Joining onboard grills to propane tanks

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By Richard H. Eckhouse

Like many of you, I enjoy using a grill on my boat. My Mainship trawler came with a propane stove in the lower galley and a summer kitchen with a Magma grill on the flybridge.

The galley uses larger propane tanks than the small gas canisters used for the grill, so I figured that buying a new hose that couples the existing grill regulator to one of the propane tanks would give me much more cooking time at a lower cost. Boy, was I wrong!

If I had had a Magma Owner’s Manual, I would have known that the grill’s control valve/regulator was designed to use only small disposable propane canisters. If used with larger tanks, this valve will initially function properly, but over time the oil-based odorizer added to bulk propane for safety will block the small gas passages, orifices and filters used in the design of the grill’s high-pressure valve, and eventually, it will not work at all.

According to American Boat and Yacht Council guidelines, running high-pressure propane fuel supply lines from a non-regulated high-pressure tank directly into a gas appliance is improper. Fortunately, Magma offers a solution that involves a combination of a low-pressure valve and a hose kit, which regulates all larger tanks to one-half psi prior to any supply hose running to the appliance. The result offers both safety and functionality, eliminating any failures due to the odorizer or rust debris.

These guidelines for switching from small canisters to large propane tanks apply to all portable grills, not just those on boats. Check with your grill’s manufacturer for more information and to find out if replacement valves are available.

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