Gas for Tent Campers

Most stoves, heaters and non-electric lanterns for camping are fuelled by liquified petroleum gas (LPG), normally referred to as gas. LPG comes as a liquid held under pressure in a cylinder or cartridge and only becomes a gas when released from the container. Sometimes the gas that is released from the cylinder has to be adjusted to a suitable pressure for the appliances to operate properly and this means using a regulator. When empty the cylinder or cartridge is discarded or exchanged for a full one. Two different gases are used – propane or butane – and these have slightly different characteristics.

The following information is a guide intended to help you with your choice and safe use of gas equipment.

Calor Gas Recall: An important notice for campers who use CalorLite cylinders: Calor Gas is issuing a product recall with immediate effect on all 6kg CalorLite cylinders made between 2008-2011 inclusive. All such cylinders must be returned to a local CalorLite stockist immediately.

Find more info on how to identify if your cylinder falls within the recall period.

Gas cartridges and cylinders for tent camping

gas_for_tentsFor simple cooking purposes many small camping stoves use disposable cartridges that screw or clip on to the equipment and power the device directly. When empty they are discarded (following disposal guidelines) and replaced. They come in two types – pierceable or with an integral valve – as well as a wide range of sizes, shapes and capacity.

When a pierceable cartridge is fitted to the appliance a hollow spike punctures the cartridge, which releases the gas to the appliance. Once fitted it cannot be removed without letting the gas escape. Pierceable cartridges of different makes are usually interchangeable, but they should comply with European Standard EN417 type 200.

More expensive, but generally safer and easier to use, are cartridges with an integral valve. They can be removed from the appliance when travelling, thus saving the gas inside as the valve reseals the cartridge. Most of these cartridges have screw fittings complying with EN417 type 200. Some appliance manufacturers provide unique cartridges and fittings that ties you in to that specific manufacturer for refills. If you choose one of these check the availability of refills in the area you’re travelling.

Other appliances use refillable cylinders that are larger gas containers (often called ‘bottles’) and require a clip-on or screw-on regulator to regulate the gas pressure delivered to the appliance. Probably the most popular and widely available range of gas cartridges and cylinders is the Campingaz range (see table 1).

Larger cylinders

For longer trips, some tent campers like to use cylinders with more capacity than the Campingaz range supplies. Table 2 on page 3 shows the various types of cylinders most commonly found in the UK and their weights and dimensions.

You also need to ensure you have the correct regulator to suit the type of gas and cylinder outlets. Butane regulators often have a simple clip-on regulator but large propane cylinders will normally need a spanner to fit them – and it will be a left-hand thread, so turning clockwise unscrews it. Normally butane camping appliances will require a 28mbar regulator and propane appliances a 30mbar or 37mbar regulator , but always check the appliance instructions.

While the larger sized cylinders may be marginally cheaper per unit of gas, the smaller units are usually preferable on the basis of ease of transport, safety in travel and stability when standing on the campsite.

Which gas?

The type of gas to use for camping depends mainly on the weather . Propane can be used all the year round while liquid butane is hard to turn to gas at anything below about 4C. Now that the price of the two gases is very similar there’s little advantage to buying butane, though you do get marginally more energy from a butane cylinder than a propane one of the same volume. Many of the smaller cartridges will have a mixture of propane and butane that should be suitable for most activities all year round.

Touring abroad

Check before you travel for the rules that may apply to carrying gas cylinders, for example on ferries or through the Channel Tunnel. You cannot carry any pressurised gas cartridge or cylinder on an aircraft. LPG supplies in Europe are generally different from UK and you may not be able to exchange your brand of cylinders. One of the advantages of Campingaz is its wide availability in Europe. The company has a useful website (see contacts, page 4) that allows you to locate Campingaz outlets abroad. Many Coleman gas products are also available throughout Europe.

Maintenance

All gas appliances need regular checking to ensure they are operating safely. Generally with simple camping gas equipment you need to be sensible about using them.

Make sure all connections are secure and never use an appliance that appears to be leaking. Inspect all hoses regularly for signs of cracking or other deterioration and replace them at least every five years. The date of manufacture should be stamped on the hose. Check the hose clamps are sound.

