brass gas regulator with 2 gauges, one pointing down left and the other pointing more in the middle left side with black handles and a black rubber stopper in the right side

Sizing a Gas Regulator

July 30 2019

Sizing A Gas Regulator – An Overview

A gas regulator controls the overall amount of pressure in a combustible gas line. There are two basic types of gas regulators: one used with natural gas; the other with propane.

Safe, efficient operation of all gas appliances requires low gas pressure. To obtain the right pressure it is critical to size the gas regulator correctly. If the gas regulator is too large, too much gas can flow into the appliance potentially causing an explosion. If too small, the appliance will not operate efficiently. At worst, it won’t operate at all.

What to Know and Do Before Buying a Gas Regulator

Think safety before sizing a gas regulator. Size the gas regulator according to the gas inlet pressure. For this information, contact your local gas company to find out where the inlet pressure is listed. Most of the time, it’s on the main gas meter for your home, but contact them directly to be sure.

Get the specifications included with operational instructions for the gas appliance. The specs should include British Thermal Unit (BTU) or the Standard Cubic Foot (SCF) for gas consumption. Read the outlet pressure required for the appliance and size the regulator, according to both the inlet and outlet gas pipe diameter. Most cases require that the inlet and outlet pipe diameters be the same. Designate which type of gas you are connecting to, natural gas or propane.

To summarize, before buying a gas regulator you need to know the following:

  • Inlet pressure – can be given as inches water column, ounces, pounds.
  • Outlet pressure – can be given as inches water column, ounces, pounds.
  • Flow rate – maximum flow rate can be given as BTU/hour, Cubic Feet/hour.
  • Pipe size – depends on the application and answers to the first 3 questions.
  • Type of gas – normally natural gas, could be propane or another type of gas.
  • Installation location – indoors or outdoors makes a difference in production selection.
  • Generator application – if regulator is being installed for a generator it is sized to accommodate the initial surge of consumption during startup.
  • Connected load, single appliance or multiple? Are any high efficiency?

Know and follow all local utility regulations when sizing a gas regulator as many local authorities require an inspection before the gas can be turned on for appliance operation.

Uses of Gas Regulators

Regulators are grouped in accordance with how fast they release gas to an appliance so there is a wide variation in size and shape of gas regulators. Though they have many different uses, there are two main types: high pressure and low pressure regulators.

High pressure regulators are designed to allow gas entering from a cylinder to do so at great force, then reduce the level and bring it to a level suitable for the appliance. They are often used with appliances that require powerful, concentrated heat output, including:

  • commercial outdoor grills and barbecues
  • gas torches for metal work
  • roofing or road surface repairs
  • blown-air heater for warehouse or barn use
  • controlling gas furnaces
  • controlling generators

Low pressure regulators are used with appliances that require a steady heat output. These include:

  • portable indoor heaters
  • camping stoves
  • greenhouse or conservatory heaters
  • patio heaters
  • gas-fired barbecue
  • gas-fired appliances in motor homes
  • gas-fired appliance on boats

It is very important to know the application and any special expectations before buying and sizing a gas regulator. The materials used in a high pressure steam application will differ significantly when compared to a low pressure natural gas application. Are you locating the regulator indoors or outdoors? If indoors, will it be somewhere that noise may be an issue?

Be sure you have all the right information to properly size the regulator for the job it’s meant to do. For more advice or more information on sizing a gas regulator, get in touch with Hanover Supply Company today.

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