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Natural Gas to Propane Conversion; High Altitude Conversion; Derated Gas

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by Expat808, Jun 3, 2011.

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  1. Expat808

    Expat808 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Volcano, HI
    GAS STOVE MODEL: Jotul GF 200 DV II Lillehammer Direct Vent Gas Heater

    PROBLEM: Pilot lights and remains lit and stove lights but, after a period of operation, there is a single "click" sound and both the stove and the pilot shut off. The Pilot and stove can be relit but, after a short period of operation, both shut off again.

    BACKGROUND: I helped a friend with renovations of a 600 sq. ft cottage at about 3400' elevation. It is located in a remote area with no piped in natural gas available; propane is available by filling a portable tank at the local general store. I was present when she bought the stove described above but was not involved in the transaction. The dealer is located at sea level and knew that the stove was to be installed at elevation for use with propane. I don't recall the dealer explaining anything about converting the stove from natural gas use for use with propane, modifying the stove with a "high altitude" kit, or using derated propane.

    The dealer referred the cottage owner to an installer who proved to be both unprofessional and incompetent, although he appears to be NFI certified. He failed to return phone calls, did not appear as promised, or appeared late, and the roof leaked after the installation. Follow-up for repairs was even more difficult and the repairs also failed. I eventually went up on the roof myself and repaired the improperly lapped flashing and gap-filled caulking. I suppose it should have been a give-away that his quote was $2 under the limit beyond which a contractor's license is required. The dealer disclaimed any responsibility for the bad referral or knowledge of the installer's poor reputation which was later found to be widespread.

    Although the roof leak has been resolved, the problem described above has emerged. The dealer did not provide the "Installation and Operation Instructions" with the stove or, if he did, the installer made off with/discarded it. I have since found the PDF version online and, together with articles found on this site, have identified possible causes of the problem, described below:

    POSSIBLE CAUSE #1: According to the manual, the stove is shipped for use with Natural Gas but also includes a conversion kit for use with Propane. To my knowledge, no propane conversion kit was supplied with the unit or, if it was, the installer appears to have made off with/discarded it. It does not appear to have been installed because the there is no label affixed to the stove, rating plate, or valve indicating the conversion, as required by the manual. Accordingly, the stove may be malfunctioning because Propane is being burned in a stove equipped with a pilot orifice, burner orifice, and regulator tower designed for use with Natural Gas.

    POSSIBLE CAUSE #2: According to the manual, the stove "may be adjusted for altitude over 2000 ft" by installation of a "High Altitude Adjustment Kit" (different size burner orifice) for the appropriate fuel. No adjustment kit appears to have been installed because the appropriate label has not been affixed to the stove. Accordingly, the stove may be malfunctioning because it is being operated at 3400' elevation with a burner orifice sized for use at or near sea level.

    POSSIBLE CAUSE #3: According to the manual, if the stove is to be operated at elevations above 2000', the gas used in the stove must be "derated" to account for the affect on heat value of gaseous fuels caused by decreased atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes. I have not yet been able to determine whether the propane sold at the general store, which is at almost the same elevation as the cottage, is derated for use at that elevation. Accordingly, the stove may be malfunctioning because it is being operated at 3400' elevation with a fuel rated for use at or near sea level.

    POSSIBLE CAUSE #4: Based on my own examination of the stove and the manual, the unit appears to have the combination thermocouple/thermopile control assembly described in the article "How Gas Appliances Work" found on this site. The pilot lights, remains lit when the gas knob is turned to the “pilot†position and held in the depressed position for 30 seconds after ignition, and the flame appears to contact both the thermocouple and thermopile in the manner depicted in the manual and the article. Accordingly, it does not appear that there is a problem with either the piezo electric igniter or the thermocouple. However, since the stove shuts off after anywhere from 3-10 minutes (indicated by a click after which the pilot and heating flame quickly dies out), it may be that: (a) the thermopile is defective and not not producing enough millivolts to power the control circuit; (b) the absence of fuel conversion/high altitude kits and use of incorrectly rated fuel is not permitting the thermopile to generate sufficient millivolts to maintain operation; or (c) there is some other defect in the valve or in the "on/off/stat" rocker switch that is causing the valve to shut off.

