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LPG in Europe PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

LPG in Europe

Barry and Margaret Williamson
October 2010

Introduction: Here, for the first time, we collect all the information that has come our way on the subject of the availability of LPG throughout Europe. We will add detail as we travel, not least on the number and location of suppliers in each country and the nature of the adapters required. If you have relevant information to share, please Contact Us.

Disclaimer! This article is intended for travellers in motorhomes fitted with refillable tanks: either permanent tanks typically fitted to American motorhomes or refillable bottles as supplied by Gaslow of Loughborough. If you have a gas bottle that needs to be exchanged, then you shouldn't expect to be able to do this with, for example, a UK-supplied Calor Gas bottle. Camping Gaz bottles can be exchanged in 100 countries worldwide but they are expensive and it's often difficult to actually find a supplier.

However, in some places and in some countries, a bottle that would normally be exchanged can be refilled locally, if an appropriate adapter is available. Don't try this yourself, ask a campsite owner if a local entrepreneur is available for what can be a dangerous operation.

For a long stay in a given country, it may be appropriate to buy or rent a local gas bottle, regulator and fittings. In Greece, for example, where LPG outlets are restricted mainly to Athens and Thessaloniki, gas bottles are widely available in supermarkets, petrol stations and garages. However, the best option for long-term travel throughout Europe is a tank or bottle refillable with LPG from a pump. In fuel stations also offering LPG, you can do this yourself; in some countries LPG is also sold in specialist stations. 

LPG is Liquefied Petroleum Gas and consists of butane, propane or a mixture of the two. It is used for heating, cooking and refrigeration in the motorhome, as well as sometimes powering the engine and/or a generator. The gas is stored as a liquid under pressure - up to 170 psi (12 atmospheres) on a hot day - and needs a portable bottle (refillable or exchangeable for a full one) or a tank fixed to the chassis (refillable at a garage selling LPG - 'GPL' in France, of course - or Autogas).

Butane (C4H10) and propane (C3H8) have about the same density (about 0.6 kg or 1.3 lb per litre) and energy and burn at around the same temperature, but propane has a lower boiling point (-40°C compared with -1°C for butane) and can be used when it's freezing outside. Since propane exerts a high vapour pressure than butane, at a given temperature, tank and bottle each require an appropriate regulator to ensure that the gas flows into devices in the motorhome at a constant low pressure.

Our tank fills with 60 litres of LPG, which is widely and cheaply available now in just about every European country, including the UK (details of this are given below). The LPG available at filling stations is mainly intended for cars with engines adapated to run on LPG, and it has a high but variable proportion of propane

There are 3 types of connector for LPG refills at petrol/gas stations throughout Europe. The images below show TYPE 1, the Dutch Bayonet; TYPE 2, the Claw or Italian Dish (which is most popular) and TYPE 3, the ACME thread. Within a given country, the tendency is for everyone to use the same connector, but don't rely on this. Adapters can be purchased, one fitting into another, and we have all 3. Many petrol/gas stations have adapters for brief loan.

Dutch.JPG Italian.JPG ACME.JPG

TYPE 1
Dutch Bayonet

TYPE 2
Italian Dish

TYPE 3
ACME Thread

Since LPG refills can be hard to find in some countries (eg Greece, Morocco, Finland, Sweden), we added a T-piece connector ('Extend-A-Stay') to fit a grey 5 kg German propane bottle, which is the easiest to carry, refill or exchange throughout Europe (if you don't know where, ask a German motorhome). Calor bottle fittings are unique to the UK, and Camping Gaz, though widely available (claiming 130,000 outlets in 100 countries), is expensive in its small bottles.

Gaslow supply purpose made refillable LPG cylinders and all the required fittings. A remote fill kit is useful and reduces possible forecourt suspicions. A large LPG tank can also supplement petrol as the energy source for a converted engine!

