A question I am often asked is “how much gas do you use?”. In all honesty, I can’t answer the question as it is a case of a cylinder runs out, it gets replaced, but we do not keep a log of it.
In order to try to give some examples, it is fair to say that most motorhomes and caravans will have LPG in a cylinder – one of the most popular brands is Calor. Calor cylinders are sold by weight in kilograms, and one kilogram of LPG is approximately two litres.
Here are some examples of gas usage in appliances in a motorhome or caravan.
Truma Combi 4 gas boiler – upto 320 grams per hour
Truma Combi 6 gas boiler – upto 480 grams per hour
Stoves oven – upto 125 grams per hour
Stoves grill – 117 grams per hour
Alde heating system – upto 460 grams per hour
Thetford N175 fridge/freezer - upto 23 grams per hour, further quoted as 480 grams in 24 hours based on constant running and in an ambient temperature of 24 degrees C.
Dometic RMD 8555 fridge freezer – literature suggests an average of 380 grams per 24 hours.
Of course, applicances such as the boiler may require 480 grams per hour to get the heat built up etc, and thus be running at full pelt, but then the thermostat should kick in and as the output of the boiler lowers, so will the gas usage.
We have a new style Dometic RMD 8555 fridge freezer and interestingly, Dometic quote an average consumption over a 24 hour period. I think this is a great way to convey these figures as the fridge thermostat will regulate the cooling mechanism and so the burner will be running for a while, then out etc.
Based on a consumption of 380 grams per 24 hour period, then this suggests a 6kg Calor cylinder would last for approximately 16 days to run the Dometic fridge.
So how much gas might you use in a weekend? Well, using the same 6kg cylinder….
Fridge freezer – two days, 380 grams per day = 760 grams
Alde boiler – two days, four hours per day = 3840 grams
Oven – two hours = 250 grams
A bit more cooking – 250 grams
So quite easily, in a weekend, with a bit of cooking, heating and cooling, the user may nobble just over 5kg of LPG, so that 6kg cylinder could soon run out!
Many motorhomers and caravanners however prefer using sites with electric hook up and as such, gas usage is likely to be considerably lower.
Back in 2011, we set off on a trip around Europe, taking with us 2 x 13kg Calor cylinders, both full at the start. We had several nights without hook up, thus powering the fridge and heating on gas, and did a fair amount of cooking. One cylinder remained unused and the other had a small amount in when we returned to the UK.
One problem with touring overseas for extended periods is the lack of Calor gas overseas. However it is possible to obtain “local” cylinders and also the necessary connections. Another option is a refillable system such as Gaslow or even a fixed tank. Whilst there are advantages to using the Gaslow or fixed tank system, such as not having to lift heavy cylinders, being able to purchase LPG at the fuel station and also a wide availability of LPG, the downside may be the cost. It is easy to spend £400 – £500 on a gas system, but of course, this could be sold at a later date or removed from the motorhome and re-fitted to another model.
It is quite possible though to minimise gas use by switching many items to electricity. Our Stoves cooker has an electric hot plate and we use this a lot when on hook up. We also have a microwave so baked potatoes for example are started in there and finished in the gas oven. An electric kettle will pay for itself over time, but lower wattage models are usually required overseas due to the lower ampage available via the hook up post.
Mother nature can help too…. It is not necessary to add solar panels though. A couple of black coloured pop bottles, the two litre size that have had “Tango” in them can be filled with water, replace the cap loosely and leave in the sun. At the end of the day, you have free hot water for washing up! This could be really useful on overseas sites where electric is metered.
In the past, we have had a Gaslow system. In fact we have had that system on three different motorhomes but due to some issues with leaks, including a split in a stainless steel pipe, we decided not to bother again. We now use Calor in the 13kg sizes. The last refill was a bargain at £23 for 13kg, so about 26 litres. That gives an average price of 88p per litre, compared to 72p today at the local petrol station for LPG. With a differential of just 16p per litre, that £400 or so investment on a re-fillable system is a cost we would never re-coup. As stated though, there are other advantages to a re-fillable system. I did note today though that a 6kg Calor was £19 for a refill, so with 12 litres of LPG, it costs £1.58 per litre, so by using the smaller cylinder, the gas cost is higher and thus the savings to be had are greater.
Motorhomers and caravanners may be able to make use of the 13kg Calor cylinders. We are fortunate that the Kontiki gas locker will take two 13kg cylinders. If you do not have the space for these, could you fit in 1 x 13kg cylinder and 1 x 6kg or even 1 x 13kg and 1 x 3.9kg? In the scenario where cylinders of a different size are used, run the 13kg as the main supply. When it runs out, switch to the smaller, most costly cylinder, but replace and reconnect the 13kg version as soon as possible maximising the usage of the lower cost lpg in the 13kg cylinder.
Some motorhomers and caravanners use LPG from other providers such as Flogas. Calor is generally regarded as the most widely available, often sold on campsites, builders yards and supermarket forecourts.
Do you have any top tips for reducing gas consumption such as using the black pop bottles to get hot water from the sun’s energy?