Propane Build Guide for DIY Van Conversion


Propane Build Guide for DIY Van Conversion

Here’s our guide on how to build a DIY propane system and a vented propane tank locker in a camper van conversion. We normally like to start with the fun stuff, but we’ll make an exception this time and start with a disclosure:

Propane is dangerous. Have your installation checked by a professional to ensure it follows the laws & regulations of your area. We’re no propane experts; we can’t guarantee the information presented on this page is accurate and up to date.


Still with us? Alright then. Here is how it goes:





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Propane System Build Guide for DIY Van Conversion



1- Propane Tank

1.1- What Size?

It totally depends on what appliances you run and what autonomy you want (days/months with no refill). As a rough guideline and to help you make your calculations, here is our usage living full-time in the van:

  • We don’t know the exact consumption of each appliance, but we know that using our Atwood Range every day (oven & stove) and our Eccotemp shower every other day or so, our 20 pound propane tank last roughly 2 months.
  • We don’t use our Propex heater much (we prefer to use our Webasto Air Top 2000), but the consumption is 1 pound of propane every 3 hours (remember it cycles though, it’s not running full-time). Our autonomy definitely shrink when we use the Propex.


1.2- Tank Types
1.2.1- 1 Pound Disposable Bottle

It’s fine for short camping trips, but expensive and not environmentally friendly in the long run… we don’t recommend this as a permanent setup.

Coleman Propane Bottle
Coleman 1 Pound Propane Bottles. Buy from Amazon.


Here’s a tip: instead of using your camping stove ( or your Mr Heater Buddy ( with small 1 pound propane bottles, use a larger refillable tank (5 pounds or more) with the following adapter. One side connects directly to the propane tank, the other side connects directly to the stove or Mr Heater buddy. No regulator needed. In fact, this adapter can be used for ANY appliance that normally use a 1 pound propane tank!

High Pressure Propane Adaptor Mr Heater
High Pressure Propane Adaptor. Buy from Amazon.


1.2.2- Steel Propane Tank

Also known as “BBQ Tank”… no explanation needed! OK, here’s a picture just in case…

Propane Cylinder 20 Pound Steel
Steel Propane tank, a.k.a BBQ Tank!


They’re easy to find in 5, 11 or 20 pound (or more); here are some common specifications:

DescriptionCapacity (lb)Capacity (gal)Diameter (in)Height (in)Empty Weight (lb)Full Weight (lb)Buy Link
5 Pound Vertical**5*
11 Pound Vertical11*
11 Pound Vertical11*
20 Pound Vertical20*

* Note that tanks are not filled to their max capacity; this is to leave room for vapor expansion. For example, a 20 pound tank will generally be filled to approx 18 pound.

** Vertical tanks must not be installed horizontally. If the orientation is not correct liquid propane will be collected instead of vapor (LP gas).


1.2.2- Aluminum Propane Tank (Vertical)

“BBQ Tanks” are also available in aluminum with the following characteristics:

  • Lighter than steel (approximately 3 pounds lighter for 2.6 gallons capacity, 5 pounds lighter for 4.6 gallons capacity)
  • Does not rust
  • Does not sparks if ruptured
  • Does not have to be painted
  • More expensive
Aluminum Propane Tank
Aluminum Propane Tank


DescriptionCapacity (lb)Capacity (gal)Diameter (in)Height (in)Empty Weight (lb)Full Weight (lb)Buy Link
10 Pound
20 Pound Vertical204.612.320.71332eBay


1.2.3- Composite (Fiberglass) Propane Tank

Here’s a fancy option to impress your neighbors:

  • Lighter than steel and aluminum
  • See-through (no guesswork to know when to refill)
  • Does not rust
  • DOT approved for US and Canada
  • Must be re-certified every 5 years (from the date of manufacture, not from the purchase date)
  • Because it’s not common, we expect people to be hesitant to re-fill or re-certify…
Composite Propane Tank
Composite Propane Tank


DescriptionCapacity (lb)Capacity (gal)Diameter (in)Height (in)Empty Weight (lb)Full Weight (lb)Buy Link
11 Pound Vertical1112.61215.18.619eBay
17 Pound
22 Pound


1.2.4- Underbody Propane Tank
  • Underbody tanks are either built to ASME or DOT standard. Tanks built to ASME specification don’t required to be re-certified, as opposed to DOT that must be re-certified after 10 years initially then every 5 years. Therefore, we would choose a tank built to ASME standard…
  • On a side note: portable tanks (such as BBQ tanks) are all built to DOT standard, because the ASME tanks are designed to be stationary and cannot be transported when full.
  • Make sure to choose a size that will fit into an under body cavity. Sorry we can’t help with that because we haven’t installed one ourselves, but here is a legit installation write-up on a Ford Transit:

