the hot water!

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Just a note for our non-gas-fitting friends;

    Natural gas is largely methane, and has hydrogen sulfide added to it so it will smell bad enabling easy leak detection. This can be destructive to copper, particularly 'soft' copper (as tubing) yet copper has been used for gas lines for years without failure where some degree of flexibility is needed. Usually the interior 'oxidizes' preventing further corrosion. NG also can be used in 'tank form': Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

    Propane is a different gas, has its own sickly-sweet smell, and is generally safer to handle. It has less BTU/V than NG and requires larger orifices in burners. (It's tricky trying to get a good flame at high altitudes.)

    Traditionally, all flammable gas tank connections are left-hand thread to prevent mis-connections to 'safe' gas lines. The new BBQ connectors defy this convention (large, external right-hand thread on propane tanks).

    There is also plastic pipe available for gas applications. Some of it is solid plastic (bright orange, used in running underground lines) and some is like 'PEX'.

    Caveat: this according to my diminishing knowledge, facts applicable only to NA, subject to change without notice as old products are discontinued, new ones introduced, and regulations altered whenever.:p
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,851 admin
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Actually, at least in California, they add Mercaptan because it is very easy to smell in low concentrations:
    The chemical formula for methanethiol is CH3SH; it is classified as a thiol.
    ...
    The United States material safety data sheet (MSDS) lists methanethiol as a colorless, flammable gas with an extremely strong and repulsive smell. At very high concentrations it is highly toxic and affects the central nervous system. Its penetrating odor provides warning at dangerous concentrations. An odor threshold of 0.002 ppm has been reported. The United States OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit is listed as 10 ppm.
    because:
    Mercaptans are less corrosive and less toxic than similar sulfur compounds found naturally in rotten eggs, onions, garlic, skunks, and, of course, bad breath. In other words, forms of mercaptan can be found in things that smell.

    In California, because our gas contains a contaminant H2SO4 (classic rotten egg smell), apparently naturally present in some natural gas fields, this is why copper tubing was banned for use here (used to be legal--my 1950's home has copper tubing to on old wall heater--which we do not use and has been shut off--the other I long ago replaced with a proper gas flex line).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Bill - It's that "less corrosive than similar sulfur compounds" part. If you look at the chemical formuli, you see that all the gas odoratives have the same basic hydrogen sulfide base: hydrogen and sulfur. H2SO4 is the sulfuric acid form, as you say often found in natural gas. It makes sense that they'd go for something less damaging to pipes! That's progress, that is!:D

    And boy has this thread run away from its solar origins.:p
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    I believe it is the same mercaptan in propane and natural.

    Other issues,, The plastic,, direct burial pipe,, usually yellow,, occasionally orange,, is a PEX type tube. It can carry pressures to ~100 psi,, but it joined either by heat welding with a specialized tool,, or expensive stab fittings that are very hard to source. Transitioning from this PEX to either IP or Flare fittings is also difficult. The transitions fittings are not very easy to source. Most people best bet is to make friends with a propane supplier who does installations. Buy from him a pair of risers, one for the tank end and one for the building end. These are steel risers that are meant to come up out of the ground,, and they allow the PEX tubing on one end,, and IP thread on the other end. (I know this,, because I just did this,, running 150' of underground gas pipe,, so I don't have to heft my tanks any more! Now they come out of the boat, and into the propane shed,, attached to the dock!) The yellow PEX must be buried as it can't stand UV light.

    As for inside piping. I was taught, soft run copper was fine in the building with flare fittings if local codes permit, if not black iron. Natural gas is always black iron. Never use galvanized iron.

    There is a new style gas flex that you can use for Propane and Natural in the building,, that allows a pretty easy installation, as you can bend it,, cut and join, add fittings etc but it is spendy. I used to have a link,, but I can't find it,, I will look later.

    Bottom line with gas,, if you don't know what you are doing,, find someone who does!

    Tony

    PS One sure sign that your tanks are running out is if you walk into the house and seem to smell gas. The odorant (mercaptan) concentrates at the bottom of the tank,, such that it doesn't burn cleanly,, especially if there are only pilots burning it. My wife has the most sensitive nose,,, and she comes in and says,, "I smell gas!" Sure enough, I go out and the tank is just about empty. Since I have to haul mine myself, I run them until they are out,, then change the regulator to the other tank. If I use the auto change over regulator, I might space the fact that one ran out,, and pretty soon I would have two empties! I do keep three around so that there are always two on the line,, enough for about 2.5 months. In our case,, there are times of the year when we can't get out to get any for 3-6 weeks twice a year.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Tony;

    Thank you for clearing that up. I see I implied the 'commercial' gas tubing was the same as the new 'in-house' stuff, which I didn't mean to do. Can't remember what that is either. In my day there was NO PEX for anything! :p Kids today have it easy! Internet, microwaves, PEX tubing, blah, blah, blah ...

    I use 20 lbs. tanks which are easily transportable even by me. I've got one 30 lbs., which is a chore. One tank will last up to a month, depending on how crazy we get with cooking/cleaning. A lot of time we use hot water heated on the wood stove when it's burning.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Marc,

    I have spent my life moving #100s around. On the truck, off the truck, into the boat,, out of the boat,,to the back of the building etc. I finally got smart and moved all the hook ups and regulators to near the docks!

    Tony
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 883 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Tony,
    Your consideration for local 2 legged coyotes is probably much appreciated. Imagine not having to hump the boosted booty from around back of the cottage to the boat or skidoo/trailer at the lake...just amazing how some people think of others.:-)

    A big dog like Nigel's would be a nice addition to your island (providing he doesn't like to swim).

