Liquid propane, or LP, is a very popular fuel source for campers as well as tiny homes. It's portable, affordable and can be found at any hardware or grocery store.
Determining if you need LP
Several factors are considered when determining if your tiny house needs LP. It sounds strange, but it really comes down to your electrical needs. For example, our setup for tiny homes is built on a 50AMP service. The power consumption of a 12 gallon electric water heater is about 15 AMPS but requires a 20 AMP circuit breaker. Our kitchens require two 15 AMP GFCI outlets on separate breakers. With just those 3 components, we are already reaching our 50 AMP limit. What if you wanted to add a combination washer/dryer unit? There would not be enough power.
A tankless water heater requires less than 1 AMP of power, reserved for the electronic ignition system within the unit. By adding the tankless water heater, we have already saved 14 AMPS.
In most cases, you will want to be able to cook in your tiny house. Well, you're in luck! If you choose to use LP, it is very easy to add an LP-fueled cooktop and oven as an option.
Our technical team will do an evaluation for you when it's time for these considerations.
To the right is an illustration that shows the flow of LP into a tiny house.
LP and Outdoor Conditions
Though LP is a great way to add heat and cooking to your house, it's not always a care-free solution. Outdoor conditions can play a big role in your LP setup.
In warm weather, your propane tank can still be stored outdoors on a flat, solid surface. You'll want to keep the tank in a shaded area so that it's not in direct sunlight for long periods of time—this will keep the tank at a safe temperature, note exceeding 120 °F (49 °C).
Cold temperatures can have a big affect on the propane sitting unprotected in its tank. The temperatures are much too low to allow the propane to sit unaffected. More specifically, freezing temperatures negatively affects propane in two ways:
Propane Depletion When the temperature drops, propane can be greatly reduced inside the tank. The propane shrinks due to the cold weather.
Loss of Tank Pressure The pressure within a propane tank will drastically drop in cold weather as well. Propane is stored within the tank as a liquid, which is then released through a valve as gas. However, when temperatures drop too low the propane no longer has the ability to convert into its gaseous form.
To prevent these adverse affects, insulating your tank may be all you need to do. And if it gets really cold, a heating blanket designed specially for LP tanks can be added.
Determining tank size is a practical decision. Basically, how often do you want to fill the tank? If the tiny house only has a tankless water heater, then LP consumption is fairly low, with consideration for usage. However, if the tiny house has an additional LP range and oven, then consumption will significantly increase, relative to your cooking habits.
In terms of portability, the less weight to carry, the better. But then add the frequency in which you are refilling the tank, then you may want to increase the size. Typically, our customers choose a 30lb. or 40lb. tank. It's always a good idea to get 2 tanks. As one is depleted, you will have another on-hand to replace it.
Below is a comparison of popular tank sizes.
Fitment and Connection
Our tiny homes are equipped with a quick connection to the LP system which is included in each tiny home that requires LP. Typically, all the tiny home owner needs is to determine the necessary size tank, purchase a regulator and the correct fittings to use. The regulator is a typical BBQ or outdoor fireplace type that can be found at any hardware store.
Depending on your specific setup, the fitting most commonly used on the non-quick connect end of the hose is a 1/2" MPT x 1/2" Flare fitting, illustrated to the left. This will connect to your regulator and your quick connect hose LINK »
Please note that Homestead Tiny House Co. does not provide fittings, regulators or tanks.
Propane Tank Storage
Propane tanks should always be stored outside in a dry place, on an even surface, and should have ample ventilation. Ensure that the tank is placed 10 feet from any other propane tanks or appliances. Having a barrier around the tank to keep animals and children from getting too close to it is recommended, as long as the area is still well ventilated.
Propane tanks should always be stored upright and the top should be secured. Once your tank is in place you will want to have it inspected by a certified technician. This will help minimize the risk of a disaster, especially during the warm summer months.