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Old 03-09-2020, 09:48   #16
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

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Originally Posted by NaClyDog View Post
Interesting. I've spoken with 2 different cruisers who ended up having to buy one or two different canisters to deal with those issues.

That's another, alternative way to deal with the question. It's what we do.


There is a different type of bottle in almost ever different EU country (so much for EU standardization ). But there is one type of bottle which is used in four for us strategic places -- Denmark and Danish crown territories (including Faroe Islands), Finland, Baltic States. So we have a set of the original Calor gas butane bottle which are standard in the UK (where we normally spend winters but not this year), and one Danish type bottle. Migrating across the North Sea and Baltic from the UK we can make it to Estonia or Finland on a set of full Calor gas bottles (2x 4.5kg), then fill up our 5kg Danish bottle, rinse and repeat.


Then besides that, you can get a "guerilla fill" of whatever kind of bottle in some surprising places -- like in Sweden.


Then the killer solution -- have an induction hot plate to use on shore power or when you have plenty of power. It radically cuts gas consumption and means that even if you do run out of gas it's not a tragedy.


As others have reported, our gas system is agnostic about propane vs butane, using both happily without adjustments.



So in real life, after some years of experience, it's not a big deal. Still, I look forward to my next, induction-only boat.
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Old 03-09-2020, 13:03   #17
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

The bottles in Australia have a vent valve which you crack and allow to slightly bleed gas to indicate when they are full. There is a tube inside which picks up liquid when it's surface reaches the correct full level.

In some places a butane/propane mix is used with more propane in it during the winter months to ensure evaporation still occurs when it is cold.

You can buy a new 9 kg bottle for around A$60 in Australia if you need a transfer bottle.
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Old 04-09-2020, 19:14   #18
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Since some years ago all US portable propane bottles have overfill preventative valves, they work off of a float like your home toilet does, you canít overfill one, the float and valve wonít let you
Used to that you were supposed to fill bottles based on their weight, the bottle should have an empty and full weight stamped on it, in fact most filling stations still put a bottle on a scale, set it, and then ignore the scale.
Itís sort of funny, Iíve given up asking why they do that, I havenít found one that understood why they did, they were just told to, so they do.

So overfilling isnít a problem, and if your not smart enough to prevent frostbite, Iíd suspect you donít have what it takes to cruise either.

OPD (overfill protection devices) are safety devices rather than primary controls. They do not close completely, and with a transfer whip (or filling pigtail, same thing) you can overfill one easily, because when the cylinder sits for an hour or two propane leaks past the OPD.



I've done it, and couldn't figure out why the cylinders were venting on a hot day until I weighed them.



Filling cylinders by weight is still required by CGA standards which, in the USA, are incorporated into federal law. Propane filling station operators vary in how careful they are, which, of course, is why we have OPDs.
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Old 04-09-2020, 19:32   #19
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

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Butane and Propane are essentially interchangeable.
If your a mountain climber you donít want a butane stove, you want propane, the boiling point of butane is much higher than propane, so if its stupid cold, butane wonít vaporize, because itís colder than itís boiling point, but for cruising boats, Iíd assume they donít go where itís that cold, maybe the Arctic guys do?

There are a number of significant differences between propane and butane as fuels.


As a64pilot correctly notes, the boiling point of butane is much higher, at around 32 degrees F, compared to propane at -43 degrees F.


The vapor pressure of propane is higher, which means that cylinders that hold it need thicker walls; they are therefore heavier. This is why, in the main, butane is preferred in tropical reasons -- the cylinders are lighter and cheaper.


Butane requires a leaner mixture (more oxygen/more air) to burn completely and will tend to produce more carbon monoxide and soot the bottoms of the pans on a stove adjusted for propane. It produces more heat by volume (but not by weight), which is why pressures or orifice sizes must be adjusted to prevent overfiring.


