LPG regulators all the same? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-15-2019 Thread Starter
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LPG regulators all the same?

I'm overhauling the propane system on my new old boat.
Is there any reason I shouldn't use a $70 "RV" regulator for my two-tank system instead of a "marine" regulator at more than twice the price?




I see the marine versions include a manual tank selection switch, which I guess is a possibly useful feature (Well, not really. Both my tanks are in the same locker, and I happen to know how knobs work.). And some of the marine versions have built-in pressure gauges, which is nice, but also a cheap device that's easy enough to add to the RV versions.
But other than that, they all have the same fittings, same galvanized construction, same output pressure...what am I missing?
I don't see anything on the marine models that indicates added safety, like an ability to deal with liquid, which might work its way into the regulator at extreme heel angles.

Last edited by bajaking; 04-15-2019 at 07:04 PM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-15-2019
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-15-2019
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

The Amazon product is apparently from a wholesaler that makes no specific claims about it. No country of origin, no materials, no certifications.

The West Marine listing is UL certified. And it ain't cheap to get any product UL certified.

They MIGHT be the same, but I'd expect the UL certified one to be built of better materials, less likely to corrode in salt air, and quite possibly to have been proven safer. You could dig into that, to find out what the UL certification on this means.

Aside from them being different devices (one automatic, the other manual with gauges) when I'm dealing with things that could explode, I'm generally happier with the "certified" ones from known sources, even when they cost more up front. Even if that's not "required" on the boat.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-15-2019
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

Outside the US, one generally doesn't have a lot of options for either marine or RV regulators. Since everyone uses propane, regulators are found everywhere - even grocery stores. The first time we had to replace our regulator was outside the US, and I grabbed a $5 regulator in a Chinese tienda (the most common, and useful, stores in Latin America).

We are still using that regulator after many years. As far as I can tell, there is no difference from the original expensive marine version we had. After all, it is just an aluminum body with a diaphragm and control spring inside. There is nothing more about it that can corrode compared to the marine version.

Frankly, I wouldn't worry about any certification - our marine version, officially certified, very expensive regulator failed by blowing out its side and dumping 20lbs of propane overboard. How much worse can a non-marine, non-certified regulator fail?

I do find that RV is often my friend with parts such as these, but the link you have is way too much. Go to a RV parts store and you will get one for under $15. Or google RV propane regulator, and choose RV supply sites over amazon and such.

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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

I replaced my propane regulator a few months ago. I used a marine one and Iím sure it was less than $70, so ......

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post #6 of 9 Old 04-15-2019
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

I got mine at either Home Depot or Ace Hardware....can't remember which one. Seems to be working well with no complaints from me, but I'm pretty sure it was UL-listed. If you are able to go with a known and established US or EU standard, then I'd go with that over an unknown product.
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-16-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

U.L. 144, good enough for me.

ABYC doesn't say anything specifically about regulators, except they should output at less than 19 inches water column pressure. Most low pressure regulators I've come across - marine, RV, and otherwise - are set at 11 inches. All good there.

Thanks for the reassurances, folks. I'll probably hit the hardware & RV stores and if I like what I see, go that route.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-16-2019
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

I am a licensed gas fitter, and I would not hesitate to use a "non-marine" regulator. Looking at the regulator on my boat, it looks no different than any other regulator. They are all very simple devices, and they all function exactly the same way. They are not under any significant pressure. The only differences between a cheaper and more expensive reg is that the more expensive one MIGHT be made of more corrosion resistant materials.

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post #9 of 9 Old 04-16-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: LPG regulators all the same?

I have to admit that when I'm in doubt, I generally default toward the "marine grade" labels and point my yachtie nose in the air when I see some really bad, shade-tree, red-neck "fixes" on other people's boats.

It's taken me four project boats, but I'm finally getting really discriminating when I can't see any difference, or at least any advantage, that warrants paying more at the chandlery. These propane regulators seem to be a clear case of that. 12V rocker switches are another example I came across not long ago. Same New Zealand factory, same product, same specs, but $9.99 at the chandleries vs $5.99 at AutoZone. 4 bucks is 4 bucks, man ... x 12 switches...that's a bunch of beers, or at least a new non-marine propane regulator.

If a product isn't labeled 304 or 316 stainless, or ignition protected, or UV resistant, or specifically and demonstrably developed and tested for marine applications, I start shopping around for its landlubber cousin.
There should be a website, or a forum thread, to track these things...

Last edited by bajaking; 04-16-2019 at 05:26 PM.
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