See also the contribution of Andy Newton to: LPG in Greece

LPG IN EUROPE: COUNTRY BY COUNTRY

POIs for LPG for GPS and SatNavs: What isn't mentioned in the Silk Route article is the increasing availabilty on the internet of lists of GPS/SatNav co-ordinates for, among other things, LPG suppliers in a given country. In addition to giving an accurate location, you can also be talked into getting there! For example,

http://www.gps-data-team.com/ (eg nearly 180 LPG suppliers in Croatia) 

http://poiplaza.com/index.php (eg nearly 2,800 LPG suppliers in Poland)

http://www.poihandler.com/ (eg nearly 135 LPG suppliers in Norway)

The Silk Route Contribution: The following information has been developed from the list originally compiled by Les Brook on the website of the Silk Route Motorcaravan Network website. As we travel, we will update this information on a regular basis. Not least, the estimates of the number of LPG suppliers fall well below the data from LPG POI websites. If you have relevant information to share, please Contact Us.

The list contains country-by-country information about the supply of bulk LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) for gas tanks. It does not offer information on the supply of gas in cylinders or 'bottles' (though owners of re-fillable cylinders will find the info useful), nor on CNG (compressed natural gas) which is a different product.

The list addresses three main issues.

Firstly, is LPG available in the listed country? Details are given, but in general

*  indicates that LPG is easy to find in the country
!   indicates that finding LPG may be difficult in the country

Secondly, at what type of place is LPG sold? In many countries, LPG can be found at fuel stations which also sell diesel and petrol. But in other countries, LPG is to be found in specialist locations which are more difficult to find.

Thirdly, what fittings are used in the transfer of the gas from the pump to your tank? There are three major fittings in common use in Europe – you can see what they look like below. There's a little confusion about where each of these fittings are used.

The internet is a good resource if you want more – and more up-to-date - information about LPG. The major producers and suppliers of LPG all have informative sites (eg http://www.shellgaslpg.com/ ), and so do the clubs (eg http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/ ). A very comprehensive site is http://www.autogas-forum.de/com-version/ : it even includes some non-European information.

NOTE: many of the websites listed below are those of motoring or caravan clubs. Their services may only available to those in membership of a club to which they are affiliated.

OTHER GUIDES TO LPG IN EUROPE

At least two European commercial organisations and one motoring organisation produce lists of LPG stations across Europe:

You can download a PDF file listing 7,500 stations from Mecattini http://www.egm.it/cartine/ . The cost is €7.75.

"LPG Gids 2000" is published by Remarca B.V. - Willenstraat 1K - 5611 HA Eindhoven. Telephone 00 31 40 239 37 77 or email

And in Germany, ask at the local ADAC office. In 2003, one office kindly gave me a comprehensive 42 page list “Autogas Tankstellen in Europa”.

LPG COUNTRY BY COUNTRY

*AUSTRIA
There are at least 14 filling stations – see http://www.oeamtc.at/index.php?type=article&id=1098101&menu_active=27
Fitting: TYPE 2

*BELGIUM
LPG is widely available. Shell alone has over 650 stations!
Fitting: TYPE 3

!BOSNIA AND HERCOGOVINA
During a short visit to SW Bosnia, no LPG was seen. Mecattini lists two filling stations only. Anyone with more info?
Fitting: TYPE ?

*BULGARIA
Wide availability at fuel stations and other outlets. Mecattini (see below) lists nearly 40 filling points.
Fitting: TYPE ?

!CROATIA
ADAC lists only 25 stations, and only 2 in the capital Zagreb. From limited personal experience, finding it in the north east of the country may be difficult, but it is available at outlets down the coast. Some fuel stations sell LPG, but they seem to be out-numbered by specialist outlets: watch out for signs directing you to an off-the-road outlet.
Fitting: TYPE 3

!CYPRUS
LPG is not available.

*CZECH REPUBLIC
LPG can be found at many fuel stations and other outlets. For a list of filling stations, try www.lpg.cz .
Fitting: TYPE 2

*DENMARK
“Only a few cars in Denmark use LPG. Furthermore it is not legal to mount LPG tanks on motorcaravans. It is, therefore, only possible to buy LPG at very few Statoil and Q8 filling stations”, says a correspondent, but the German auto club ADAC lists 50 stations, 35 of which are Statoil, and Mecattini confirms there are plenty of places to fill up.
For more information on the whole of Scandinavia, the first place to look is the excellent
http://www.gassmagasinet.no/AUTOGAS_SKANDINAVIA/body_autogas_skandinavia.html
You can also try http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet
Fitting: TYPE ?

