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The Ultimate Guide to Campervan Gas (LPG) - Gaslow System

If you eat cooked food, enjoy warm showers, or want to keep the frostbite at bay during the winter months, a campervan gas system is for you! By this I mean, nearly everyone needs gas in their campervan 🔥; at the very least for the stove!


In this guide you will learn everything you could ever want to know about a campervan gas installation. We will review a mega-detailed campervan plumbing diagram, learn about campervan gas lockers, campervan gas bottles, gas regulations, and much more! I promise you'll learn a lot. We will specifically look at a gaslow installation.


I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!


Now let's jump in a look at campervan gas installations!

Campervan Gas installation: complete guide

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc.) we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. By using these links, you are helping me to continue writing free educational content!


Index

 

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Disclaimer

The information provided in this guide is provided solely as a high-level resource for information - and not as a single source of truth. I am not a certified gas fitter, nor do I hold myself out to be. The information provided below is a collection of publicly available information that I have consolidated - while I have done my utmost, in good faith, to provide the correct information, there may be mistakes in this information for which I take no responsibility. The information is intended as a guide only, and not as a single source of truth. For this reason I encourage you to get a certified technician (with minimum CITO ACOPS/STGW qualification in the UK) to do your campervan gas installation, or at the very least to review and test it. This guide shows you the basics of gas plumbing.

wood burning stove winter van
When it's cold outside, bring the heat inside! @jamesbarkman

Supplies List 🛒

Gaslow 11kg LPG cylinder
Gaslow 11kg LPG Cylinder

Gaslow filler kit

​Gaslow filler kit

Installed in the side of your van to fill up with LPG

LPG gas manifold

​3-way gas manifold

Gas shut-off valves for appliances


LPG adapter set

​LPG refill adapter set

Adapter set to fill up in any european country

https://amzn.to/3YjDMdL

​Pigtail hose

For connecting LPG cylinder to regulator

Truma regulator

​Truma 30mbar regulator

Regulate the pressure of the LPG system

Truma level gauge

​Truma LevelCheck

Easily check the levels of your LPG cylinder

P clips

P-clips

For securing pipe


Gas bottle straps

Gas bottle strap

For securing gas bottle in place; regulatory requirement


Copper pipe cutter


pipe thread jointing compound sealant

Jointing compound

For sealing compression fittings


Straight compression fitting

A few 3/8" straight compression fitting

For gas joints


Elbow compression fitting

A few 8mm elbow compression fittings

For gas joints


Copper pipe 5m

Drop out vent

Gas drop out vent

Allows gas to drop through the bottom of the van in case of leak; regulatory requirement


What is a campervan gas system, and why do you need one?

For most vandwellers a campervan gas installation is going to be vital to a successful and comfortable build. The following are appliances that you can run via gas:

Yes, you could have an electric version of all of these... but I'm afraid unless you've got an onboard nuclear reactor, you won't be able to power them!


A campervan gas installation provides an efficient and cheap way to run many appliances that make a campervan feel like home!


Theoretically, a campervan gas system is quite simple (especially when compared to a campervan electrical system). Gas is stored in a gas bottle, and runs via pipes to the appliances mentioned above. Throughout this guide we will be going in depth into each part of the system.


Campervan Gas Diagram

The diagram below shows "the ultimate" campervan gas installation. It contains all the bells and whistles - needless to say, you don't need everything shown! Throughout this guide we will explore every component of the diagram - focussing on the Gaslow system (gaslow bottle).

Campervan gas diagram

Campervan gas regulations

Throughout this chapter, we will be referencing the gas safety standards recommended by the British Standards Institution - the national standards body of the United Kingdom.


Giving credit where credit is due, I would like to give special thanks to Greg Virgoe who has gone in-depth into LPG standards for campervans, doing a lot of heavy-lifting for the self-build community.

