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By: Bjarne Eikefjord
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 5 October

Propane rules: For your safety as a camper

2020 has been a year where several thousand new campers have tried the joys of camping life, many for the first time. Now it's autumn and winter's turn. Then it may be appropriate to remind you of the propane rules. Just as important for campers as the mountain weather rules are for the safety of those who use nature all year round. We therefore remind you of the guidelines for the safe use of propane.

Almost all camping vehicles on two or four wheels use propane gas for heating or cooking. The gas grills have gradually made their way into the replacement for the smelly charcoal grills in gardens and cabins. Propane gas is a good servant, but a dangerous enemy, it is said. Every year there are major or minor accidents because the gas has gone astray or been ignited outside the adapted burners. AGA, the largest Norwegian supplier of propane gas, has therefore launched the "propane weather rules" to guide users so that they can use their grills, stoves and heating flasks more safely for camping and leisure.

Handled correctly

Propane gas must be handled correctly and in accordance with the regulations. Then it takes a lot before things go wrong with propane gas, says Kai Arne Tollerud, safety and competence manager at AGA. To begin with the propane bottle itself. It can be in steel, aluminum or composite. The composite bottles are lighter and good to use in the summer, but in the winter they cause problems because it provides too good thermal insulation. Bottles of steel and aluminum conduct heat and cold better, and it gives better gas pressure when the cold temperatures creep on. No matter which bottle is used, it should stand upright. Always. Also during transport. This is because the safety valve is designed to release gas if the pressure becomes too high. If the bottle is lying, liquefied gas will come out of the valve, and then the explosion is no further away than a small spark.

Old snakes

The hoses that are to carry gas from the cylinders and into the gas systems have been stamped on the hose itself during the year of production. 5-6 years is the maximum you can use such a hose, then it starts to crack and can then leak gas into the caravan or motorhomes. Even before the hoses have expired, it is important to check them for cracks and holes. In the event of even small cracks in the surface, the gas hoses must be replaced immediately. The gas hoses should be checked and the gas system should be pressure tested by the annual service all good campers perform on their bubbles and caravans.

Gas valve

For a reasonable price, you can get a gas valve that shuts off the gas if the hoses break. Detectors that sound the alarm if they "sniff" gas astray can also be a good investment in life and health. The propane gas is heavier than air and will therefore apply to the lowest point in the caravan or motorhome. People can thus risk "getting on their knees in the smell of gas" without noticing anything, before it all flies in the air when the gas burner is ignited. A correctly mounted gas detector will warn in the same way as a smoke alarm, that here it is important to get out as quickly as possible. Here are the propane rules that AGA recommends all users to follow.

Propane rules

  1. Read and follow the operating instructions on the propane equipment. Before installing and using the propane system, make sure that all instructions are followed. Do not attempt to repair any damage to the appliance, regulator or bottle yourself.
  2. Check for leaks, especially hoses and couplings. The propane hose must be marked in accordance with European standards, EN 3821. Internationally approved propane hoses have an orange color. Break the hose between your thumb and forefinger. If there are cracks in the hose, it must be replaced. AGA recommends that hoses be replaced at least every 3 years. Before each season, take a leak test on the hose and couplings. Close the regulator on the grill, and open at the bottle valve so that there is an overpressure inside the hose and the connections. Spray soapy water, or suitable leakage spray that can be bought in the specialist shop on the hose and the coupling. If there are bubbles, measures must be taken.
  3. Use only CE marked propane equipment.
  4. Do not expose the bottle to excessive heat. All AGA propane cylinders have a safety valve. This releases overpressure that may occur due to abnormal heat exposure, so that the container does not explode. If the pressure inside the bottle rises to approx. 25 bar, the valve will open and release propane gas until the pressure / temperature drops again.
  5. The propane bottle should always be standing. The safety valve is designed to release propane in the gas phase if the pressure becomes too high. If the bottle is lying, liquid propane will come out of the safety valve, and this will not necessarily relieve the pressure as intended. The bottle can explode in the worst case.
  6. Always keep the grill or gas stove under supervision. As with any other use of heat, use caution. This is to avoid unwanted incidents. If the equipment catches fire, try to shut off the gas supply or remove the connection to the bottle if possible.
  7. After use, disconnect the regulator from the bottle. If the equipment is not to be used within a reasonable time, AGA recommends that the regulator be disconnected and the bottle stored in a safe place with good ventilation.
  8. Always have enough gas, possibly a spare bottle. It is boring to run out of gas when you are in the middle of the sea or in a cabin. Therefore, make sure to always have a small spare bottle for safety.
  9. You can store up to 55 liters of propane inside your home, as well as a total of 90 liters in an outbuilding, garage or similar.

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