Most modern motorhomes use a combination of mains electricity, battery power, and LPG gas to run all the various appliances on board. Whether you’re planning on setting up your motorhome at a holiday park or heading to an off-grid campsite, motorhome LPG systems are a game-changer.
Motorhome LPG can be used for everything from lighting up your gas barbecue to heating water for washing barbecue grease off your plates - helping fuel the ultimate al fresco dining experience. LPG gas also helps provide winter comfort - soak in the luxury of a hot shower after a long day of travelling or cosy up indoors on a cold winter night next to the heater. No matter how you like to travel, an RV LPG tank is a great all-rounder with multiple uses for a motorhome lifestyle.
However, LPG can be dangerous if handled incorrectly. A big part of motorhome ownership is knowing how to use these appliances correctly and safely. Here, we explain where your gas bottle is kept and how to safely operate appliances that use LPG so you can safely use these motorhome facilities on your travels.
The LPG gas bottle is usually stored in a rear external compartment of your motorhome, which is locked with a key for safety. Starting the flow of gas to your motorhome is a simple process.
Ensure the connector hose is tightly fastened.
Twist the knob at the top of the gas bottle anti-clockwise all the way, and then turn it back a fraction. This way, you will always know when the gas supply is on and not in the off position.
There are two LPG shut-off valves located in a smaller compartment below the LPG gas bottle locker. When you open this, you will see two pipes and two handles, most likely a yellow colour. These must be in the ‘open’ position to allow gas to flow to the appliances that use LPG. The ‘open’ position means the handles are turned so that they are parallel with their pipes.
In an emergency, turn both the valves and the bottle to their respective ‘off’ positions.
LPG gas is usually supplied to operate the interior stove and the hot water system. Some vehicles also use LPG gas for the heating system and external barbecue, which is usually found in an external locker and slides out for use.
It is worth noting that not all motorhomes have a gas stove. If your motorhome has a stove that is gas-powered you will need to make sure the correct switch is on before the stove will work. There are a few simple steps to using an LPG stove:
Make sure the correct switch is on. Depending on your manufacturer, your motorhome should have a stove ignition switch or a rangehood switch. Although the location and design of this switch may vary between different motorhomes, the switch is most likely on a dark grey panel alongside other controls that operate your fridge and water pump.
Before igniting your stove, it’s important to remember to lift the glass lid. Once this is in an open position, select the burner you require, then ready yourself to turn the knob.
Locate the small black ignition switch on the side of the stove. Then light the stove by twisting and pressing the gas knob while simultaneously pressing down the ignition button. If this switch is not operational, you can also light the stove by using a match on the burner in a pinch.
If the ignition button isn't lighting the gas within a second or two, turn off the flow of gas to prevent excessive gas from pouring out. That is a sure way to singe your eyebrows. Wait a few seconds for the gas to dissipate before trying again.
Not all motorhomes use LPG to heat water, but it can be an effective way to have hot water no matter where you travel. To heat your water with LPG, follow these easy steps:
Many vehicles have an LPG-powered hot water system, and the control panels for these are usually easy to find. The main switch is most likely to be a single large white panel with the words ‘water heater’ at the top with a white ‘on’ switch underneath and a red light adjacent to that. The other controls you will need to locate is a dark grey rectangular panel with a number of switches, one of which will be for the LPG.
Once you’ve flicked the switch on, wait for the red light next to it to go out. This indicates that the gas has ignited and is heating the water in the tank.
Wait a minimum of 20 minutes for the water to heat. If the red light next to the hot water switch comes back on, this indicates ignition has failed. In this case, turn the water heater switch off and find the LPG gas bottle in your motorhome. Check the connections are secure and that the bottle is open. Then try the water heater switch again.
Just like the stove ignition, sometimes it takes a few tries to get the gas to light. In no time, you will be able to enjoy a toasty warm shower wherever the road takes you!
Travelling in Australia in the winter months can be quite cold. This is especially true if you are planning to adventure to the southern states for a winter wonderland getaway or enduring the crisp cold nights of an outback escape. While insulation is an important aspect of staying warm in your campervan in the winter, there is nothing quite like a heater to keep you cosy and warm.
Installation of built-in LPG air heaters must be installed by a professional. Once installed, these are easy to use:
Ensure your gas is turned on and flick the heater switch on the control panel. The switch is most likely on a dark grey panel alongside other switches that operate your gas stove.
Select the desired temperature and give it time for the air to circulate to heat up your motorhome.
There are also portable options that use smaller disposable gas canisters, but these are less common. The other common alternative is a diesel heater. There are benefits to each of these, so it's worthwhile doing your research to decide which is the right fit for you and your motorhome adventures.
This will depend on your motorhome and the storage size available. Most are either 2.5kg or 9kg in size. Typically motorhome owners will opt for a 9kg bottle as this is generally plenty of gas to fulfil all your needs for up to a month (or maybe more), depending on your usage habits.
A big reason so many people opt for LPG gas is to take advantage of the Swap N’ Go service. These are available at over a thousand locations all around Australia. These LPG stations pre-fill LPG gas bottles so that you can simply give your old bottle in exchange for a new full gas bottle. This saves you the hassle of finding a motorhome LPG filling station and waiting for someone to manually do this while you wait.
The LPG gas bottle is usually stored in a rear external compartment of your motorhome, which is locked with a key for safety. In an emergency, turn both of the shut-off valves and the bottle to their respective ‘off’ positions. Some other LPG safety considerations to be aware of include:
Always make sure your gas bottle is turned off before driving
Motorhome LPG gas is highly flammable and so if you can smell it, turn off the gas straight away
While the smell of gas can be a good indicator of a leak, this system isn’t flawless. LPG gas alarms for motorhomes and fire alarms are essential for safety when you are using and storing LPG gas bottles in your motorhome. Checking these alarms are functional is something that should be a part of your regular checks to look after your motorhome.
When stored and maintained correctly, LPG is an efficient and safe component of your motorhome.
Whether you are planning a winter road trip to the alpine regions of Australia, looking to cook up a storm on your Australian road trip, or are just looking for a water heating system for a hot shower after a long day of exploring, LPG is the perfect addition to any self-contained vehicle. If you are looking for more information on LPG gas modifications and refurbishments, speak to one of our KEA team in the office or online today.
If you are still searching for the perfect motorhome or are looking to trade in your existing motorhome, check out our campervans for sale (including KEA ex-rental campervans for sale). We have a huge range of vehicles from hi-tops to self-contained 6 berth options to suit all your Australian road trip needs.