This tank was used for the installation above:

Manchester ASME Propane Tank
Manchester ASME Propane Tank.
DescriptionCapacity (lb)Capacity (gal)Diameter (in)Length (in)Empty Weight (lb)Full Weight (lb)Buy Link
33 Pound


2- Vented Propane Locker

If keeping the propane tank inside the vehicle, we highly recommend to store it inside a vented locker. You see, every propane tanks have a safety relief valve. Excessive pressure (created either by overfill, rise in temperature or rise in elevation) inside the tank will be evacuated through this valve. That’s true even if the tank flow valve is closed. Really? Just watch the following video. According to the narrator and to the description, the rise in temperature and overfilling created too much pressure on MARCH 14th:

What about the laws? When transporting a propane tank inside a vehicle, Canadian laws mention that it must be vented (cracked windows or partially opened trunk). We couldn’t find such mention in the USA laws, but there are rumors California laws mention it too (please tell us if you know where to find such a mention!).

MARCH 14th or not, laws or not, temperatures (greenhouse effect) and pressure (change in elevation while driving) varies a LOT in the van. For us it was common sense to go with a vented propane locker… We detailed our locker fabrication in the “Propane Locke Build” section further down this page.


3- Tubing

3.1- Material

Don’t use flexible (rubber) hoses as they are not approved for interior permanent installation (they are approved for marine applications, but that’s a different story). Don’t use them outside too as critters like to chew on them!

Use flexible copper tubing with flared fittings. It’s resistant to vibration, sharp edges and don’t deteriorate with time (as opposed to rubber hose).

Flexible Copper tubing
3/8″ O.D. Flexible Copper Tubing. Buy on Amazon.


3.2- Size

It’s important to select the correct tubing diameter to prevent pressure drop. The correct diameter depends on:

  • Max Pressure Drop Acceptable (1/2 W.C. drop is the norm)
  • System Pressure (hint: it’s 11 W.C. for most RV appliances such as the Atwood Range, Propex Heater, Eccotemp Hot Shower, etc)
  • Length of tubing (varies according to your installation)
  • Capacity (BTU/hours)


Capacity (BTU/hrs) in function of Tubing Length and Outside Diameter for Flexible Copper Tubing at a pressure of 11 W.C:

Copper Tubing O.D. (in)Length of tubing between the regulator and the appliance (feet)
3/849,000 BTU/hrs34,000 BTU/hrs27,000 BTU/hrs
1/2110,000 BTU/hrs76,000 BTU/hrs61,000 BTU/hrs


  • The Atwood Range is max 32,000 BTU/hrs (all 3 burners and over working simultaneously), so we’re allowed 20 feet of 3/8″ O.D. copper tubing.
  • The Eccotemp shower is rated 37,000 BTU/hrs, so we’re allowed about 15 feet of 3/8″ O.D. copper tubing.
  • Bottom word: we will use 3/8″ O.D. copper tubing all over!


4- Leak-Free Connections

4.1- Flared Connection

This is the preferred connection type and it’s standard in North-America. Flared fittings have a 45 degrees chamfer (male or female) that seal the deal. They do not requires thread sealant or tape.



To make a flared connection with copper tubing:

1- Cut the copper tubing with a Tubing Cutter:

Tubing Cutter
Tubing Cutter 1/4″ to 1-1/8. Buy on Amazon.


2- Insert the Flare Nut into the tubing:

Note: Select the appropriate flare nut according to the tubing O.D.; for example use 3/8″ O.D. flare nut with 3/8″ O.D. copper tubing.

Flared Nut
Flare Nut. Buy on Amazon.


3- Form the flange using a Flaring Tool:

Note: First make sure the cut it deburred; any burrs that become compressed will leak.

Flaring Tool
Flaring Tool 3/16″ to 3/4″. Buy on Amazon.


4- Voilà!

Flared Copper Tubing.
It should look like this!


4.2- Pipe (NPT) Connections

Some appliances or regulator comes with NPT connection. NPT fittings don’t have a 45 degrees chamfer (see “Not Flared” picture above). They require thread sealant (a.k.a. “DOPE”, or yellow tape ( Do NOT use white teflon tape! It’s made for water system, so it will leak gas as it’s not thick enough.