Here is a summary of some of the key points from the BS EN 1949:2021 - TC standards:

  • A gas installation should be done by a certified technician (with minimum CITO ACOPS/STGW qualification in the UK)

  • A certified refillable campervan gas bottle must have the following:

    • A level gauge

    • An automatic refill cut-off at not more than 80% (as the gas expands when warm)

    • A manual shut-off valve

    • A pressure release valve

    • An overflow regulator

    • A shut-off valve on top of the cylinder when refuelling

  • A campervan gas installation must use gas-safe non-flexible piping

  • The following gas fittings are permitted in a campervan gas installation:

    • Cutting ring type fitting

    • Capillary type fitting

    • Flared type fitting

    • Compression fitting

    • Threaded fitting for nozzle

  • Each appliance must have a dedicated isolation valve (manifold)

  • The exhaust and inlet must be outside the van

  • The exhaust should be somewhere where it will not be sucked back in by the air inlet or through a window

  • A campervan may have a maximum of two 16 kg gas bottles

  • A campervan gas locker must be sealed; the sealed door must not go right to the floor

  • A campervan gas locker must have a drop-out vent and that drop out vent must not be covered by the gas bottles

  • The drop-out vent must be at least 2% of the floor area of the campervan gas locker

  • Gas bottles must be securely fixed to the gas locker with a top and bottom gas bottle strap. You must be able to undo these gas bottle straps by hand.

  • The low pressure side of the gas system should be able to handle 5X pressure than normal (150 mbars)

  • Testing your system according to the standards:

    • Pump the system to 150 mbars (this will read as 112.5 mmHg on the manometer). After you have pumped the pressure to 150 mbars, leave it for 5 minutes, then take the start reading. Leave it for another 5 mins and take a second reading. Per the BS EN 1949:2021 standards, the pressure cannot have dropped more than 10 mbar (7.5 mmHG) in that time.

Note: I did my own gas fitting and got the SQI (qualified technician) to look over it. This was fine in Ireland and many people do this around the world. Check your country’s specific requirements to see if you can DIY.

Campervan gas bottles

There are two types of campervan gas bottles: refillable and replaceable.

In our Roaming Home 2023 study, we found that 73% of people have an LPG system installed in their van. Of those, the slight majority are using a replaceable gas bottle rather than a refillable one.

Campervan gas bottles refillable vs replaceable

Replaceable campervan gas bottles

Replaceable campervan gas bottles are designed to be removed from the campervan gas installation and replaced when all the gas is used up. You can buy replaceable gas bottles from many places, including fuel stations or DIY shops. Some of the well-known brands are Calor, flogas, and campingaz.

Replaceable campervan gas bottle

When you are replacing a campervan gas bottle, you hand in the empty gas bottle and obtain a full bottle.


Pros:

  • Cheap to install

  • Convenient to install


Cons:

  • More expensive ongoing costs (than refillable)

  • Cumbersome when replacing the bottle

  • Not optimal for long van expeditions

  • There can also be an issue with different gas regulations per country. Some countries may require you show them a vehicle gas certification of compliance before you can purchase a replaceable campervan gas cylinder.


Refillable campervan gas bottles

Refillable campervan gas bottles (eg. Gaslow bottles) are permanent installations. They are not supposed to be removed from the campervan gas system, but instead are refueled via a filling point in the side of the van. You can refill a gas bottle at many fuel stations around the world (with LPG - Liquid Petroleum Gas). You can find an LPG filling station with MyLPG.eu (they also have a mobile app!).


The Gaslow system is one of the most popular setups for refillable campervan gas bottles + appliances. It is what I personally used for my campervan gas installation


Other popular brands for refillable campervan gas bottles are: Alugas, Gasit, and Autogas.


Regulations for refillable campervan gas bottle

According to BS EN 1949:2021, a certified refillable campervan gas bottle (eg. Gaslow bottle) must have the following:

  • A level gauge

  • An automatic refill cut-off at not at not more than 80% (as the gas expands when warm)

  • A manual shut-off valve

  • A pressure release valve

  • An overflow regulator

  • A shut-off valve on top of the cylinder when refueling

The Gaslow system abides by all of these gas regulations.


Pros

  • Cheaper ongoing costs (LPG is hella-cheap)

  • No lifting and reinstalling the gas bottle every time you need a fill

  • Some bottles can be underslung to the van - bigger + they save you space inside!

Cons

  • High upfront cost

  • More technical installation (this guide will help though!)


NOTE: You cannot lay a gas cylinder on it's side - it must be installed upright!


Propane vs Butane vs LPG

When using a refillable campervan gas bottle we have the choice to choose between: Propane, Butane, and "Patio gas".


Should I use a propane or butane campervan gas bottle?

