autogas information sheet
what is LPG?
LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas, and in the case of Autogas, it is mainly comprised of propane. It is a by- product of oil which exists as a gas under normal atmospheric pressure and becomes a liquid at very low temperatures and under pressure. This means it can be very conveniently stored as a liquid in a pressurised tank or steel cylinder. When the pressure is released, the liquid boils to form a vapour and makes up about 250 times its volume as a liquid. Propane burns easier without creating many of the noxious intermediates found in petrol vehicle exhaust emissions.
autogas – the clean solution
Autogas is becoming the favoured alternative fuel as it is very clean with fewer harmful emissions. Up to 24,000 early deaths per year can be attributable to poor air quality in Britain’s cities and the UK Government is committed to reducing this pollution. Transport is responsible for about 25% of the UK’s output of CO2 which is implicated in global warming.
In addition, because LPG has better anti-knock properties than petrol, engines are unlikely to 'pink' even under heavy load, and may give noticeable reduction in vibration at all engine speeds. When running on LPG, the petrol injectors are disabled, which also gives a significant reduction in noise pollution.
Compared to petrol:
- 75% less Carbon Monoxide
- 85% less Hydrocarbons
- 40% less Nitrous Oxides
- 87% less Ozone
Compared to diesel:
- 90% less Particulates
- 90% less Hydrocarbons
- 90% less Carbon Monoxide
- 50% less Nitrous Oxides
- Please note that these figures are based on tests performed at Millbrook and may vary from vehicle to vehicle and is a guide only.
Engine Wear & Performance
The use of propane in vehicles is also considered to reduce engine wear in engines and therefore maintenance. The benefits include:
- Extended oil change intervals (typically 20,000 miles).
- Increased spark plug life (typically 75,000 miles).
- Extended engine life (200,000 miles).
- Reduced soot formation, with associated decreases in abrasiveness and chemical degradation of lubricating oil.
- Reduced wear during cold starting. Petrol engines need fuel enrichment for cold-starting. The excess fuel accumulates on the cylinder walls, 'washing' away oil and accelerating wear.
LPG powered engines are considered easier to start, especially in cold weather and unlike petrol-fuelled vehicles there is no sluggishness or reduction in power when cold.
where does the tank go?
There are two main types of tank available installed in vehicles:
- Cylinder which fits along the rear seats
- Toroidal (same shape as the spare tyre) that fits in the spare tyre well.
There are also other tanks options that will fit most vehicles, in some cases without losing any space on the vehicle.
types of equipment
Depending on your engine there is a large choice of type of equipment.
Eurogas Advanced System. This is a self-learning system that uses slightly older technology than the other two types available and is most suited to older vehicles. It does, however, feature a self-learning capability which learns the driver’s habits and technique of driving to improve the performance of the vehicle. Typical mpg performance is 20% lower than the petrol equivalent.
Injected Gas System. This is one of the most advanced systems available and is most suitable for modern petrol engines with electronic fuel injection and catalytic convertor. It returns a similar efficiency as the EAS kit, but is a lot more reliable on modern engines. This system also has a learning capability and also takes into account throttle position, gas temperature, lambda ratio, intake manifold absolute pressure, engine temperature, engine rpm and petrol injector signals to maximise performance.
Sequential Gas Injection System. This is the latest kit to become available and it is again designed for modern engines with electronic fuel injection and catalytic convertors. This kit is the most expensive and, according to the manufacturers of the equipment, the fuel economy is much improved with around a 2% reduction in mpg over a petrol model so the extra cost will soon be recouped. However, this kit is still in its early days so other models other than the manufacturers own are not yet available. The liquid is injected just above the cylinder and is introduced via elecronically controlled valves giving a higher accuracy and therefore improved mpg performance with no loss of power or performance.
how safe is the equipment?
Very safe. The gas tanks have been subjected to truly rigorous tests and are much stronger than comparable petrol tanks. New safety valves in the tank activate automatically, ensuring that gas can no longer flow from the tank. Moreover, an autogas car has a closed and environmentally sound fuel system, which prevents fuel spillage and evaporation.
what happens if I run out of gas?
If you run out of gas some systems will automatically switch back over to petrol. With other systems it will be necessary to manually push a button. However, there is also a manual select button to change over to petrol should you wish.
how easy is it to fill up?
Filling up with Autogas is done in a closed system. In other words, you make a sealed connection and then the gas is pumped in until a maximum capacity (85% full) has been reached. The process takes fractionally longer than filling with petrol.
There are many different makes of Autogas equipment for the car but the more popular brands are Landi, Landi Renzo, Tartarini and OMVL.
There are many installers of Autogas equipment around the country. However, customers are recommended to only use converters approved by the LPG Association (currently approximately 190). A full list of these can be obtained through Countrywide or alternatively the list can be accessed on the LPG Association’s website on www.uklpg.org. Prices do vary and it is always worth shopping around for the best deal. Remember that cheapest is not always best, and you may lose more mpg than with a more expensive kit. The average price for most modern cars is around £1500.00 + VAT.
is it possible to buy a vehicle direct from the manufacturer?
At present Citroen, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, Proton, Piaggio, Renault, Saab, Vauxhall and Yeujin all have at least some models in their range with an LPG option. Further details can be found on www.drivelpg.co.uk.
what about the fuel companies?
