A Summary of Gas Safety Information and Regulations for Campervans & Motorhomes

That’s right, it’s time to talk gas safety! We know it’s a bit of a boring topic, but it’s vital information.

As most campervans are powered even somewhat by gas, it’s a hugely important topic to educate yourself on, as otherwise you’re putting a lot of people at risk. There are a multitude of regulations around carrying gas in your campervan, including ventilation, as well as storage during the off-season, so make sure you’re in the know. 

Types of Gas.

It makes sense to start off by talking a bit about the different kinds of gas available in the UK and Europe.

All European countries have their own gas bottle suppliers, and each of these have their own regulators and adaptors. If you’re planning on spending long periods of time travelling between different countries in Europe, it’s worth keeping this in mind. Researching availability before you travel is always a good idea. You don’t want to be stranded without hot water or a working fridge in the middle of the Alps. 

Campingaz is available all through Europe in small bottles. This is great for quick trips or for solo travellers, but could be a bit of a pain if there’s a lot of you – no one wants to wake up to find there’s no gas to boil the kettle!

 LPG (or Liquid Petroleum Gas) is the most common kind used in campervans and motorhomes. It comes in two types, Propane and Butane. Without going into the differences between the chemical structure of each, here are the main differences between the two: 

Propane:

  • This is usually used in vehicles where multiple appliances will be running off it (cookers, heaters, fridges etc.)
  • Ideal for cold climates, as it still operates down to -40°C
  • It’s much lighter and less dense than Butane

Butane:

  • Operates more efficiently than Propane, so you shouldn’t have to wait as long for kettles to boil, pans to heat etc.
  • It's denser than propane, too, so a bottle of the same size will hold more gas.
  • Butane can’t be used at temperatures below 0°C, as it will have frozen down to a liquid state, rather than gas

Different appliances may need one or other of the main LPGs to operate effectively, so it’s always worth checking that before you buy one or the other.

Gas Safety Organisations.

Here in the UK, the official body in charge of gas safety is the Gas Safe Register, who replaced CORGI (not that Corgi!) on April 1st, 2009.

It’s their mission to promote safe practice surrounding gas, as well as register and test all gas engineers in the UK. They also investigate potentially unsafe work and educate professionals and the public on gas safety. It’s a really important job, and you can find out more about it on their website.

If you’re using LPG, you’ll also want to look at Liquid Gas UK, who are the trade body for LPG, and have a variety of consumer guidance on how to safely use LPG and more.

Gas Safety Regulations & Rules

Firstly, the legal standard that applies to campervans is BS EN 1949: 2001 + A1:2013. If you’re ever stumped and want more information, it’s worth looking that up. There isn’t the same level of regulations for fitting gas and gas appliances to motorhomes and campervans as there are to houses, but we’d still recommend that anyone installing an appliance is registered with the Gas Safe Register.

If you’re installing gas appliances into your campervan, then sticking to the British Standards isn’t mandatory, unless you’re going to be hiring that vehicle out. However, maintaining compliance is best for safety. Any vehicle on UK roads must be road legal, so if you’re driving around with a gas bottle strapped to the back of your camper, chances are that police will pull you over.

If you are going to be hiring your camper out, then ensuring that everything is compliant with the law is down to you, just as it would be if you owned a house or flat that you were renting out.

You’re certainly allowed to undertake the work yourself if you don’t happen to be a registered gas engineer, as long as you’re competent. The definition of competence is somewhat vague, but you’ve got to ask yourself whether you’d be happy to undertake the work and have the responsibility on your shoulders. There’s a lot that could potentially go wrong, and the stakes are certainly high, so it may well be worth getting a registered engineer to fit it.

How much does it cost to install gas into a campervan? 

Registered gas engineers can charge anywhere between £30 and £100 an hour, but it’s worth looking around in your area if, and when, you need one.

You can find a full summary of sections of interest from the BS EN 1949 legislation here.

FAQs About Gas Safety and Installation

Do I need a gas locker in my campervan?

Yes, you will need a locker that is sealed, away from the living area, and one that has vents to the outside for your gas bottle.

If you’ve got a countertop gas stove, the gas locker regulations don’t apply, but you will need to consider the safe storage of spare gas bottles. This can hold as many bottles as you need but consider the weight and risk when planning for gas installation.

How do I find a campervan gas installer?

Some domestic installers do not deal with campervans, and so finding an approved installer who can help can be tricky.

Using the Gas Safe Register engineer search, you can filter by people near you who offer caravan installation. There is no filter available for campervans specifically, so you’ll need to use the caravan filter.

Head to https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/find-an-engineer/, and then search for your location.

To find caravan installers, make sure you’re searching domestically and then click choose appliance. Select LPG/Cylinder, and then on the drop down, select caravans.

Where do I get a campervan gas safety certificate?

Once you’ve found an approved installer following the above steps, they will carry out a gas safety check of your installation and will be able to issue you with a gas safety certificate if your installation is compliant. 

JK’s Top Tips for Gas Safety 

Here are a few quick hints and tips for gas safety, which we hope will help keep you safe and sound on your travels!

  • Ensure the gas is turned off before you travel, unless you have a bottle that has been marked explicitly for driving.
  • If you’re using your vehicle for work purposes and it’s carrying compressed gas, you must show a sticker alerting people.
  • If you’re not using your vehicle for work, but are still carrying compressed gas, then we’d still advise having a warning sticker on display while you’re carrying the gas.
  • Unless your campervan or motorhome has a rotating rooftop device, then you’re limited to two 10 litre bottles of gas in the UK.
  • All flammable gasses must be carried upright at all times.
  • Make sure you’ve got a Carbon Monoxide alarm. They might not be stylish, but they’re potentially lifesaving.
  • Note that LPG gasses are heavier than air, so will form a ‘puddle’ on the ground in the event of a leak. Floor vents must be kept clear and unobscured.
  • If parked up in snow / mud / etc. then ensure that the vents aren’t blocked and are regularly cleaned out.
  • Unsurprisingly, changing the bottle or cartridge is the most dangerous time for gas bottles. Always make sure that you know how to remove and fit the regulator, and keep well away from naked flames when changing the bottle.
  • Don’t use a naked flame to look for a leak (obviously…). Check for pipe leaks by using a water and washing up liquid solution, and then looking for bubbles.
  • Make sure you’ve got a fire blanket or fire extinguisher, as well as a fire alarm. If you’ve got an older VW you should probably have an extinguisher any way, in case of a dreaded engine fire. Can you really have too many extinguishers in an old ‘Dub?

Hopefully you’ve found this advice helpful and informative, rather than scary or boring! If you’re ever unsure of any installations related to gas safety, always check with an approved engineer before you carry out any work. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to gas.

Just Kampers has gas regulators, fittings and more, so have a search of our product directory, and if you’re unsure on what you need, get in touch.