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Old 13-01-2019, 17:14   #1
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Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

Hi All,
Planning on crossing the pond to spend a summer (maybe two) in the med.
Can I get my USA propane cylinders filled in Europe?
Do I need to buy European cylinders and get them filled? how does it work over there?

Thanks
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Old 13-01-2019, 17:45   #2
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

You'll probably get more and better answers from others but I met one US cruiser that made an adapter for his boat system to use standard CampingGaz bottles. They aren't the cheapest but available everywhere.
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Old 13-01-2019, 19:21   #3
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

We have two US-style 20 lb. propane bottles on board - the fiberglass ones by Trident. Off the top of my head, since crossing in 2015 we have had them filed in Terceira (Azores), Sicily, and Albania. There must have ben someplace else, but memory fails me. Before leaving the US we bought the adapter to allow our US style tanks to fit European fittings, but we have never had to use it to get a tank filled.

There is a also guy in Gibraltar at Marina Bay marina that can get them filled in Spain, but it is pricey.

By having two large propane bottles we were able to last between filling stations even though they were spaced far apart.

Cheers!

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Old 13-01-2019, 19:30   #4
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by B_Hunter45 View Post
Hi All,
Planning on crossing the pond to spend a summer (maybe two) in the med.
Can I get my USA propane cylinders filled in Europe?

Maybe. Some filling stations will, others will not; it varies by country and from one fill station to the next. You may wish to bring a filling adapter.



You can possibly transfill them yourself from a European cylinder, if you make an adapter for that purpose. Care must be used to do this safely.



LPG in Europe


Quote:

Do I need to buy European cylinders and get them filled? how does it work over there?

https://www.lpgadapter.com/
that

There are other kits out there.


The main thing to realize is that there is no Europe-wide standard. Standards vary from country to country, among vendors, and to some extent from one size cylinder to another.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propan...ve_connections
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Old 14-01-2019, 00:41   #5
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

We crossed in 2013 with 2 10# USA tanks - we got them filled a few places but let me go back - we sailed all the Carib - both east and west and had a few issues and got and set up an adapter that we carry when we go to get them filled. In some places it is possible to refill in one country - forgot which one is a no refill. It was always a hit and miss so in Turkey where we did get them refilled but not without effort we finally got a tank with a European fittings and changed over our regulator. We still carry 2 USA tanks - both fiberglass (the metal ones got some rust on them and no one wanted to touch them) one 10# and one bigger - they are full now but we just got our 7kilo tank filled in Israel and we will use it and only change the adapters when we absolutely have to - our plan is to sail back across this year


As an aside - put a microwave on as it makes a nice back up when and if you should run out of propane or it takes some time to get one refilled. It has taken us anywhere from a few hours to a week to get a tank refilled depending on where they have to send it. OH and we refuse to swap out as out tank is bigger and fits our propane storage locker as some of the swap out are smaller and may not fit


Just one of the little issues of the difference and an annoyance until you figure it out.
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Old 14-01-2019, 02:37   #6
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

I'm based in Europe, but have my Hunter 45CC with 2 x 10 pound Alu. cylinders in the US.

Due to the authorities over here freaking out about the safety of refilling cylinders, you'll find that apart from the odd backstreet place, virtually no-one is going to refill your own cylinders.

The system over here is entirely based on cylinder exchange where (technically) the company owns the actual cylinder and you pay a deposit for it. Sometimes they will accept each other's cylinders, sometimes not.

The biggest exchange programme is 'Camping Gaz' (blue cylinders usually with awkward shapes to fit your lockers), they are available across Europe, but use their own fittings, so I suggest you search around on the Internet for adaptors.

Be aware also that whilst in the US, what you get in the cylinder is usually propane, in Europe it's common to get butane and/or a mix of butane and propane. Practically, this probably doesn't make too much of a difference, but you might find that your flame burns a little differently if your stove is set up for propane and you run 100% butane through it. Best to check the rating label and / or manual on your stove on this point.

Not that I'm recommending this for everyday use, but .... FWIW, I ran out of propane in Cuba and was offered a large 10 year old cylinder that was so rusty it looked like it might explode at any time. I knocked up a filling tube using an old barbecue hose, some hose clamps and some copper pipe. Held the full cylinder upside down with a black bin bag over it using a halyard and put the empty cylinder in the sea. After a few hours all the propane had run into the lower tank - all good. No drama, no disaster.

There's just waaaay too commercial protectionism masquerading as 'health and safety' protection in the world these days ... just my 10c. :-)
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Old 14-01-2019, 05:40   #7
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
The main thing to realize is that there is no Europe-wide standard. Standards vary from country to country, among vendors, and to some extent from one size cylinder to another.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propan...ve_connections
Have heard this comment before. Sounds like gas cylinder fittings are even more varied and more hassle than electrical outlets.

This is why the cruiser I met went with CampingGaz which Duncan also recommended. They have their own fittings that are consistent all over Europe. Also set up for a quick drop and swap exchange of the empty for a full. Not sure if the cylinder program extends to all the countries where they are represented (they also sell BBQ grills, stoves, lanterns and more) but seems like EU and the Med is covered.

https://www.campingaz.com/uk/c-624-r...cylinders.aspx
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Old 14-01-2019, 05:57   #8
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

Yes, CampinGaz is available in most places, but ridiculously expensive. It is pure Buthen. There are low pressure Buthene tankls and high pressure Propane tanks, never try to fill Propane into a Butene tank!

It is even within the same country sometimes difficult to exchange their cylinders, because the companies have their own (rental) tanks, and not sell them in all places across. Re-fill is usually done in the factory and not on the street, bottles are collected by a truck, brought to the Factory in exchange of full bottles, so you never get the same bottle back filled. There may be some small refill businesses around to serve special needs, but this is often a grey market, companies are usually only allowed to fill certified cylinders the local law - also for insurance and liability reason.

There are also Customer owned grey tanks, that are exchanged / refilled the same way, (in Germany they are Grey in contrast to the Red or Green rental ones for Propane), you pay 1€ more per fill for the mandatory safety check, in rental bottles it is inclusive, the Owner has to pay, rental bottels are re-funded when returned in contrast to owners bottles - like the grey ones, the Aluminium bottles or the CampingGaz. There are also user refillable really expensive GPR bottles (SafeFill) with a safety vent inside that prevents over-filling with an adapter set, you can fill at petrol stations with LPG pump, BUT this is in some EU - countries illegal. Some countries allow self-service (like Germany, Austria, France) some do not (Italy) on LPG pumps in petrol stations even for cars. The LPG consists of 30%/70% up to 95%/5% Propene / Buthene mix (depending on season), the tanks must be Propane certified.

The regulations, bottles, adapters and procedures vary in each country, it is local law and not yet harmonized.
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Old 14-01-2019, 06:01   #9
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

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Originally Posted by CatNewBee View Post
Yes, CampinGaz is available in most places, but ridiculously expensive. It is pure Buthen. There are low pressure Buthene tankls and high pressure Propane tanks, never try to fill Propane into a Butene tank!

It is even within the same country sometimes difficult to exchange heir cylinders, because the companies have their own (rental) tanks, and not sell them in all places.

There are also Customer owned grey tanks, that are exchanged / refilled the same way, (in Germany they are Grey in contrast to the Red or Green rental ones for Propane), you pay 1€ more per fill for the mandatory safety check, in rental bottles it is inclusive, the Owner has to pay, rental bottels are re-funded when returned in contrast to owners bottles - like the grey ones, the Aluminium bottles or the CampingGaz. There are also user refillable really expensive GPR bottles (SafeFill) with a safety vent inside that prevents over-filling with an adapter set, you can fill at petrol stations with LPG pump, BUT this is in some EU - countries illegal. Some countries allow self-service (like Germany, Austria, France) some do not (Italy) on LPG pumps in petrol stations even for cars.

The regulations, bottles, adapters and procedures vary in each country, it is local law and not yet harmonized.
Cost is the main complaint I have heard about CampingGaz. Guess you pay a lot for the "convenience". Didn't know it was pure butane. From what I read it will work in a propane system but less heat.
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Old 14-01-2019, 06:13   #10
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

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Cost is the main complaint I have heard about CampingGaz. Guess you pay a lot for the "convenience". Didn't know it was pure butane. From what I read it will work in a propane system but less heat.
They are low pressure Buthene and considered safer than propane, the flame burns not so blue and clean as with propane, but it is hotter, it has more energy per liter so the tank lasts longer than the same size Propane, but the pots may get black sooted bottoms.
But in General, you can use them on a propane installation with the right regulator. Former propane installations had been 50mbar, the new standard is 30mbar operational pressure, that is OK for Buthene too.




For a new full bottle 2.75kg you pay 72€, refill is about 30€ (non-refundable)
With propane rental bottle you pay 30€ deposit (refundable) and around 20€ for 11kg Propane, so ways cheaper.

There are also smaller bottles both campinggaz and propane
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Old 14-01-2019, 07:38   #11
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

Would carrying a one burner Origo alcohol stove be an alternative backup?
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Old 14-01-2019, 07:54   #12
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

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They are low pressure Buthene and considered safer than propane, the flame burns not so blue and clean as with propane, but it is hotter, it has more energy per liter so the tank lasts longer than the same size Propane, but the pots may get black sooted bottoms.
But in General, you can use them on a propane installation with the right regulator. Former propane installations had been 50mbar, the new standard is 30mbar operational pressure, that is OK for Buthene too.
One caution, with butane or propane if you are getting a yellow flame and soot on the pots that indicates incomplete combustion due to insufficient oxygen and the burner will be producing much higher levels of carbon monoxide vs carbon dioxide.

Did some internet research and learned that butane has more energy by volume but propane has more energy by weight. The heat of the flame produced with complete combustion IE sufficient oxygen ratio, is almost identical, 1970 Cē for butane, 1967 Cē for propane. Also, in most places the gas may be predominantly one or the other but will contain some n-butane, iso-butane and propane. All work for fuel and it's expensive to completely purify the gas so for practical use you will probably have a mix.
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Old 14-01-2019, 08:02   #13
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

In Horta (Azores) no problem, in Madeira no problem, in Antiqua no problem (2017/2018)
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Old 14-01-2019, 09:56   #14
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

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Old 14-01-2019, 10:12   #15
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Re: Filling USA propane cylinders in europe

You can get them filled in Ayamonte, Spain. Also Maroc.
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