Here's all you need to know:


Use butane for the warm months - it is more efficient, but doesn't work below 0°C.


Use propane during the cold months - it works below 0°C!


What is patio gas?

Patio gas is the same as propane with one important difference: it takes a clip-on regulator, whereas a propane gas bottle takes a screw-on regulator. Do not use patio gas in a campervan! It is not safe.


What is LPG?

When using refillable campervan gas bottles (like a Gaslow bottle), we normally don't have the luxury of choosing what fuel we get. Instead we refuel at a filling station with LPG. Again, reference the fantastic MyLPG.eu.

LPG filling station

LPG stands for Liquid Petroleum Gas, it contains a mixture of hydrocarbon gases, specifically propane, propylene, butylene, isobutane and n-butane. It is often referred to as autogas.


It is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and has a high octane rating (102–108 RON). It burns more cleanly than petrol and is free of many particulates.


How to refill a gas cylinder

How to refill a replaceable Campervan gas bottle

If you have a replaceable campervan gas bottle, you refill by unscrewing the empty bottle (Shut off the gas supply valve first!), handing it into a filling station, getting a full bottle, and screwing that into the campervan gas installation.


A refill for a 5kg replaceable campervan gas bottle will cost about €30. It costs about 6X more than the refillable LPG gas bottle equivalent.


How to refill a refillable Campervan gas bottle

You refill a refillable Gaslow bottle with LPG from a filling station.


You fill up via a filling point in the side of your campervan. The gaslow system has an easy to install filling point: the gaslow refill kit.


From personal experience, a refill of my gaslow system (11kg campervan gas bottle) costs ~10€. Dead cheap!


How long does a campervan gas bottle last?

This entirely comes down to how many gas appliances you have, what season it is, and how much time you spend in the campervan.


With that being said, here are some rough guidelines for an 11kg refillable campervan gas bottle under full-time van-living conditions:


Scenario 1: Gas stove only

If you are only using a gas stove, an 11kg refillable campervan gas bottle will last ~6 months.


Scenario 2: LPG heater (eg. Propex) only

If you are using an LPG heater a lot (eg. where I live it is frequently -10°C or lower in winter), you can burn through an 11kg bottle in as little as 3-4 weeks (this is under the most intense usage). If you are using the heater on a less frequent bases, it will last much longer. An alternative (and LPG-free) way to heat your van would be a campervan diesel heater.


Scenario 3: Tankless Water heater (Shower & hot taps) only

If you are showering most days (that's luxurious for vanlife) & being frivolous with hot water from the taps, you will burn through an 11kg bottle in 1 month.


Scenario 4: 3-way absorption fridge only

A typical absorption fridge will burn through an 11kg campervan gas bottle in 1 month.


Using the figures above, you can do your own estimations for how often you will need to refill your specific campervan gas installation.


Campervan gas bottle adapters (READ THIS!)

It's quite annoying, but different countries use different LPG connectors at LPG filling stations. There are four types of LPG connectors you need to know about:

  1. Dish connector (most common)

  2. Acme connector (pretty common)

  3. Bayonet connector (a few countries)

  4. Euroconnector (Portugal & Spain)

I’ve run out of LPG in the freezing cold a few times, but one of those times just so happened to be in the Arctic circle. I nearly died when I realised I didn’t have the right LPG connector… We had to purchase an electric blow heater and stay at campsites for a few nights to make it through the ordeal!

Campervan LPG gas adapters

Luckily there's an easy and elegant solution! Buy a refill adapter set. It is a really easy way to switch between any LPG connector in a flash.




For the country-by-country breakdown of LPG connector ports, you can read this article.


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Components of a campervan gas installation

In this guide to campervan gas installation we will be focussing on the refillable Gaslow system. Though the same process is used for any campervan gas installation. Let's examine some of the key components/parts of a campervan gas installation...


High pressure gas hose (Pigtail hose)

LPG pigtail hose

There are two sides of a campervan gas installation: a high pressure side and a low pressure side.


The high pressure side is everything before the regulator - ie. filling point, gas bottle, and any hoses/connectors. The high pressure side can have pressure of well over 10bar bar. The pressure inside the campervan gas bottle can increase quite dramatically when it is warm.


The low pressure side is everything after the regulator - ie. copper piping, heater, stove, etc. The regulator brings the pressure down to 30mbar (millibars).


