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Torches on whole house propane


#1

I’m outfitting a new studio and thought it would be a great idea to run propane lines for my torches directly off the lines for the building. It’s turning out to be more complex than I expected. The building has a propane heater and propane water heater. The propane is supplied by a 200 gal tank. I plan to have a casting torch off one line and a small torch, like a Smith Little Torch off the other line for bench work. Everybody signed off on this up front - plumber, contractor, propane company, inspector.
We are at final inspection and today I learned that the lines after the second stage tank regulator will only have about 0.5 psi of pressure. Clearly, not enough pressure for either torch. I’m pretty upset about it but just trying to find a solution. My thought is to ask for a “T” before the second stage regulator which will be at the wall of the house. One side of the T would feed the second stage regulator and the lines for the heater and water heater. The other side of the T would feed the two lines for the torches. The torch lines would then have 10-12 psi. The propane line changes will be a nightmare but it’s the best I’ve come up with. If anyone has a better approach I’d be most interested in hearing it.


#2

My plumber ran a line off the propane from the “pig” to the house for my two torches. Initially, we couldn’t light the Smith little. He had conversations with other professionals and was told there wasn’t enough pressure. For a year and a half I used tanks instead of the beautiful lines he had installed. Last September I had a teaching couple at my house for a seminar. The gentleman inquired why I was using tanks instead of the lines. He talked with the local fire chief who informed him there was plenty of pressure and it was safe. The fellow hooked up my torches and, viola!, there was not only enough for my two torches but also plenty for the glass torches. Can you try it out before making extensive revisions?


#3

I’m afraid I don’t have any answers but I’m very interested in this. I also have a propane tank at my house and was thinking of plumbing it to my garage studio. Glad to find out the standard household regulator is only .5psi, so I know to T off before that. Thanks for posting this.


#4

I would leave it to you to decide on the safety measures appropriate for tanked propane…but I would comment that there may be a reason that the pressure is capped at 0.5 psi…by going around that, what will the pressure be coming into your studio and what would be the consequences of any leak or torch left open or if the flame blew off? Your stove oven probably has an automatic shutoff, but can you plumb in such for your torches? You might want to check with your fire marshall to see what he says about going around the regulator. Remember, if you aren’t to code and have a fire, your insurance will likely not pay, and if they are looking at a six figure payout, they certainly will investigate, as will the local FD.

Several of us here have gone to 1 lb tanks and an oxygen concentrator…no large reservoir of propane and no oxygen to leak into the space if left open. The possibility of propane pooling in your space is a recipe for disaster. You can refill your 1 lb tanks from a 20 lb tank and probably even from your outside tank and there is a slight inconvenience there, but unless you are doing casting with a large rosebud tip, probably a 1 lb tank will last a while and the refill isn’t a great waste of time. Refill several 1 lb tanks at once and leave them somewhere outside in fair weather…I hate to be a killjoy, but just wanted to post the other side. HTH, royjohn


#5

After my above gloom-and-doom post I went looking for info on outdoor propane tanks, but it was hard to find the info I wanted. Yes, the outdoor tank can be at 10-12 psi, as someone stated above, but that is a minimum pressure on a very cold day. Pressures up to 200 psi are possible in outdoor above ground tanks during summer in the sunlight. I found a Seattle fire code which appears to be lifted from an International code which states that indoor propane lines cannot have more than 20 psi, so I would suppose a regulator would be needed if you T-ed off the main line before the 0.5 psi regulator. I know in my area your natural gas line can be equipped with an automatic emergency shutoff, so I looked for such for propane. There are automatic shutoffs on kitchen ovens which shut off when the amount of propane released reaches greater than 2,000 btu/hr (I think that’s right) if the pilot light is not on…however, there isn’t any pilot light on your torch and any automatic shutoff can’t, for obvious reasons, be set to work at regular torch pressures. Consequently there isn’t any way to be protected from the torch somehow being left open or leaking aside from smelling the mercaptan gas…I’m sure many people use an outdoor propane tank and plumb such indoors and live to tell the tale, but I’ve been a little squirrelly about tanks since a regulator blew on my oxygen tank in the middle of a class of eight students, all with torches. Fortunately we were able to get the tank turned off quickly and out of the building and no one had a torch on at that precise moment. I’m sure many are aware of gas explosions traced to gas stoves and such…these do occur and my choice of torch is dictated by such possibilities…YMMV. royjohn


#6

Thanks, Rita. I can’t test it because the tank can’t be connected to the house until the inspection is complete. I’ve had a couple rounds of discussions with everyone involved. We are heading toward a solution very similar to your set up.


#7

Royjohn, I definitely get your concern. I use acetylene right now, treat it with the utmost respect, and do leak tests regularly. What doesn’t sync up for me is that others on this forum have said that some insurers will give a price break for whole house torch set ups.


#8

This sounds like a really good solution for my home studio. There are two similar threads going about the 1lb propane/O2 concentrator setup so I’ll ask in both places:

  1. Best source for O2 concentrator? I see mixed reviews on Rio
  2. With a 1lb propane tank do you still use a regulator, check valve, flashback arrestor?
  3. How do you go about refilling the 1lb tank from your outside tank?
  4. Do you keep your 1lb tank inside and hooked up? Or take apart after each use? and put the tank outside?