4.3- Compression Fittings with Olive

These are NOT common in North-America and should be avoided! They’re mostly designed for liquid or compressed air (not gas). Note that the Propex HS2000 comes with this type of connection; that’s the only place we have one in our system…

Compression fitting with olive



5- Regulators

The tank delivers the propane at high pressure (from 100 up to 315 psi depending on temperature and elevation). However most appliances require low pressure (a.k.a “lp”): 11 Water Column (or 11 W.C.) pressure is the norm in RV systems (11 W.C. = 0.4 PSI). The role of the regulator is to deliver a stable 11 W.C. pressure to the appliances.

5.1- Single Stage Regulators

Single Stage Regulator reduces the pressure to 11 W.C. in one step. They’re more compact than two stage regulator.

Single Stage Regulator
Single Stage Regulator. Buy on Amazon.


5.2- Two Stage Regulators

Two Stage Regulators reduces the pressure in two steps. Compared to one stage regulators, they are better at delivering constant 11 W.C. pressure with temperature changes and as the tank pressure declines. A single stage regulator is probably fine in most case, except our Propex HS2000 heater requires a two stage regulator so this is what we went with. Two stage regulators are not significantly more expensive than one stage, so it’s not a bad idea to choose a two stage regulator…

Two Stage Regulator
Two Stage Regulator. Buy on Amazon.


5.3- No Regulator

Appliances that use small 1 pound bottles have their own built-in regulator. Camping stove, Mr Buddy heater, Mr Buddy BOSS shower, among others work with high pressure. They can be hooked to a propane tank with an adapter (see section 1.2.1).


6- Valves

For safety sake, it is recommended to install a valve (easily accessible) every time a propane line split to connect to an appliance.

Brass Gas Valve Flare
Gas Ball Valve. Buy on Amazon.


7- Solenoid Shut Off Valve

A solenoid shut off valve can be integrated in the propane system, near the tank, to easily shut the propane OFF when not using it. It’s a safety feature.


How does the Solenoid works?

The valve is OFF at all times (“normally closed”), but turns on (open) when it’s energized with 12V. As soon as the 12V is removed, the valve shuts OFF. When energized (ON), a solenoid draw a current of about 1 amp (depending on brand/model). It’s the main inconvenience of the solenoid valve: you need electrical power to get propane. But it’s actually meant to be like that; in case of an accident the electrical power would probably go OFF, so would the propane system.


After a few months on the road, we finally decided to add a Solenoid to our propane system

Here’s why:

  1. We had an “incident” where we turned a burner ON, by accident, just when leaving the van. Fortunately, we came back to the van shortly after.
  2. Because our tank is located inside a propane locker and it’s kind of hard to reach, we never closed the tank when driving. If we had an accident, a hose could be sectioned and propane would leak big time!
  3. If any of our appliance went bad and cough fire, we had no means of shutting the propane OFF in an instant…


Low Pressure Side / High Pressure Side

Most solenoid valve are meant to be installed on the low pressure side of the propane system; that is after the regulator. We like the Century Fuel’s AFC-151 solenoid shut off valve because it can be installed on the high pressure side (before the regulator) as well and its 1/4 MPT port fits directly into the inlet of our propane regulator:

afc-151 solenoid shut off valve propane
Advanced Fuel Component AFC-151 Solenoid Shut Off Valve 12V. Buy on Amazon.


8- Inline Pressure Gauge

It’s not mandatory by any means, but a pressure gauge installed in the low pressure side of the system can be a useful thing: you can quickly tell if your regulator is delivering the correct pressure. Indeed, we had a regulator that failed one day and we spent hours and hours troubleshooting our Propex heater thinking it was faulty… we installed that gauge since then:

Low Pressure Inline Propane Gauge
Kodiak Controls KC25-15″H2O Low Pressure Gauge 15″ WC. Buy from Amazon.


Note: Always take a reading when at least one appliance is working! (the pressure in the system is higher when it’s on “standby”)




9- Identifying Our Needs

Before designing or building anything, we always take the time to identify our needs. Here is what we want:

By making the list above, we know where we are heading. (we are heading to section 8- below, keep reading!)


10- Propane Diagram

10.1- Interactive Propane Diagram

This is an interactive diagram: click/hover on any product for more info!

FarOutRide Propane Diagram


10.2- High-Resolution Propane Diagram

Download a high-resolution, printable, pdf file of our propane diagram. Alright, it’s actually the same thing as the interactive diagram above, but buying this diagram and using the product links throughout this website is the best way to say thanks if we were of any help to you 🙂


NAME YOUR PRICE! Yep, you pay whatever you think our help is worth to you. That means you can get the propane diagram for 0$(minimum) or for 100,000,000,000$ (recommended) 😉


Name a price of 10$ and up and we’ll send you a free sticker!

