A lot of information on the internet would suggest that swapping out your replaceable gas bottles for a refillable system is an upgrade that would benefit everyone, but as with many things the reality is a little more complicated…..

We use standard, replaceable propane cylinders in our van, and I’ll explain why shortly. Firstly lets look at some of the benefits of a refillable gas system:-

  • Cheaper gas
  • Ability to fill up at petrol stations in any county
  • Ability to easily ‘top up’ so you start a trip will full cylinders, where doing the same with replaceable cylinders may mean swapping out part full cylinders
  • No more lifting/carrying of heavy gas cylinders

There are a number of refillable gas systems on the market, the most popular ones in the UK seem to be Gaslow and Gas-IT

The alternative being the humble replaceable cylinder, lets look at the economics of each system:-

To be fair, I have assumed we are starting from scratch for each system:-

Gaslow 2x 11kg kit compete with European adapters = £621

Flogas 2x11kg cylinders with propane to 21.8LH adapter to allow continental cylinders to be used = £72.24

Current Flogas Propane cost is £2.89/kg when buying 11kg cylinders, current average UK LPG cost is £0.62/litre, which is approx £1.21/kg

This means you save ~£39.86 every complete fill and have to get through x27.5 replaceable Propane cylinders before you have broken even and start to save money – if you already have standard cylinders it’s closer to x31 cylinders

costs checked early 2019, my best top gear maths applied…….

You can see from the above if you get through a handful of cylinders a year you’re not going to save any money from a refillable system for a long time! – of course if you are fulltiming and/or a heavy user of gas this time will be shorter

The main reason for us not using a refillable system however is that we use our van in the winter in the mountains. LPG bought on the continent is a mixture of Propane and Butane, and Butane is not suitable for very cold weather (it boils at around 0 (zero) degrees centigrade, below this temperature it will stay as a liquid and not vaporise as it needs to, Propane by comparison is good down to -42 degrees centigrade)

There is a useful website that shows the various LPG mixtures around Europe here: https://www.mylpg.eu/useful/lpg-mixture

The other reason we don’t use a refillable system is availability – the vast majority of petrol stations in the mountains do not have LPG pumps (probably for the reason above), it can be a long drive down into the valley and back for a refill – and when it’s well below freezing outside your 22kg of LPG may only last ~10 days!. Replaceable cylinders however are easily found in most mountain resorts – there is often a chap in a van that comes round every night supplying them to Motorhomes in need!

Clearly most of our reasons for not wanting a refillable system is based around our winter camping in the mountains – if you don’t venture to the mountains it probably doesn’t apply to you. But then the questions is why are you not enjoying the mountains?!? – you’re missing out!

What are your thoughts? – anything I have missed?, let me know below…….

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