For most people, having a campervan gas system is going to be pretty essential. It’s likely how you’ll be fuelling your cooking. And maybe your hot water as is our case. Here’s all about our motorhome LPG system, including how we installed and made sure it’s safe.
Disclaimer: We’re not professional plumbers. All the skills we employed in converting our van are completely self taught. So, basically, if you follow what we did and something goes wrong, like you err… blow up your van. That’s on you. Just saying.
Campervan Gas System
Our van build setup consists of an underslung gas tank with an external fill point. It feeds up into the van to a double isolator valve. With one gas pipe running off to our hot water heater and another running back out, underneath the van and then back in to feed our cooker.
That’s the simple version anyway – there’s a few more parts to it. But we’ll discuss each of them in detail down below.
What is LPG?
LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Stored under pressure the gas is in its liquid phase which takes up less space. But comes out of the gas tanks in its gas phase. This is what your appliances will need to run off.
There are three types of LPG. Butane, which is stored in blue bottles, and propane, stored in red bottles. And then Autogas which is a mixture of the two, but usually contains more propane.
Propane is more versatile as it can be used at much lower temperatures. Up to -40˚C in fact. You can’t use butane at temperatures lower than 0˚C as it doesn’t change from its liquid state into its usable vapour state.
In the UK, Autogas is widely available and is usually a minimum of 90% propane. In Europe, the makeup of Autogas can vary to sometimes 50/50. With it fluctuating throughout the year dependent on the season.
Autogas is the type of LPG that we have in our campervan gas system.
DIY LPG Installation
If you consider yourself to be a competent person, here in the UK you can undertake your own gas work, in your own vehicle. If you plan on hiring it out, you will however need to get your campervan gas system installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
For peace of mind, you can get your self installed LPG system checked over by a Gas Safe registered engineer as we did. But you should check before starting it that the business is happy to inspect someone else’s work.
These were the regulations as at the time we did our campervan LPG installation, but please check up to date information for your specific build.
It is illegal to install your own campervan propane system in some countries so if you don’t live in the UK, be sure to thoroughly check out your local regulations.
Refillable LPG Tank
As already mentioned, we have an LPG tank mounted underneath our van. Mainly because we had a better space for it outside than inside. It also meant we didn’t need to install a gas locker.
Because underslung LPG cylinders are refillable, having this type of van propane tank means we also don’t have issues while travelling through Europe with not being able to exchange country specific gas bottles.
You simply add the adaptor at the fillpoint to match the local LPG nozzle. LPG is sold at most filling stations throughout Europe and is usually way cheaper than bottled gas.
If you are planning on travelling in Europe but prefer to put your campervan gas tank inside, you can get upright refillable gas tanks from Gaslow and Alugas in the UK. They sell adaptors that work the same way. And the tanks can be fitted to an external fill point.
Either way motorhome refillable gas systems are definitely the way to go.
Motorhome Gas Tank Size
For the Eurotunnel and most ferry companies, gas quantity is limited to 47kg or 93ltr for a single container and 50kg for multiples. With each being no more than 80% full.
Our motorhome gas tank size is 40ltr, which when 80% full holds 16kg of LPG. It’s a pretty massive tank. And it means we only have to fill it up every few months as it lasts ages.
Note, you should also turn the main gas control valve to off before embarking on either.
Campervan LPG Components
As promised here’s a complete list of the full makeup of our campervan gas system:
|40Ltr Caratank (270x792mm)||1||View Now|
|Flat to Floor Hoop Bracket Pair||1||View Now|
|Rubber Fixing Strips||Pair||View Now|
|Tank Frame Mounting Kit||1||View Now|
|1.5m Filler Hose||1||View Now|
|Sill Mounted Filler Box||1||View Now|
|Stainless Steel Pigtail||1||View Now|
|30mbar Cavagna Regulator||1||View Now|
|8mm Plastic Coated Copper Pipe||9m||View Now|
|2 Branch LPG Manifold||1||View Now|
|Pipe Clips Fitting Kit||1||View Now|
|8mm Straight Connector (For Oven)||1||View Now|
|Gauge Sender||1||View Now|
|Livello Fill Indicator||1||View Now|
|Filler Adaptor Set||1||View Now|
|LPG Sticker||1||View Now|
UK LPG Specialists
We bought all of our campervan gas system from a company in North Yorkshire called Autogas2000. And we couldn’t recommend them enough.
After an email consultation they put together a tailored LPG kit for us and we went and picked it up. At which point they ran through the whole installation process with us, provided written instructions and assured us they were just at the end of the phone if we had any issues.
Which was so handy when we had a couple of things we needed further clarification about.
Once installed, we took it back to the workshop and they checked everything out. Making sure we didn’t have any leaks and that the tank was at the right angle. They even included spraying the LPG tank with the required rubberised paint to prevent stone chip damage.
Seriously, they couldn’t have been more helpful.
Another big UK LPG specialist is Gas It. Personally I wasn’t that impressed with their customer service over the phone but we know a lot of van builders who use them. Maybe I just caught someone on a bad day.
There’s also the LPG shop who have a build your own LPG kit on their website which is super handy. They’re also happy to answer questions over email.
Van Propane System Safety
Other than obviously installing your campervan gas system correctly, there’s a few additional components you should include for safety.
First up you must install gas drop out vents near to all of your gas appliances. The is so that if a leak occurs, the gas, which is heavier than air, will go outside of your van. Very important for all motorhome lpg systems.
Secondly, be sure to install a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can be produced from a faulty burning fuel device or if it hasn’t been installed incorrectly. It’s an odourless gas so you won’t know it’s there. A silent killer indeed.
Adequate ventilation in your converted van is also an essential.
Propane + Oxygen = Carbon Dioxide + Water + Heat. That’s how it works.
Now Carbon Dioxide is present in low volumes all around us as a natural greenhouse gas. However, inhaling it in concentration is extremely harmful for health so you want that by product out of our van.
Also if there isn’t enough oxygen present, LPG will also not be able to burn efficiently – which can produce Carbon Monoxide as an unwanted byproduct. So yeah extractor fan on and window open, get some fresh air flowing when using your gas cooker.
Lastly, fire protection. We have both a fire blanket and a fire extinguisher in our van. Hopefully neither of which we ever have to use.
Pros & Cons of DIY LPG Install
Okay first off let’s go with the benefits of a DIY campervan LPG installation. Top of the list, or at least it was for us, is the cost saving. By doing it ourselves we therefore saved ourselves several hundred pounds.
It also means that we know everything about our campervan gas system. So if anything does break down the road we should have a good idea about what it is and how to fix it.
Now for the cons. If like us you don’t have access to a ramp, working underneath the van can be really quite tricky. There were more than a few expletives used while we were trying to get the rubber straps to hold in place whilst twisting the camper LPG tank to the required angle.
Compared to having it installed by a professional service, it’s also a time consuming process. It took us a good few days. So there’s also that to consider. Further more, as mentioned above, you won’t be able to rent it out if you ever have plans to do that.
P.S. Some links in this post are affiliate links. So if you buy through them we may earn a small commission from the seller. It’s at no extra cost to you so is a lovely way to say thanks for the free info we’re providing here.
If you have any questions don’t be shy about hitting us up in the comments and we’ll do our best to help.
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