Faroutride Sticker (Front and Back with title)
Free sticker!


11- Material

Propane System
ComponentDescriptionQuantityBuy Link
Propane TankSee Section 1
Hose: Acme x 1/4″ Male NPT (1 feet)Propane tank to
Regulator: Two Stage, 11 W.C.It’s an horizontal regulator, so it should be horizontal!
Elbow: 3/8″ Flare Male x 3/8″ MPTWe used an elbow so the regulator fits into the vented
Hose: 3/8″ Flare Female (both sides)Regulator to Bulkhead
Bulkhead Union Fitting: 3/8″ Flare Male (both sides)This is to go through the vented locker while keeping a tight seal.1eBay
Swivel: 3/8″ Female Flare (both sides)This is to connect the bulkhead fitting to a cross (or a tee)
Cross: 3/8″ Male Flare (all sides)Use this if you have 3 appliances to connect.As
Tee: 3/8″ Male Flare (all sides)Use this if you have 2 appliances to
NoneUse none if you only have 1 appliance to connect. (and delete the Swivel 3/8″ Female Flare as well).N/A
Solenoid Shut Off Valve 12V
Solenoid, 12VTo open/close the propane
Push-Button SwitchTo energize the
PigtailTo wire the push-button
90 Degrees FittingSo the regulator / solenoid assembly fit in the
MISC: wire, terminal rings, closed end terminals, quick disconnects, silicone…
Low Pressure Gauge
Low Pressure Gauge 15″ WCOur system nominal pressure is 11″ WC, so we chose a gauge that goes up to 15″
Tee, 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/4″ NPT FemaleTo add a new port for the gauge…
3/8″ Flare Female to 1/4″ MPTTo connect to the 3/8″ flared cross and bulkhead
1 lb Bottle Adapter (High-Pressure) -Optional-
Tee: 1/4″ FPT x 1/4″ FPT x 1/4″ MPTThis is to split the line coming from the tank into two lines: one going to the regulator (low pressure), one going to the 1 lb bottle adapter (high-pressure)
Adapter: 1/4 MPT x 1″-20
Extension Hose: 1″-20 Female to 1″-20
Eccotemp Hot shower (
Gas Valve: 1/2 NPT to 3/8 Flare MaleThis valve connects directly to the
Flexible Copper Tubing: 3/8″ O.D.Length As
Flare Nut: 3/8″ O.D.1 side connected to the gas valve, 1 side to the
Propex HS2000 Heater (dealer locator)
Flexible Copper Tubing: 1/4″ O.D.The Propex requires 1/4″ O.D. per manual!Length As
Flare Nut: 1/4″
Reducer: 3/8″ Female Flare to 1/4″ Male FlareThis is to connect the 1/4″ copper tubing the to
Note that the Propex HS2000 includes a compression nut to connect the 1/4″ line to it.
Atwood Range (
Flexible Copper Tubing: 3/8″ O.D.Length As
Flare Nut: 3/8″
Gas Valve: 3/8″ Flare Male (both sides)


12- Propane Locker Build

We mentioned earlier that propane might escape from the propane tank from the safety relief valve. This propane has to go somewhere: outside the van sounds about right. To achieve that, we built a sealed box that is vented through the floor with the lid on top (propane is heavier than air). We did not come up with this, this is what marine regulation asks for (some info here). Here is how it goes:

First of all, here are the dimensions of a 20 pounds propane tank (think BBQ):

Steel Vertical Propane tanks
20 lb
5 gal
12.25 in
17.75 in

We designed our propane locker to allow for ¼” of clearance around the tank:

These are the INTERIOR dimensions..!


We won’t go into the box fabrication details, but let’s just say that the cuts should be perfectly straight to have a good seal! All the edges of the box are glued together; this should seal the deal, but just to make sure, we also applied silicone on all edge inside the box.



We first checked that the propane locker would fit. To clear the aluminum nose stair, we raised the locker with 1/8″ thick MLV leftover we had handy:



We now have to make a hole in the floor. We want that hole to be sealed; if we ever have a water spill we don’t want water to ingress in between the layers of our floor.

We drilled using a 1″-5/8 diameter hole saw (

Propane System Installation Camper Van Conversion (8)

Propane System Installation Camper Van Conversion (9)
It’s a hole.


