Hooking propane grills up to underground tank

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Old 05-06-17, 11:38 AM
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Hooking propane grills up to underground tank

I converted my house from propane to natural gas last year. The only appliance that I couldn't convert to natural gas was my hot water heater. Because it's an expensive 75-gallon power-vent model, and only a few years old, I left it hooked up to the propane tank. When it fails, I'll get a natural gas unit. The propane tank is a 1,000 gallon underground unit also only about 5 years old.

I'd like to hook my outdoor grills and maybe a fire pit to the propane tank. Here's a pic of the regulator where it goes into the house:

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I assume that I would "T" that line just after the shut-off valve (before the regulator) and then hook up the grills using their own regulators. I guess it would also be possible to tap in AFTER the regulator, right? Then I would run a hose right to the grills (no regulator)? If so, which is the preferred method?

My other question is with regard to plumbing. As you can see in this pic, the regulator isn't very far from the grills. What sort of pipe should I use to get from it to the grills? I was thinking of 2 or 3 quick-disconnects each with their own shut-off along the outside, bottom of the deck. Do I use black pipe (as I've done in the past) or is there something newer or better? The quick-disconnect hoses are 6-feet long, but I assume I can get longer ones if necessary. I don't have a fire pit but I thought it would be nice to have the option to hook one up if I ever wanted to.

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Any other suggestions?

Thanks!
 
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Old 05-20-17, 01:50 PM
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Ok - after a lot of research and several trips to Home Depot for various fittings, I finally finished the installation.

I decided the best course of action was to T into the line after the 2nd stage regulator. The line going into the house is 1", which is overkill but it was designed to fuel the whole house. It's now just fueling my hot water heater. Not wanting to mess with the pipe going into the house, I kept the 1" pipe. The original installation stepped up to the 1" coming off the regulator. So, I had no choice (based on Home Depot's selection of black pipe) but to get a 1" T and step it down to 1/2" for the Home-Flex CSST pipe.

After reading the CSST installation manual, it's okay to install it outside if the yellow sheathing is in tact (it is). In places where it's not in tact they say to wrap it in a self-adhesive silicone wrap. The CSST pipe and fittings are pretty cool. I used a termination flange to pop up through the floor of the deck.

I used soapy water to check all of the connections and found that those reducer bosses that I had to use on the 1" T leaked. I went and found my giant pipe wrench and cranked them down a bit more. No leaks now.

I had originally planned on running the pipe on the outside of the deck but ultimately I decided that would look bad. So I ran it under the deck, which required a bit of dismantling of the deck that I have to re-install tomorrow (I'd do it today but I couldn't find my framing nailer. Turns out my brother has it ).

Both grills perform as well as they did with the 20-lb cylinders attached. Now I need to see what sort of impact the grill usage has on my propane consumption. I got 200 gallons in February which brought the gauge up to 30% (300 gallons). The needle hasn't moved (again, just the hot water heater on it).

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Old 05-20-17, 02:20 PM
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A 20lb. propane tank holds just under 5 gallons.

Based on that you can figure how much you'll use.
 
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Old 05-20-17, 02:47 PM
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Yes it should hold about 4.something gallons, but if you do the exchange thing they have a lot less. Blue Rhino and other tank exchanges only fill them to 15 lbs, which makes the price per gallon pretty expensive compared to what it costs to buy a few hundred gallons at a time. I did find a local guy that would refill the 20 lb. cylinders properly but it's still more than double the cost of buying in bulk.

As I mentioned I have natural gas here, too, which would be unlimited in theory. But I had converted the grills to NG at my old house and they just didn't get hot enough.
 
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Old 05-20-17, 02:48 PM
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Looks like a nice clean install!
 
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Old 05-20-17, 03:44 PM
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Thanks. It will forever bother me that the flange isn't clocked properly but I had to screw it down that way.

But it works! And going tank-free is nice (well, 20-lb. tank free anyway - there's that 1,000 gallon tank buried in the yard).
 
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Old 06-02-17, 11:36 PM
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Alternatives

1) I would put in a shut off valve just past the tee next to the regulator.
2) I would have used iron pipe everywhere you did CSST as it better resists physical damage. Install, test, pass inspection if required, then protect from rust.
3) I would have put in separate shut offs for each of the two branched disconnects.
4) Have you researched what grill companies certify or recommend their grills for connection to whole house L.P. systems? Hard to find. Not that it is a problem if done right.
5) Your decision to connect to the low side of the regulator was a correct one, unless you needed the high pressure to extend a great distance.
 
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Old 06-03-17, 07:33 AM
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Thanks.

1) I thought about that, but figured since there's a shut-off before the regulator it would be redundant. That line that goes into the house only feeds my hot water heater and will be disconnected as soon as it fails (will replace it with a NG unit)

2) Yes, the CSST is fairly fragile. I'd have done black pipe but frankly it was too much trouble. More joints to check, I don't have a pipe threader, etc. I agree it would be less prone to damage, though. I already dropped a 15-foot-long 2x10 on it putting the deck back together. It didn't hurt it, but it is rather exposed. There's not really any traffic back there though.

3) I thought about that, too. If I didn't have quick disconnects (which are their own shut off valves) I'd definitely have put separate valves there.

4) Yes - and didn't really find anything useful other than the recommended inlet pressures. There's a fair amount of information from LP gas companies and other people that have done it, but not much from the grill manufacturers themselves.

5) Yeah after thinking about it, it would have been silly to introduce another regulator or two at the grills. I checked the specs on that regulator and it's right for the grills.
 
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