24/05/2013
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Quick guide to connecting camping gas

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Steel gas bottles hold fuel in the form of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), which is a by-product of refining petrol.

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Understanding gas

As high pressure is needed, a regulator adjusts that pressure when the gas is released by opening the control valve; the most popular options in the gas bottle stakes are Campingaz and Calor Gas. The two gas options are propane and butane; there is a negligible difference in price and many appliances can be used with either without any modification. However, as propane is used at a higher pressure than butane, it is not possible to change from one gas to the other without also changing to a different regulator.

The key difference between them in use is that propane will not freeze – useful for winter and high altitude camping. In practice, most people use butane and the Campingaz 907 bottle is recognised around the world – Calor Gas can only be readily obtained in the UK. As gas bottles are refillable, they are, in fact, only hired with a fairly high initial cost compared to the cost of the gas only. After that initial cost, you exchange an empty bottle for a full one, paying only for the gas.


Hoses

Gas bottles are connected to appliances with a regulator and a tough flexible rubber hose. Hoses supplied in Europe have the hose replacement date printed along their length. In the UK, hoses are made to British Standard 3212 and feature the date of manufacture. Hoses should be checked regularly for damage, splitting and perishing and replaced every three-four years. Always use jubilee clips to attach the hose securely.

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Regulators

Bottles hold liquid gas at high pressure. It vapourises to a gas and passes through a regulator that changes the pressure to the right level. Different suppliers and types of LPG require different regulators to control the flow of fuel to the appliance. Campingaz uses a regulator that screws directly to the gas bottle; Calor Gas uses a locking nut system that needs a spanner to effect a tight connection.


Leaks

Although LPG is not poisonous, it can end up killing unsuspecting people by displacing oxygen in enclosed places and can cause sickness if inhaled.


Stay safe

  • Handle gas bottles carefully to avoid damage
  • Use bottles in an upright position only
  • Never try to refill a bottle – it appears impossible but has been tried
  • Keep bottles well away from heat
  • Only use gas appliances in ventilated areas.
  • Do not change bottles in enclosed spaces
  • Disconnect the bottle when travelling


Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is given off when a stove burns gas and is potentially lethal. You cannot see, smell or taste it and that is why lighting a stove inside a zipped up tent for warmth is so dangerous - the fire hazard is obvious. If you develop unexplained symptoms of drowsiness, headaches, chest pains, giddiness, sickness or stomach pains are clues to poisoning.


Top tip

As the connection needs to be tight, fitting the hose to the regulator and stove can prove to be quite difficult. Coating the gas pipes with washing up liquid will help. Make sure the hose is on the pipe as far as it will go before tightening the clip. Fit the hose to the regulator first as it is easier to manoeuvre than a stove.


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