Elgas LPG Gas Blog

LPG (Propane) BBQ Gas Regulators & Hoses

You need to know what a BBQ regulator does and how to operate and maintain it for safe use.

The following article will get you up to speed on what you need to know...

What are BBQ Gas Regulators?

Attaching a gas BBQ regulator and hose

In summary:

LPG (propane) gas regulators regulate the pressure at which the LPG is delivered from the gas bottle to the BBQ.

• BBQ gas regulators typically come equipped with an attached gas hose, which requires periodic inspection for cracks and damage.

• The regulator screws directly into the gas bottle whilst the gas hose is attached to the BBQ.

• The standard BBQ regulator type in Australia is a ‘POL’ regulator which has a male connector (reverse or left-handed thread) that fits a ‘POL’ valve on the gas bottle.

• The regulator and hose assembly will deteriorate with age. Replacing it every 5 years, or should it becomes damaged, is good safety practice.

• Always do a soapy water leak test every time you disconnect and reconnect the regulator. Also inspect the rubber O-ring, if so equipped.

Propane Regulator - How LPG Regulators Work

BBQ regulator

Regulators have a diaphragm, which is a flexible rubber disc that responds to pressure changes and functions to regulate the flow of gas at the proper pressure. 
The diaphragm works in combination with springs and other parts within an LPG - propane regulator. 
It also works in conjunction with the regulator vent which allows the diaphragm to move freely.
If the vent is obstructed, the diaphragm will not operate properly.
You should use care to make sure it remains free of dirt and debris, to help ensure that the regulator operates correctly.

Gas Hoses

regulator and hose

Attached to the regulator on one end and the BBQ or heater on the other end. 
These can become damaged or deteriorate with age.  
You should visually inspect the hose for cracking, splitting or other damage.  
It’s the gas coming from faulty hoses and connections that ignites and causes the vast majority of gas BBQ grill fires.
You should replace the hose if it shows any signs of damage or degradation.  
It is good practice to replace the entire regulator and hose assembly, if it is old enough for the hose to have deteriorated, as regulators also wear with age. 

O-Ring Seal

Male POL connector with rubber O-ring

The standard BBQ regulator in Australia is a POL regulator. 
The male connector of the regulator, which screws into the POL gas valve on your gas bottle, may have a rubber O-ring seal or it may rely on a metal to metal contact seal.  
You should always inspect the regulator for damage, paying special attention to the connector, which screws into the gas bottle.  
It should be clean and undamaged.  
If it has a rubber O-ring, it also needs to be undamaged.

Gas Pressure

The LPG (Propane) is stored under pressure as a liquid in your BBQ gas bottle.  
It turns back into a gas when you release some of the pressure in the gas bottle by turning on your BBQ burners.  
The pressure within a gas bottle can be 800-900kPa.  
This varies based on the ambient temperature, exposure to the radiant heat of the sun and the amount of gas remaining in the gas bottle.  
However, the required appliance inlet pressure for your BBQ is typically only 2.75kPa. 
So, the regulator is required to reduce the pressure and ensure a consistent 2.75kPa is safely delivered from the gas bottle to your BBQ.

Ice on BBQ Regulators

Under the right circumstances, condensation or ice can form on BBQ regulators. 
The faster the gas is used, the colder the regulator will get. 
Depending on the humidity of the surrounding air and the rate at which the gas is being used, condensation or even ice will form on the regulator. 
For the full story, please see Why Ice Forms on BBQ Regulators.

Leak Testing

Leak test for BBQ gas bottles

The BBQ regulator & hose assembly should be checked for leaks, using the soapy water leak test, every time you disconnect and reconnect the regulator.  
Put some soapy water in a spray bottle, turn on the gas bottle without turning on the BBQ, then spray the entire valve, regulator and hose assembly with the soapy water.  
You would see bubbles or smell gas if there is a leak.
When done, rinse with clean water to remove the soap solution.
For more detailed instructions, please see BBQ Gas Leak Test

Keep It Clean

When the regulator is disconnected, it is important that you keep the connector clean.  
If you are going to leave the regulator disconnected for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to cover the end of the connector with a small plastic bag to keep out dirt and insects. 
This can prevent blockage problems later and may save you the expense of buying a new regulator.

