PROPANE – THE Energy for your home – business - industry

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if I smell gas?

Do not touch electrical switches, light matches, or use the phone. Get everyone out of the building. Shut off the gas valve at the outside tank, meter, or service entrance. Call your propane gas supplier and/or the fire department from a neighbor’s phone.


Is propane poisonous?

No. However, it is a simple asphyxiate. Which means that if one breathes propane vapor instead of air then suffocation may result.


When I went in to get my grill cylinder filled they said I will need to have an OPD installed in my cylinder. What is an OPD?

OPD is an acronym meaning over-fill prevention device. Now required by national standards, an overfilling prevention device is a secondary means of assuring that cylinders are not overfilled. Overfilling of cylinders is a dangerous condition and has been determined to be the most frequent cause of propane cylinder accidents. As of October 1, 1998, all DOT cylinders with capacities of 4 pounds up to 40 pounds must be manufactured with an OPD-equipped valve. If your cylinder is inspected for re-qualification after October 1, 1998, an OPD-equipped valve must be installed prior to the cylinder being refilled. As of April 1, 2002, cylinders without OPD’s cannot be refilled.


How can I tell if my cylinder has an OPD-equipped valve?

OPD-equipped valves may be identified by: (1) a specially designed, triple-notched valve hand wheel and/or, (2) a hand wheel or valve body that is clearly marked with the letters OPD.


Why should propane tanks and cylinders be painted a light color?

It is best to keep propane containers as cool as possible. Light reflective colors such as white or silver do not absorb heat from sunshine as readily as do darker colors thus keeping the tank cooler.


Where should a non-portable propane tank or cylinder be installed?

As simple as this question sounds the answer can get very complicated. Rule of thumb is that if the tank is larger that 124 gallons water capacity (WC) then it should be placed no less than ten feet from just about everything. This includes your house or any building structure, property line, wood pile or other combustibles storage. Keep in mind that your propane service provider needs to be able to reach the tank with the delivery hose. Since most delivery hoses are 125 feet in length, the tank needs to be within 110 feet of a driveway or lane where the delivery truck may be parked safely and without getting stuck. Click here to view Container Spacing or Cylinders diagrams.

There are other considerations such as overhead power lines, the septic system, traffic protection and appearance (see Landscaping With Propane Tanks 101 in this web site).

If the tank capacity is 124 gallons WC or less and filled in place, it may be installed up next to the house or building provided there is no window, door, crawlspace opening within three feet of the filling connection on the tank AND provided there is no ventilation device, openings into direct-vent appliances, or any source of ignition within ten feet of the filling connection on the tank. This paragraph also applies to most cylinders filled in place. Click here to view Container Spacing or Cylinders diagrams.


My regulator is “froze up”. What should I do?

First of all, call your propane service provider. They will need to know in order to prevent it from happening again. An immediate remedy, which you may perform yourself, is to warm up the regulator somehow. An electric blow dryer works well. Two quarts of hot tap water poured directly on the regulator will also do the trick. However, the regulator must be installed properly (vent pointed downward) in order for this to work. What ever you do, don’t use an open flame to thaw out the regulator.

If you see a frost or ice build up on the regulator or adjacent piping, do not be alarmed. This is normal and should not be confused with a typical regulator freeze up. A frosty or iced regulator is usually not a problematic condition with the propane system and may even be normal under certain climatic conditions.


Why does propane have an odor?

Naturally, propane is odorless. Your supplier adds an “odorant” to the propane to permit the detection of leaks before gas concentrations reach a hazardous level. The odor is unpleasant so that the leak will be paid attention to and repaired.


What is the difference between LP-gas and propane?

LP-gas is a general term referring to a family of chemical compounds known as hydrocarbons. Propane is one of these hydrocarbons and is therefore an LP-gas.


What are some physical properties of propane?

