Safefill refillable gas cylinders


When we were looking at caravans, I also started looking at options for gas. I didn’t want to have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change the gas cylinder over… nor have to go and change it in the middle of cooking breakfast.. so, an auto changeover regulator seemed to find its way on to the list. I then came across a refillable system. That seemed like a good idea, only it was more tailored for permanent install than a portable system. I did like the idea of being able to refill when I wanted though. I seriously looked at a permanent system… the only thing was, it would not save me any weight and if I did need a refill… I’d have to tow the van to a LPG refill station.

While browsing one of the motor home forums, I came across a chap that had bought a Safefill gas bottle and it seemed to tick the boxes… the bottle was lighter 7.1Kg empty and 15.7Kg full and could be taken out of the caravan to refill if on site somewhere… but more importantly, I could always set off with a full gas cylinder for every trip, therefore the need for a second gas cylinder and auto changeover regulator disappeared.

Now, to work out the economics of it. If I went for A Calor Lite or BP Gas Light, I’d have to pay a £30 deposit for the bottle or bottles… or I could put that deposit towards the £150 cost of a Safefill cylinder. I looked at the price of refilling and came up with this little spreadsheet:-

(Note: I have updated the costs as of Feb 2012, the prices for Calor and BP Gas used are an average from prices listed on the web.)

As there is a Calor station close to us, that would have been the logical option rather than BP. After 8 refills though, I could have saved £154 which would have covered the cost of the Safefill cylinder even if I didn’t take into account the £30 deposit required by Calor. Additionally, there is a Morrison’s filling station less than a mile away that had a LPG pump and one of Safefill’s distributors, Cheshire Gas was only 5 miles away in Stalybridge and another in Stockport. It seemed like the way forward. At the end of the day as well, it does have a resale value if we ever wanted to sell the van.

So how has it been after six months?

The first few months were fine, but on the last outing, I noticed that the gas flow was lower than normal. The only thing I had done since our previous outing was to take the gas cylinder out of the front locker while I reorganised the locker…I guess finding the ultimate way of organising any locker is a man thing! When we turned on all the gas rings, the jets got lower. I’d already checked the bottle before we set off and it was 4/5ths full (easy to check with the see through panel) The regulator was set to take a feed from the correct side and the valve was fully turned on. Still a problem. OK, Disconnect the Safefill cylinder and see if it’s the connection and swap the pigtail over at the same time. I carry a spare Propane Pigtail and a Butane one as well…. I do like to have options! It did improve things slightly. OK, we would have to live with that. We were only going to be away for a few days this time, so it would not be a problem unless we needed the gas heating.

Returning, I fired of an email to Neil Worthington the owner of Safefill, basically telling him what the problem was and what I’d done to try and fault find. Not being a Gas Safe engineer, I wasn’t going any further than removing and replacing a pig tail. I didn’t thing it was the cylinder, but just wanted the opinion of Neil before I rang up the service department at Glossop Caravans. I was convinced that it must be the regulator or something in the caravan.  Within an hour I had an email back from Neil, “I know exactly what it is, don’t worry, I’ll come out to see you and sort the problem out” Now that is what I call customer service. Neil called round a couple of days later and explained the problem. On some pigtail’s the machining on the POL is slightly too big and the internal valve is not operated correctly, causing a low flow of gas. It is still totally safe and will not leak, but Safefill corrected this on cylinders sold after we bought ours. (June 2011)

Other than that its been fine, with it being light weight even when full, its easy to take out of the caravan and use on a gas BBQ at home with a screw-in regulator. It also allows me to put more stuff in the front locker and keep the nose weight sensible. But the biggest advantage for me is not so much the weight saving but the fact we can set off always with a full cylinder of gas… and check exactly how much gas is in there with a quick glance.

Are there any improvements to be made… well I think a smaller cylinder as a “spare” just incase you do run low… and hopefully at a cheaper cost. That will bring the Safefill system in range of low gas users.

I used a couple of web sites – LPG Map and Get LPG to find suitable places to refill and to download a POI file for my GPS with all the LPG filling stations. Maybe creating a downloadable POI file for all the Safefill recognised dealers/filling stations is something Safefill should consider to take away any worries about being turned away when looking to refill.

