There is something special about being able to cook outside of a camper. My wife and I live for cooking outside. It is one of our favorite things to do. The challenge for us has always been how to cook outside. We don't have an Outdoor Kitchen in our Grand Design Momentum. Every season we have had to figure out a solution for outdoor cooking.
The first year we used the small camping bottles. The next year we used 20 lb propane tanks. The third year we Y'ed off of the coach tanks — this is what most full-timers I have met do.
This year we bought a 22″ Blackstone Grill, which is an amazing product. The Blackstone Grill solves a lot of problems that comes with outdoor cooking:
- The grill gets very hot and it is efficient — it sips propane!
- A flat top grill burns out the fats and excess oil more efficiently than any other grill type
- The grill has a big heated surface area making it very easy to cook several different types of food at the same time
- Solid surface grills are a LOT easier to clean and much more Hygienic
- Blackstone sells a ton of accessories that are specifically designed for camping
How Were We Using a Grill?
Last year we had a standard 2 burner propane grill connected like many other folks. We had a Y adapter connected to the door-side propane tank and we had a high-pressure hose running down to a pressure regulator at the grill. This solution is certainly better than using the small camping propane canisters, but it still had its drawbacks.
The main challenge with the Y setup is propane only feeds form one tank. When that tank is out of gas cooking stops. It is quite an ordeal to swap a 30 lb tank from the service side to the door side. During that time the grill is cooling off and focus changes from cooking to moving propane tanks around. Minutes count when we are hungry!
The Propane Solution
We have encountered the propane tank dance a couple of times and hated it! I started thinking about solutions last season, but we were preparing to move to a new rig. I figured I would think about how to upgrade over the winter while we waited for GDRV to build our new coach. I came up with a solution that not only works for us, it will probably work for most campers that have similar issues.
I was thinking about how the propane distribution system is configured. Grand Design and pretty much every camper manufacturer installs a changeover valve that is connected to two tanks. The manual knob turns toward the tank in use. It dawned on me that the changeover valve also has a step-down regulator. The regulator turns the high-pressure gas coming form the propane tanks to low pressure that can be used in the stove, fridge, water heater, etc. It turns out the output pressure from our camper is exactly the pressure needed for the Blackstone Grill and pretty much any propane grill.
I took a close look at the changeover valve installed in our 397TH. It is stupid simple. The two lines at the top route to the propane tanks. The bottom line is what feeds the coach appliances. The output line caught my attention. It has a standard 1/2″ flared fitting. The portion coming out of the regulator is male and the hose end is a female. These are self-sealing fittings, which makes them very easy to work on. Way to go GDRV!
I realized that all I need to do is Tee off of the output fitting. That would let me connect another propane hose to the output. Of course, finding all of these pieces parts was not exactly easy. I needed a bit of help finding everything I needed. I was also hoping to find a source for the parts that would let me only buy the pieces I needed.
Places like Home Depot sell these small parts in multi-part packs. I am not starting a Propane business. I don't need a stock of various connectors that I will never use. I just need a few parts to complete my project!
I recalled that I watched a video that ChangingLanesRV posted last year about connecting their Blackstone Grill to their 397TH. They mentioned a company called Propane Gear in their video. I thought I would give them a try. I emailed Propane Gear support and sent them a picture with a description of what I wanted to do. It took them a couple of days, but they responded back with a complete list of the parts. Here's the list they sent:
The only item I changed from the order above was the 3/8″ HP Hose length. The 397TH is a big rig. I ordered 15 feet of hose. 10 ft would not reach from the changeover valve to the right front where I would be connecting the grill.
Propane Gear's website doesn't have a way to save order groups. It would be nice to have clicked a link and added all of this to my cart. I had to search their site for each part. I found every one of them, but it was a bit tricky. Text searching on their site is not reliable and they don't appear to use standardized part numbers.
Double and triple check what you are ordering. The parts look alike!
After assembling my list I placed the order. I then emailed the support folks with the order # and let them know it was coming through. They were very nice. They actually crimped all of the fittings for free. The kit I received was 100% plug ‘n play.
It took about a week or so for the kit to arrive. Every part I ordered was in the box. I was eager to see if everything would fit. I was pleasantly surprised that everything actually did!
The only challenge I wasn't completely sure how to solve was how I was going to route the hose from the service side to the door side. Thankfully that was a lot easier than I expected. GDRV has a predrilled hole on both sides of the camper behind the propane tanks. On the door side of the rig they used the access hole to route the wiring in for the leveling jacks and some other stuff. The service side of the rig was capped off. The cap popped out easily. All I had to do was run the propane line through one hole, route it along the top of the battery/generator compartment and then out the other side!
This is what the changeover valve looked like after I added the Tee fitting and connectors. It was truly a plug ‘n play solution. The main thing to watch is to be careful not to over torque the fittings.
This view is looking down from the propane tank compartment toward the front right jack. I wire tied the hose to the jack. The quick disconnect is easily accessible from here.
This seems like the best position to keep it high enough to avoid road debris and easy enough to reach for connecting the grill.
Connecting the Blackstone Grill
I bought a hose that is specifically designed for the unusual Torjik fitting that Blackstone uses on their grills. Fortunately Amazon sells the hose with the proper fittings. It is called a Torjik Converta B RV Quick-Connect Kit. These are not easy hoses to find! If you click on the image below it will take you to where to get it on Amazon.
A propane disconnect is somewhat standard on campers now days. Most of them, including many from Grand Design, have a quick disconnect port installed. I'm not sure why Grand Design does not install a Propane quick disconnect on their Toy Haulers. I wish they did, but adding one turned out to be relatively simple. It took me about an hour to install.
If you are like us and love to cook outside with a propane grill and you don't have a OEM plumbed solution take a close look at this article. I believe most campers will be able to do something similar. This was a game changer for us. We never have to worry about running out of propane anymore. It also works great if someone is cooking inside. The stove and all propane systems continue to function as usual.