Formula  C3H8
Boiling Point, oF -44
Specific Gravity of Liquid .51
Specific Gravity of Vapor 1.53
Pounds per gallon of Liquid at 60oF 4.24
BTU per Gallon of Liquid at 60oF 91,690
BTU per pound of Liquid 21,591
BTU per Cubic Foot of Vapor at 60oF 2,516
Cubic Feet of Vapor at 60oF per Gallon of Liquid at 60oF 36.39
Cubic Feet of Vapor at 60oF per Pound of Liquid at 60oF 8.547
Latent Heat of Vaporization at boiling Point (BTU per Gallon) 785.0
Cubic Feet of Air Required to Burn 1 Cubic Foot of Vapor  23.86
Flash Point, oF -156
Ignition Temperature in Air, oF 920-1120
Maximum Flame Temperature in Air, oF 3595
Limits of Flammability, Percentage of
Vapor in Air Mixture:
Lower Limit % 2.4
Upper Limit 9.6
Octane Number (ISO-Octane =100) 100+

When changing from a liquid to a vapor, propane will expand 270 times. One cubic foot of propane liquid will expand to 270 cubic feet of vapor.

Propane gas is heavier than air and will temporarily settle near the floor and in low lying areas such as crawl spaces and basements.


What is a BTU?

BTU is an acronym for British Thermal Unit and is a heat value rating. By definition a BTU is the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.


What BTU ratings would be found on typical domestic appliances?

Kitchen range  65,000 BTU
Built-n oven or broiler unit 25,000 BTU
Built-n cooking top 40,000 BTU
Water heater, 30 gallon 35,000 BTU
Water heater, 50 gallon 55,000 BTU
Clothes dryer 35,000 BTU
Furnace for heating 40,000 – 120,000 BTU
Boiler for hot water heat 75,000 - 200,000 BTU
Unvented space heater 30,000 BTU
Gas logs 45,000 BTU
Suspended unit heater, for garage 25,000 – 100,000 BTU
Swimming pool heater 250,000 BTU
Spa heater 80,000 BTU

Why is pipe size important?

When vapor flows through pipe or tubing a measurable amount of friction slows the flow. If the flow is slowed too greatly, the resultant drop in pressure may cause the appliance being supplied to burn improperly. This can create unnecessary service calls and appliance failure. The relative friction of a small pipe is greater than that of a larger pipe. Therefore, if the pipe is undersized, the full operating pressure of the appliance will not make it to the appliance.


What is the Safety Data for propane?

Download here


Other Information

SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS: Use piping and equipment adequately designed to with stand pressure to be encountered.  

NFPA 58 Standard for the Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.10 require that all persons employed in handling LP-gases be trained in proper handling and operating procedures, which the employer shall document. Contact your propane supplier to arrange for the required training. Allow only trained and qualified persons to install and service propane containers and systems.

WARNING: Be aware that with odorized propane the intensity of ethyl mercaptan stench (its odor) may fade due to chemical oxidation (in the presence of rust, air or moisture), adsorption or absorption. Some people have nasal perception problems and may not be able to smell the ethyl mercaptan stench. Leaking propane from underground gas lines may lose its odor as it passes through certain soils. While ethyl mercaptan may not impart the warning of the presence of propane in every instance, it is generally effective in a majority of situations. Familiarize yourself, your employees and customers with this warning, and other facts associated with the so-called ``odor-fade’’ phenomenon.If you do not already know all the facts, contact your propane supplier for more information about odor, electronic gas alarms and other safety considerations associated with the handling, storage and use of propane.


Issue Date: January 2000

This material safety data sheet and the information it contains is offered to you in good faith as accurate. This Supplier does not manufacture this product but is a supplier of the product independently manufactured by others. Much of the information contained in this data sheet was received from sources outside our Company. To the best of our knowledge this information is accurate, but this Supplier does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Health and safety precautions in this data sheet may not be adequate for all individuals and/or situations. It is the user’s obligation to evaluate and use this product safely, comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and to assume the risks involved in the use of this product.



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