LPG for ski hols autogas or local cylinder? (1 Viewer)

Jan 24, 2012
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Have used British lpg in cold weather, no problem its 100% propane. French autogas is mix of propane/butane, even at 5deg C our cylinder ran out with 30% lpg left, frost on cylinder when using heater for an hour stopped remaining gas from vapourising. So do people use local propane cylinder on ski aires in France, if so which cylinder is most available? The 6kg le cube looks good but what is availability up high? Or do you take enough British lpg with you, we only carry 20kg, maybe only enough for 7-10 days if really chilly. Would appreciate your experience, thanks.
 

Armytwowheels

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I have not heard of French or Spanish GPL being a problem at cold tempretures before.

We had French GPL in our cylinders last December and the first couple of nights in The Alps went well below freezing. Also we had Spanish GPL in when skiing in Granada earlier this year with no problems. A few nights in Morroco went down to almost zero too but everything gas kept working.

Could there be any other reason for the problems you experienced?
 
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Jan 24, 2012
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Were your cylinders full in the cold weather? It only happens when we draw a lot of gas, ie heater on full AND we have used first half of the cylinder, I am thinking the propane part of the mix has been used leaving butane. Using fridge, rings or oven not a problem. Using the gas heating causes the icing on the cylinder which cools cylinder enough to stop remainder of gas vaporising, a kettle of warm water solves the problem temporarily, but not ideal hence the question re very cold weather. Would welcome suggestions as to what else might be the problem....

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ruthiebabe

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I have always wondered if autogas is a different mix in the alps (diesel is I know)as it seems okay. There is a slight (and I mean slight) reduction in capacity over time. We have used lpg for skiing for years - I'd advise taking adaptors for French bottles just in case you have trouble getting to a station with lpg then you can buy a local bottle. Just as a backup. You are probably aware that Lpg is only available in the bigger towns and on the autoroutes, we use one of the apps to locate. Having said that with planning you should be fine.
 
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We have used French autogas over several ski seasons - no problems yet - But I have heard of problems where people have filled constanstly abroad -so mixture of propane reducing they suggested - But over the course of one winter season and original fill from UK - you should be OK - I think its possible they also might reduce butane mix in winter?
You can get a filling adaptor and connections from gaslow so that you can connect a local propane bottle to filler point and use from that bottle - one bottle has to be empty for this to work - We have this set up but have never needed to use as always been able to get autogas
 
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Thanks for your replies. Spoke to Gaslow this morning who admitted it was a problem, their only solution was to keep gas cylinders warm, maybe divert some warm air into gas locker. Our locker is extremely well ventilated so to reduce gas drop area and pipe some warm air might be the answer. Shame its difficult to test without a huge ice box!
Usually we empty a cylinder before refilling so there is no uk propane left, its all foreign autogas. Anyone tried heating pads on the cylinders as beermakers use or heaters for external lorry mirrors?

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Armytwowheels

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Colin, my other half, did some research after I read your post out and he found that in the colder regions they do increase the proportion of propane to Butane during the winter. The problem comes when it's really cold and you have burnt the propane and are left with the butane, hence your 30% left and not vaporising problem.

Although we haven't experienced this problem, as you have already said maybe a diversion of a heating duct into the gas locker would solve the problem.

Sorry not to be more helpful.

I wonder how those that ski at VT get on as it's usually really cold there @jonandshell @haganap ?
 

jonandshell

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We burn diesel for heat.
Our Gaslow cylinder only does cooking and the fridge. We full up in the UK before we leave and that lasts us until well after the holiday. Therefore we can't comment on Euro LPG mixture.
 

scotjimland

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Gas in Cold Weather: The Myth of "Fractioning"
http://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/gas-in-cold-weather-myth-of-fractioning.html


I'd like to dispel a myth that's out there: the myth of "fractioning."

Supposedly, if you've got a typical canister of gas (i.e. containing propane and some form of butane), in cold weather (temps below the vaporization point of all but the propane), only that fraction of the fuel that is propane will burn. Supposedly.

Here's an example of the myth: You have a canister that is 70/30 butane/propane. Propane vaporizes at -44F/-42C; butane at +31F/-0.5C. Now, say it's 20F/-7C out. According to the myth, only 30% (that fraction of the mix that is propane) will burn off.

