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Old 23-01-2011, 20:19   #1
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Butane in the US

Does anyone know where in the US I can get my 14 kg butane tanks refilled at less than "lab quality butane" rates?? Thanks Bruce B
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Old 23-01-2011, 20:23   #2
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i am not totally sure, but try welding supply shops.. they usually have compressed gas of all kinds...
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Old 23-01-2011, 20:41   #3
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Butane is very hard to find, its may be easier to convert over to propane. youll need a new regulator and new jets in the burners.

Dave
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Old 23-01-2011, 20:59   #4
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Butane is very hard to find, its may be easier to convert over to propane. youll need a new regulator and new jets in the burners.

Dave
This might or might not be true. We had heard the same thing before experiencing the change firsthand. Might depend on which regulator he has. We have used both propane (in the Caribbean and US) and butane (in the South Pacific). All LPG we have bought works just fine with no modifications whatsoever as it all works under the same pressure, which is what a regulator controls.

It is true that the regulator and jets would require replacing if switching from natural gas to LPG but I don't know of any boats using natural gas.

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Old 23-01-2011, 21:10   #5
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You might find small butane bottles at Lowes or Home Depot (large building supply outlets) used for small portable hand-held soldering torches. Try Googling "Bottled butane in USA".
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Old 30-07-2011, 14:07   #6
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Re: Butane in the US

BruceB,

Did you ever have any luck finding a Butane fill in the U.S.

There are few boats here in South Florida looking for a solution that does not require a major refit, along with us if we happen to run out before returning to the Caribbean.

We did get a butane fill in Fajardo Puerto Rico last year, but I'm not sure they count themselves as being in the U.S.

Not sure why butane is a problem, it's way more safe.


Thanks,

Keath
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Old 30-07-2011, 14:36   #7
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Re: Butane in the US

The US is mainly propane when it comes to bottled gas, possibly because it burns hotter than butane. Some of the gas suppliers that service home heating systems sell butane as well as propane, and clothes dryers, etc. are often available with gas jets for either fuel--so it IS available. I'd suggest looking in a local yellow pages for "bottled gas" suppliers.

AFAIK south Florida is mainly electric, because it is cheaper to string aerial wires than to try burying gas pipes in the limestone, or truck around gas bottles.
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Old 30-07-2011, 15:19   #8
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Re: Butane in the US

Propane and Butane properties are very similar so you can use propane in a butane system and butane in a propane system without undue worries. Just use an adaptor for the different tanks/ fills etc. The regulators are close enough to be the same too so no worries.

So says the engineering chic.
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Old 30-07-2011, 16:45   #9
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Re: Butane in the US

My understanding is that both Butane and Propane are a mixture of the two. If Butane is the higher proportion then the gas is called Butane, otherwise it is called Propane. So both should burn in stoves intended for either gas without any modifications.
The real difference (as I understand it) is the gas pressure. The typical Butane bottles used in Europe (e.g., Camping Gaz) are under lower pressure than the NA propane bottles. I don't know why this is so, possibly the Butane mixture converts to a liquid under less pressure than the propane mixture.
While in Europe I could use the Camping Gaz cylinders with my propane system, I just needed the fitting adapter made by Trident and sold by WM to connect those cylinders to my regulator. You will likely need an adapter of some kind to allow a NA distributor to fill you European tanks (if that is what you have).
Going the other way may pose additional problems. The European regulators may not work properly with the higher pressure in bottles filled with from NA propane distributors.
I was able, with great difficulty, to get my NA propane bottles filled in Portugal at the gas stations that filled the few LPG (GPL in Portugal) fueled automobiles. I do not know if this mixture was predominantly Butane or Propane or at what pressure my tanks were filled. I just know the nozzle used to fill the tanks was compatible with the fitting on my tanks and the gas burned fine in my stove.
While in Europe I got lots of advice on the compatibility of the two gases - from, "No sweat" to "It will burn your boat to the water line". The "No sweat" advice worked for me, but I was very cautious in testing it before I nonchalantly turned on the solenoid in the morning to heat water for my coffee. I suggest the same caution if you fill your Butane tanks in the USA.

John
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Old 30-07-2011, 16:49   #10
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Re: Butane in the US

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Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
Propane and Butane properties are very similar so you can use propane in a butane system and butane in a propane system without undue worries. Just use an adaptor for the different tanks/ fills etc. The regulators are close enough to be the same too so no worries.

So says the engineering chic.
Agreed!

We have frequently used butane (as supplied in New Caledonia and French Polynesia) in our propane stove and hot water heater, with NO changes. The butane burns slightly sooty at times, and with somewhat lower heat output, but it works fine. Consequently, I suspect that the reverse situation would prove successful.

And as to butane being safer... nonsense! Both are heavier than air and provide the same hazards.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 30-07-2011, 17:08   #11
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Re: Butane in the US

At 20C (68F) a propane cylinder has a pressure of about 100 psi whereas a butane cylinder is about 15 psi(g). In the tropics, both vaporize quite nicely, but in colder climes you will have trouble vaporizing butane properly on a really cold day. LPG is generally a mixture of the two but the proportions are unregulated. If you use a pressure reducing valve on the butane, propane, and LPG tanks and feed the gas to the burners at the right pressure, all these gases work equally well, although butane has a bit higher heating value per unit of gas volume than propane (a higher carbon to hydrogen ratio, just like diesel has more energy per unit than gasoline for the same reason). But the fittings on the two types of tank are different so you will need an adaptor to enable a propane tank to be filled with butane, and vice versa. You will also need to convince a propane dealer to fill a butane tank with propane (and he shouldn't do so) because the butane tank will probably be rated at too low a pressure to permit it being filled with propane. I'd carry a propane AND a butane tank and fill with whatever fuel is locally available. With the right feed pressure, your stove burners don't really care. Note: this is NOT true for natural gas because per unit of volume it has a much lower heating value and will burn differently. But no one carries LNG on a boat!!! so it's a mute point.
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Old 30-07-2011, 20:42   #12
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Re: Butane in the US

I did find a supplier in Northern Virginia who would fill my 14 lb tanks, but the price was ridiculously high (I seem to remember $140 a bottle). I also contacted the manufacturer of my stove and was advised that it would burn propane w/o modification. I still have one full and one-half full butane bottle, so I haven't actually done it, but my plan is to purchase a couple of propane bottles and a regulator so as to have a US system and a Caribbean system.
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Old 30-07-2011, 21:44   #13
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Re: Butane in the US

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...my plan is to purchase a couple of propane bottles and a regulator so as to have a US system and a Caribbean system.
Sounds like a good idea. Just don't fill butane bottles with propane unless the stamp on the bottle says they've been pressure tested to at least 300 psi (allowing for extreme temperatures in sailbat lockers). A ruptured propane bottle would have high probability of being a real disaster.
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Old 30-07-2011, 23:33   #14
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Re: Butane in the US

This is why they call it LPG (GPL, LP Gas, Autogas). It's a mix of propane and butane. Butane is cheaper so that's what you tend to get except in cold climates in the winter. Doubt it makes any difference to the appliance. Butane in cool weather, or if used at a very high rate from a small bottle will "freeze" in the bottle, seeming empty until it warms back up..
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