Gas for winter

Mar 14, 2005
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As we are approaching the winter season and temperatures are likely fall close too or below freezing, caravanners need to be aware of the need to think about switching from Butane to Propane gas for their camping and caravanning needs.

Old hands may be aware of the problem with trying to use Butane in low temperatures but we have seen but several new caravanners posting on the forum, and it may be worth raising the matter again.

When we encounter ambient temperatures that approach or go sub zero, some campers, caravanners and boat users discover their appliances stop working.

The typical scenario is the user wakes up and tries to make a cup of tea or turn on the heating. They turn on heater or the cooker and start to heat the kettle. After a few minuets the flame goes out. The suspicion is the gas bottle must be empty. When they check the bottle by swishing it they find its still got liquid inside, but not enough gas comes out.

I have received many calls from customers with this complaint and the typical comment is "my gas has frozen".

As far as the user is concerned that describes what seems to have happened, but scientifically the gas hasn't "frozen" its actually just reduced (or stopped) its boiling, The vapour pressure in the bottle is too low and its because the Butane bottle is too cold.

FACTS
In practice the vapour pressure in an Liquefied Petroleum Gas bottle is determined by the temperature of the bulk of the liquefied content in the bottle.

As you use the gas vapour, the liquefied content uses some of its heat energy (Temperature) to boil and produce more vapour to try to replenish the vapour used from the bottle. In doing so the liquefied content looses some temperature. If this process continues. the temperature continues to fall and eventually that will reduce the pressure to atmospheric and no more gas will be liberated.

Normally the LPG bottle will transfer heat from the ambient atmosphere into the liquefied content thus sustaining the vaporisation process. But if the external ambient cannot provide enough energy (Temperature) the bottle will reduce or in extreme case stop producing gas vapour.

Bottled Butane will start to become unreliable at ambient temperatures of 4C and below
Bottled Propane will continue to provide gas down to about ambient's of minus 35C

What to do

If you intend to go winter caravanning pre-empt the problem by switching to Propane LPG. Depending on the age of your caravan, you will either need a new regulator (37mBar) for older caravans with regulators on bottles, or for more recent 30mBar caravans, a new pigtail. Certainly for all UK caravans produced since the 1970's there should be no adjustments needed to any of the appliances to run either Butane or Propane.

If this happens to you;

Don't panic - you actually need to get some heat into the gas bottle, and simply pouring a litre or so of water (even cold from inside the caravan) over the gas bottle can help to liberate enough gas to perhaps boil a kettle. However do not pour water over the regulator.

Let the sun shine on the gas bottles, and as the day warms up the gas pressure will improve.

DO NOT wrap up the gas bottles to keep them warm - the exterior of bottle needs access to the ambient air to collect heat from it. If you insulate it; it makes the problem worse.
 
May 24, 2014
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Very good advice and a good point to raise, though I personally havent seen anyone on Butane for a long long time. I think most caravanners use propane these days.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Calor blue bottle sales are still quite substantial, so there must be a significant number still using it.
Of course if they're are only fair weather users then its not a problem.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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We changed over to propane for all year needs around 2005 when we took delivery of a new van with far better insulation than our previous ones.
 
Jun 20, 2017
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We van all year round so have used propane for many years with no issues whatsover, even the beast from the east didnt stop us (well it stopped us towing the van home but that wasnt an issue, just left on site with heating on very low to prevent freezing and collected a few days later)

good advice all the same Prof

Kevin
 
Oct 12, 2013
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I've only ever used the blue calor bottles ? never had a problem with it and tour all year round but thinking about it now , once this one runs down and is due for exchange , i might go on to propane :blink:
 
Mar 27, 2011
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I have a vague memory of exchanging a butane blue gas bottle when purchasing a propane, memory’s a bit foggy but I think bottles are interchangeable for some sizes but there’s a confusing list that tells you what can be swapped for what which could save you taking out a new agreement.

BP
 
Mar 14, 2005
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You don't have to swap your Blue for Red, you could of course buy/rent an additional Propane, and it doesn't have to be Calor, there are several other suppliers of Propane.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Thingy said:
Buy an empty one of Ebay, no need for an agreement. Just take the empty for a swap.

Busy doing a lot of decorating in the house so back and forward to the local council tip with my trailer , I think I will pay attention to the bottle bank where they are normally empty gas bottles there !! ;)
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Craigyoung said:
I've only ever used the blue calor bottles ? never had a problem with it and tour all year round but thinking about it now , once this one runs down and is due for exchange , i might go on to propane :blink:
:woohoo: :silly:
A timely reminder Prof, :)
Been on propane for decades. Never had any problems . That said the calor gas fire in my workshop runs on Butane by choice.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Same as Craig two vans back i had a van serviced and bought a Calorlite propane cylinder. The Calorlite was invoiced within the overall bill and never had a rental agreement. But the service Center still have it in record fircehen the new Calor bottle hits the streets. If it ever does in Spring 2019!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I will not debate this issue, but no one has the right to sell a Calor bottle. They are rented to you and remain the sole property of Calor Gas.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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:S :S
ProfJohnL said:
I will not debate this issue, but no one has the right to sell a Calor bottle. They are rented to you and remain the sole property of Calor Gas.

