Caravan vs Marine LPG Regulators
I thought I’d start my first blog about a subject we all feel very passionate about in the Intergas Marine team: caravan vs marine type regulators on sea boats.
Ok, so we all want to save a few pennies from time to time, but are savings on gas regulators for your boat really where you should start? The honest answer is no. And here in this blog, I’m going to talk about why.
So firstly, how does a regulator work? When gas from the cylinder enters the regulator’s chamber, the flexible diaphragm inside rises due to the gas pressure, pulling up a small lever, which allows gas to flow through.
Check out this small YouTube video made by GOK Regular on what a regulator does when in operation and how the over pressure relief device operates when an appliance fails.
So, does this mean all regulators are the same? Although the basic principles of their internal workings share similarities, there are differences. Caravan regulators are usually inexpensive. They’re small, which is great for small boat lockers, and you can get them for propane gas, patio gas or butane gas. They can be clip on or a screw on type. It’s easy and simple to pick up any of these regulators from most gas stores, caravan dealers, LPG retailers, EBay and, in some cases, marine stores. No hassle and fuss free. However, the regulator itself has not been made with the intention of going to sea, and this could invalidate your insurance.
[caption id="attachment_35" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Low pressure propane regulator[/caption]
GOK Marine regulators are standardised to EN ISO 10239 / EN 12864 Annex M and take into account the extreme stresses a regulator is under when it goes to sea. Corrosion from the salt, low or high temperatures and strong movements of the boat have all been factored into the design of the equipment. They come with safety devices such as an over pressure relief valve (as seen in the GOK YouTube video link above), as well as an over pressure shut off valve, and even the outer lacquering on the regulator is specially designed for the sea air. Since 2001 all marine gas systems are required to be fitted with a regulator that meets the EN12864 Annex M standard.
[caption id="attachment_49" align="aligncenter" width="300"] GOK marine low pressure regulator with pressure relief valve & pressure gauge[/caption]
Caravan regulators are not standardised to EN 12864 Annex M and do not have an over-pressure relief device or the special lacquer a marine regulator is coated in. This means they react badly to the sea air and salty water. Many caravan regulators have small holes in them which can easily become corroded and which can close up when they are exposed to salty environments, and if this happens you run the risk of a regulator fail and a gas explosion happening. Why not check out Yachting Monthly’s Crash Test Boast Explosion on YouTube, which shows how dangerous a small gas leak can be?
So, what’s the price difference? You’ll probably pay about £6 for a simple propane regulator at a retail shop. A marine regulator could cost you up to £60. (I can hear you gasp in horror and reach for the caravan regulator, but then how much did you or your customer pay for that shiny new boat?) A good marine regulator will last you up to 10 years. After that date, it is recommended you renew your regulator system. A caravan regulator will not last 10 years in the salty environments, and, if you are lucky enough to avoid a regulator fail during this time, you’ll still need to keep replacing that £6 regulator so many times, you might start to wonder if you’ve really saved any money in the long term.
Although the standard regulators used on caravans may be cheap, easily accessible and small, they really can't handle the environment on a boat. They don't conform to any of the strict standards set by the Boating Industries and insurance companies could invalidate your insurance if you're caught using one.
There are many great Gas Safe boating engineers out there, fitting the correct marine standard equipment and promoting the value of using marine regulators. If you want to find one in your local area, head to www.gassaferegister.co.uk
I've really enjoyed learning about the reasons why marine regulators are by far the best choice for any marine vessel using LPG.I hope you have found this article interesting and if you’d like to know more, why not subscribe to our Blog Page or follow us on Twitter @IntergasUK. And remember, It’s got to be GOK!
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