Gappers on Motorhome Gas

Our Safefill Cylinder

NiKi our lovely motorhome

Has gas central heating, it works really well allowing for both hot water and a snug home. The gas also operates the fridge when we are not connected to the mains and lastly we have a gas hob and oven. So gas is vital for a happy home.

So gas is vital for a happy motorhoming experience.

What are the options?
If you are going to travel only in the UK or short trips abroad, you can use Calor gas, have a specific light weight Propane 5kg gas cylinder two of these will cover most short trips. They can only be sourced in in the UK. So if you go abroad make sure you have full ones.
If you are heading abroad for more than two weeks you have a problem. You can’t get refills of Calor gas outside the UK. So what do you do? You could buy cylinders in the country you are going to, or get yourself a LPG system (A gas tank strapped under your van) or refillable cylinders for you van.

So what did we do?

We went for a refillable cylinder, there are many suppliers of these including GasIT, Alugas, Gaslow and the one we chose Safefill. Some such as Gaslow can be installed as a external fill system and I think GasIT can as well. We went for the Safefill refillable as it was very light and the we met the owner of the company at the Campervan show last October and he was gent in explaining his product.

We did speak to GasIT and Gaslow people as well but they were not so helpful. So we ordered the smallest Safefill bottle and as were going to Spain a Spanish refill adaptor, this was delivered the next day. We have had no issues here in Spain refilling the cylinder and think what ever version you have here wolud not be a problem.

So what is it like in daily use?

Now we have been on the road for two months, we wish we had bought the midsized one and two of them. Why? The difference between LPG and propane that is why?

Our Safefill Cylinder
Our Safefill Cylinder

Let me explain, the cylinder takes only 8 litres of gas and when you get down to the last litre or so the central heating system does not like it. You see LPG is a mix of butane and propane, essentially when it is cold butane does not burn well, and so though the cooker and the fridge are happy, near the end of the bottle if it is below 12 degrees C, the central heating says gas failure and stops working after a few minutes. That said amazingly it still heats the whole van in that time.

So that is why is the small cylinder a problem plus the minimum sale is 5 litres, and empty the cylinder takes 8 litres maximum, so it has to be very empty to refill.
So but simply if you are traveling around Europe for longer than a couple of weeks, get a LPG system. Buy a as large a cylinder as will fit in your van and get two of them. Be aware of the Propane / Butane issue.

Where do you find LPG stations?

We use mylpg.eu they map virtually every LPG filling station in Europe. It is free to use as well. plus they have smartphone apps as well. a great site.
LASTLY don’t be as stupid as was when attempting to refill yesterday.

The procedure to refill a cylinder is as follows:
Turn off Gas
Disconnect cylinder from van
Attach Spanish connector
Connect gas filling hose
Turn the gas back on to fill. (I did not do this which caused the system to lock up) The attendant was only mildly amused as I had put 5c of gas into the converter! Remember the 5 litre minimum sale.
Fill Cylinder
Turn off Gas
Remove Spanish adaptor. (There will be a release of a small amount of ice cold gas when you do this so wear gloves!)
Reconnect cylinder to van
Turn on gas.
So you can check online how much a refill Calor gas is we paid £0.59 per litre in the UK and €0.59 in Spain. A 5kg Cylinder @ 80% holds 8 litres.
So you can see it is so much cheaper to use LPG

We hope this helps you on your tour, any questions ask us.
David and Karen

11 Comments

  1. Morning Gappers – very informative read – we have a Gaslow system and it is excellent however we also have an interior fill point and I am told that Italian LPG stations are refusing to gas when locker doors are opened. I haven’t got first hand knowledge of this only word of mouth but it is worth bearing in mind when researching a system.

  2. Good advice guys! The LPG systems we’ve used have taken about 32 litres and were the largest the vans could take, taking a hit on weight but adding much convenience. In winter Alpine conditions we’ve got through roughly 3l per 24 hours when off hook up; in summer the 32l capacity would last us a month or so off grid, much longer on campsites. Spain’s come on massively in terms of LPG availability, but some countries still lag behind (Morocco has no LPG refill stations, and they’re spread out in Eastern Europe), so a bigger system really comes into its own if touring countries with fewer refill facilities. We have GasIt with an external fill point, to avoid possible change in policy from refill stations, and have only been refused once in over 2 years, but we have a feeling the chap wanted to close up for lunch! The refill process also seems a bit simpler with the GasIt type system, no need to disconnect the bottles from the van at any point. Given a choice, I’d go for a single tank over two bottles, simpler to use, fewer parts to play up. Are you guys able to get a standard Spanish propane bottle alongside the refillable with an auto changeover valve? That way you could keep the refillable as a reserve? I’d consider that set up too if spending long periods skiing or in countries with few LPG options, or if you like to stay still for a few weeks at a time off grid. Greetings from a snow-filled sosta in Cherasco, Italia, waiting for the weather to clear so we can check out the hill towns to the south. keep on blogging folks, enjoy the sun, stay outta the mud . Cheers, Jay

    • I am taking delivery of an elddis 254 in 6 weeks time and would like to know if gas locker will take the large 10 kg bottles .one other question regarding van is how long is your awning elddis say the 254 needs a 3 meter one I would like a bigger one yours looks the correct size .all the best on your travels Dave

      • Many thanks for your reply due to the fact all safefill bottles are 305 mm diameter I will buy a middle size bottle for picking up van then buy large one if it I’ll fit.if you could post size of awning it would be appreciated as I would like it fitted before collection .i really enjoy reading your experiences in your home can’t wait to pick ours up next month regards Dave

  3. David and Karen, thanks for the information. I have Safefill bottles. Would you confirm the detail of the ‘Spanish adaptor’ you use. It appears to me it would need to be Male POL connector (Safefill bottle) to Female EUROCONNECTOR (Spain LPG e.g. Repsol filling station). Is that correct?
    Thanks,
    Danny

  4. Hello, I found your site when I was searching for information on Safefill and refilling it in Europe. We’re currently researching for a trip we’re planning ourselves with our two young daughters through Europe in 2018. I’d appreciate any feedback you have regarding refilling (or difficulty in doing so more importantly) in these countries : France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium. I think that about covers it and is roughly the route!

    Thanks in advance.

    • Michael,

      We are really sorry for the delay but here you go. We filled with ease in Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Belgium and Croatia. In Italy we filled three times but we were told each time it was not allowed. It is illegal to fill cylinders anywhere in Italy but we filled anyway! I know that there are many places on the Safefill website in the Netherlands.

      I am confident that you will be abale to fill everywhere but may be turned away from time to time. so be careful to make sure you have reserves.!

      all the very best David and Karen

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