Butane or propane (1 Viewer)

Feb 28, 2015
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When we bought our MH last year, it was equipped with two 13kg butane bottles.
When we went to Portugal in February there were two cold nights when there was very little gas pressure, as if the bottle was almost empty. Was this due to the butane freezing?
We had problems with the gas regulator at the same time. After replacing the regulator we had no more problems but the nights were not as cold.
The two nights which were cold only went down to -1 or -2 so not mega cold.
Thanks in advance for advice and information.
John
 

Brisey

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The two nights which were cold only went down to -1 or -2 so not mega cold.

Still cold enough to prevent Butane from gassing. Quite a few people here in Spain
have had problems when temperature dropped to +4.

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DBK

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The butane isn't freezing but it's boiling point is around - 1C so what is happening is when it gets cold it simply remains as a liquid and doesn't generate any gas. This effect can also happen above - 1C because as the liquid butane produces gas it get colder, latent heat of boiling and all that. This can cause frost to form on the outside of the bottle and usually means no gas to cook on!

Propane boils at about - 42C which means it will work in most places when it is cold.

You can get mixtures of butane and propane. Coleman canisters for example, but they are not perfect. In cold weather the propane boils off but the butane doesn't. When there is no more propane things stop.

Changing your system from butane to propane is not something I am an expert in. Regulators and jets may need to be changed but someone else may be in a better position to advise.
 
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Popeye

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When I first bought my van I assumed it would take the Butane bottles I had at home for the BBQ, it didn't so like a fool I just went and changed the regulator, and it has been fine for three years.

Went to use it on a cold night several weeks ago and nothing. An almost empty bottle failed to light the stove or the heating system, so Propane or Gaslow on the new van for me......
 
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John de Manche
Feb 28, 2015
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Thanks very much for the advice. I will use the butane through the summer and then swap to propane. Gas in the morning is very important because Mrs de Manche is not approachable until 2 cups of tea and 2 silk cuts have been consumed.

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canopus

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Here in Morocco people seem to be always having problems with Butane sooting flues and carboning up jets/burners etc so we always go for propane. Touch wood - no problems.
 
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Frentchy

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Thanks very much for the advice. I will use the butane through the summer and then swap to propane. Gas in the morning is very important because Mrs de Manche is not approachable until 2 cups of tea and 2 silk cuts have been consumed.
Don't let Buttons hear that!!Hes got a thing about Tea Drinkers:unsure:
Yes Propane is the way to go(y)
 
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scotjimland

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Here in Morocco people seem to be always having problems with Butane sooting flues and carboning up jets/burners etc so we always go for propane. Touch wood - no problems.

whatever the problem is, it is not Butane causing.. Butane burns cleaner than Propane.

Which gas should I use, Propane or Butane?


The physical properties of the two gases are very similar, and when regulated to the correct pressure, they will perform almost identically. However there are some important differences.


Of the two gases, Butane has the most advantages.


It is less toxic and so can legally be used and stored indoors.


Litre for litre, it contains around 12% more energy than Propane and so you can squeeze more running time into the same sized bottle. (Butane is heavier than Propane though, so weight for weight it's a pretty close call.)


Butane also burns cleaner than Propane (although this isn't normally a serious issue in caravanning.)


Finally, while it's not strictly a property of the gas, Butane canisters generally use clip-on type connections. These are far more convenient than the Propane screw type connections, especially if you swap bottles around regularly (as you might if you also use your caravan bottle to run a barbecue.)


Conversely, Propane has only one advantage over Butane - but it's a big one!


In order to be usable, the liquid in the bottle must be able to boil into a gas.
In the case of Butane, this will happen at any temperature above -2C, whereas with Propane, this figure is much lower, at -42C.
In the real world, it's not so clear cut. Whenever some of the liquid boils into gas, the remaining liquid cools. It is therefore possible for the temperature of the liquid to drop to several degrees below ambient. This can easily prevent a Butane canister from producing a useful gas supply, even when the outside temperature is several degrees above 0C. A compromise can be reached by mixing Propane with Butane, but as far as I'm aware, none of the UK 'big bottle' suppliers actually do this. The small gas cartridges that are produced for camping stoves and gas lamps are often Propane/Butane mixes. So choosing the right gas pretty much boils down to whether you need to use it in freezing (or near freezing) conditions. If this is likely, then Propane is a must. If not, then Butane has the edge.