Any appliance, pipe, or connector on the high pressure side of the system must be rated for high pressure! For this reason, we use a high pressure gas hose (flexible braided hose) as our pipe of choice on this side of the system.


A high pressure gas hose is used to connect our gas filling point to our campervan gas bottle, and to connect our campervan gas bottle to the regulator.

Gas bottle pigtail hose

How to install/use a high pressure gas hose

Once a high pressure hose is installed, it should not be removed! It has a rubber O-ring inside, which after tightening becomes deformed. If you do need to remove the hose for whatever reason - make sure you replace the O-ring (you can buy them online or in a DIY store).


As mentioned, a high pressure hose connects the refill point to the campervan gas bottle and the gas bottle to the regulator. When tightening a high pressure hose, the airtight seal comes from the rubber O-ring inside. You can tighten the connection using a pipe wrench. You should not need any pipe dope (jointing compound) or gas PTFE tape to make a secure seal.


Comment from Gaslow: "Although you can certainly fit them without any sealing compound, some dealers like to use a paste (jointing compound) just for peace of mind which is absolutely fine. As long as it isn't PTFE tape the installation is fine".


Gas piping

According to BS EN 1949:2021, a campervan gas installation must use gas-safe non-flexible piping. In practice what this means is that we should use copper pipe rather than rubber pipe for our gas system. This may surprise you, as most people actually use rubber pipe in their campervan; but that is not optimal.


The only time you can use a flexible pipe is for moveable appliances (like a portable stove). Rubber pipe must be replaced every 5 years.


How to cut copper pipe

A copper pipe is cut using a pipe cutters. Simply place the pipe into the pipe cutters and tighten the pipe cutter so that the roller is gently pressing against the pipe. You can then twist the pipe cutters around the pipe until the pipe falls apart.


How to bend a copper pipe

In a campervan gas system (or any gas system for that matter), it is best to keep joints to a minimum. For this reason, when navigating a bend we should bend the pipe rather than using an elbow joint. Copper is a metal that is very easily bent.


The quick-and-dirty method to bend copper pipe is to bend it very, very carefully over your knee. However you must be careful with this method, it is easy to kink the metal and hard to get it totally right.


Instead, I recommend using a pipe-bending tool - they are very cheap and allow you to do a kickass job! You can bend the pipe to whatever precise angle you want!


What diameter pipe should I use for a campervan gas installation?

8mm copper pipe is generally used for campervan gas installations. Consequently 8mm pipe fittings should also be used (discussed next).


P-Clips

P-clips are used to secure pipe in place once it is installed. This is particularly important in campervans where the shaking can cause the pipes to jiggle. It is imperative that you secure copper pipe in place with rubber p-clips.

P-Clip

Gas pipe fittings

A gas pipe fitting connects a length of pipe to something else (eg. a heater or even another pipe).


NOTE: Keep the number of joints in your system to a minimum! A joint is a weak point in the system. In many countries you are not allowed any joints outside the gas locker. In which case you will need to use a pipe bending tool to navigate the copper pipe to each appliance.


According to BS EN 1949:2021, the following gas fittings are permitted in a campervan gas installation:

  1. Cutting ring type fitting

  2. Capillary type fitting

  3. Flared type fitting

  4. Compression fitting

  5. Threaded fitting for nozzle

For the sake of a campervan gas installation we will just focus on flared and compression fittings.


Compression fittings

There are three parts to a brass compression fitting connection: The nut, the thread (body of the fitting), and the ferrule/olive.

Gas Compression fitting

There are three compression fittings that we should draw our attention to:

  1. Straight/union/coupling compression fittings

  2. Elbow compression fittings

  3. Tee compression fittings

type of compression fitting

A straight fitting is commonly used to connect a pipe to an appliance.


An elbow fitting (90 degrees) is used to navigate bends or to connect a pipe to an appliance in a tight space.


A tee fitting is commonly used to send a pipe in two seperate directions.


Any of the fittings above could also be reducer fitting, that means the thread on each side of the fitting will be a different diameter. This can be useful when attaching pipe to an appliance and the diameters of each are different (ie. the appliance does not take an 8mm fitting).