All the major fuel companies (Esso, Texaco, Shell, Jet, BP), as well as the supermarket fuel outlets are all currently putting in sites around the country. There are currently almost 1300 outlets that sell autogas. A current list is available on the Drive LPG website (see Useful Website links).
can I use my LPG vehicle abroad?
LPG has been available in Holland, Italy and France for many years. Additionally, Spain, who historically only used LPG for taxis and public vehicles has now opened up public fuelling sites. LPG may be sold under a variety of names – “LPG”, “GPL” and “Autogas” are the most common.
There are no restrictions on LPG fuelled vehicles using ferries to Europe, with the exception of Speedferries who require the conversion to be either by the vehicle manufacturer or have proof that the conversion has been carried out by an LPGA Approved Convertor by way of a valid LPG conversion certificate.
Currently Eurotunnel does not allow LPG vehicles (or any alternative fuelled vehicles) on its Le Shuttle services and vehicles can be checked and refused access. However, the LPG Association continues to lobby for a change in this ruling and it is hoped that this may become possible in the not too distant future.
There are currently three refuelling systems in Europe – Dutch Bayonet (used in UK, Holland and Switzerland), Italian Dish (used in Italy, France, Portugal and Scandinavia) and ACME thread (used in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Eire) and in some countries all three systems are used. Most continental motorway service areas hold “adaptors” and these should always be used with great care. Adaptors should always be securely fitted to the vehicle filling point before the filling nozzle is attached and should never be fitted to the nozzle itself. However, it may be advisable to have your own adaptor which can be obtained from some conversion companies.
For further details of refuelling sites in Europe, log on to www.drivelpg.co.uk.
how much will I save on my fuel bill?
The price of LPG is currently about half the cost of petrol and diesel and looks to continue at this rate for the immediate future.
do I get any car tax benefit?
For vehicles registered after 1st March 2001, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is charged according to a vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions and fuel type. CO2 figures are submitted by the vehicle manufacturer and recorded on the vehicle logbook. A vehicle manufacturer will register the lower figure for their LPG cars. No changes after registration are permitted even if the car is subsequently converted to run on LPG. However, cars with appropriate documentation (e.g. LPGA conversion certificate) are accepted as an Alternative Fuel Car and on submitting the documentation to the DVLA, will be eligible for a standard reduction in VED. For further details of the new Vehicle Excise Duty bands, log on to the Vehicle Certification Agency website at www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk or use the VED calculator on www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/ved if you are thinking of buying a brand new car.
what about the duty on autogas?
The current Autogas Duty for 2013 is 15.805ppl.
Whilst the government continues to support LPG with a commitment that it will not reduce the duty differential for LPG by more than 1p per year, in practice the current 42.0ppl differential has remained around this figure since 2003. Furthermore, with the impact of vat on petrol and diesel, the price at the pumps means that the actual savings per mile for the motorists by running on LPG have never been higher.
what company car tax discounts do you get for cars that run on LPG?
These discounts apply only to cars first registered on or after 1 January 1998. For cars that run solely on autogas, the discount is 1%, plus an additional 1% for each full 20g/km that the CO2 emissions figure is below the qualifying level for the minimum charge for the year. For bi-fuel cars with both autogas and petrol tanks, the calculation of the car benefit charge depends on whether the car is: type approved for running on petrol and gas; or a petrol type-approved car later converted to be able to also run on gas.
Cars built by manufacturers from 1 January 2000 onwards to run on both gas and petrol have approved CO2 figures for both bas and petrol. For these cars, the car benefit is calculated using the full list price of the car and the appropriate percentage that applies to the gas CO2 emissions figure. This is reduced by 1%, plus an additional 1% for each full 20 g/km that the CO2 emissions figure is below the qualifying level for the minimum charge for the year. For further details log on to www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/cars.
what should I do next?
If you are wishing to convert your vehicle to autogas, discuss your conversion with various LPGA Approved Converters (details on the LPGA website as below) to obtain quotations.
If you would like to discuss the possible installation of a tank at your premises, call Countrywide Energy on 0800 243889 to arrange a site survey with one of our sales representatives. Please note, however, that generally this option is only viable for those with two or more LPG vehicles as the cost of tank and pump rental, installation and planning costs should be taken into consideration.
your own tank
It is possible to have your own tank installed at your home or office as long as you would be using sufficient LPG to make it worth your while economically. Vehicle mileage of around 100,000 miles per annum combined, is the cut-off point for most vehicles, although this will vary depending on the type of vehicle’s mpg.
There are many siting regulations to be observed in installing your own tank and a site survey will be required prior to installation. Planning permission should also be sought.
The Autogas tank comes in a 1900 litre (1000kg) tank. For the 1900 litre tank, the base sizes are:
2.4 m x 2.2 m x 150 mm or 3.4 m x 1.2 m x 150 mm
For the skid units, the base sizes vary so dimensions would be provided at the time of the site survey.
The electrical connections to the base need to be 32 amp, three core armoured cable. This is because the pump runs at approximately 18 amps but has a start up rating of 28 amps.
Can I fill cylinders in my Motor home?
We can only accept a motorhome for domestic use only if you have an outside filling point on the vehicle. We do not allow stand alone cylinders to be filled due to Health & Safety reasons.