Connecting & Disconnecting

The male connector of a POL regulator has a reverse or left-handed thread. 
So, to detach, you turn it clockwise and then anti-clockwise to re-attach. 
For full step-by-step instructions, please see:

How to Prevent BBQ Gas Fires

There has been a bit of news recently regarding BBQ gas fires. 

So, it’s worth taking the time to review BBQ safety.

The media is fond of reporting “exploding gas cylinders”.  

The reality is that gas cylinders rarely explode. 

In fact, it would be quite difficult to make one explode.

Pressure Relief Valve Protects You

Why is this?  Well, gas cylinder valves are equipped with pressure relief valves.  

If the cylinder is exposed to excessive heat, the pressure relief valve allows the gas to vent and keep the pressure within safe limits.  

The worst thing that can happen is the venting gas ignites and you have a plume of flame. 

This will self-extinguish when the cylinder runs out of gas. 

This is why you always want to use your BBQ outdoors and away from your home or other flammable materials.

Hoses & Regulators -- The Usual Suspects

BBQ gas fire

So what is all the media hype about? 

Typically it’s about gas fires, not explosions, which result from poorly maintained BBQs. 

The real culprit is typically the hose or regulator. 

Hoses and regulators deteriorate with age and can start leaking. 

It’s the gas coming from these leaks that ignites and causes the vast majority of BBQ fires. 

Some experts recommend replacement of the hose and regulator assembly as often as every 5 years. 

It should cost no more than $50 at your local BBQ store.

Check Your BBQ

How can you be sure your equipment is in good shape

You should visually inspect the hose for cracking, splitting or other damage. 

You should inspect the regulator for damage, paying special attention to the part that screws into the gas cylinder.

It should be clean, undamaged and if it has rubber O-rings, they also need to be undamaged.

BBQ Gas Leak Test

It is important to regularly leak test your BBQ gas bottle, regulator and hose.  
Leaks from these items are frequently the cause of BBQ gas fires. 

Common Problem Areas

Most Likely Leak Areas

Main Connection:  

Main Connection

The standard BBQ regulator in Australia is a POL regulator. 

The male connector of the regulator, which screws into the POL gas valve on your gas bottle, may have a rubber O-ring seal or it may rely on a metal to metal contact seal.  

You should always inspect the regulator for damage, paying special attention to the connector, which screws into the gas bottle.  

If it has a rubber O-ring, it also needs to be undamaged.

The connector and the female valve opening should both be clean and undamaged. 
Pieces of dirt, nicks and scratches can prevent the two components from sealing, resulting in a leak.  

Gas Hose

BBQ hose & regulatorThe gas hose is attached to the regulator on one end and the BBQ on the other end. 
It can become damaged or deteriorate with age.  
Dogs and other animals can also cause damage by chewing on the dangling hose.  
Visually inspect the hose for cracking, splitting or other damage.  
You should replace the hose if it shows any signs of damage or degradation.  
It is good practice to replace the entire regulator and hose assembly, if it is old enough for the hose to have deteriorated, as regulators also wear with age. 

Valve Stem

Valve Stem

In Australia, BBQ gas bottles must be tested every ten years.  

The gas valve is changed upon inspection and the valves are expected to last for the full ten years.  

However, occasionally the valve will fail prematurely and start leaking from around the valve stem.  This is rare but it can happen.  

Please see Gas Bottle-Cylinder Testing Facts for more information on the ten year testing process.

Bleed Screw

Bleed Screw

The bleed screw is a small slotted screw on the side of the valve that lets gas vapour bleed off during the decanting refill process.  

The refill technician opens it during the filling process and closes it, when done.  

The screw can develop a slow leak if it becomes loose.

 

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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.