Your RV’s refrigerator, water heater, and heating systems likely run on propane, or liquified petroleum gas (LP for short). So, you’ve probably asked yourself if it’s okay to drive your RV with the LP gas turned on. It seems like a reasonable thing to do: With the propane on, the food in your fridge will remain cold, the water in the water heater will remain hot, and you can run your heater to combat cool temperatures, all while you’re traveling. You’ll arrive at your destination, set up camp, take a hot shower, and pop open an ice-cold beverage in front of the campfire. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
While this scenario is one possible outcome you could experience, there are other more dangerous scenarios that could result from running propane while driving.
Risks to Consider
Propane is a highly flammable gas and while many RVers do drive with their propane turned on, it is not particularly safe. Here’s why:
- Gas lines can be damaged during travel – Things get jostled around while you’re driving. That includes appliances and their various connections. If your fridge shifts around a bit during the trip from point A to point B, the propane lines can become more susceptible to breaking and allowing LP gas to escape. Hitting road debris such as a piece of blown-out tractor-trailer tire can also damage lines without your knowledge and lead to gas leaks.
- A small spark can ignite the gas – Propane is highly flammable, and it can ignite in an instant. Think about the jostled fridge with the broken gas lines. Even something as seemingly innocuous as lighting a candle or feeling static electricity discharge as you remove a sweater – yes, even static electricity – can be enough energy to ignite propane.
- A fire can quickly materialize – If LP gas is ignited, it will burn and cause a fire. Even extreme explosions can occur.
While many RVers do opt to run their propane while driving, you should file the practice under “not a good idea.” The risk of fire and explosions are too high for it to be considered safe. If you’re worried about the temperature of your food while you’re driving, you can get it as cold as possible before you hit the road (remember, your fridge will only drop about 4 degrees Fahrenheit for every eight hours that it’s turned off) or even pack certain items into an ice-filled cooler during transport. Another option is to switch the fridge to battery operation instead. And remember, because of the extreme risk for fire and explosions, you must turn off propane before you enter a gas station and even before entering some tunnels. It’s the law.
Whatever you decide, do choose the option that will keep you and your family the safest while on the road.
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