For cooking use the exact mixture and firing rate is less critical and so using butane on a stove set up for propane will work, after a fashion, in many cases, even if doing so produces more CO, soots up the pans, and uses a little more gas than it should.


As an aside, the mountain climbing set have largely switched to blends of propane and isobutane, which can be kept in thin-walled containers but still work reasonably well in cold temperatures. In some cases they use stoves that have a generator (that heats the fuel before burning it so it will vaporize) in cold weather.
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Old 04-09-2020, 19:54   #20
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post

As an aside, the mountain climbing set have largely switched to blends of propane and isobutane, which can be kept in thin-walled containers but still work reasonably well in cold temperatures. In some cases they use stoves that have a generator (that heats the fuel before burning it so it will vaporize) in cold weather.
I thought the done thing was to sleep with it in your sleeping bag.

Back to marine stuff. Many newer stoves and ovens will have a label on them detailing the delivery pressures they want for propane and butane.

Of course often in a foreign country, you have no idea what you are getting, even if you ask the person filling the cylinder.
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Old 05-09-2020, 08:21   #21
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
If your a mountain climber you donít want a butane stove, you want propane, the boiling point of butane is much higher than propane, so if its stupid cold, butane wonít vaporize, because itís colder than itís boiling point, but for cruising boats, Iíd assume they donít go where itís that cold, maybe the Arctic guys do?
Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Since some years ago all US portable propane bottles have overfill preventative valves, they work off of a float like your home toilet does, you canít overfill one, the float and valve wonít let you
Used to that you were supposed to fill bottles based on their weight, the bottle should have an empty and full weight stamped on it, in fact most filling stations still put a bottle on a scale, set it, and then ignore the scale.
One of the concerns the hiking/backpacking crowd has had is around the cost (and waste) of using disposal canisters of isobutane blends that Jammer mentioned, and so naturally some thoughts turned toward refilling them. The EN417 standard is of course for a non-refillable cartridge with "no need" for overfill protection.

What I think isn't obvious to the casual user is the need to maintain sufficient headspace. That is, whilst gas is compressible, the liquid portion of the LPG fuel is also subject to thermal expansion. If sufficient space hasn't been left, the hydrostatic pressure can rapidly deconstruct the tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
As a64pilot correctly notes, the boiling point of butane is much higher, at around 32 degrees F, compared to propane at -43 degrees F.
...
Butane requires a leaner mixture (more oxygen/more air) to burn completely and will tend to produce more carbon monoxide and soot the bottoms of the pans on a stove adjusted for propane. It produces more heat by volume (but not by weight), which is why pressures or orifice sizes must be adjusted to prevent overfiring.
...
As an aside, the mountain climbing set have largely switched to blends of propane and isobutane, which can be kept in thin-walled containers but still work reasonably well in cold temperatures. In some cases they use stoves that have a generator (that heats the fuel before burning it so it will vaporize) in cold weather.
Even with butane boiling around 0 įC, sufficient pressure is still needed to keep the stove happy. Plain butane is thus a terrible choice for cold weather and why decent 4-season blends use isobutane (boils around -12 įC).

Thank you for mentioning the orifice size! I hadn't been able to recall the details, apart from the chance of flame "lift-off" when feeding a butane stove with straight propane.

For colder weather, when placing the canister of a bowl of water is no longer sufficient, running a head exchanger strip from the burner to the fuel tank is a simple means of heating the fuel. (Different from the pre-heat tube that's required to vaporize the fuel when using a inverted canister.)
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Old 05-09-2020, 08:29   #22
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Re: Dealing with LPG gas in different areas (butane vs propane)

Normally places that use butane, it's a mix, and the ratio changes depending on the season. So it's not really worth talking about. Unless you will be cruising in arctic climates.

The only reason you need to know what you are getting when you go for a fill is as people have mentioned, the higher pressures of propane, though many bottles will take both (check the labels), and the regulator requirement for your stove.
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