Propane Detector Switch

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The propane leak detector is hard wired to the coach battery system.  It draws a significant amount of power and that's the main reason why there is no internal dry-cell battery otherwise you'd be changing it every week.  I also suspect that there are some Federal laws, DOT rules, or perhaps just the RV Manufacturer's Association guidelines that require all LPG detectors to be hard wired to the vehicle's wet battery system.  Even adding these on-off switches may be a violation of law but let's not tell anybody just yet.

The main reason for wanting such an on-off switch is to avoid running down the batteries when the vehicle is stored for a long period of time, such as through the winter months in the northerly states.  When the batteries are run down, they are more susceptible to freezing from the cold temperatures.  When the vehicle is stored, either the batteries must be disconnected or the LPG detector turned off.

The actual location of the LPG detector varies by model, but shown here are two different versions of adding such a switch.  There is nothing magical about the wiring for such a switch; all the switch does is interrupt one of the power wires leading to the detector.  I'd like to see somebody come up with a modification of adding the switch but locating it right in the LPG tank compartment which is where it probably belongs.  Besides not messing up the original interior, putting the switch in the tank compartment would make sense because when you turn on or off the propane, you'd be able to turn on or off the detector all at the same time and in the same location.

Like most of us we rarely have occasion to use our propane systems (cook top, refrigerator, space heater) consequently the shutoff valve at the propane tank remains closed most of the time.  Yet the propane “leak detector” remains on all the time and, unlike the smoke detector, it draws a significant amount of power, between 0.05 and 0.10 amps.  If it were powered by an internal battery, similar to a smoke detector, you would have to put a new battery in it a couple of times a week, that’s why it’s hard wired to the coach battery.

During regular use of the vehicle that is not a problem, but in storage or periods of infrequent use, it can add up to dead (or if you live up north frozen) coach batteries.  And even though the coach batteries are referred to as deep cycle batteries, they really don’t like to be discharged much below 50%, it significantly shortens their lives.

So, what’s the answer?  Our answer to this situation was quite simple, just install an on-off toggle switch in the power feed to the detector.  Then when you turn on the propane valve, turn on the detector and vice versa.

In our Model 2000HD the detector is mounted just to the left of the coach door in the refrigerator housing wall.  It’s flush mounted, held in with two screws and easy to remove to access the power wires.  I mounted and wired the toggle switch just above the detector so that by looking at the detector and observing the pilot light I know its status.  Having that propane detector in operating condition when dry camped is very important as that is the time when a life threatening situation could develop.

Anyway, it’s no big thing, just another little refinement that makes the “Little Darling” that much sweeter!!

2Installed an ON/OFF switch on the LP Gas Detector.  I tuck the switch on the inner side of the detector to prevent accidental tripping of the switch.

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Page Updated: 19 February 2015