*EIRE (IRELAND)
A good network of over 200 filling points, almost all fuel stations. For a list, navigate from http://www.lpga.co.uk/island_stations2.htm
Fitting: TYPE 3

*ESTONIA
Available at many fuel stations and specialist outlets. See also http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet
Fitting: TYPE ?

!FINLAND
LPG is not available in Finland.

*FRANCE
LPG widely available. Totalgaz produce an excellent list of fuel stations (“Guides des stations”). Their website (www.totalgaz.com ) is also first class. I believe other providers publish similar booklets. For a full list of LPG stations, try http://stations.gpl.online.fr
Fitting: TYPE 2

GERMANY
LPG is available at more than 450 outlets, but these are not on every corner nor very obvious, perhaps because normal fuel stations are not the suppliers. Also, LPG outlets are more common in the former East than in the former West Germany, and are uncommon in the northerly quarter and the southerly third of the country. You are therefore advised to obtain a list of suppliers. You may be able to get one from an ADAC office in Germany (I did). On the internet, try the very good http://www.autogas-forum.de/links/links-e.htm#7 or www.gas-tankstellen.de (in English - http://www.gas-tankstellen.info/en/ ). There is also a search engine for LPG stations at http://www.dvfg.de/autogas/tanken/tanken.html
Fitting
: TYPE 3

!GREECE
From personal experience, LPG is very difficult to obtain, except in the largest cities. ADAC lists only 30 stations – Mecattini lists a few more, but over 60% of these are in Athens. See also our article LPG in Greece.
Fitting: TYPE 2

*HUNGARY
LPG is very easy to find at fuel stations and specialist outlets. The central gas stations' company, GLOBIMPEX Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Kft is reported to sell a map and a complete list of suppliers. Their address is: Globimpex, H-1136 Budapest, Tátra u. 28. V. 3. Phone: ++(36-1) 350 3561, fax: ++(36-1) 320 9628.
Fitting: TYPE 2

!ICELAND
LPG is not available.

*IRELAND (see EIRE)

*ITALY
LPG widely available.
Fitting: TYPE 2

LATVIA
LPG available at some fuel stations and specialist outlets. See also http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet
Fitting: TYPE ?

*LITHUANIA
Widely available from fuel stations and specialist outlets. Look for sign of half-full, leaning cylinder. Good list of stations at http://www.susk-dujos.lt/ See also http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet
Fitting: TYPE 2 but Dutch adapters available

*LUXEMBOURG
At least 5 stations in this very small country - and in 20 minutes you can get to one of three or four neighbouring countries with lots of gas!
Fitting: TYPE 3, (1)

!MONTENEGRO
Mecattini lists only two stations – but this is a small country. But see the note from Danes Lars and Erling Anderson, dated 1 January 2011. 

MOROCCO

*NETHERLANDS
LPG is widely available.
Fitting: ?

*NORWAY
There are 49 LPG units operating at Norwegian fuel stations in all major population centres as far north as Tromso. For details, see www.LPGguiden.no. For more information on the whole of Scandinavia, the first place to look is the excellent
http://www.gassmagasinet.no/AUTOGAS_SKANDINAVIA/body_autogas_skandinavia.html. You can also try http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet A list is also available from NAF (Norwegian automobile club). The same list is re-printed in “Norway:The Official Travel Guide” (free from Norwegian Tourist Offices).
Fitting: TYPE ?

*POLAND
LPG widely available - from 800 fuel stations and other outlets. Try http://www.pzm.pl/  for more info.
Fitting: TYPE 2

*PORTUGAL
ADAC states there are 80 stations, almost all BP/Mobil and Shell.
Fitting: TYPE 2

*ROMANIA

Available but not at fuel stations. European nozzles used.
Fitting: TYPE ?

