Our appliances (fridge, hob, hot water and heating) all run off the gas. Whilst, this gives us the freedom to wild camp, it also creates a problem, if the gas runs out. This is exactly what happened to us in Santander when we first hit the road.
Little did we know, that exchanging our German propane bottle for a Spanish one would cause us such a headache. We have since learnt there are several gas connections across Europe. The learning curve involved a fractious 24-hours driving round Santander. Firstly, we had to find the correct regulator and then we had to get a propane bottle. Since, I’m here writing this we did live to tell the tale! So, what are the options when it comes to gas?
Travelling with all your gas requirements for a short trip isn’t likely to be an issue. However, for longer trips it’s neither practical nor safe. In addition to probably being illegal and/or invalidating your insurance. At some point you are going to have to replace your bottles.
Here are some of the issues with replaceable bottles:
- There are several different connections across Europe. We now have a pack of adapters that should enable us to use our German regulator with any European gas bottle.
- Each time you buy a bottle in a new country you have to pay a deposit on the bottle. If you don’t return the bottle, then you lose your deposit. This can soon add up at 15-20 Euros a bottle.
- In some of the southern European countries finding propane can be an issue. Initially, we got propane because we thought that was what you were supposed to use but it turns out it’s a bit more scientific than that! Butane, whilst burning more efficiently doesn’t like cold temperatures. Anything below about -2 degrees centigrade and it stops working. Given, as I write this we have been on the road for 3 months over the European winter, propane remains our gas of choice.
The main alternative is a refillable system which runs of LPG (a propane/butane mix) which is readily available in petrol stations. The Gaslow system is the recognised name in the market but GasIt and Safefill are other alternatives.
The main argument for installing a LPG system is the cost of LPG is cheaper and there are no lost deposits. However, purchasing the system and installing it (even if you self-install which I would be reluctant to do) is in the region of £550-600 for the system with installation being approximately £150-200.
Whilst, we were tempted (even more so after having no gas), the reason that we haven’t installed a refillable system comes down to cost. We have a 20 year old van and we are unlikely to recoup our installation costs through usage or re-sale.