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Butane or propane?

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Butane or propane?

Post by Tim Cullis on Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:13 am

My understanding until last week was that

Propane: burns hotter but is dirtier than butane so should only be used for boilers with integral chimney.  It also has a lower freezing point so is suitable for exterior boiler houses.

Butane: is safe to use inside for cooking and portable gas heaters

Then I was told by a motorhome dealer that propane is safe for everything.  And this site didn't help much. Bit more info here.

What does everyone else use?
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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by pete_l on Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:48 pm

Tim Cullis wrote:What does everyone else use?
I use what is available: butane.
I read the "technical" arguments and they seem to me to be pretty bogus. For example: quoting the energy per m³ of gas is pointless since it is sold by weight, not volume. And as the article says, you can get more heat simply by burning gas faster. It's also worth noting that "natural" gas: methane has the lowest energy density of all the gases quote but is far-away the most popular.

The only technical point that is relevant is the higher boiling point of butane. But in ambient conditions, indoors, that ceases to be an issue, either.

Practially, butane bottles are far more common in Spain than propane. Butane burning appliances are easier to buy and may even be cheaper. To me, that is the over-riding factor. Not the chemistry.

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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by Mariposa on Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:14 pm

Good point " Butane burning appliances" raised by pete_l as I have helped several people over the years, that hadn't checked which gas their appliance ran on!  A bit late when hotter burning Propane, has been used in a Butane only appliance!

I bought all Butane appliances, like pete_l as Butane was/is more readily available in my area.
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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by pete_l on Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:04 pm

You can generally get different "jets" (small steel or brass inserts with small holes for the gas) to convert an appliance from one to the other. It's just a bit of a faff.

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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by Mariposa on Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:56 am

I knew you could get "jets" to convert an appliance from natural gas to butane/propane gas, as I have had to do this several times. I didn't know you could convert a butane gas appliance, to propane - or visa versa!

Propane gas items are often more expensive than butane and sometimes I have found items that just aren't available in butane. Could you direct me to a web page about this please?
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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by pete_l on Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:38 am

The Calor gas website seems to be the font of all knowledge: www.calor.co.uk
I bought a gas hob in Spain a few years ago that came with 2 sets of jets and instructions that refer4ed to "butano" and "propano" Smile
There is also some stuff here: http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.php?76894-Converting-from-Butane-to-Propane

that may be some combination of relevant, useful or accurate. Apparently you need to change the regulator as the bottles have different size connections, too.

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Re: Butane or propane?

Post by Mariposa on Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:21 am

Whilst helping some people a few weeks ago, that were reforming their cave, they too bought a gas hob.  The instructions mentioned that it could run on butano, not propano and the two sets of jets that were included were for mains gas, or butano.  It was set up for mains, so the gas fitter changed the jets over to the butano ones.

I'm not too keen on blog/forum links with folk just chatting about what they "think" is right and not what they know is correct!  The calor gas website was better, (thanks!) but it didn't have the info (that I could find) about converting for example, a propane appliance to butane.

If you find anything concrete, can you let me know please?

Thanks.
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