How to use a compression fitting
How to use a compression fitting

  1. Unscrew the nut from the compression fitting - be careful of the ferrule/olive inside!

  2. Slide the nut over the copper pipe

  3. Slide the ferrule/olive over the copper pipe

  4. Rub some pipe dope (jointing compound) on the olive

  5. Hand-tighten the nut onto the fitting (with the olive inside).

  6. After the nut is hand-tight, do another 1.5 turn with a pipe wrench to secure it in place. Make sure not to overtighten and warp the threads!

Note: Two spanners/wrenches are often used (going in opposite directions) when tightening pipe nuts. Try tightening a nut with one spanner and you'll understand why!

The two spanner method
The two spanner method

How to connect a compression fitting to an appliance

While copper pipe slots into one side of a compression fitting, the other side of a compression fitting may be used to connect to an appliance (eg. Propex heater). In this case you do not need the nut/olive on the other side of the fitting. Instead, apply some jointing compound (or gas-safe PTFE tape) to the male threads of the fitting and screw it into the female thread of the appliance. Hand-tighten the joint followed by some further (gentle) tightening with a spanner/wrench.


Flare fittings

Though traditionally more common in North America, flare fittings are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. Flare fittings are said to be better at handling the vibrations of a mobile propane system.


A flare fitting has two parts: the flare nut and the flare fitting itself

Flare fitting example

In a flared connection, one end of the copper pipe is opened/flared at a 45 degree angle to make a sealed connection with the flare fitting. No jointing compound or PTFE tape is needed for this type of fitting.

How to use a flare fitting
  1. Place the flare nut on the copper pipe

  2. Place the flaring clamp 1/8" from the end of the copper pipe and tighten it down firmly until the clamp is flush together

  3. Place flaring tool over the end of the copper pipe and tighten it into the pipe until it cannot turn any more - this flares the pipe.

  4. Screw the flare nut into the flare fitting, tighten with a spanner, and the joint is good to go!

Here is a great video showing you how to use a flare fitting.



Barbed fittings

Because rubber pipe is so common in campervans I am going to discuss barbed fittings here. However I do not endorse the use of rubber pipe in campervan gas installations.


Barbed fittings are used to connect rubber pipe to something else. Commonly we would use a barb-thread fitting to connect rubber hose to an appliance like a heater.

Barbed fitting in rubber pipe

With some twisting, the barb fitting should slot inside the rubber pipe. If you're having a really hard time pushing the barb into the pipe, you can dip the rubber pipe in some warm water for a few seconds to loosen it up. The barb should then easily slip inside.


After the barbed fitting is inside the pipe, tighten a hose clip (jubilee clip) over the connection to seal the deal.


Gas manifold

The BS EN 1949:2021 standards state that each appliance must have a dedicated isolation valve; a way to switch off the gas feed to said appliance. To achieve this, you can valve each feed individually. However, the more efficient way to do this is with a gas manifold, which is one unit with many valves (The gas manifold from the Gaslow system is shown below).


Gas Regulator

A gas regulator reduces the high pressure (HP) in the campervan gas bottle to low pressure (LP) that is usable by the rest of the gas system. It is a vital part of the system. In a campervan we need to reduce the gas pressure down to 30 mbars (or 11 WC in North America).

There are two types of regulators: Single stage regulators and two stage regulators.

A single stage regulator reduces pressure to 30 mbars in one step. They’re more compact & cheaper than two stage regulators, but not as accurate. Single stage regulators are normally bottle-mounted - they are for temporary installations and not to be used in campervans.

Single stage Gas Regulator
Single stage regulator

Instead, it is recommended to use a two stage regulator which reduces the pressure in two steps. They are better at delivering constant pressure as the tank pressure declines and temperature fluctuates. Two stage regulators are normally bulkhead regulators - they are mounted on the side of the gas locker rather than on top of campervan gas bottle.

Bulkhead regulator
Bulkhead regulator

What is a bulkhead regulator?

If you were to use a single stage, bottle-mounted regulator, you would need to have a different regulator depending on whether you are using a propane or butane tank. A propane regulator must lower the pressure to 37mbars (14WC), whereas a butane regulator must lower the pressure to 28mbars (11WC).


Prior to 2003, this was simply how things were done. However that year something magical happened: the bulkhead regulator was born. A single regulator to manage both butane and propane, without us having to worry about the pressure!


