Installing a Propane Wall Heater

HeatStar R10LP Propane Heater

Some Much Needed Backup Heat

Even with a 12,000 BTU Mini Split Unit installed in our Cabin we have experienced some spotty outages with our local electric cooperative and numerous power surges.  With the winter months upon us we decided it would be to our better judgement to install a propane heater to add an additional heat source in case our power went out for an extended period of time.

A few months back we made a daily trip  to Spencer, Tennesseee to order and purchase a wood stove chimney kit from from an Amish Gentleman named Ervin. Ervin makes them in his backyard shop and does quality work  given the measurements and sizes that we needed.  However, we eventually decided to save the wood stove and parts for our future add-on addition later.

We decided to install the propane heater in the photo above  to use as back-up when the power went out and on extremely cold days when our mini split just wouldn’t keep up.

What Parts Do I Need?

Well,  Propane heaters cant work without fuel… It seems our local Liquid Propane Suppliers wanted us to get a minimum of at least #250 Pound tank with fuel which would be anywhere between $600 -$800 in Propane and then another $200+ to install the line and make the connections.  With that kind of expense we decided to purchase our own tanks and have them filled.  We could also get a better price per gallon having our own tanks filled.  Commercially, suppliers will either provide or lease you a bulk tank in order to sell you more fuel.   There are smaller tanks available in either #100, #40, or #20 pound tanks for purchase from retail stores that have them.

A co-worker of mine gave us a #40 pound tank that  he wasn’t using and wanted out of the way.  We decided to purchase another #40 pound tank at our local Tractor Supply and have them filled while there.  Here is the Manchester #40 Propane Tank that we purchased in addition to the #40 tank my co worker gave us for FREE. (You can also find a picture of the tanks below)  We could have easily gone with two #100  pound tanks but decided that the heater would only have occasional use and wouldn’t be constantly demanding propane.

Note: I did transport my #40 pound tanks home in our utility trailer in an upright position.  Many places will not allow you to transport filled propane tanks in an enclosed vehicle and especially if they are laying down. Here is a good How To on transporting them.

Regulator

Depending on the size and manufacturer of your Propane Heater be sure to review the Operator and Instructions Manual included with your Heater for the compatible regulator type and size.   Here is an example of what to look for in your instruction manual:

Most Heaters are not provided with a Regulator and you will have to purchase one on on your own.  For an explanation of How  Regulators work click HERE! This will explain why its important to have the right size and type of regulator.  Our Particular heater purchase called for a regulator with a maximum Pressure setting of:

Pressure Regulator Setting  :  10 Inches of Water

Inlet Gas Pressure ( Maximum)  14 Inches of Water

Inlet Gas Pressure (Minimum)     11 Inches of Water

All of these should be listed on the Regulator Packaging for compatibility with your heater or compatible model numbers with your heater. Your Regulator should match these numbers for your heater in pressure or your heater may not work properly.

Service Lines

In order for your heater to operate from your fuel source to the heater, you will need the proper lines between both to supply your heater. Most common is the use of copper lines with flared fittings.

LP Pre Made Lines with attached Fittings for easy connections

As an alternative with occasional use and a shorter run between the tanks and appliance you can use pre-made rubber Liquid Propane lines suitable for use with Liquid Propane gas HERE  These work great for less the cost than copper tubing and fittings.   For a more permanent solution and alot of use I would recommend Copper lines and fittings.  Most major LP gas suppliers and regulations require a 10 foot minimum distance between the tank and dwelling.  Your local Codes will also dictate a minimum distance and connection.

I chose the pre made lines with the attached fittings for ease and the shorter distance i had between the tank and the appliance.

Dual Tank Hookup Kits

Due to having two LP tanks on hand, I decided to go with this handy dual tank hook-up kit I also found at Tractor Supply.  I had both tanks connected safely together in less than 5 minutes.

Liquid Propane Gas Valve

I installed this 1/2″ Liquid Propane Gas Valve which you can find HERE

Our Heater was provided with a 3/8″ gas inlet located on the bottom of the heater which you can see here. The heater also came with a 3/8″ FIP elbow provided with male and female ends as you can see below:

The LP gas inlet in the above photo is shown on the bottom corner of our heater.  The 3/8″ elbow also pictured screws into the threads to adjust where you want your gas line to run. Be sure when connecting all joints with gas line piping to use a compatible pipe thread sealant made especially for gases.   Thread tape for Gas will usually be sold with an Orange Cap and Orange colored tape.  This is double layered and only used for gas and oil applications.  You can also purchase a tube of RectorSeal 5 Pipe Thread Sealant for gas applications.