As usual, we must now sand the metal rough edges and apply primer + paint + clearcoat; this is to prevent rust. (we went to an auto parts shop and they prepared paint that matches the color of our van). No pictures here 🙁


We then inserted a 1″ (inside diameter) PVC pipe in the hole:

The 1″ PVC pipe fits tightly into the hole


And we applied Silicone II ( onto the floor and under the van, to ensure that no water can ingress in between the floor layers (do not use Silicone I on metal! See

Propane System Installation Camper Van Conversion (14)
It’s there! You can’t see it because it’s clear…


Under the van…


The marine regulations ask for a minimum of ¾” (inside diameter) pipe to ensure a proper venting, so we will use that. The ¾” PVC pipe fit very tightly into the locker; we had to use a hammer to put it in place so it’s not moving from there.

Propane System Installation Camper Van Conversion (18)
¾” PVC pipe protruding from the bottom of the box


Inside the locker, the ¾” PVC pipe protrude from above the surface (about ¼”) and Silicone was applied to ensure a proper sealing:



Here is the oddly satisfying part: the ¾” PVC Pipe (fixed to the locker) fit nicely inside the 1″ PVC pipe (fixed to the floor), so the propane locker can be removed / re-installed as needed!



We added a ¾” PVC elbow to prevent crap from entering the locker:


PVC Elbow
The elbow is press-fitted onto the ¾” PVC pipe. It can be removed by hand, but it should not fall by itself… (mosquito net not shown on this picture)


We’re not done with that box yet. We now have to add the bulkhead union fitting. As extra safety, the fitting should be installed near the TOP of the locker! Propane is heavier than air and will “sink” at the bottom…

Bulkhead Union Fitting (3/8″ male flare x 3/8″ male flare)


Bulkhead Union Fitting Installed.


Note that a rubber seal was installed outside & inside to ensure a good seal


A self-adhesive neoprene seal ( was added on the cover to ensure sealing:

We used 1/4″ thick seal, but we will use 1/8″ next time…


And finally, we added latches ( so the cover can be easily taken off:

Be aware that screwing parallel into the cover plywood layers is not ideal (the layers could separate under tension); but with the adjustable latches, we can fine-tune the tension to the minimum required. We also pre-drilled the screw holes to minimize the tension in the hole.


Below is the assembly that’s inside the propane locker:



It fits!

Propane Locker Regulator Solenoid Campervan


Remember to check all the connections for leaks using soapy water! Do it. 

(we found a leaky connection when checking with soap; we re-applied tape and re-torqued the fitting and it solved it!)

Propane System Installation Camper Van Conversion (22)


13- Solenoid Shut Off Valve Installation

There’s some propane and electrical work to do. It’s quite simple, let’s do it!

Solenoid Valve Installation Propane Van


ComponentDescriptionQuantityBuy Link
Solenoid, 12VTo open/close the propane
Push-Button SwitchTo energize the
PigtailTo wire the push-button
90 Degrees FittingSo the regulator / solenoid assembly fit in the
MISC: wire, terminal rings, closed end terminals, quick disconnects, silicone…



Super straightforward. The solenoid is installed directly into the regulator outlet; we installed a 90 fitting so our assembly fits into the propane locker.

Propane Locker Regulator Solenoid Campervan



We went for a push-button that illuminate when ON; this way, we can’t forget to turn the propane OFF when we’re not using it:



We located the push-button switch at a visible place and where it’s easy to turn it ON:


This is how to wire the switch in a way that the LED illuminate only when it’s ON:

(We normally use butt connectors, but since there are multiple cables to connect together, we twisted the wire and used Closed Terminal End Cap)


We wish we could find a nice bulkhead fitting to go through the 1/2″ plywood, but we couldn’t so we just routed the wire and added silicone…

Propane Solenoid Wiring Installation


We used quick-disconnects ( for when we need to refill the tank:



When the propane is OPEN, it draws 1.2 A (solenoid and switch’s LED combined). For cooking or showering, the electrical power consumption is pretty negligible (around 1-2 Ah per day we’re guessing). When using the Propex heater, it’s a different story: if one would run the Propex all day, it would draw 29Ah daily (1.2A x 24h). That’s not negligible anymore, especially in winter when power is more scarce. In our case, we don’t use the Propex much as it is our backup plan (we prefer to use the gasoline Webasto).

-1.2A according to our Victron Monitor.



14- Monitoring the Propane Level

Our propane tank being located into the locker, it’s not exactly convenient to check the propane level. Fortunately we stumble upon the Mopeka TankCheck Sensor ( this neat device allows to monitor the level of propane from our smartphone. Nice!


15- Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths each year. It is invisible and odorless, so be sure to install an alarm:

AcuRite 01094M Temperature & Humidity Station (2)
Carbon monoxide alarm (top): Temperature & Humidity station (bottom):




Solenoid Shut Off Valve

Our propane tank being enclosed in the propane locker, it’s not really practical to turn the valve OFF when we don’t need propane; as a result the valve is ON most of the time (OK all the time actually, except when we take a ferry). We had an occasion after getting out of the van (all doors and vents shut) we told ourselves “wait, what’s that funny smell?”; we accidentally turned a stove knob to “high” when getting out! Close call…

For extra safety, we’re thinking of adding a solenoid valve; it could be turn ON/OFF very easily by the push of a button. So each time we’re not using propane, we turn it off. We went through several online marine forum and this specific model was the most recommended:

AFC-151 High Pressure 12 Volt Solenoid Shut-Off Valve 1/4″ NPT. Buy on eBay.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2018: We finally added a solenoid and we updated our article accordingly 🙂





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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!




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54 thoughts on “Propane Build Guide for DIY Van Conversion”

  1. You have the wrong adapter in your optional 1lb tank replacement line. As described, you end up with the 1″-20 female end of the hose at your stove which also has a female fitting! Should be using [Mr. Heater 1″-20 Male Throwaway Cylinder thread x 1/4″ Female Pipe Thread Fitting] and this tee [1/4″ FPT x 1/4″ MPT x 1/4″ MPT].

    Overall this page was extremely useful. Thank you!

  2. Hey Guys! Im in the middle of installing my propane and can not for the life of me figure out how a male flare interacts with a female flare when there is no copper tubing used. This comes into question with the 3/8 male flare T to the 3/8 female flare to 1/4 inch male flare? Does a brass flare to brass flare connection create a seal? You guys have been so helpful in this process. Thanks yet again!

    • Flare connections don’t need anything for sealing; they are installed DRY as-it. That holds true as long as you use both male + female flare (flare to npt won’t be sealed). That’s the case for the adapter:, since the female part (and male) are flared.

      Hope it makes more sense!! 🙂

  3. I am building my propane system at the moment. I have bought 3/8 general purpose copper flexible copper tubing as well. It does not say on the tubing that it is rated for propane (just like the one in your amazon link). When reading online I have discovered there are different thicknesses (l,m,k) for copper tubing that make it appropriate for gas but the general purpose tubing we have does not seem to specify thickness. My question is, how do you know your tubing is safe for propane? Thanks.

  4. Hello,

    Im installing an lpg tank myself, also with a sealed box. I have a question regarding your hole in the floor to let the gas leak outside in case of a gasleak. My question: is your tank sitting over/on top of the hole ? or made you the total box wider so total dimensions of the tank + some clearance for the width of the hole in the floor? my LPG tank has openings near the buttom but don’t know if that would be enough to let the gas leak out ?

    Many thanks and I hope you guys understand my question 🙂

    • The sealed box is only .25″ more than the cylinder (on each side, so it’s pretty much the same size of the tank), but if you add your hole in one of the corner, the tank won’t be sitting on top of the hole.

      Hope that makes sense!

  5. Great article, diagrams, lists, links, warnings, disclaimers and everything. It’s all useful!

    Question: I’m just about to install my propane system for a Propex heater, camping stove, and possibly an H2O heater like yours. I’ll be using it in the winter a lot for skiing and will be running the heat most of that time. So I very much appreciate your comment on power usage using the solenoid and probably won’t use one, but was wondering what might be the next best thing. Might a manual shut off valve inside the van, after the regulator, but before the manifold to the various appliances work almost as well? Just brainstorming here, and wondered if you might have some suggestions? Thanks!

  6. Thanks for your guide – I’m currently in the process of building my gas locker and it’s been a great help.

    I would perhaps object to the statement not to use compression fittings if it’s solely on the basis of safety. They’re used extensively in water systems because “these valves are usually located in confined spaces where copper pipe would be difficult to solder without creating a fire hazard.” (from wiki) They’re effectively the same as your flared fittings but the olive takes the place of the flare. You also don’t need any specialist tools. The fittings are used a lot in the UK which is why one was included with the Propex kit! The only safety concern I can imagine is that vibrations from the vehicle could maybe cause a fitting to work loose, but this would be the same with a flared fitting and is why they’re meant to be kept accessible.

    • Hi Max,
      The problem with compression fittings is that there is room for human error: it is very likely that someone who’s not familiar with the process would not apply the right torque. Also, gas VS water is not the thing; gas is more likely to leak. Final thought: I can’t find the link anymore, but I’m pretty sure compression fitting (for gas) are not per code for RV (USA) and it is not per ABYC (marine) as well (here). I’d stick with what’s in the regulations for my region (North America) 🙂


      • Hi Antoine,
        That’s very true, there’s potential to crush the olive if over torqued (always best to practice a few and get a feel for it first) – but I would hope anyone installing a system would check all connections like you mentioned in your guide. That’s interesting, the ABYC document you linked pertains to CNG but the corresponding LPG one says similar. I wonder why they don’t like compression fittings? Nevertheless, I only thought to comment because I wouldn’t want anyone who has compression fittings in their vehicle to worry unnecesarily as they’re perfectly safe.

  7. Great page. I’m trying to make sense of my needs and this is certainly helping. Question though, how to secure all that stuff within the locker whilst still being able to pull the tank out easily for refilling?

    • I just disconnect the hose from the tank, put the gear aside (out of the locker), remove the tank from the locker, put everything back in. The stuff is not “secured”, it’s laying on top of the tank and is easily movable to do what you have to do.

  8. I recently bought the isotemp unit and after reading up on it I thought that it had its own regulator inside of it and therefore needed high pressure propane delivered to it. Does it matter? I assume it still works well at 11 in WC of propane? Thanks! again for all your great info!

    • If it’s made for low pressure, you must have a regulator between the tank and the Isoterm! Just to clarify, low pressure = 11 WC. Make sure it really is 11WC (per manual).
      Which model is it?

  9. I carry 5 gallon gas for my dirtbike that I would like to build a vent locker for. should I build a separate one for the propane tank and the gas?

  10. your link leads to a 2001 document from the 1192 NFPA ??? 2001 ??? really?

    There is a 2018 edition for this no?

    Thanks so much for all your info! This is really generous.
    MERCI bien !


  11. Hello,

    I have not found ANY site that says that a propane tank has to be in sealed and vented locker. The only thing that I could find is where they say that in a moving vehicle the propane needs to be turned off. I have also seen many other sprinter conversions where they just have the propane tank under the sink. Are they all doing it wrong? I have yet to see anyone else besides your van with a propane locker. Thank you!

  12. Thanks! We are likely to copy this exact plan for our Sprinter build. Are you at all concerned about getting into an accident and impact to the locker / cylinder? Seems like a silly question as a tank mounted outside but underneath the van would likely cause the same concern. Just hoping to get your expert take on the risk!

    • The rear of a vehicle is not as “flexible” as the front (the front is designed to absorb impact). And lot’s of campers (and RV) have their tank mounted behind. We can’t possibly eliminate all risk, but we think it’s fine there! (closing the valve of the tank while driving is probably a good idea).


  13. Hey guys, I talked with a bunch of places and everyone advised against using hose for the pipe. They all are telling me I should use solid black pipe, as hose allows for leaks but that’s a lot harder to fit into the system as it is a solid pipe.

    Have you guys had any problems? Did you hear anything about not being able to use regular hose to connect the system?

    • Hi Gene, your email is making me nervous 😛 We’re very clear at the beginning of the article that it is YOUR responsibility to conform to regulations; we’re not responsible for anything! 🙂

      “Regular” hose is not standard to hook an appliance inside an RV, so no one qualified will recommend that. I believe copper tubing + flare fitting is the standard (not steel rigid pipe).

      Good luck!

  14. Hey guys, enjoyed the post. I am in the process of planning out propane mounting, location, etc for a van. So far I’m leaning towards the locker similar to the way you have set yours up. Reading through the comments I believe I got my answer already but wanted to double check. Do you leave your propane cylinder on/open full time or do you manually turn it off after every use? Or before you start driving? Also have you since upgraded to the electric solenoid to close the cylinder? That way you don’t have to get out of the vehicle, open the locker, and turn it off manually.

    • Hi Tyler,

      We leave it open all the time, but it would be safer to turn it off before driving of course… a solenoid is nice, but remember that it draws (a little) current when it’s ON, some of the cheapest ones tend to overheat and that it has to be installed on the low-pressure side of the installation. That last requirement killed the deal for us; installing a solenoid would have only “protected” the low-pressure hose.

      Good luck with taking a decision (multiple decisions, actually) 🙂

  15. Hey Antoine, we received our Propex heater today! Looking forward to HEAT! Can I ask you a couple dumb questions?

    1. Did you mount your new dual stage propane regulator inside the propane locker? The one I bought (I think same as you) has mounting holes and asks for vent pointed downwards. I figure resting the regulator on the tank is safer than additional holes in the locker, but curious what your solution was.

    2. If your setup is still similar to the pics in this article, I don’t see any caps or valves on your high pressure hose; how do you stop propane flowing through it?

    3. You mention in the Propex article you had to T off the Atwood stove propane line, but would have preferred the connection inside the locker. Would that have meant additional bulkhead fittings, or how else would you have done it if starting over? Otherwise how would you get copper pipe into the locker?

