The Great Gas Debate Part 2 and How We Solved It

Back in February 2019, we’d reached the conclusion that we weren’t going upgrade our gas system to a fixed refillable system such as Gaslow see our post: Van Life: Let’s talk gas.

Then, we started looking at the price of replacing our gas bottles in the UK and discovered that we were looking at an initial outlay of £82.50 followed by £42.50 per refill. A nasty shock and somewhat more costly that the 15-20€ we’d been paying on the Continent!

The hunt was on for an alternative. Those of you who have undertaken the same exercise as us will know that much has been written on the subject. I happened upon a Facebook post where someone recommended refillable bottles. When I first mentioned it to Doug he was completely against it. Whilst, I understood his concerns; neither of us like messing about with anything involving gas, I was equally concerned about the economics of our full-time van lifestyle given the price of gas.

The timing of our predicament coincided nicely with the summer Caravan and Camping Show circuit and so we set out to investigate our options more thoroughly.

So what were our options?

Our options could be briefly summarised as installing a fixed refillable systems such as Gaslow, removable refillable bottles such as Safefill or accepting we were going to have to pay for Calor gas.  I’d already decided the latter was off the cards.

What did we choose?

We spent hours talking to vendors and visiting various stalls before deciding that the Safefill 10kg lightweight bottle (which holds 19.5L of gas) was our best option.

Why did we go for the Safefill option?
It's removable

As those of you who have read our original post will know Rosie is 21 and whilst we haven’t found anything we like more (and Issy is vying to inherit her for her 18th birthday) we didn’t want to over capitalise by putting in a fixed system should we decide to upgrade.

With this, if we upgrade or decide that van life is no longer for us we can simply transfer the gas bottle to another vehicle, static caravan or gas BBQ.

There are no installation costs

You literally hook-up the gas bottle in the same way as you would a replaceable Calor gas bottle.

It's cheap to refill

Since buying it in July we’ve only completely filled it once which cost about £11.00 and we topped it up recently which cost us £7.00. Admittedly, we weren’t living in the van between mid-November and mid-January so the gas usage was nil but that is still pretty good.

It's easy to refill

We’ve used two different petrol stations to refill the bottle and neither has challenged us. We use the app for a list of LPG suppliers.

No more worrying about refilling our gas bottles in Europe

Those of you who have traveled on the continent will already know that each country has it’s own type of gas connection. For those of you who are planning to go to the continent you need to know about this. We didn’t…Consequently we spent a frantic 24 hours driving round Santander trying to get a new bottle and connection. Whilst this can be largely avoided by getting the adapters before you leave the UK, it’s definitely something to bear in mind.

Now for the economics

Our initial outlay was £220.00 for a 10kg lightweight bottle and four adapters for European use. Based on the current cost of Calor gas, we only have to buy 5.5  bottles of calor gas before we have broken even. 

Whilst we talking about gas a quick reminder about carbon monoxide

Given that we are full-time van lifers we have fitted a combined fire and Carbon Monoxide. It’s more for peace of mind that necessity but given the silent nature of this killer better to be safe than sorry.

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