As illustrated in the above image I used the Gas threading tape to connect the 3/8″ elbow provided with the heater to the bottom of the heater.  I also purchased a 1 1/2″ length of 3/8″ Black Iron pipe and attached it  to the elbow with the sealant tape.  On the end to the right, I replaced that flair fitting (for copper tubing) with a Black Iron 3/8″ to 1/2″ Reducer.  If using metal piping its usually better to use Black Iron as it is more compatible with gases if not using the appropriate copper.  I think that Black Iron threaded piping gives a better and safer connection when dealing with gases.  Its also harder to jar your connections loose as opposed to using copper which can be easily bent and create a hazardous gas leak.

My reducer looks like this…..Be Sure its compatible with any type of Gas Application

At the 1/2″ end of the Reducer I added a 1/2″ Brass Pipe Nipple ( Any length you need for your particular project) In my case I used a 1 1/2 inch long brass nipple to connect to the gas valve from the reducer.

 

As can be seen in the photo above I connected from the reducer on the right using the brass nipple into the gas valve by threading it in ( using gas threading sealant). To the left on the opposite side of the gas valve, I added a 1/2″ Close Nipple, another 1/2″ x 3/8″ close nipple ( Black Iron or Brass)  into a Brass 1/2″ x 3/8 Reducer, another 3/8″ Close nipple and connected to the black LP Gas line coming from the tanks outside.  It made it very easy to connect to the gas valve with the 3/8″ connector already made into the hose line from outside.  Be sure to make all connections with the Gas Thread tape or Sealant. Your Gas Valve should be located inside next to your heater or appliance. This will allow you to stop the flow of gas going to the appliance in an emergency or a gas leak at the appliance.

 

Before making the gas line connections to the outside tanks, the unit came with a mounting bracket and hardware for either mounting to the wall ( As i did) or with floor stands provided for floor applications.   When mounting to the wall or the floor be sure to follow the Manufacturers recommendation for acceptable clearances around all sides of your heater.   I chose the wall mount on my particular project.

Connecting Your Tanks

As you can see in the photo above I connected both #40 pound LP tanks using the Double Tank Connection Kit I provided a link to previously.  Many of the threads going into the Tanks will screw in counterclockwise instead of clockwise.  Disconnecting the lines from the tanks unscrew in reverse.  One line will simply screw into the second tank ( as above) then connect to the end of the Brass Tee as pictured on the tank in the foreground. In the middle of the Tee will be the tank connection which will thread into the tank counterclockwise again.  Your regulator will screw into the opposite end of the Tee as pictured.  The remainder is your line going through the wall to your appliance.   Again, be sure to use Orange Thread tape or Sealant at all connections to prevent any leaks.  Propane is very explosive if not used properly.

 

Now What?

Before installing any gas line ( whether Propane or Natural Gas) be sure you follow all safety precautions and know what you are doing.  I would recommend a Trained Professional to install Natural Gas applications as their regulators are much more complex than Liquid Propane.   Almost all Natural Gas lines are run by a Local Utility and they require you to have one of their installers perform the work.  Tapping into a Natural Gas line without authorization is a criminal offense in almost all states.

It is also beneficial to check with your local authorities to learn the requirements (if any) for installing LP Gas tanks for residential or commercial use.

Once you have connected your appliance to the outdoor tanks its now time to test to be sure you don’t have any leaks and your appliance is working properly.

Testing For Leaks

Once all connections are made you can turn on the gas at the tanks by opening the valves located on the top of your tanks.  Open them slowly and listen for any sounds of a leak. If you do STOP!!!  Close the valves slowly and repair the leak.

If no leak at the valves allow enough time for the gas to enter the lines going to the appliance.  In the meantime, keep your gas valve inside near the appliance closed.

You can use a mixture of water and dish detergent to spray on all connections and joints. If you don’t have a spray bottle you can use a sponge and apply the water mixture on each joint.  If you see Bubbles forming, STOP!! and have the leak repaired where you see  it bubble. This is a sign that you have a leak.  Again, shut off the gas before making any repairs.

 

You can now open the gas valve and repeat the same steps between the gas valve and the appliance.  Follow Manufacturers Instructions to bleed air from the lines and lighting your pilot light.

 

Follow ALL Safety Precautions when installing or Servicing Liquid Propane…If not, this will happen!

 

If you should have any questions or comments about this article we would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to share your experiences or comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *