Why are gas cylinder tanks red

Gas tank in the bottle crate

In the original version, our WHATABUS had a bottle crate for two 11 kg gas bottles when it was taken over. We thought relatively quickly whether a gas tank would be a worthwhile conversion for our motorhome.

Disadvantages of the gas bottles

From our point of view, we only had disadvantages with the two 11 kg gas bottles:

  • Constantly changing the bottles - especially in winter - combined with a trip to the hardware store if you don't want to collect replacement bottles at home.
  • Nocturnal unplugging: Of course, one gas bottle is always empty in the middle of the night in the worst weather. Then you have to get out and screw the connection to the second bottle.
  • To be on the safe side, change a bottle that is still half full before a tour and give away the contents.
  • If you have bicycles on the back of the van, they are pretty much in the way when changing.
  • You always have to clear out the bottle crate if you also use it as storage space.
  • The price for the gas in 11 kg bottles is significantly higher than that for LPG.

The solution to these disadvantages:

We quickly made the decision that we were tired of carrying bottles and wanted to convert to a tank that we can fill at any LPG filling station.

For this we wanted to use the existing box for the gas bottles (i.e. no underfloor tank) and at that time not install the external refueling in the body panel or the plastic cladding - it should be directly on the outside of the bottle crate.

Some workshops wanted that Outside refueling so do not install or insisted on installing underfloor at unreasonably high prices.

To prepare an offer and to determine which tank fits in our bottle crate, we drove by a workshop. In our WHATABUS there was enough space for an 18 kg tank (44 liters). Overall, the installation cost a good 700 € (about 2 years ago, so the price is no longer current).

When the right tank and installation materials had been delivered, we drove back to the workshop. While we were bathing and sunbathing at the nearby lake for a few hours, the tank was installed.

In the workshop there is also the necessary gas test and change of the test certificate for installation. So you save yourself the trip to the gas detector.

We haven't dragged any bottles since then! And thanks to the small display on the tank, we always know how much gas is left.

And we still have a lot of space in the gas locker for tools etc .:

Since we have made some modifications to the bus in the meantime, another hole in the sheet metal doesn't really hurt anymore. And it is also much more pleasant to refuel if you don't always have to keep the rear doors open and have to lead the gas hose through the bottom in a complicated way.

That is why we decided in autumn 2017 to relocate the external refueling from the gas locker to the rear left in the sheet metal. In addition, all doubts that were still expressed about the permissibility of external refueling are now definitely out of the way (even if, when reading the regulations, I still believe that the original version is permissible).

At Vascos Campervan Service in Hanover, the whole thing was rebuilt very quickly. But I still wouldn't do it myself without an expert.

How does refilling with a gas tank work?

Very simple: You can fill up the tank at any LPG filling station.

You also need the right tank adapter *, as there is no uniform filling system in Europe. The best thing to do is to buy a set for Europe with the most common adapters *.

An overview of which adapter is used in which country can be found here.

Then just drive up to the LPG filling station, open the back doors, adapter unscrew and fill up with gas. Here the liter costs around € 0.60. The gas is therefore a lot cheaper than in the 11 kg bottles from the hardware store.

Because the tank is a Filling stop installed, refueling ends automatically when the tank is 80% full - this is mandatory for safety reasons.

Even with one bike rack on the trailer hitch, we were able to refill the gas tank at the LPG filling station without any problems.

Can I also install the gas tank myself?

In principle, that would certainly be possible. However, gas is one security-relevant Topic and there you should let the specialist take over. It is best to choose a workshop that can also carry out the necessary gas test after the conversion.

Likewise, it must be proven that the tank in the event of an accident certain Centrifugal forces withstands. You may find it difficult to provide this proof. When a specialist company or engineer installs the tank, that's no longer your problem.

But I can also refill the 11 kg bottles?

This is technically possible, the corresponding adapters are also sold on various platforms. However, the commercially available gas bottles do not have a refueling stop. There is therefore a great risk of overfilling when refueling the bottles at the LPG filling station - the bottle could even burst! Before it bursts, the gas should actually be able to escape through a safety valve. But even there you don't want to stand by.