Gas Appliances

The following are all the possible gas appliances you could have in your campervan:

  • 3-way fridge

  • Gas hob

  • Gas water heater (for taps and shower)

  • Gas oven

  • Gas heater (eg. Propex)

Our 2023 study found that the gas hob was the most popular LPG appliance.

LPG Appliances
LPG Appliances

We will look at the installation of these appliances in later chapters. For now, there are some key pieces of information to be aware of:

Because they combust LPG, the fridge, heater, and water heater all need an air intake and an exhaust (flue) outlet.

According to BS EN 1949:2021 (and very self-evidently):

  • The exhaust and inlet must be outside the van

  • The exhaust should be somewhere where it will not be sucked back in by the air inlet or through a window!

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Gas level gauge

Simply put, a gas level gauge tells you how much gas you have left in your campervan gas bottle. Needless to say, this is an important feature that could save you a cold night in the van or a dinnerless evening.


Refillable campervan gas bottles (like the one from the Gaslow system) have gas level gauges built-in (per the regulation requirements). However the built-in level gauges only give rough readings and are hard to see (as the gas bottle is inside a gas locker).


Instead we should install an auxiliary gas level gauge which we can readily see.


There are the best campervan gas level gauges:


You can install this handy dongle on top of your Gaslow campervan gas bottle. It connects to the Gaslow Wave app so you can see the gas levels from your phone


This is a physical level gauge that you can mount somewhere visible in your van. It tells you the level of your tank without needing an app.

Gaslow remote level gauge

This gadget is a quick-and-dirty way to check the level of your gas bottle. It also works by ultrasound, but requires you to manually hold the LevelCheck device against the gas bottle to get a reading.

Truma LevelCheck

Changeover Valves

If you are running two gas bottles in your campervan gas installation, like some people using the Gaslow system have, you will need a changeover valve. This allows you to alternate between gas bottle when one runs out.


Sometimes regulators come with a built-in changeover valve. Other times, bulkhead regulators allow you to screw a changeover valve directly into the regulator (eg. Gaslow auto-changeover) The auto-changeover is particularly nifty as it will automatically switch tank when it senses one is running low (without interrupting gas flow)!


You could also opt to take the purist method and install a manual changeover valve (brass fitting) which you can turn by hand.

Gas changeover valve
Manual changeover valve

LPG gas filters

An LPG filter is very much a nice-to-have - though it could save you the heartache of a broken gas appliance a few years down the line. An LPG filter removes particulate matter from the LPG gas, reducing wear and tear on your appliances.


There are two types of LPG filter:

A filling point LPG filter is an adapter we screw onto the filling point in the side of our campervan when we are filling up with LPG. It is a very easy solution to the problem so long as you remember to use it! It catches the particulate matter at source.

Filling point filter
Filling point filter

In contrast a regulator filter is fitted just after the gas bottle. Gas with particulate matter can be housed in the gas bottle, but it will be filtered as it leaves the bottle.


Under high use, you should replace the filter every 12 months.


Solenoid valve

A solenoid valve is a valve operated by electricity - ie. you can open or close it with the flick of a switch. In relation to a campervan gas installation it allows us to shut off the gas supply from the campervan gas bottle to our appliances.


There are many instances in which we need to turn off the gas supply in our system - for example when boarding a ferry, refueling with LPG, or even driving through some tunnels.


Installing a solenoid valve in our campervan gas system makes it really easy to turn off the gas, rather than having to reach into our gas locker and shut the valve manually.


A solenoid valve is typically fitted on the low pressure side of the regulator - the Truma Electro Shut Off valve is one popular option. The Truma solenoid valve has an electrical cable that runs to a wall-mounted switch

Truma solenoid valve

Another popular option is a bottle-mounted solenoid valve, like the one that comes with the Gaslow system.


If you want a cheaper option than the Truma or Gaslow solenoid valves (they're pretty pricey!), you could go with an 'unbranded/generic' option like this. Here is an article on how to wire a 12v solenoid valve to a switch (much the same as any 12v appliance).



Campervan gas locker

A campervan gas locker is a crucial part of your campervan gas installation. It is the box that houses the gas bottle and regulator. It aims to minimize effects of a gas leak by physically containing the gas and allowing it to pour out the drop-out vent. A campervan gas bottle dramatically increases the security of the your gas installation.


