No Volatile Propane
While most RV and expedition vehicles rely on propane as a primary energy source for heating, cooking and refrigeration, EarthRoamer Xpedition Vehicles by design do not use propane. EarthRoamer XV eschew propane – primarily due to safety concerns – but also because of convenience, space efficiency and condensation due to water vapor emission.
There are many safety issues including risk of leaks, odor fade, carbon monoxide poisoning due to incomplete combustion and fire due to open flame.
Fire or Explosion
An important thing to remember is that propane vapor is heavier than air and if a leak should develop the invisible vapor will accumulate in low-lying areas. Since propane can ignite with only a small amount of propane in the air, any spark in the vicinity can trigger an explosion or fire.
Normally, if a propane leak occurs a pungent odor should be present. Propane is an odorless gas but an additive called ethyl mercaptan that smells like ”rotten eggs” is mixed with propane gas to alert users of a leak. The problem arises when a gas leak occurs, but there is no odor – this is known as “odor fade.” Once the ethyl mercaptan becomes undetectable, propane leaks can place consumers in grave danger. There have been many cases where consumers have been injured or killed while transporting propane tanks or operating propane appliances in areas that were not properly ventilated because of leaks they did not detect.
Problems with odor fade have plagued the propane industry for decades because the odor of ethyl mercaptan dissipates over time. The length of time varies depending on such factors as the age and condition of the tank but studies have shown that ethyl mercaptan can significantly dissipate within five to seven days after a propane tank has been filled and may become undetectable within just three weeks. Avoid disaster by remembering that even though you don’t smell propane, propane could still be present. Better yet, eliminate all risk of a propane fire by buying an EarthRoamer Xpedition Vehicle that does not use propane!
Incomplete Combustion and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is responsible for many propane related fatalities. Carbon Monoxide is the product of incomplete gas combustion that can occur when appliances are improperly adjusted. Properly functioning propane appliances will produce what is called an “ideal burn” during combustion and present no danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can lead to severe injury and even death.
The three ingredients required for combustion to take place are fuel, ignition and air. Without any one of these three ingredients combustion will not occur, and even then the ratio of air to gas must be within an acceptable range for combustion to occur. For instance, a mixture made up of equal parts propane and air will not combust when ignition is introduced. With propane combustion will occur when the gas in air mixture is between 2.15% and 9.60% and is referred to as the “limits of flammability”. In other words, 2.15 parts propane and 97.85 parts air is a combustible mixture as is 9.60 parts propane and 90.40 parts air. Combustion will occur anywhere between these two gas to air ratios with the “ideal burn” being about 4 parts propane and 96 parts air (1:24). This ideal ratio is considered to be the most efficient burn of propane gas when used. Complete combustion of propane is evident by a blue burning flame.
Whenever the flame is not an “ideal burn”, carbon monoxide is produced bacause the propane combustion is incomplete. Incomplete combustion is defined as a flame within the limits of flammability but higher or lower than the ideal ratio of 4 parts propane 96 parts air. If incomplete propane combustion occurs carbon monoxide will be produced which is potentially very dangerous.
On EarthRoamer XV’s, the diesel stove, air heater and hydronic heater all draw combustion air from the outside of the vehicle and exhaust combustion gases to the outside of the vehicel virtually eliminating the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Traditional propane cook stoves have an open flame that could easily ignite paper towels, clothes or any other combustible item that gets too close to the flame. This is a greater problem in a motor home due to the relatively tight space relative to a home kitchen. In addition to the safety issues of an open propane flame, one of the byproducts of propane combustion is water vapor which promotes interior condensation when the damp air comes into contact with a cold exterior window or wall. The diesel cook stove on an EarthRoamer has no open flame and all combustion byproducts are exhausted to the outside of the vehicle.
Comfort and Convenience or Safety?
With an RV that depends on propane for refrigeration and heating, the owner must make a compromise decision between comfort and convenience or safety. The owner must make a decision to either have refrigeration and heat while driving by leaving the propane on (not recommended for safety reasons) or turning the propane off while driving and doing without heat and refrigeration. Neither are particularly attractive options. These articles describe the dilemma well:
With an EarthRoamer, no compromise is needed, it is perfectly safe to run the diesel heater and solar/battery powered fridge while driving.
Another reason we like the fact that EarthRoamer XV’s do not rely on propane is that no space is wasted for propane tank storage. Every cubic inch of space in a vehicle this size is valuable and not wasting space for a sealed propane tank is just one more benefit.
The final benefit of completely eliminating propane is that there is no need to find places to refill the propane tank. Places that can refill propane tanks are ubiquitous in populated areas, but when traveling to remote and exotic locations, propane can be difficult to find in foreign countries and fittings are used that aren’t compatible with US fittings.
…and if that isn’t enough to make you “just say no” to propane, we don’t know what is!