    ASSISTANCE REQUESTED: Inasmuch as the installer is not an option, the dealer (the only one in the state) seems clueless, and Jotul does not appear to deal directly with consumers, I have the following questions based on the above:

    1. Does it appear that the problem described can be addressed by installation of the fuel conversion and high altitude kits?

    2. If so, are the kits (Fuel Conversion Kit 155626; High Altitude Adjustment Kit for Propane 155809) available for consumer purchase, via the Internet or elsewhere?

    3. If the problem requires replacement of other parts suggested by the problem described (in addition to or in lieu of installation of the conversion/adjustment kits), are those parts available to the consumer?

    4. Does operation at altitude require BOTH installation of the High Altitude Adjustment Kit AND use of derated gas?

    THANK YOU in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer. This site/forum is an outstanding resource and I very much appreciate the opportunity to make use of it. I hope I have clearly provided sufficient information and will try to locate any additional information necessary to resolve the issues raised.

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  2. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    2,449
    Loc:
    Yukon Canada
    LP Conversion kit required with proper size burner orifice, pilot orifice and spring supplied to de-rate unit due to high elevation.
    There is no such thing as de-rated fuel. A manometer will be required to also complete this task.
    Gas valve model will dictate spring kit for manifold pressure adjustment.
    Good luck
  3. Expat808

    Expat808 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Volcano, HI
    Thanx for the response, North of 60, especially about the de-rated fuel. I'll concentrate on locating and installing the conversion/adjustment kits.
  4. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,903
    Loc:
    central maine
    those would be your best bet.. the click you are hearing is the pilot lifting off the thermocouple and thus not providing sufficent charge to keep it all going. the click is the electromagnet releasing and shutting down the valve.
  5. Expat808

    Expat808 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Volcano, HI
    Thanx, summit, great to hear from Central Maine; the Mid-coast is my home away from home.

    I've located a guy who appears to have the wherewithal to come take a look at the pilot and burner orifice to make sure they're what I need for propane and altitude. It looks like the dealer may even cover the expense of finishing what he started. I'm cautiously optimistic.
  6. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    What does your pilot flame look like?
    Is is strong, mostly blue & horizontal?
    Does it curl up at the end with a yellow tip?
    If it curls up, that's an indicator of a natural gas pilot spud
    (orifice) on a propane fueled unit...
    What kind of millivolts are you getting on the thermopile?
    Burner off 500-550mv is nearly ideal...
    Burner on should drop the reading by about 300mv...
    If the burner reading keeps dropping, it'll shut the burner down,
    but the pilot will stay lit.
  7. Expat808

    Expat808 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Volcano, HI
    Thanx for your post, DAKSY.

    The pilot appears normal in that it has the same shape/size depicted in both the opertaing manual and the article on this website.

    As for the milivolt levels, that's beyond my toolset, shall we say, but I will pass it on to the tech who is (supposed) to be coming for a look this week.

    After the click, BOTH the burner AND the pilot go out.
  8. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    Messages:
    7,492
    Loc:
    Salem NH
    Hello

    Here is a picture of a typical Gas Pilot Light Assembly.

    The red arrow points to the Thermocouple and the Yellow arrow points to the thermopile

    As long as the tech is coming, Have him make sure the Thermopile is clean and the Thermocouple is in good working shape!

    Attached Files:

  9. Expat808

    Expat808 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Volcano, HI
    Thanx, Don. The thermocouple is a narrow version of the thermopile and neither has accumulations of soot or any corrosion, etc. Sounds like from the other posts that and that the millivolt outputs from the termopile/couple need to be checked and the orifice sizes, as well.
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