30/05/2013
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Fitting LPG bottles in your motorhome

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There are lots of reasons for installing refillable LPG tanks or bottles in your motorhome and it’s not just about convenience. You will save money – roadside LPG is available from 60p to 70p per litre in the UK. Calor gas can cost you up to 100p per litre. Say no more.

You can top up at a lot more places than with bottles – I couldn’t find out exactly how many LPG sites there are in the UK but clearly there are thousands and still growing. Contrast that with the number of Calor stations.

It’s a lot less effort than swapping cylinders – just drive up, plug in and fill up. You can get LPG all around Europe – so you can tour for longer without running out of gas. Calor is restricted to the UK only.

These comments are not aimed at Calor especially, it just happens to be the dominant provider of bottled gas in the UK.

THE CONFUSING BITS

Let’s clear up two confusing areas. First – a vertical gas container can be called either a bottle or cylinder whereas horizontal containers, although essentially the same thing, are called tanks.

Secondly, LPG (or GPL in Europe) is neither butane nor propane – it is a mixture of both. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a natural hydrocarbon fuel made up of propane and butane gases.

Under pressure it liquefies easily but reverts to gas at atmospheric pressure.

This means it can be easily and conveniently stored as a liquid and, because LPG is 250 times denser as a liquid than as a gas, a lot of fuel can be stored in a relatively small space.

POWER ON TAP
Gas is, in many ways, the ideal fuel source – Calor says that one 15kg butane bottle will provide 3kW of energy for 68.5 hours.

It’s safe, provides a lot of energy for little storage and is ready ‘on tap’ when you need it. And, in the UK, it’s widely available when you run out.

However, if you want to tour abroad extensively it can be difficult as there are so many different gas suppliers, each with their own connection/bottle size.

It makes sense to install refillable bottles or a tank that you can fill at any roadside station.


TWO INSTALLATION OPTIONS...

OPTION 1 - A REMOTE TANK =
MORE DIFFICULT
I don’t really see the point of fitting another tank, entirely separate and remote from the existing exchangeable ones in the gas locker. Yes it will give you even more capacity but how far are you planning to be from an LPG station?

For protection you have to mount the tank at least 9in/375mm above the road. That’s difficult to achieve.

Secondly, separate tanks are expensive.

For example, one supplier quotes £795 for a 48-litre remote tank whereas the same supplier quotes £540 for a pair of refillable bottles that, combined, give 52-litres capacity.

OPTION 2 – REFILLABLE CYLINDERS = EASIER
Fit refillable bottles into the existing gas locker space. If you are going to invest in refillable bottles then you want to fit the largest you can get into your gas locker to gain the economies of buying the gas and the extended touring.

Be careful, though, a lot of ‘van makers quote gas locker sizes that are inaccurate so you need to be certain you can fit before you buy.

Measure your existing gas locker – our refillable bottles are 300mm diameter, a standard Calor 15kg butane is 318mm diam and 13kg propane is 315mm. If you are currently using two 15kg butane or 13kg propane bottles then there should be no problem.

Beware German ‘vans also – their common 11kg bottle is 305mm in diameter which often means that you cannot get two 13kg UK bottles into the locker.

If space is tight it pays to relocate the bottle holder strap/mouldings to make room in the locker for the hoses.

If you do relocate them take care – a full gas bottle is heavy and needs to be securely fixed so make sure you re-fit the holders above the halfway height of the bottles.

Be sure to buy only refillable bottles that have an auto shut off at 80 per cent full facility (usually found only on steel bottles). It’s a necessary safety feature.


For full fitting instructions and to read the full guide to fitting LPG tanks in your motorhome, read the July 2013 issue of MMM magazine.

For only £2.49 you can enjoy a digital copy of the July MMM now, just click here

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