*SAN MARINO

Remarkably, this tiny state has 5 filling stations. The highest concentration of any country in the world?

!SERBIA

Mecattini lists 8 stations in major cities.
Fitting: TYPE ?

SLOVAKIA

LPG is not generally available at fuel stations. This may make it difficult to find, but there are nearly 30 filling points throughout the country. See http://www.lpg.cz/cerpacky/mapy/mapa_slovenska.htm: includes an excellent map. A more recent website tip is http://www.lpg.cz/cerpaci_st/seznam_slovensko.php
Fitting: TYPE ?

!SLOVENIA

Not available at fuel stations. ADAC lists only 7 stations for the whole of the country.
Fitting: TYPE 2

SPAIN

Five or six years ago, there were only a handful of LPG stations in Spain – and they ONLY served public service vehicles eg taxis. But today, things do seem to have changed. One website reports “In Spain, LPG was first supplied for vehicles in 1986, with two filling stations. At the present time there are almost 50 supply points nation-wide…” but it then goes on to say there are “12,000 vehicles running on LPG, all taxis”.

But can private vehicles fill with LPG? Not according to the Real Automovil Club de Espana quoted by the Caravan Club in a paper dated September 2003. LPG is reserved for buses and taxis. Yet a correspondent (February 2004) tells me confidently “The law in Spain has changed and LPG is now available to all - not just PSV's” and another (early 2005) that “from 1-1-03 in Spain you can fill private cars in Spain and the special taxes have been reduced from this date from €793/1,000kgs to €125 for private cars, remaining €59 for public vehicles ( taxis, buses and public fleets)”.

For more info, try the Repsol site with its very good map: http://www.repsolypf.com/eng/productosyservicios/productosyservicios/glpautomocion/informacioncomercial/puntosdeventa/mapaptosventa.asp?PaginaID=1876&Nivel=11 .You can download a list of their stations from: http://www.repsolypf.com/comunes/archivos/Gasautos__51091.pdf  Fitting: TYPE 1 (but non-standard 60mm), (2) (We are told in November 2010 by Richard Howe, an American in Europe, that neither of these links work).

The UK's RV Fullitming website may be helpful at: http://s14.zetaboards.com/Full_time_RV/topic/437489/1/

And: http://www.motorhome-list.org.uk/spain.htm#lpg

!SWITZERLAND
Filling stations are not common. ADAC lists 9. Try for a list.
Fitting: TYPE 3,(2)

!SWEDEN
Most major cities have a station selling LPG, but they are not numerous. For more information on the whole of Scandinavia, the first place to look is the excellent http://www.gassmagasinet.no/AUTOGAS_SKANDINAVIA/body_autogas_skandinavia.html You can also try http://www.q8.dk/q8/frames.html  and http://www.statoildetailhandel.dk/FrontServlet
Fitting: TYPE 2

*TURKEY
Perhaps the LPG capital of the world. Very easy to obtain.
Fitting: TYPE ?

*UK
LPG is widely available in the UK at fuel stations. The gas supplied is often a mixture of butane and propane and the mixture varies with the time of year. (The largest LPG supplier in the UK (Calor) says its Autogas is commercial propane, supplied to British Standard 4250). For a list of suppliers of LPG see www.lpga.co.uk
Fitting: TYPE 1,(3)

GAS FITTINGS AND ADAPTERS FOR LPG TANKS

There is range of adapters that allow any filler to connect to any tank.

In the UK, there are two standards. One is the British 1.25” ACME thread, the other is the Dutch Bayonet. The first is popular at sites which sell gas for utility purposes (cooking and heating). The second is the normal standard for dispensing Autogas road fuel.

In the UK, most filling stations used to keep a range of adapters so that visitors from abroad could always fill up. Due to accidents with the use of adapters, and theft, the major outlets (Shell, BP, etc) have stopped handing them out.

More information may be available from Len Morris () and from Derek Elwood and MTH Autogas http://www.mthautogas.co.uk/.