Does your boat’s propane tank need requalified? And what the heck is an OPD?
All boat propane tanks are legally required to be requalified after 12 years and then reinspected every 5 years! Scroll down for the Requalification Requirements.
An OPD is a legally required overflow protection device for any propane tank manufactured after September 30 1998. You can tell if your tank has an OPD valve because you’ll have a triangular valve wheel to turn the propane on. The rest of us good old boats, like s/v Winterlude have a circular valve wheel on the tank.
Our tank is a horizontal tank and is exempt from the l998 OPD regulations, however, you cannot believe how many propane refilling stations are unaware of the regulations and refuse to refill our horizontal tank. Just for the record, we never had a problem getting it refilled while cruising outside the US – I guess other countries aren’t concerned that propane refiller folks might blow themselves up?
Recently we took our tank to get it refilled in anticipation of a few months of cruising and the same place that filled it last year said “nope” – no OPD valve, no refill. David tried to explain, but they were adamant and he left mad, forgetting to pick up my zucchini (the closest propane refill place is also the best Cuban veggie stand, go figure!).
We had to drive all the way to the propane dealer in Ft Myers, FL for Amerigas to get the tank refilled. They were the only ones we knew that knew the law/regulations about horizontal propane tanks.
For some reason, horizontal propane tanks manufactured before October 1, 1998 are EXEMPT from the OPD valve requirements. Since our tank is a very nice aluminum tank added when the boat was manufactured … that would be 1985 … and it’s a horizontal tank, it’s exempt.
OPD’s were required in the 1998 edition of NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. The requirements were modified in the 2001 edition to exempt certain horizontal cylinders. The OPD is required on all propane cylinders between 4 pounds and 40 pounds propane capacity. Our boat common size propane tank holds 20 pounds of propane.
Just because our tank is exempt from the OPD regulations, does not make it exempt from the requalification regulations. Huh? What are the requalification regulations? Most propane DEALERS (not refillers) will requalify your tank if it passes inspection. There was a fee, but I don’t remember what it was.
Requalification is required for all propane tanks 12 years after the date of manufacture. We didn’t know that and no one ever questioned our tank until 1998 came along with the new OPD valve regulations. But then we left the country until 2010 so we completely forgot about it because other countries weren’t concerned.
When we returned, we were concerned that the tank might be leaking … after all it was 25 years old … so we took it to BalGas, the propane place, to have it checked out. That’s when we found out we had to have it requalified, which they did for a small fee, stamped it with a requalification date followed by an “E” and sent us on our way.
That was 2010. The regulations say we have to have it inspected every five years, so the next inspection will be 2015. This is likely a very good idea. It would be a complete shame to end a fun cruising life by blowing ourselves up with a propane tank that’s too old.
Actually we might consider replacing the tank with a new aluminum tank with an OPD valve just to eliminate confusion. The problem is that new aluminum tanks are expensive AND we would have to totally reconfigure our propane locker to accommodate the new size — that means busting out fiberglass and making the existing locker bigger – which would then compromise other lazarettes. Aaarrrgggg…. As long as ours is in good shape, we’ll continue to get it recertified & inspected and deal with busting out fiberglass at some future date!
Anyone else refitted a horizontal tank with an OPD valve? Please leave a comment and share your experience — we may need the information some day! 🙂 THANKS! Jan