    Many many thanks!

    • Hey!
      1. Yes, inside. It’s asking for vent pointed downward only if it’s outside unprotected from the element. You can install it horizontally in you propane locker. (not that you can’t install the regulator vertically; you need a “vertical mount” regulator for that…)
      2. The high propane hoses have valve to stop the flow when disconnected from any device. No cap needed!
      3. I would have add another bulkhead fitting.

      Good luck with the installation!

  16. Thanks for posting about your build. I’m beginning my conversion project and have learned a lot from your website. If I understand right you’re high pressure line is not fed through the locker, meaning you have to open the top to use your heater? Would that defeat the purpose of the sealed locker? I’m looking at running everything on LP so I won’t need high pressure in the van, but have to make sure all equipment are compatible. Also want to install a electrical valve to only turn on gas at the tank when cooking for using the heater. Not sure if it add more safety issue running a live solenoid inside the locker though. Have you looked into this? Would appreciate hearing your thought. Thanks again.

    • Hi!
      Yes, we need to open the top to use the high pressure line, but we use it only for shower. (the Buddy heater is a backup in case our Webasto fails, we will probably never use it). So it’s fine to open the top just for the duration of a shower as the tank safety valve might open during elevation change or large temperature change.

      We seriously considered a solenoid valve for safety sake, but then we realized it has to be install on the LP side (after the regulator): in case of major accident, that won’t save our ass. So we opted to close the tank manually (we never do that…). Also, the solenoid valve needs constant power to stay ON (that’s by design: so if anything happen and electrical shutdown, propane shutdown too); so if you run a Propex Heater, the solenoid valve will constantly draw current (it’s small current though, it’s probably fine). At last, we read many reviews where people have experience overheat problem with their valve: we went to a propane shop and the guy there told us the same. It’s probably wise to invest in a high-quality valve.
      About the solenoid being inside the locker: that’s what the marine regulation ask for, so I guess that’s how it should be done.

      That being said, it’s an additional safety feature, you can’t go wrong!

  17. Bonjour à vous deux,
    Vraiment intéressant votre site! Nous nous préparons à convertir notre Promaster cet hiver. Ma première idée était de faire comme vous et certains autres et installer la bonbonne dans un compartiment scellé et ventilé au plancher. Mais là je suis en train d’hésiter car plusieurs me mettent en garde sur la sécurité et que les assurances pourraient ne pas nous couvrir…
    Est-ce que vous avez pu faire certifier votre installation sans problème finalement? On me dit aussi que le Mr Heater ne peut pas être utilisé à l’intérieur. Avez-vous eu ce genre de problématique aussi?
    Merci beaucoup et bonne continuation!

    • Mettre la bombonne dehors n’est pas plus sécuritaire; c’est simplement plus courant et mieux connu. La méthode que nous avons utilisé (propane locker) vient des normes marines qui sont TRÈS STRICTES (beaucoup plus que pour les voitures). Donc à notre avis c’est aussi sécuritaire et autant valable. Le problème c’est que ce n’est pas commun alors ca surprend les gens (incluant les assureurs j’imagine).

      La conversion n’a pas à être certifiée, mais elle doit être cepandant être évaluée pour les coûts (dans le cas où le véhicule serait volé).

      Non, un Mr Heater n’est pas fait pour l’intérieur (ni les Eccotemp d’ailleurs). Il vous revient de bien ventiler lorsqu’il est en fonction (pour évacuer le monoxide de carbone) ET d’avoir un détecteur de monoxide de carbone.

      Bonne chance avec votre conversion 🙂

  18. Thanks! Looks like only around 0.35 lbs/day…Good to know. It looks like our propane use will be very similar to yours and have been debating on a 5 lb vs. 20 lb tank. Not sure that I have room to install a 20 lb tank locker (wish I would have considered this earlier in the build), but looks like we can expect to get around 2 weeks from a 5lb tank. I considered an 11 lb tank, but the dimensions (at least width) are the same as the 20 lb tank. Cheers!

    • It’s funny you ask, we just check the level this afternoon! I think there is still 1/4 or 1/3 left in the tank (that’s after 40 days full-time on the road). We’re using it everyday for cooking, but we managed to find free/paid showers most of the time so far (because it’s pretty cold right now!); so we expect to use more propane in summer for showering.

  19. I think the PVC you used for the van-side was actually 1 1/4″… I recently used a similar method with the 3/4″ tube and a 1-5/8″ saw, and the 1″ tubing mentioned didn’t work as shown. I’m sure it was just a notes error, but thought it’d be helpful to correct!

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