Fuel, LPG and the Gaslow system

Mothership II is currently doing about 21 to the gallon. That is down on Mothership I which managed 35 or more, but we have to allow for it being double the weight.

Another first for us a few days ago was our first ever LPG fill-up for the gaslow system – this is the permanently installed LPG gas bottle system that can legally be refilled by the user.

The great big hiss disconnecting from the pump made us jump even though we knew it would happen! 39 litres for £24. At the local Calor dealers, it’s £22 for a 6KG (11.7 litres) and that’s already cheaper than camping supply stores, so you can really see the saving – about a quarter the price.

But the big benefit for European travel is the hassle saving. Although there is now a European standard for regulator pressure, there are still national gas bottle providers in each country so it’s not practical to have lots of different canisters. Campingaz is a solution and the canisters are pretty common all across Europe, but it’s expensive and the largest size is just 3KG.

For refillable systems, there are still differences across Europe but it reduces to just three different filling connectors (plus the UK) so it can be achieved with a bag of 3 brass adaptors which screw into the UK system. So our only constraint is LPG filling stations. We’ll probably carry a small LPG generator too so the LPG supply will also double up as our emergency power supply if the sun fails to shine! LPG filling stations are pretty common all across mainland Europe, but tend to get harder to find on islands, so the fix is to attach a locally sourced pigtail and just use whatever propane source is hand such as the Campingaz bottles noted above.

We’ve tended to be pretty frugal on propane in the past, and have only got through two or three 6KG bottles in a year. That works out to about 15 bottles over 12K miles. With the new system being double the capacity and filling both bottles at once, that works out to about four refills over 10,000 miles for the same usage profile. Our power budget estimates that the fridge will run for around 50 days on the full gaslow system and that’s by far the biggest gas user. We still have a couple of tricks up our sleeve to reduce that further, but it does depend on getting the solar panels working efficiently!