Beautiful day at Wareham, Dorset, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, Somerset, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Birmingham, England on May 19th!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Propane, water, electricity!

Propane is a common headache for motorhome travelers in Europe. The reason is that there are no agreed upon standards between the countries for propane tanks or fittings. Here, they are not called propane tanks, they are called "gas bottles".

I'll use our situation here in Germany as an example. 

We have two 11 kg gas bottles. They are not self refillable. However while Max is in Germany, it is a simple procedure. When one runs out, you simply go to any number of hardware stores, garden centers, gas stations and exchange your empty bottle for a full one. We've even seen exchange stands at some campgrounds and grocery stores. It is not a problem to find somewhere to exchange a cylinder in Germany. The cost of one full bottle is between €20 and €25. It's actually fairly expensive though, with the LPG priced at just over €1 per liter.

Here in Europe, there are self serve filling stations for propane. And they are pretty common. There are a lot more propane fueled vehicles here, and the price at these stations is between €0.55 and €0.70 per liter.

But once we get out of Germany, it's difficult to get these German propane tanks exchanged or filled. I think Poland has the same tanks as Germany, and we learned in Netherlands that you can get them filled there, but your options are fairly limited. France has an entirely different system, as do some other countries. The only way in some circumstances is to dump the tanks that you have and get the different tanks that are available in each country as you go. It makes no sense. Also, motorhomers who travel throughout Europe need to keep with them a fittings kit for the four different types of adapters that you need to fill whatever tank system you choose.

So what people do as a way around this is to have refillable tanks installed. Our friends Dave and Bonnie who we are here with now, have one such system...

Two tank self refillable Alugas system.

They have two 11 kg aluminum "bottles". The only major advantage over steel bottles is the weight. The bottles are hooked up together and you never need to switch a hose from one bottle to the other. When you fill up, there is an automatic shut off at the 80% level. 

The exterior fill location.

The fill valve is located on the exterior of the motorhome so you don't even need to open the compartment door when you fill up. It's really a simple, convenient, foolproof system.

One major problem. The initial cost is expensive.

With aluminum tanks, it's about €1,000 and with steel tanks about €600.

So it would probably take about three years of full time use to pay for itself, but putting the initial cost aside it is a lot more convenient.  

There is a secondary problem. It is against the law to fill this system at self serve propane stations in Germany, and in some other countries. It is only legal to fill permanently mounted tanks at a self serve station. But we've learned before that when a rule doesn't make sense, it's easy for a lot of people to justify breaking the rule, and lots of people here do just that. 

Anyhow, we are arranging to have a system like this installed while we are back in Canada.

Someone asked yesterday about the water and electricity stations at some of the campgrounds and motorhome parking lots...

Water on the left, and electricity on the right.

For water, you simply hook up your hose, turn on the tap, insert a €1 coin, and as soon as the coin drops, you hear a click and the water turns itself on. You supposedly get 100 liters per coin, so that is usually enough to fill your fresh water holding tank.

For electricity, you plug in to one of the available outlets, insert a coin, and press the button beside your outlet. Electricity is either metered or timed and shuts off when you've used up your allotment.

The funny thing is, every time we see one of these electrical or water or dump and fill stations... there are no two alike! Or at least very few the same. It's really strange, you'd think there would be standard systems made by two or three different manufacturers in Europe... but it seems not.

Ruth and Bonnie went for a walk during the afternoon...


The Ems River in Telgte.

We never did make it to the circus yesterday. I walked over to see how much it cost, but the sign only said that Friday adults pay the same as kids, and that there was a show Friday and Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 2pm. And a number to call for tickets. So we just didn't bother. Besides, sitting inside a busy tent with our masks on didn't appeal very much.

We did sit outside though and had a good happy hour...

Bonnie, Kevin, and Dave.
And the circus in the background.

We're moving on today though. Just going to another municipal parking area 18 kms (11 miles) from here. 

Record low deal on this Cordless Stick Vac.

And in Canada...

Record low deal on this Corded Stick Vac.


  1. Sounds like the Common Market needs to get its standards act together...

    1. Absolutely, that would make things so easier and make so much more sense!

  2. I know that in England home electric is on a card that you charge and then insert the card into your meter. In the U.S. they make a huge stink out of filling your LP tanks; special locations, certified employees only, tank types, etc.

    1. I remember going to a holiday house with my grandparents at Hayling Island and they had a stack of coins that they would use so that they could get electric. If they didn't need it at the time they didn't pop in any coins but when they did, they would pop in however much they needed to give them electric for a certain amount of time.

      It is much the same over here, your tanks have to be inspected and you have to go to a special filling station where an authorized employee can fill the tanks for you, unless you have a propane car where you just drive up to the pump and refill it yourself, this is why we want the other system. Canada by the way is way stricter than the US when it comes to filling up propane tanks!

  3. The water fittings vary as well so you end up needing small medium and large in both metric and imperial and a handy addition is a universal rubber one with jubilee clip. They don't make it easy !

    1. Good to know, we had already noticed at on tap the different size. We will look out for these fittings and buy them accordingly thanks for the suggestions. :-)


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