I have just set up a propane/ oxygen in my small backyard shop. The
25 lb propane tank (TYPICAL BARBECUE SIZE) is outside the building
because it is over the maximum size permitted indoors. I’m sure
that if there were a fire and the propane tank was discovered indoors
the insurance company would use that fact to decline to cover the
damages. Insurance companies have two sides - The “good cop” broker
who sells you the wonderful policy and the “bad cop” adjustor who
points out why the policy won’t cover what you thought it would -
after the damage has been done. They are just adversarial by nature.
In the end, if you are persistent, and if you are right,and if you
can produce all the documentation they ask for etcetera, they will
pay - but you have to be patient and have faith and realize that
their tactics are designed to just wear you down until you give up.
If they can’t do that then they pay out.
So, yeah, check with your insurance co before you do your
installation. If the job is done right your rates won’t go up, (or
maybe only a tiny bit) Get a licensed gas-fitter to do the
installation and keep a copy of the permit for the job for your
records. My propane tank (full) cost about $45 (Canadian) and the
installation - including a regulator at the tank to limit the
pressure coming into the building, the extra shut-off valve at the
workbench and a few misc. bits and pieces, plus the permit cost
about $300. I already had an old acetylene regulator for the torch
which works as well with propane as acetylene. (Even that became an
issue for a while as one of the local suppliers said propane would
damage the diaphragm in the acetylene regulator - while another
supplier said it was not a problem. I finally had to get an OK from
the Gas Inspector himself before I was sure it was OK.) It is not
rocket science and you can do it yourself if you’ve got some good
understanding of ordinary plumbing processes etc, but, like
everything, there are tricks of the trade and why take all the time
to learn a whole trade for something you’re only going to do once?
Get it done right and forget your worries.
But back to the torch. I like having the tank outside because I can
shut off the gas at the tank so there is no chance of a leak inside
the building even if any of my other equipment is leaking or if I
forget to turn off a valve completely. I have another shut-off valve
on the gas line just where it comes into the building next to my
workbench - so I can turn off gas instantly if there is an accident
in the shop when I am working. This is one of those ball valves that
needs only a one-quarter turn to open or shut the line, not lots of
rotations of the handle.
Between propane and acetylene I would choose propane even though
acetylene will give a bit more heat because it is difficult to avoid
those nasty bits of floating black soot you get from just-lit
acetylene flames until you get the oxy mix right. It only has to
happen a few times to get those impossible black smudges everywhere.
Where I live you can’t just buy an acetylene tank, you have to lease
it and pay rent forever and ever. Also the number of places to have
it refilled are few and far between while propane refills are
available in many gas stations and other places, even on Sundays. .
I am using a Hoke torch now - something new in my life. I had been
using those little Bernzomatic propane plumbers’ torches for years
and years for jewelry-size work - mostly bcz I was too intimidated or
lazy to get the “real thing” and my oxy-acetylene welding outfit was
just overkill… Stoopid me. While I did do some fairly OK work with
the plumbers torch, using the so-called “pencil” tips you can get at
the hardware store, it was really a crude, blunt instrument by
comparison with the fine control I get from the Hoke. Also there just
wasn’t enough heat and I sometimes found myself using two torches at
once which is, to say the least, crazy and dangerous. I mean, do you
hold the soldering pick in your teeth or what? If you are doing big
work I think the Hoke can be fitted with some fairly hefty tips.
You can get gas detectors, I guess, but how do you know the gas will
move to where your detector is located? Ordinary convection currents
from heaters, sunlight, or other disturbances to air in your shop
might move the gas to some ignition source (motors, light switches,
thermostats, water heaters etc) before it gets picked up by the
detector. I think best to have the tank and a shut-off outside. Also
- The propane tanks now have a built-in shut-off valve which
operates if gas is flowing out too quickly, like if the gas line to
the shop is accidentally broken.