Campervans, Mobile Homes & Marine LPG

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) provides a convenient, readily available fuel for cooking and sometimes heating onboard a boat. A great deal of concern is rightly felt by boaters about the fire and explosion risks of carrying and using LPG onboard, but providing the installation is well maintained and regularly checked then these risks are greatly minimised.

Since 1997 the Boat Safety Scheme has been promoting the safe use of LPG and has instituted regular safety checks as a pre-requisite for obtaining a navigation licence for inland waterways. For boats outside the BSS, Insurers will expect all LPG installations to comply with the Gas Safety Regulations 1994 and British Standard 5482 part 3 1998 in order to obtain cover. If you have concerns about your current installation or are considering upgrading either the supply or appliances then take advice from a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Typical components of an LPG installation on a yacht

Gas bottles & storage

The gas bottles along with regulator, electronic solenoid and gas leak detectors should be located in a special locker that vents overboard. The locker should not allow escaped gas to flow into the bilge or cabin, therefore any gas pipework or cable runs that go through the locker wall should be sealed with an appropriate glad or wall fitting. In the UK, Propane and Butane come in various size bottles each with a different style of connector and regulator.

For sailing yachts the Campingaz butane bottles are most common. They are small, readily available in the UK & on the continent. The combined regulator and On/Off valve screws on top of the cylinder.

In larger format butane and propane bottles the cylinder has its own integrated On/Off valve, the regulator either clips or screws onto the On/Off valve. A full bottle can be very heavy and thoguht must be given for securing the bottle within the locker.


Gas leak detectors

Bubble type gas leak detectors are designed to be connected close to the outlet side of the gas regulator. It provides an instant visible check for leaks. With the gas supply on and all appliances switched off, the red button above the sight glass is depressed for around 10 seconds, any bubbles showing after the initial 2 or 3 seconds will indicate a leak. This simple, quick test can be performed at the start of each trip or even each time the gas supply is switched on.

Flexible hose & piping

Flexible hosing at the bottle end and on the appliance must each be less than 1m in length (BS3212 type 2). Braided hose is recommended for connections to cookers on gimbals as the braid protects the hose during the swinging movement of the cooker. Copper pipework should be fitted for the remaining supply secured with pipe clips spaced every 150mm. Where the pipework goes through bulkheads or partitions then plastic sleeves or grommits should protect the pipe from abrasion. A manual isolation tap should be fitted before the hose connection and appliance.

LPG Control system

Most safety briefings advise switching the gas off at the cylinder when applicances are not in use. Depending upon where the gas locker is located this can become a chore and the risk of not following the advice increases. A very convenient and safe option is to install an electronic solenoid adjacent to the regulator connected to a fused switch in the galley or an electronic gas leak detector. The gas can be switched on at the cylinder at the start of the trip and the electronic control used to quickly turn on or off the gas whenver the appliance is used. Electronic gas leak detectors such as Pilot Gas Monitoring system combine both the controls for the solenoid and gas alarm.