Campervan gas locker regulations UK

Let's examine the BS EN 1949:2021 standards as the relate to campervan gas locker regulations in the UK:


A campervan may have a maximum of two 16kg gas bottles. Accordingly this means that the largest gas locker should be able to house: two 16kg bottles, the bulkhead regulator, and an unobstructed drop-out vent on the floor.


The standards state that a campervan gas locker must be sealed; but that the sealed door must not go right to the floor. Instead the door should be at least 50mm from the bottom. LPG is heavier than air, so it will sink to the bottom of the campervan gas locker. By elevating the door slightly, we give the gas a chance to pour through the drop-out vent, rather than seep through a potential gap in the bottom of the door.


A campervan gas locker must have a drop-out vent and that drop out vent must not be covered by the campervan gas bottles. The drop-out vent must be at least 2% of the floor area of the campervan gas locker.


Gas bottles must be securely fixed to the campervan gas locker with a top and bottom gas bottle strap. You must be able to undo these gas bottle straps by hand.

Gas bottle strap

All electrical cable inside a campervan gas locker must be fully-sheathed, undamaged cable. The cabling must run through conduit when inside the gas locker.


A campervan gas locker must have an LPG warning sticker on it.

LPG sticker

The campervan gas locker / gas bottles must not sit right on top of the vehicle's exhaust. It must be 250mm outside of the exhaust zone. This is because the van's exhaust gets very hot which can cause the gas in the campervan gas bottle to expand to dangerous levels.

Propane tank pressure vs temperature

How to build a campervan gas locker

The easiest and safest way to install a campervan gas locker is to buy a pre-built one online (ebay).


Or, for all the DIYers out there, you can build your own gas locker!


To build your own campervan gas locker you will need the following supplies:


Step #1: Build the walls

Using a jigsaw, cut four equal sized pieces of plywood. These four pieces make the walls of the campervan gas locker - accordingly they should be big enough to fit the bottle(s), regulator, and drop-out vent. Cut another square piece that makes the top of the gas locker.

Run a length of wood glue along the edges of the plywood and stick the pieces together. You can hold them in place with corner clamps. You can use some wood screws to give extra support to the joint.

Gas locker build

Step #2: Build the door

Using a jigsaw, cut a rectangular opening in the centre of one side. This area will form the entry door to the campervan gas locker. Accordingly, it should be a big enough opening to allow you to take the gas bottle in and out.

Using a jigsaw, cut another piece of plywood to match the shape of the opening you just cut - except it should be 100 mm taller and 100 mm wider (if you are using 50 mm flush crank hinges). This will be the door.

Attach the door to the locker using flush crank hinges.

flush crank hinges
Flush crank hinges for the door; @GregVirgoe

Step #3: Seal the door

Stick a length of rubber seal all around the perimeter of the door. This will cause a seal when the door is closed.


Add a toggle latch (or similar) to the door so that you can latch it shut.

Step #4: Install the drop out vent

Using a bi-metal hole-saw, drill a hole through the floor of your van; this is where the drop-out vent will go. Make sure you are not drilling into anything under your van!

To prevent damage to the holesaw (speaking from experience...) make sure you:

  1. Use lots of oil

  2. Use the drill on a low RPM

  3. Drill in a pulsating / stop-start manner

After you have drilled the hole, make sure you apply some primer and metal paint to prevent rusting!

Campervan gas locker hole saw

Screw the drop out vent into the floor.

campervan gas locker drop out vent

Step #5: Cut holes for filling inlet and regulator

Using a smaller holesaw, cut two more holes in the side of the gas locker.

The first of these holes is for the feed coming from the LPG filling inlet in the side of your van. Make the hole large enough so that the pigtail hose coming from the inlet can just about fit.

The second hole is for the feed coming from the regulator inside the gas locker and running out to the appliances. Make this hole just big enough so that an 8 mm straight bulkhead fitting can fit through.

Step #6: Install a bulkhead fitting for the regulator

Install an 8 mm straight bulkhead fitting into the hole running from the regulator to the appliances.

First, Unscrew the nuts from the bulkhead fitting, place the 'nutless' fitting into the hole in the gas locker.

Then place a rubber washer on each side of the fitting, against the wood. Screw the bulkhead nuts tight on each side to secure the rubber washers and bulkhead fitting in place. You can use a spanner/wrench to get a tight fit!

