What gas is used in motorhomes?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What gas is used in motorhomes? We will explain what type of gas you can use in a motorhome and what precautions to take when handling gas cylinders. 

What gas is used in motorhomes?

The gas used in motorhomes is usually butane or propane. The use of gas is essential in a motorhome, campervan, van or caravan, whether it is for cooking, heating, producing hot water, operating the refrigerator or even supplying autonomous generators.

Gas cylinders contain liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), this gas is the ideal source of energy to equip your motorhome. Indeed, it can power your heating, your gas stove or your refrigerator, and even if you have a small gas cylinder in your motorhome, it will offer you sufficient power as well as a certain autonomy.

You can buy two kinds of motorhome gas cylinders:

  • Butane gas cylinders: these can be installed inside your vehicle, however, the use of butane is not possible below 0 ° C.
  • Propane gas bottles: these must be stored and connected in a waterproof box outside your motorhome. Propane gas can be used down to -44 ° C.

It is, therefore, more conducive to equip yourself with propane gas cylinders. During very cold weather, they will ensure continuity of operation and will not let you go along the way.

How to plug in your gas bottle in a motorhome?

There are dedicated locations in motorhomes or caravans to install gas cylinders. They generally allow you to install your bottles in pairs, which will be connected to the supply by pipes that will serve your devices.

Regarding the connection of your bottle, it may be an installation with an integrated regulator or not. For an installation with an integrated regulator, you can easily connect your gas cylinder to it. For an installation that does not include an integrated regulator, you will need a 30 bar regulator that will work on butane and propane gas cylinders.

Where can I find gas bottles for my motorhome or caravan?

To get bottled, simply order online for same-day delivery to your home, if you order before 11 a.m. Note that once the gas cylinder is fully used, it must be exchanged for a new one. Indeed, the law prohibits you from filling your cylinders yourself in an LPG fuel dispensing station.

What is the ideal dimension for a motorhome gas cylinder?

For travel by caravan or motorhome, the gas cylinders should be small to medium size. These dimensions are sufficient to reconcile power and autonomy on the roads.

When the cylinder is placed outside, provide a 5 kg Elfi propane cylinder or a 13 kg propane cylinder. Inside, bring a 13 kg butane bottle, a small 10 kg Calypso butane or a 5.5 kg Elfi butane. These last two formats have the advantage of being easy to set up and transport.

How to install and connect a motorhome gas cylinder?

In general, vehicles have dedicated locations for gas cylinders. To connect them, several accessories are necessary. They are grouped together under the generic term of connectors. 

This guarantees the safety and optimum operation of the devices. These are the regulator, the coupler-inverter regulator (in the case of two gas cylinders connected) and the hose (also called flexible or lyre). Regulators are sometimes directly integrated into the devices of recreational vehicles.

Note: be careful not to exceed the expiration date of the hoses (generally 10 years after the date of purchase).

Recommendations for the handling of propane cylinders

  • The cylinder change must always be carried out with the head valve closed so that the amount of gas released into the atmosphere – harmless and harmless – is minimal.
  • The cylinder change operation should never be carried out near sources of heat or fire, such as lighters, cigars or stoves.
  • Propane and butane gas weigh more than air, so the cylinders, both full and empty, must always be in an upright position.
  • If gas escapes, do not open or close any electrical circuits, as these produce discharges capable of causing a fire or explosion.

What is the autonomy of a motorhome gas cylinder?

The duration of use of a gas cylinder before recharging varies depending on the amount of gas consumed per hour and per day. Using the Truma C4 heating/water heater combination as a reference, consumption is estimated between 160 and 320g / h. 

To operate continuously, a refrigerator with a volume of 120 litres needs 360 to 380g of gas per day. An oven burns between 80 and 115g / h and a gas stove between 240 and 350g / h.

A 13 kg gas cylinder generally lasts between 3 and 6 days. The delta is mainly a function of the outside temperature since it is the heating that consumes the most.

When your gas cylinder is empty or almost empty, it must be exchanged at a dealer. It is forbidden to fill cylinders in a service station equipped with LPG.

Our advice to reduce your motorhome gas consumption

When driving in a motorhome, turn off the gas supply to the refrigerator and turn on the 12-volt power supply. Think carefully about the need to activate the heating and the water heater (boiler) when driving (read below). 

Tips for using less gas and paying less:

  • cook in smaller pots and gain heat using a lid
  • reduce your time in the shower
  • lower your fridge when the outside temperature is already low
  • reduce the heating inside your motorhome
  • if you are cold, put on an extra sweater
  • have a nice warm duvet for your bed

Taking these good habits regularly during your motorhome trips will save you gas autonomy, and will therefore allow you to save some money. And above all, they will prevent you from having to do so completely … when you run out of gas!

Is it possible to drive a motorhome with its gas cylinders open?

Yes! The law allows it, but only for vehicles built after January 1, 2007. Another condition: your motorhome must be fitted with a secure regulator system. So remember to equip yourself with:

  • high-pressure lyre – Equipped with safety valves, the lyres allow the cylinder to be isolated in the event of an accident on the circuit. Be careful, they have a limited lifespan.
  • Mono control CS regulator (Truma) – Usable for a gas cylinder, you will couple it with the lyres.
  • DuoControl CS pressure regulator (Truma) – Can be used for 2 gas cylinders and has an automatic diverter.

The bottom line

No matter the type of gas you are using in your motorhome, whether it is propane or butane, make sure you follow the rules of handling gas cylinders in a motorhome and that you take all the necessary precautions in order to be safe on the road.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions about the subject. 

FAQ on What gas is used in motorhomes?

How dangerous is gas from an RV refrigerator?

The oils and gases of any RV refrigerator remain inside and in its tank, despite the fact that it is already an old fashioned one. These chemicals damage the ozone layer. Even keeping a useless refrigerator at home is dangerous, as a leak could trigger a tragedy, such as a fire or explosion.

Is it legal to drive an RV with propane on?

While it is not illegal to drive an RV with propane on, you must take some safety precautions and consider the possible risks.

How to avoid gas leaks in a motorhome?

To avoid gas leaks in a motorhome ask an authorized installer to carry out maintenance on the interior installations and gas appliances. The ideal is to do an internal cleaning of stoves, kitchens and heaters, whose ducts can be blocked by the accumulation of dirt.


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