A couple photos of your setup would be great!

Thanks very much.
Melissa


#9

Hello All - Hansen Coupling Div of Eaton currently located in Cleveland Ohio has pioneered gas quick connect couplings and have supplied both natural gas quick connects used for stoves in restaurants and for quick and repeated propane gas grill connection. Their customer service or engineering departments may be able to help at 1-888-877-5054 or on the web at https://www.dultmeier.com/manufacturers/hansen.php I am not connected to Hansen in any way. Good luck on your quest.


#10

Here in New Zealand we have an adjustable regulator I believe 0 to 25 lbs feeding a large kiln in one of our sheds. Just had a quick look under high pressure propane adjustable regulators online and there appear to be lots available. To tee one in to feed your torches would work if that complies with local regulations, it is legal here if installed and signed of by a gas fitter.


#11

For the 1 lb. propane tank and O2 generator, you can go to my website (www.robmeixner.com) and look at Shop Shots to see what my setup looks like. I replaced the generator earlier this year with a reconditioned one from a local medical supply place ($300). It works great for what I do. This includes soldering and annealing heavy 4 - 8 gauge bracelets, heavy copper work and 1 - 2 oz silver melts. I refill the 1 lb. tanks from a 5 lb. and 20 lb. tank that I keep in my shed. You can buy the fitting to do this on line. There are lots of tutorials about how to go about refilling a tank. I keep a 1 lb. tank on my EZ torch for annealing and one on my Meco and Little Torch combo for bench work. I work each day and get 3 - 4 weeks out of a 1 lb. tank. Works for me, but I would love to get a NG concentrator and try it out. I have talked to several of our local rural propane suppliers about running a torch off of one of their tanks and they said that they wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. More pictures if you want them, just ask…Rob


#12

HI Melissa,
Here are my answers…I got my concentrator (5l/min) from a local private sale. People who use these things are in poor health and often die. The concentrators are not supposed to be sold used, at least not for human use again, without reconditioning, so you can find them pretty cheap. I got mine for $140. There is a meter on them that tells how much use they have had and I believe they are good for about 10,000 hours, so look for one with low hours on it. The oxygen output will decrease as it gets older, but you should be able to get much more than 5,000 hours out of one, closer to 10,000. Some say that they can stop producing oxygen if not run every two weeks, but IDK about that…you should test it before buying if it’s been sitting a long time. Or get a return privilege. They can also be bought, as Don says, reconditioned from a medical supply. The 5l/min size is fine for most torch uses, but I believe Don has a 10l/min. These are very safe because they are only producing oxygen when you are running and just enough for your torch, no regulator or flshback arrestors needed. But yes, I would use a flashback arrestor on my propane line, at the torch. Flashback arrestor rather than check valve. You can refill the tank from a 20 gallon barbeque tank outside using an adapter which you can buy on ebay for about $8. Mine is called a snozzle or schnozzle or some such. As Don said, the instructions are all over the internet and I believe a set comes with the adapter, too. You refill to a little less than 100%, maybe 0.8 lbs. I turn off my regulator and leave everything connected. These 1 lb tanks don’t get real old, so they are unlikely to leak and the amount of propane involved is relatively small, so I don’t view it as a great danger. I wouldn’t want even a 20 lb tank in the house, however. If you are completely phobic about gas in the house, you could easily twist the tank off the regulator and put it outside somewhere. When the tank is removed from the regulator, it self seals, so no gas escapes. I hope this helps. royjohn


#13

I use an O2 concentrator and 1 lb. propane cylinder for my torch.

But instructions about refilling 1 lb. propane cylinders often lack distinction between disposable and refillable cylinders. Read the label on the cylinder.

1 lb. disposable propane cylinders are designed to be thrown away when empty.

An internet search for 1 lb. refillable propane cylinders, shows availability at the following stores:

Amazon
Walmart
Home Depot
Sam’s Club
REI
and Ebay.


#14

I use acetylene without o2. Insurance Co was ok with the gas but not O2. Make sure you check with them.


#15

Doesn’t that produce tons of carbon soot?


#16

I’m working through these issues right now. Hobbyist, mostly silver, a little gold, I don’t cast at home. Insurance company nearly blew a valve (figuratively) when I asked about a propane or acetylene and oxy setup with a Little torch. No compressed gas, says Allstate… period. So I’m down to a water torch possibility, at $1,520 (Rio price) and maybe not enough flame size to work on a heavy sterling bracelet. Anyone else considering a similar solution, or anyone with experience using a Hydroflux or ET system? I also see things that look the same or similar online for ~$115.00. Wonder what the difference is?


#17

Not as long as it is a torch design for acetylene and air at atmospheric pressure. Look at plumber’s torch, prest-o-lite (used one for years), smith torch and others.


#18

I really like my hydroflux! I have been using it well over ten years. Not & it will not do heavy silver. The one pound propane are acceptable under most home policies. I use a Medco torch (with a small O2 cylinder) for those occasional jobs that require massive heat.

  Dump Allstate, (Sears), you are surely able to get better coverage at a lower price elsewhere!

MChapman


#19

Thank you! The photos are great and details of the work you are able to do with your set up are very helpful. Melissa


#20

I appreciate the pointers about selecting a used concentrator and torch setup. I’m ready to shop. Melissa