That's the myth. What really happens? Well, take a 70/30 canister out in 20F/-7C weather and burn it until it's empty. Now weight it. You'll find the weight is lower
than if only 30% of the fuel had burned off.

Why? Well, when you mix liquid hydrocarbons, they combine to form a blend. The blend has properties that lie "between" the properties of the constituent fuels. For example, the boiling point of a 70/30 blend of propane and butane will have a boiling point between -44F/-42C and +31F/-0.5C. The math is non-trivial, but if you know the formulae, you can calculate the resultant boiling point. In this case, a 70/30 blend has a boiling point of about 0F at standard pressure (1 atmosphere/1013mBar).

Now there is a little bit of a catch to all this. This "blend" of liquid hydrocarbons in a canister of gas (recall that there's so much pressure inside a cansiter that our gasses liquefy) still has two distinct molecules in it: Propane molecules (C3H8) and butane molecules (C4H10). The propane molecules have a higher vapor pressure than the butane molecules. In other words, the propane molecules tend to vaporize more than the butane molecules in the blend. How does a canister typically work? Well, you draw vapor off the top, and then more of the liquid portion of the fuel vaporizes to replace the drawn off vapor. If the propane is what most readily vaporizes, then the propane will be removed from the blend more rapidly than the butane. This is called "preferential" vaporization. Because the propane is vaporizing faster than the butane, your blend will change over time as the canister empties. As the blend changes, so will the vaporization point. Toward the end of the life of the cansiter, all the propane will be gone and only your secondary fuel will remain.

Uh, isn't this "preferential" vaporization the same as "fractioning?"

No, not at all. Remember that the myth of fractioning calls for only the propane to burn leaving behind all of the butane. What happens in reality is that the blend vaporizes some butane and some propane throughout the life of the canister until the propane is gone. Yes, you will reach a point where all of the propane is gone and only butane remains, but the fact of the matter is that you will be burning off far more fuel than if only propane alone were burning.

With fractioning (if it were true), you could only burn of 30% of the fuel in a 70/30 canister. With preferential burning, you burn more like 75% of your fuel before you wind up with nothing but butane left (the actual amount burned varies with altitude and temperature of course).

This brings up two important points:
1. Don't use canisters with regular butane in cold weather. Eventually all your propane will burn off, leaving behind whatever else is in your canister. If you've got isobutane (vaporizes at +11F/-12C) as your secondary fuel you've got a 20F (10C) degree advantage over a canister that has regular butane (vaporizes at +31F/-0.5C) as its secondary fuel.

2. Stoves that can handle running with the canister upside down (inverted canister stoves) draw fuel off the bottom of the canister. If you're drawing fuel off the bottom, you're only drawing liquid. If you're not drawing vapor, then it doesn't matter which fuel vaporizes at what rate. Inverted canister stoves start and end with the same fuel blend. If you start with 70/30, you end with 70/30, and your vaporization point stays low, allowing you to run your stove in much colder weather than a conventional upright (screws onto the top of the canister) gas stove. With an inverted canister stove, you can burn all of your fuel in cold weather (assuming that your blend's vaporization point is sufficiently high for the weather).

So, there you have it: What's really going on in that canister of yours in cold weather. I hope this puts the myth of "fractioning" to bed.

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scotjimland

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So it's not fractioning it is preferentialising - clear as mud!!

indeed.. but the pertinent part is this paragraph

What happens in reality is that the blend vaporizes some butane and some propane throughout the life of the canister until the propane is gone. Yes, you will reach a point where all of the propane is gone and only butane remains, but the fact of the matter is that you will be burning off far more fuel than if only propane alone were burning.
 
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Jan 24, 2012
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Jim, excellent explanation of what is actually happening, bottom line is I will have cold heater and liquid butane left in cylinder. So if I dont heat the cylinder I will need local cylinder. French Le cube 6kg propane cylinder has easily available 27mm clip on adapter but is cylinder readily available up high? or is it wait until arrival and buy whatever is available, not knowing in advance what adapter is required.