Is it worth the money?- In my opinion, for us, YES.

S

UPDATE: 29/12/2013 – Safefill now do a 20 litre (9.86Kg of gas) blue cylinder. You can read more about it in my blog post “Still taking two bottles on holiday?…

Copyright © 2011 – 2015 Simon P Barlow – All rights reserved

15 thoughts on “Safefill refillable gas cylinders”

  1. 3 fill ups £30 morrisons 3fill ups £90 we use our safe fill ion the house winter time cheaper than mains gas we move it to the room we are in

  2. I never considered using them in the house for heating.

    I do know someone that used to pay around £20 per week to run a small generator (he installs animal fences in the middle of nowhere) and he got an LPG conversion for his generator and now spends less than £8 per week running it off a Safefill cylinder. His biggest bonus is no petrol cans leaking in the back of his pickup truck.

  3. Thurlestone said:

    I thought this independent report gives a good insight to the product.

  4. we have had a safe fill for a couple of years. winter time we use them in a gas fire in the house cheaper than turning on the heating

  5. The use of the Safefill indoors is somewhere between being a bit naughty and a definite no no. Though not required by law in the UK propane cylinders are only used where they can be mounted outdoors. A cabinet heater should only use butane and the majority of Autogas is propane. Though other countries do not have this restriction. http://www.uklpg.org/uploads/DOC4D42E56099B61.pdf

  6. Ian Hastings said:

    Your spread-sheet shows Calor Lite 10Kg costing £30. Calor Lite contain only 6Kg. The cost is about £24 so £4 per Kg.

  7. Charles Mills said:

    I have been using my safefil bottle since 2012.
    Apart from the cast savings, the safety of these bottles is a key feature.
    If God forbid your caravan / motorhome were to catch fire safefil bottles will melt allowing the gas to burn off easily, whereas metal gas bottles heat up and can quickly become an explosive device.
    Having seen what happens when a normal gas bottle goes up I wouldn’t like to be anywhere near.

  8. I bought one;only problem is filling it!!Lots of outlets won’t let you because safefill haven’t done their job;namely,to tell them its safe!!Spend the£160(cost of 10kg safefill bottle) on or towards a permanent conversion with accessible filler nozzle

    • Never had a problem finding somewhere to fill my Safefill cylinder to be honest.

      You could put the money towards a permanent system and pay to have it ‘gas safe’ checked each year as part of the annual service, and pay again to have it removed and installed on your next caravan I guess. The other issues for me would be having a filler installed in the bodywork of the caravan and possibly upsetting the caravan manufacturers water ingress warranty and if I was low on gas having to take the whole caravan to the filling point for a refill. All I have to do now is put the cylinder in the back of the car and I can fill up anytime, even when we are away I can usually find a place to fill up while we are out on a day trip somewhere.

      For us though, having the option to swop easily and use the safe fill at home to run our Cadac when needed and the simplicity of being able to move it to our next caravan sold us on the product (well that and cheaper gas costs!).

      If you haven’t already done so, pop over to the Safefill web site and download the POI file for your GPS as it has hundreds of suppliers that you can refill your Safefill cylinder in the UK and a huge number in Holland too now.

  9. Stephen Sinclair said:

    I bought a safefill cylinder last year and never had a problem filling it in my home town of Alnwick.

    I also bought a Ragasco cylinder in Sweden and wonder if it is possible to change the fill valve withthe Safefill type.

    • Hi Stephen
      I would guess that the valves are not interchangeable by the user/owner for safety reasons.

      However contacting http://www.hexagonragasco.com to enquire of they produce an adaptor to allow filling in the UK might be worth a try, after all we produce adaptors to allow filling of cylinders with our connections across Europe.

      Try giving Neil a ring at Safefill on 01782 414526 as He might be able to answer your question.

  10. Stephen Sinclair said:

    Thanks for the reply. The threads are the same on all of the Ragasco cylinders and the valves are interchangeable but the problem with the Swedish pol fittings, they are half a millimeter smaller than the uk and they do not have an OPD valve installed, which is a must if you are filling at a service station. Safefill will only sell a valve if they are going to fit at their head office which makes the cost go very high.

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