RV Mods – A quick disconnect for your RV’s LP heater?

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

amazon.com

Are these fittings safe? Like a lot of other areas in RVing, there are at least two viewpoints. Certified for LP use, quick-disconnect fittings are generally considered safe for use. But … there’s always a “BUT” involved. There are different ratings on quick disconnects. A low pressure, commonly a 1/2 psi-rated fitting, surely doesn’t sound very “high pressure” rated to the ear. In practice, however, 1/2 psi is more than the pressure delivered by your rig’s pressure regulator to appliances. Here’s the lowdown: An RV propane regulator should be set to deliver 11 water-column inches (WCI) of pressure to your appliances. The formula to jump from WCI to PSI (pounds per square inch) is WCI/27.68=PSI. My calculator says that works out to less than 0.4 psi, well within the safety range of a low-pressure quick disconnect.

That of course, assumes you’ll be running your heater on the low-pressure lines running through your RV. There is one area where you could get yourself in trouble. The Mr. Heater line of blue flame-style heaters designed to be run on small throwaway propane cylinders has a provision where you can run off a big LP tank. However, the regulator for the Mr. Heater is built into the heater – you would need to run unregulated pressure into your Mr. Heater unit. This is a far higher pressure and definitely out of the safety ability of the low-pressure quick disconnects. Quick disconnect fittings for gas use should have their operating range stamped on them; Look for it when you shop.

We have a friend who runs a blue flame-style heater in his motorhome. For years he has used a quick disconnect purchased at the hardware store, not designed for gas, but simply for use in workshop air lines – the same sort of quick disconnect you’d use to couple your air compressor hoses together with. He swears it works well and saves him a lot of money and, to date, he has not blown his rig up. But our experience with air compressor hardware like this suggests at times those things really can leak. We’re not willing to risk our lives for the cost savings of a few bucks. Here’s one designed for LP or natural gas you can pick up on Amazon. 


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Mike & Louise Bacque
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Mike & Louise Bacque

We have a Blue Flame heater and in addition to the quick disconnect we have a quarter turn valve on the line. Added insurance, so to speak.

Kern
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Kern

I have the Big Buddy Heater, that runs off the 1 lb propane bottles OR has the built in quick disconnect. When using that quick disconnect, we use the Mr. Buddy hose that has the regulator on the end you connect to the larger tank, which the mfgr says you can use 20 #, 30# or 40#. We use the 30# or the 20# . works ok.

teubner
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teubner

Amazon hose at link is low pressure

Leonard Szymkowiak
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Leonard Szymkowiak

Russ, so with a Mr Heater, you would need non quick disconnect gas hoses?

Fred
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Fred

I’ve been using the same quick disconnect flexible LP hose you have pictured in the article for the last 8 years with our Olympian Wave 6 heater, & it works perfectly. It still looks like new & shows no signs of wear despite hundreds of hours of use. The 12 foot hose reaches anywhere in the main living area of our 34 ft fifth wheel. For those who are a little leery of using a catalytic heater in their rv, I had the same feeling before trying it 8 years ago, but am happy I tried it, because it has… Read more »

Allen Schott
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Allen Schott

you can always buy quick disconnects from an on-line parts store like McMaster-Carr. Disconnects can handle pressures up to 1000 psig in use, and are safe.

Allen

Harry
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Harry

My year old Big Buddy has the low pressure quick disconnect feature as well the two throw away high pressure connections.

Chuck
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Chuck

The “Big Buddy” has a quick connect built into it that by-passes its regulator; at least mine does. I hook the low pressure line from my onboard propane to the low pressure fitting on the Big Buddy and I have heat. Mine is an older unit so I don’t know if they have discontinued this feature.