Disposable

Campingaz
cylinder
number
C206 CP250 CV270 CV300 CV470
LPG weight
in grams
190 250 230 240 450
Attachment
to appliance
Pierceable
single use
Self-sealing
valve
Self-sealing
valve
Self-sealing
valve
Self-sealing
valve
Type of gas Butane/
Propane
mix
Isobutane Butane/
Propane
mix
Butane/
Propane
mix
Butane/
Propane
mix
  gas_c206 gas_cp250 gas_cv300 gas_cv300 gas_cv470

Rechargeable

Campingaz
cylinder
number
901 904 907
LPG weight in kg. 0.4 1.8 2.75
Attachment to appliance CG6 Screw-on regulator CG6 Screw-on regulator CG6 Screw-on regulator
Type of gas Butane Butane Butane
  gas_901 gas_904 gas_907

Common gas cylinders and weights

Butane

Type Calor Flogas Flogas Calor
LPG weight (kg) 4.5 4.5 7 7
Total cylinder weight when full (kg) 10.2 10.7 15.3 16
Height (mm) 340 340 495 495
Diameter (mm) 240 240 256 256
  gas_cylinder_01 gas_cylinder_02 gas_cylinder_03 gas_cylinder_04

Propane

Type Calor Flogas Calor Lite BP Gas Lite
LPG weight (kg) 6 6 6 5
Total cylinder weight when full (kg) 15 14.3 10.5 8.7
Height (mm) 495 495 495 393
Diameter (mm) 256 256 256 305
  gas_cylinder_06 gas_cylinder_07 gas_cylinder_08 gas_cylinder_09

Safety

LPG should be a safe product if properly handled and used. It is non-toxic and will only burn when sufficient air is present, but then it is highly flammable.

Cooking inside a tent is not advisable, unless a suitable cooking area is provided such as one in a trailer tent with kitchen annex and plenty of ventilation. Modern synthetic fabrics used for tents have many advantages but tend to be far more susceptible to heat damage than cotton canvas. Cooking outside can be done under a porch canopy, but make sure the appliance is kept well away from the tent fabric.

Ventilation is important as gas appliances give off the products of combustion and can therefore be dangerous inside a tent, especially if used for long periods. Remember they will use oxygen as they burn, so even a gas lantern can eventually dangerously deplete the breathable air inside. Modern tents, especially those with sewn-in groundsheets, have ventilation designed for people, not gas appliances.

Great care needs to be taken when changing cylinders or cartridges. Make sure you are familiar with the way the cartridge or cylinder fits on the appliance or regulator and always carry out the changeover in the open air, never in a tent or building. Dispose of empty gas containers with care. Never throw them on a fire because any gas residue could lead to an explosion. If you suspect an appliance or gas container is leaking, particularly if liquid gas starts to spray out, get everyone away from the appliance until the container is empty and the gas has dispersed naturally.

When travelling and on site ensure the cylinder or cartridge is kept well away from any source of heat or ignition. Keep it upright at all times (unless it’s designed to be used otherwise) and away from damp, dirt, dust or anything that could damage the container or its valve equipment. If you have the use of a trailer keep the gas supply in there and not in the car and avoid keeping a cylinder in your tent over night.

Remember:

  • NEVER use a naked flame to look for leaks. A pungent smell is added to the gas to make it easy to detect. The gas is heavier than air and will pool on the ground.
  • If a pierceable cartridge leaks, allow it to empty naturally in a well-ventilated area and do not attempt to disconnect or reconnect it.
  • Always turn off the gas on a conventional cylinder before disconnecting for travel.
  • Never smoke when changing cylinders or cartridges.
  • Make sure all ventilation spaces are clear of obstructions.
  • Site gas appliances away from flammable materials before lighting and never move them when lit.
  • Carry a suitable fire blanket and/or fire extinguisher, know how to use it and make sure it hasn’t passed its expiry date.

Useful contacts

BP
0845 300 0038
www.bp.com

Calor Gas
Athena House, Athena Drive,
Tachbrook Park
Warwick
CV34 6RL
0800 626626
www.calor.co.uk

Campingaz UK
01275 845024
www.campingaz.com

Coleman UK
Parish Wharf Estate, Harbour Road,
Portishead
Bristol
BS20 9DA
01275 845024
www.coleman.eu

Flogas UK
Rayns Way, Watermead Business Park
Syston
Leicestershire
LE7 1PF
0800 574574
www.flogas.co.uk

Gaslow
Castle Business Park, Pavilion Way
Loughborough
LE11 5GW
0845 400 0600
www.gaslow.co.uk

*Please note inclusion on these pages does not constitute endorsement by The Camping and Caravanning Club.

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