    Joking aside, have you ever had toys or tools nicked when you're not there? Experience of some friends has been: the harder it is to break in, the more damage vandals/theives will leave you with.:grr

    Ralph
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Ralph,

    We have never had a problem. That said,,, it does happen in the North,, but we are pretty remote. We have several advantages over a lot of places. First, we are really quite remote,, 150 km from town. Second there are three year round residents so there is almost always someone on the lake,,so a strange boat raises the eyebrows and the binoc's. In the winter,, our ski-do tracks tell folks that there are people around.

    The second is that we are all on island locations. There is only one landing where the bush road (and it's 30 kms from the hiway,, not plowed in the winter) touches the lake shore,, so anyone coming in with a strange boat (or stolen stuff) has to come and go from that landing.

    We do the normal locking up when we leave for more than a couple of days, but other than that I don't worry about it.

    I agree that going overboard tends to encourage vandals.

    T
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 883 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Tony,
    Sounds idyllic, I'd just have to keep the kidneys well irrigated to stave off the stones (every 20 years or so), a trip to town/medical help is how long?:roll:

    Ralph
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    Tony,
    Sounds idyllic, I'd just have to keep the kidneys well irrigated to stave off the stones (every 20 years or so), a trip to town/medical help is how long?:roll:

    Ralph

    You too, eh?

    I keep a supply of the necessary meds on hand (anti-inflam/pain killer) 'cause it's a good, bumpy hour and a half to the hospital at best. All they do is give you med anyway.

    Living way out in the wild has its drawbacks as well as advantages.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Depending on the season,, we are 1/2 hour to shore,,, 1/2 more to the highway (if the road has been graded in the last decade,, then 2.5 to town. Winter ski-do to the highway and hope the car starts.

    The only medical emergency in the last few years has been the dog. She got an infection after we could travel on the ice. Mercifully, my neighbour had a stash of anti-biotics. I skied down the lake very early in the morning,, hoping not to fall through,,, Damn dog. Now I keep a stash of antibiotics, for both us and the dog.

    Toy
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    This weekend we tested the system for the first time and I learned a lot! First; you are right about the P-tank. I need one! The pump was constantly pulsing when using the hot water. Today I got a 2 liters P-tank from my brother that I will test next weekend.

    I also found out that there must be something wrong with the heater or the gas line. The hot water only last a few seconds, then the pressure goes down and the water is not warm at all. In the manual it said that it requires it's own gas regulator but the dealer told me I could use the same regulator for the hater, stove and fridge. This is what I have done. Next weekend I will try out the heater before switching on the fridge to see if it helps. If not I will try another regulator (I have a general purpose one but the dealer also have a special one for gas heaters that are much more expensive).

    Ole
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,851 admin
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Two issues I see (not an expert...)...

    1. The low/pulsing water pressure can "confuse" the water heat as to flow (most demand water heaters need a minimum flow to stay on--and if you turn the shower low enough, it will turn off--something like a couple liters per minute minimum flow???).

    2. Gas On Demand water heaters take a lot of gas flow. Typically many times that of a stove, oven, or storage type water heater... I am not sure if low gas pressure will turn off the heater, or just reduce the flame--perhaps your manual/dealer can tell you.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Ole',

    Get your water pressure issue resolved before you invest in a different gas pressure regulator. If your water pressure is pulsing it is going to wreck havoc with the diaphragm in the water heater, getting it all confused.

    I can't remember what heater you have but most demand water heaters their own regulator on the gas input. Assuming you have 11-13" from the tank regulator, and unless you have a very long gasline run you are probably not going to have problems firing most demand heater.

    I run my gas 150' in a 3/8" line from the regulator, the water heater fires fine even with the oven going, fed from the same line. Gas line capacity is regulated by the BTU consumption of the collective appliances on the line, and in my experience are WAY big.

    I also suggest that a 2 litre P-tank is too small. It might take some of the pulsing out, but I think it is too small to solve the problem. Might work as a test however. The idea is to have as even pressure on the water/gas control diaphragm as possible. A 20 gallon P-tank will go from pump on at say 30 psi slowly up to 50 psi and back down gradually so that the heater diaphragm doesn't see the wild fluctuation. This 30-60-30 might take 10 minutes of a shower. A 2 litre tank might see it in 30 seconds.

    Good luck,

    Tonty
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for the suggestions. The water heater is the first appliance on the line. I use 3/8 gas pipes and the heater is about 7 feet from the gas regulator.

    I searched the net now and there is a store in my neighborhood that has a P-tank of 20 liters (about 5 gallons I believe) for around $50. I might try that one as well but then I need to move the water tank. The same store have an integrated pump/P-tank at a very good price as well but the pump is 800W and that is a bit overkill for our use.

    I have also found another water tank on the net that is less cubic that I am considering installing in a corner on the roof in the same room and use the larger P-tank where I have the water tank now.

    Ole
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 883 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Not sure about a diaphram. My Takagi has a flow sensor that is rotary in nature...spins in the water stream, probably induces a current varying depending on the flow. Too low a flow and it stops firing.

    More pressure tank needed.

    Ralph
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    Attached is a picture of the 20 liters tank I found. I wonder if it can stand our cold climate (-25C and lower).

    Ole
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 883 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    It should stand a cold climate just fine. It's got water in it...it'll be somewhere above freezing!

    Ralph
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    It should stand a cold climate just fine. It's got water in it...it'll be somewhere above freezing!

    Ralph

    Ralph, this is a cabin that will be unused for a couple of months in the winter. All water that is left in the tank, pump and pipes will freeze.

    Ole
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Surge damper in front of propane water heater?

    You should drain the water when shutting down for the winter season. Pressure tank should have instructions on how to do that.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
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