Operating propane stoves in cold weather....

2013/01/04 21:02:56
This is not the typical question of why I'm not getting flame to my grill that I added onto my cart or anything like that but it's much more general.  I did a google search and found some things but not to my satisfaction.
In my neck of the woods I've had a few nights where it's below 30....28, 29 degrees.  Common sense tells me that if it's colder outside it will take me longer to heat up the water in my steam pan.  I'm wondering if the propane itself doesn't burn as hot in colder temperatures like this?  My flame is the same, but maybe it's a cooler flame....IDK but thought maybe someone else would here.
The other night I had a funny thing happen....I thought my tank was out since the flames slowly got smaller and smaller on my burners and then when I tried to relight them, they wouldn't.  I assumed the tank was out.  I had it filled today and the guy filled it but it looked like it was 1/2 empty as it took just over 2 gallons.  Could this be chalked up to the temp?  The night that happened it was down to 25 degrees when I was working.  I have since gotten a gauge that should help me knowing how full my tanks are...I know I might have a faulty tank, etc too.
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/05 00:23:59
I am working in the day time. The high has been around 14 to 20 degrees. When I leave home it is from 3 above down to 4 below 0 degrees. My burner worked fine until it started getting colder back at the end of November or so. 
I went and talked to Amerigas and they sold me a connector with a larger orifice and I put it on the hose that connects to the propane tank. The orifice hole is the size of the head of a match maybe. The old fitting hole was the size of a needle. I don't know why they put that small of an orifice fitting on a new cart.
I was told it was too small and freezing up. Now, at 14 degrees at 11 AM, I'm steaming in maybe 10 to 15 minutes and have no trouble. It does steam faster in warmer weather, but for 14 degrees, I have no complaints about 10 to 15 minutes.
That probably is the problem that you or anyone else has that may be working in the winter. If you don't work the winter cold then you won't know about the problem I have no choice. I have to work the winter unfortunately.   
post edited by brickboo - 2013/01/05 09:04:41
Junior Burger
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/10 15:03:27
Great info, brickboo!  Do you have a part number or anything?  I'm wondering if this can be had at a big box store...
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/10 16:10:44
God I'm so childish I can't keep from laughing asking this question. But seriously, I've been considering changing the size of my orifice for winter. Do you know what size yours started as and what size it is now. By number not by drill size.
post edited by Tristan225 - 2013/01/10 16:13:20
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/10 21:25:42
The hole in the factory orifice wasn't much bigger than a needle that was on my "Concessioncarts" cart. Not the eye part but the needle itself. My replacement orifice has a hole almost as big as the head on a match.
Just go to Amerigas or another propane supplier, (not the local Co-op or Ace hardware that sells propane) but the place where the coop or Ace hardware gets their supply from. One of the folks there can probably show you an orifice with a hole the size of a pin and one with a hole the size of a match head.  It's easy to change, they can help you. All you need is a socket the right size.
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/11 02:31:04
Have you ever noticed that when you empty an aerosol can, the temp of the outside of the can drops dramatically as the contents in the can decrease? Sometimes it'll even get frost on it.
Same thing happens with a propane tank as it empties. I'm not a physist but maybe someone else on here is and can explain it better.
Hell, I can't even spel Physisist!!!!
post edited by Foodbme - 2013/01/11 02:32:48
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/11 09:23:55
I think what the professional gas employee at Amerigas explained to me is that the small holed orifice caused the flow to be too slow and that is where it was freezing and slowing the gas flow to the burner. It makes sense to me.
Maybe I'm burning more gas this way now, but I don't lose my flame. Before I changed the orifice one day after an hour I still wasn't getting enough flame to even get the water to boil hard it just sort of simmered with the valve wide open.
I don't think some of the manufacturers know what they are doing. For instance: my solder melted and my copper tubing leaked at the joint. My cart was two or three years old when I bought it, but it was only used once and sat in a warehouse until I bought it. So it was not wear and tear. As a matter of fact it looked brand new.
My plumber friend who repaired it had to go back to his shop and get stuff that did not melt until 1200 degrees. He too repaired it once with 400 degree material and it melted too just like the factory material. You'd think people at the factory would be hip on this problem and use the material with a higher rating. Go figure!! The cart is supposed to be all stainless steel, but the hinges on every door is accumulating rust. Is this happening to you folk's carts too?s
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/11 10:46:10
OK, here's your physics lesson....
The aerosol can is basically a mini refrigeration unit, the same principal.Gas is liquified under high pressure.When released to the atmosphere it turns back to gas or "boils". It absorbs heat in this process.
Same with propane (LPG). It boils at -44f. So at -45f you could carry it in a bucket.
Pressure and temp. are relative.(that's why shaking the paint can makes it flow better) So you're not gonna have the same pressure at zero deg. as you would at 100f deg.I hope you kept your old orifices as you will want to change them back when it warms up.
As for burning more gas....you're basically "going back to normal".
And solder should be sil-phos if exposed to high heat or pressure, not lead plumbers soft solder.
Re:Operating propane stoves in cold weather.... 2013/01/11 15:38:24
I hadn't a clue that you were a physics engineer! Everything you said makes sense as I've worked with propane heaters since 1976 when I move to Colorado and laid brick for a living. I have the original orifice in the cart. I wondered about that. So, do you change your orifice during winter? Or, does it not get quite as cold. We haven't been above freezing now since Dec 21, 2012.
Jack I'm sure the manufacturer of my cart used the wrong solder, and what's amazing is they have made carts before Benscarts. I would think they would know better. It like laying brick with Cement (concrete cement) instead of using masonry cement. Or like putting water lines together with "super glue." Ha ha!
Thanks for your comment. I don't think many hot doggers are as desperate as I am. I have no choice. I have to work at least a couple of days a week this winter for sure.