Refilling the bottles is rightly prohibited.

What about fuel bottles?

Tank bottles or gas tanks in general may only be refilled at LPG filling stations if they are firmly connected to the vehicle (fastening to the furniture or the side wall of the gas tank is not sufficient!), A pipe leads to the tapping point and all others Meet the requirements of the ECE regulation R67-01 for LPG systems.

Not all fuel bottles meet these requirements. The best thing to do here is to ask exactly at the sales outlets and gas detectors.

But why tank? Gas tanks are still much cheaper, aren't they?

If you look at the list prices, it sounds like 300 € for a Gas tank bottles are a lot cheaper than 420 € for a gas tank. However, the gas tank does Capacity from approx. two fuel bottles. In addition, the fuel bottles do not have any at this price Outside refueling with it.

In addition, it is not enough to simply fasten the tank bottles in place of the gas bottles: the bottle holders installed by the fitters are not considered a fixed installation, as required by the regulations. A screw connection to the wood of the furniture fitting is not sufficient to fix the tank - our tank is through the bottom of the bottle crate with the body firmly connected and thus withstands the required centrifugal forces.

Do I have to turn off the gas tank while driving?

The gas tank has nothing to do with it. If you already have a gas pressure regulation system with Crash sensor (CS) and could drive with the gas bottles turned on, then nothing changes (if you don't change the regulator).

But if you didn't have a crash sensor in the gas regulator, now might be the right time to have it installed right away. Otherwise you will have to turn off the gas supply again before you start driving.

Do i need a filter?

Yes and no, it always depends on who you ask. If you ask a dealer or workshop who install and sell filters, they will likely say yes - they want to sell their products.

If you ask us and other motorhome owners who have been driving without a filter for years, you are more likely to hear a "No."

I'll try to calculate the topic of filters ...
There are at least two types of filters:

  • Refueling filters, Price approx. 80 €, is screwed between the nozzle and the outside refueling.
  • Inline gas filter, Price approx. 90 €, is installed in the line between the tank and the consumer. Replacement filters are regularly required for this, price approx. € 30.

We decided to do without the filters. If the pressure reducer should break because of this, a new one costs around 30 €. We also expect that we will have to have the Truma heater cleaned after approx. 10 years (but this has not happened yet).

What inspection deadlines do I have to adhere to?

Old tanks must be checked every 10 years.

This 10-year test is not required for the new tanks with the 67R01 marking that meet the relevant regulation (of course not for old ones).

The “normal” gas test every 2 years is still required for the entire system, as it was before.

Aren't there problems with LPG in winter at cold temperatures?

Yes and no. LPG consists of a mixture of propane and butane. The mixing ratio is different depending on the season and the country.

Butane liquefies at temperatures below 0 ° C and can therefore no longer be used in the motorhome. However, since the bottle crate is inside the motorhome and therefore in the heated area, this problem does not arise with this solution.

In the case of tanks that are installed underfloor or in non-heated storage areas, there may be problems with the liquefaction of the gas.

Is it financially worthwhile to convert from gas cylinders to gas tanks?

There is no general answer to this question, because it all depends on how much gas you use.

I'll try to do the math:

The filling for an 11 kg bottle of gas costs around 16 €.

11 kg of gas corresponds to approx. 20.4 l LPG (1 l = 0.54 kg). With an LPG price at the petrol station of 0.60 € / l, you pay around 12.24 € for the same amount as in an 11 kg gas bottle.

So you save € 3.76 compared to filling an 11 kg bottle.

The cost of the tank (in our case 700 €) is worth it after using approx. 186 fillings of a gas bottle.

As a 365-day user, it could be worthwhile at some point from a purely financial point of view. But for campers who only go away in summer, this pure profitability calculation will probably always remain negative.

Everyone has to decide according to their requirements whether the other advantages (no more lugging bottles, no more plugging them in, no more opening bottles in the hardware store) outweigh the financial point of view.


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Author: Marc von WHATABUS


Marc, born in 1975, was enthusiastic about traveling even as a child, loves hiking and mountain biking, and likes to eat a lot and well. on tour with WHATABUS since 2014, living in WHATABUS #vanlife since 2016