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Apr 23, 2010
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Hi Sandra we tend to keep our lpg bottles as low as possible then fill up in the Mountains,both with diesel and lpg as they are both adjusted for the Winter temps and then when into warmer climes they equal themselves out,we carry about 44ltrs of lpg which lasts us about a week up the mountains skiing in winter.(y)
 
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Jan 24, 2012
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I have been doing a bit of research and found this on the outandabout web site from 2008

Its ratio of propane : butane. I cannot vouch for its accuracy,.
I do not know, as has been suggested, if ratios alter for winter.
But if we go sking in Sweden or Germany all may be well!

Austria 50:50
Belgium 50:50
Denmark 50:50
France 35:65
Germany 90:10
Greece 20:80
Ireland 100:0
Italy 25:75
Netherlands 50:50
Spain 30:70
Sweden 95:5
United Kingdom 100:0
 
OP
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Bit more info re autogas

Countries LPG Grades Reported Propane/Butane mixture
Austria A from 100%/0% to 80%/20%
Belgium A 60%/40% all year
Czech Republic A-C 60%/40% in winter,
40%/60% in summer
Denmark A 70%/30% from 1/09 to 31/05
Finland A 95%/5% from 1/09 to 31/05
France A-C grade A from 1/11 to 31/03,
grade C in summer
Germany A-E grade B from 01/12 to 31/03,
grade E in summer
Greece D 20%/80% all year
Hungary C 40%/60% all year
Ireland A 100%/0% all year
Italy A-C,
D-E from 90%/10% to 20%/80% from 1/11 to 31/03,
grade D or E in summer
Poland A-D grade A from 1/11 to 31/03,
grade D in summer
Portugal A 92%/8%
Slovenia C 35%/65%
Spain C 35%/65% from 1/11 to 31/03
Turkey B 50%/50% from 1/11 to 31/03,
30%/70% in summer
United Kingdom A 100%/0% all year
Source aegpl.com, the European LPG Association

Autogas grades
The LPG grades are defined by the temperature at which they reach the minimum pressure of 150 kPa.

LPG grades Temperature Possible Propane/Butane mixtures
grade A -10°C from 100%/0% to 60%/40%
grade B -5°C from 60%/40% to 40%/60%
grade C 0°C from 40%/60% to 30%/70%
grade D +10°C from 30%/70% to 10%/90%
grade E +20°C from 10%/90% to 0%/100%

Above from http://www.mylpg.eu/useful/lpg-mixture

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Nov 18, 2011
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heat the locker it only needs very lital to help your gas a bit of 1" ducting dose the job off the blown air hating don it a few times
bill
 
Jul 29, 2013
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Why not lag the cylinders like a hot water cylinder jacket? Or would that just keep the cold in the cylinder?
 
OP
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Yes, a small hose off blown air would work fine, something I need to explore. Charts gives me better understanding where and when to buy gas if winter, ie not in Spain! Lagging cylinder wont help unless heat source is inside lagging, as liquid lpg vaporises it extracts heat from its surrounding, lagging would hinder that unless heating inside the lagging.

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Jul 29, 2013
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Yes, a small hose off blown air would work fine, something I need to explore. Charts gives me better understanding where and when to buy gas if winter, ie not in Spain! Lagging cylinder wont help unless heat source is inside lagging, as liquid lpg vaporises it extracts heat from its surrounding, lagging would hinder that unless heating inside the lagging.
Heated cylinder jacket then?
 

yellabellyex

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This may not be at all relevant, but could your problem be in any way related to the regulator?
Our van has an underslung gas cylinder, and I would be wary of relying on it for heating in sub-zero temperatures. The regulator on our domestic gas hob cylinder used to regularly freeze up in winter, until I lagged the regulator.
Just a thought,
regards
alan b
 
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Thanks for your replies. Spoke to Gaslow this morning who admitted it was a problem, their only solution was to keep gas cylinders warm, maybe divert some warm air into gas locker. Our locker is extremely well ventilated so to reduce gas drop area and pipe some warm air might be the answer. Shame its difficult to test without a huge ice box!
Usually we empty a cylinder before refilling so there is no uk propane left, its all foreign autogas. Anyone tried heating pads on the cylinders as beermakers use or heaters for external lorry mirrors?
Couple of hot water bottles (if you can boil the kettle).

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