.

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Ethle the wondervan

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When I was motorcycling and winter camping I used to take a small gaz stove (butane) and a smaller PETROL stove. The gaz stove would not light at low temperatures. The petrol stove would light in an ice storm but was far too severe for my delicate culinary creations. Solution :- Place gaz stove on top of petrol stove for 2 or 3 seconds to force the flaming gas out. Result :- Bacon butties done to perfection.
Mind you, sense prevailed....... I am now vegetarian!
 
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DBK

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When I was motorcycling and winter camping I used to take a small gaz stove (butane) and a smaller PETROL stove. The gaz stove would not light at low temperatures. The petrol stove would light in an ice storm but was far too severe for my delicate culinary creations. Solution :- Place gaz stove on top of petrol stove for 2 or 3 seconds to force the flaming gas out. Result :- Bacon butties done to perfection.
Mind you, sense prevailed....... I am now vegetarian!
Can't help asking but is your user name supposed to be Ethel? If it is Jim can correct it. :)
 
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We had a similar issue - no gas on a frosty night so swapped from Butane to Propane at local Farm Shop Calor Supplier and have been warm and toasty since then.
 
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John de Manche
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Hi stcyr,
We are in a village called Cherence le Roussel on the D911 midway between Sourdeval and Brecey in Manche.We are 30kms east of Avranches .

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I lived in the Alpujarras, all bottled gas. I was over 2,000 ft up and found propane was the only way. Question, I have a refillerble bottle on the mh. As I understand LPG at the pumps is a mix of butane and propane. Any one know the % mix?
 
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tabitha

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Just wanted to say thank you to Jim for your excellent comprehensive comparison of butane and propane gas in this thread. I almost posted a new thread... but did a search and found this one... and then your excellent post, which answered all of my questions on the subject. :)
 
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Apr 14, 2015
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I've just bought a Cadac BBQ and today was looking at buying a Campingaz bottle to power it. It's butane and planning on using it on long tour of Europe. Campingaz website says that refill widely available in Europe. Anyone know if that's right or not?? Thanks.

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scotjimland

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I've just bought a Cadac BBQ and today was looking at buying a Campingaz bottle to power it. It's butane and planning on using it on long tour of Europe. Campingaz website says that refill widely available in Europe. Anyone know if that's right or not?? Thanks.

yes, as Alan said..

however..
a) Campingaz is expensive compared to normal sized bottled Butane and
b) the Cadac will work on either Butane or Propane .. it's not fussy

worth considering a BBQ point on the van..
 
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vwalan

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at least in morocco you only pay for the amount of gas you need . camping gas was less than a quid for a 907 bottle last time i was there. for about 6 quid you could get a bottle full pay the deposit and have a single burner fitted on the bottle .
often thought about bringing loads back to uk . shilling or two to be made i reckon.

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I tend to produce methane, looking at you tube it ignites in lots of conditions. The downside is producing enough to boil a kettle, on that note I will stick with propane.
 
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scotjimland

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camping gas was less than a quid for a 907 bottle last time i was there.

yeah.. in the UK it's about £30 for an exchange bottle..(£50 without exchange)
Gas weight : 2.75kg.. about 5.5lt............. £5.45 PER LITER !!

now if that aint rip off ... I don't know what is, and some say Calor are expensive and a rip-off...
compared to CampingGaz they are mere amateurs
 
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vwalan

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in many african countries they mix alot of pentane in the gas . this vapourizes easy in hot climates .
thats very often why you can get a bit of black on cooking pots . but its cheap so we dont care.
havent bought a camping gas in uk for years .

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