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If you’re looking to buy a propane regulator this season, you’ve probably seen the two-stage regulators advertised on Amazon, at your local hardware store, and at the gas station. The two-stage regulators are marketed as an easy way to increase safety by shutting off the gas supply in case of emergency. But are all two-stage regulators the same?
It turns out that there are a lot of different brands and models for these regulators. Knowing which brand or model you’re getting is important for both safety and efficiency.
Types of 2-Stage Regulators
Standard 2-Stage Regulators
The main difference between the different forms of two-stage regulators is how you adjust the flow control altitude. The flow control altitude in the standard two-stage regulator is set by tilting the adjustment knob, which changes the angle of rotation between your normal gas supply and your emergency gas supply. The angle at which this rotation occurs is controlled by a screw or pin in the side of your regulator. The lower you position it, the higher you go up on your gas line.
These regulators are typically mounted outside next to your propane tank or indoors in the basement, garage, or laundry room. The lower your propane tank is to the ground, the higher you’ll need to raise your flow control.
The other type of two-stage regulator is an in-line model that uses an internal adjustment screw to control the angle of rotation. These regulators are usually installed indoors and are used when you have a propane tank that’s located very high on a wall or roof.
What Makes One Propane Regulator Better Than Another?
The most important thing to consider when buying a two-stage propane regulator is the price. There are some really cheap models on the market that are made from thin plastic, which is not very safe for either your propane tank or you. These cheap models typically don’t have a thermally protected adjustment knob and are notorious for breaking. More expensive models can sometimes last several years with minimal maintenance, but they usually have better construction and are more reliable.
Cheap plastic regulators that are used for home propane installations are typically very similar to the ones you can buy on Amazon. They cost about $30 and have positive reviews on Amazon, but my plumber told me that he sees these cheap regulators fail regularly, usually within a year of installation. He says that if you’re looking at a regulator that’s under $45, it’s probably too good to be true and will end up costing you a lot of time and money in the long run.