Cannot really understand why you felt the need to make this post. I obtained my Calorlite from an NCC Approved Center who are also a Calor approved supplier. You have taken my word "bought" too literally. Who says that they "have just been along to their dealer and rented a new Calorlite bottle, and bought 6kg of propane too" ? The price for the filled bottle was exactly the combined sum of the "rental" plus gas. So no rental agreement was provided, probably a paperwork oversight, but nowhere in my post did I indicate that the bottle wasn't the property of Calor. There's a thriving market for used bottles on EBay, and the CMHC classifieds et al even though rental agreements aren't transferable and bottles are being bought and sold.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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ProfJohnL said:
I will not debate this issue, but no one has the right to sell a Calor bottle. They are rented to you and remain the sole property of Calor Gas.
According to Calor, the cylinders are sold to you, not rented. T&Cs apply.
This is from their Contract conditions.
3. Cylinders remain the property of the Company at all times and may only be filled by the Company

The company makes the cylinder(s) available to the user as a means of safely transporting and storing the gas supplied. This agreement is not a rental agreement and it does not provide the user with title in the cylinder. The user will not part with possession or control of the cylinder(s) (other than to a CALOR outlet) nor claim to have any rights that conflict with this agreement, nor create or purport or attempt to create any agency or bailment in relation to the cylinder(s) or to the user’s obligations.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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Probably not common amongst caravanners, but what about Campingaz? That has a Butane/Propane mix, but I cannot find any information that details the minimum ambient operating temperature. I used to take a Campingaz 907 bottle with a Camping Chef hob/grill to cook on, albeit for fair-weather touring.

When I got my Sprite, I was given Propane with no choice on the matter. (the dealer pack included a full Gas Bottle) I assume the propane pigtail was fitted from factory.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Quote " I assume the propane pigtail was fitted from factory."

No, caravans have the pigtail fitted by the dealer during the PDI so as to allow the choice of Propane or Butane.

I assume the dealer you bought from just decided that Propane was the better of the two, and rightly so for all year use.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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That's why we are still on blue as when we part ex'd our old van to what we have now , our old bottle which was practically new went into the new van.
 
Jun 20, 2017
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When we bought our new van last year we were requested to bring along our Leisure battery and Pigtail/Gas bottle for the demonstration / fitting.

Kevin.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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otherclive said:
:S :S
ProfJohnL said:
I will not debate this issue, but no one has the right to sell a Calor bottle. They are rented to you and remain the sole property of Calor Gas.

Cannot really understand why you felt the need to make this post...

My post was aimed at those who are suggesting buying secondhand Calor Gas cylinders and those who feel it is legal to sell someone else's property.
 
Mar 27, 2011
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I wonder how many times the same people will raise the issue of selling used calor bottles on here? it’s pointless in my opinion going on about it being illegal to sell a used bottle because if calor wanted to stop it they wouldn’t have any problem as they’d just have to respond to the adverts, if I put an advert on eBay offering to sell stolen goods or illegally imported tobacco or booze the advert would be removed almost immediately and probably the details passed to the relavent people, what happens with calor bottles? Absolutely nothing, do you not get fed up of banging on the same drum time after time?
 
Sep 29, 2016
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I ran out of gas on a caravan site, said site did not stock my brand of gas cylinder, I purchased the only available brand (not widely used or available - another bit of sharp practice by the caravan site and yes it was in Scotland) and the appropriate gas valve etc.

It was a 'rental' agreement with a diminishing time dependent return value and a value-less return value after 3 years if I recall correctly, was I miffed?..........yes.

Would I return it to the manufacturer F.O.C. after I had emptied the contents of said cylinder.............no bloody chance.............I paid the full amount.........got nothing back and ended up dumping at at the recycle centre or giving it away.

Would I have been morally wrong to give the cylinder to someone who may have had a use for it, I don't feel so and I don't care what others think of that, I paid the full amount for the cylinder, I did not plan to keep it displayed on top of my TV forever more, the 'rental' agreement (and the associated charges incurred by me) was nothing more than sharp practice in my view.

BTW, never did return to that caravan site on Loch Linnhe - shysters.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Anseo said:
I ran out of gas on a caravan site, said site did not stock my brand of gas cylinder, I purchased the only available brand (not widely used or available - another bit of sharp practice by the caravan site and yes it was in Scotland) and the appropriate gas valve etc.

It was a 'rental' agreement with a diminishing time dependent return value and a value-less return value after 3 years if I recall correctly. was I miffed?..........yes.

Would I return it to the manufacturer F.O.C. after I had emptied the contents of said cylinder.............no bloody chance.............I paid the full amount.........got nothing back and ended up dumping at at the recycle centre or giving it away.

Would I have been morally wrong to give the cylinder to someone who may have had a use for it, I don't feel so and I don't care what others think of that, I paid the full amount for the cylinder, I did not plan to keep it displayed on top of my TV forever more, the 'rental' agreement (and the associated charges incurred by me) was nothing more than sharp practice in my view.

Our local recycling Center is full of used butane and propane bottles from numerous suppliers. Guess they all go to some sorting facility where they are emptied and probably scrapped unless the various makers pay for a job lot of their bottles to be sent back to them.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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We once ran out at Poolsbrook club site , the site did not stock gas but had a place / number they sent people to just incase , it was a kinda tool hire place , i just handed them my empty and got a full one back . Didn't cost much either .
 

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