Et voila! You now have a sealed access point in the side of your gas locker! A pigtail hose will attach to the fitting on one side of the fitting and copper pipe will attach to the other.

Bulkhead fitting

Step #7: Prepare filling inlet

On the other hole (for the filling inlet hose), install a rubber grommet, so that it gives a seal when the filling hose is passed through.

If you are running an electric solenoid valve you will need to drill another identical hole in the gas locker for the electrical cabling (covered in conduit) that runs to the valve.

Step #8: Install the gas locker

Screw the campervan gas locker to the floor of the vehicle. You can do this with a pocket hole jig or with L-brackets.

Sealing gas locker

Run a bead of silicone sealant around every joint/connection inside the gas locker to make it as airtight as you possibly can.


Step #9: Install the regulator

Mount the regulator onto the wall of the campervan gas locker. It should be mounted as high as possible in the locker. If it isn’t possible to mount the regulator higher than the gas bottle then you must ensure that the pigtail hose connection is looped down from the cylinder connection and then up to the regulator, like the image below shows.

Correct position of gas regulator

Campervan Gas Installation safety

As mentioned at the start of this article, you should have a professional install your gas system or at the very least review it. That is the single best thing you can do to. improve the safety of you campervan gas installation.


With that out of the way, there are a few things you should own/do to increase the safety of your system.


  1. Install a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm

  2. Install a gas leak detector (mount near the floor - gas is heavier than air)

  3. Keep a fire extinguisher in your van

  4. Test every joint in your campervan gas installation for leaks (coming up)

  5. Install adequate ventilation in your van - especially above the stove. ie. install a fan. Here is a guide on how to install a fan in your van.




Why Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is Extremely dangerous. It binds with red blood cells and starves your body of oxygen after passing into your lungs.

These are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning :

  • Tension-type Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Feeling And Being sick

  • Tiredness And Confusion

  • Stomach Pain

  • Shortness Of Breath And Difficulty Breathing

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you are exposed to a carbon monoxide level of 50 parts per million (P.P.M.) for eight hours. At 400 P.P.M. carbon monoxide can become life-threatening after two to three hours.


How to test for leaks in a campervan gas installation

Because gas is so dangerous, it is imperative that we check our campervan gas installation for leaks. Specifically we need to check every joint, as this is where the leaks can occur.


When I tested my system for leaks I found I had a small leak at the connection with my Propex heater... thank god I checked for leaks!


Leak testing on the high pressure side of a campervan gas installation

Testing for a gas leak on the high pressure side of a campervan gas installation is quite straightforward. Simply spray some gas leak detector spray on each joint. It is soapy liquid that will bubble if a leak is detected. There should be no leaks within 30 seconds.


Leak testing on the low pressure side of a campervan gas installation

The BS EN 1949:2021 standards state that the low pressure side of the gas system should be able to handle 5X pressure than normal (150mbars). Accordingly we should test our low pressure side at 150mbars and ensure it is leak-proof.


As it transpires, this is can be a little tricky to do - dedicated devices are exceedingly hard to come across. Below I will discuss a fantastic method which Greg Virgoe alludes to here.


First, grab yourself a blood pressure manometer. Yes you read that right... Proceed to cut the arm band off the device, leaving just the pump, tubing, and gauge.


Connect the rubber hose from the manometer (where you just cut) to the test point on your regulator. Secure it in place with a jubilee clip.

Test point on gas regulator

Turn off all the taps on your gas appliances and make sure all isolating valves are open (ie. the gas can flow through the gas manifold).


Pump the system to 150mbars (this will read as 112.5 mmHg on the manometer). After you have pumped the pressure to 150mbars, leave it for 5 minutes, then take the start reading. Leave it for another 5 mins and take a second reading. Per the BS EN 1949:2021 standards, the pressure cannot have dropped more than 10mbar (7.5 mmHG) in that time.


Conclusion

And that's all she wrote folks - all the knowledge I have on campervan gas installations. I hope you found it useful :) I personally found the Gaslow system excellent, sturdy, and easy to install. I certainly recommend it.


Let's flog the dead horse again: Make sure you get a licenced professional to check your campervan gas system! :D

Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).


If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!

van conversion book

Until next time,

Shane ✌️

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