How much gas will I use? How much will gas cost?

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.

 

The Stoves cooker has an electric hot plate and three gas burners.

The Stoves cooker has an electric hot plate and three gas burners.

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.

 

The Kontiki locker will hold 2 x 13kg Calor cylinders

The Kontiki locker will hold 2 x 13kg Calor cylinders

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?

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Comments

  1. Hi Russell,

    I can understand someone new to motorhoming asking about gas usage but all they need to know is that it will be much less / cheaper than traditional home. I use Gaslow and find that topping up with £10.00 will last for some time just using it for hob, oven and running fridge when not at campsites. Gaslow is expensive to fit but I love not having to exchange Calor bottles and it really worked out great when touring Europe.

    Where you will notice a real increase in usage is when you use gas for heating the vehicle in winter. I tend to use campsites much more than I wild camp these days and since I’m paying for electricity with the pitch fee I use a small fan heater, electric toaster and kettle.

    In the 3+ years I have had a motorhome the LPG price has remained pretty static at about 70p a litre. In the same time people’s utility costs have gone up sharply.

    I don’t understand why some people feel the need to ask about gas usage as it’s really not an expensive cost for a motorhome owner. It seems odd that people spend large sums of pitch fees and expensive satellite systems and the like but worry about what is really a small annual cost (even for a fulltimer).

    All the best
    Gary
    The Motorhome Vagabond

  2. Stewart says:

    Could not agree more with Gary. We used our Motorhome back in February to tour Germany, it was very cold, as low as -12degrees C at one point. We had the Alde heating on 24/7 set at 20 Degrees C. We used 15kg of gas in just under 4 days, could not believe it. The only other gas use was fridge and the odd kettle for tea.

    • Russell says:

      15kg in four days – wow, that would clean out those units with 2 x 6kg Calor on board! Definitely makes hook up worth while in those conditions.

      • Stewart says:

        We were on the Stellplatz at Trier, Germany which had hook up. It was a Pre paid card arrangement. You get the card at the entry barrier and have to charge it at a central machine. You then hold it against the electric bollard to put credit onto your hook up. The charge was €1/kw. The cost for hook up electric was €26 on top of that was the €6 for the camping spot. We headed off to find a site which included electric. Must add we had the Alde on at the 3kw setting.

  3. We have been living in our Bailey approach for over 12 monthds having purchased it from new. We use electric hook up for most thinks with gas only used for a bit of cooking and heating. We used to get through a 6kg cylinder every 3-4 weeks last winter but we have suddenly started to go through a bottle a week. Have had the van tested for leaks and have now has an autogas 2000 gas tank fitted. Still getting through a lot of gas. Could there be a fault in thr Truma combi boiler causing excess gas usage? Any advice welcome.

    • Hi – the Truma Combi boiler does use a lot of gas for heating. I forget the consumption figures, but from memory, it is 160-480 grams per hour, so even at the lowest setting, and not using the gas for anything except heating and hot water, a 6kg cylinder would give you only 37 hours use – about 13 hours on the high setting. I suggest a small electrical heater such as the 800 watt oil filled types. This can live in the cab area. You will be amazed what difference it makes.

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