OK, I admit it, I can be obsessive at times.
My latest obsession has been with gas for our BBQ. We have already sorted out a refillable gas system for the van, but wanted to improve on the gas BBQ. We have a super little Weber Q1200 gas grill that we cook on outside when we are out camping, we cook outside because we don’t want the smell of cooking in the van. The Weber is really excellent, however, it uses the small disposable 450g butane & propane gas bottles. The bottles retail at around £7-8 each, and can occassionally can be found for £24 for a box of 6. These bottles are disposable and each one will last a maximum of 3 hours so when we go away for a few weeks we take 5 or 6 gas bottles with us.
The small gas bottles are handy and can be easily stored in the van’s external drawer, but the need to cart around several is a pain. Rather than keep buying disposable canisters and adding to landfill, I started to look around at refillable alternatives. We needed a refillable gas bottle that ideally could fit in the van’s rear boot which is only about 12″ high, and we have to be able to refill the gas in the UK and abroad. These factors rule out anything Calor have to offer as Calor is only available in the UK. There are a few refillable bottles available such as those from Gaslow or Safefill, but they are expensive (between £130-150) and it is difficult finding anywhere that allows you to refill one.
That only really leaves Campingaz, but Campingaz charges rip off prices in the UK. At go-outdoors, a new 907 bottle (2.7kg) full of gas will set you back an eye-watering £40 for an empty bottle and then an additional £34.99 for the gas, a total of £74.99 for the initial outlay. Prices are slightly lower in France, £33 for a new empty bottle and £22 for a refill.
I will not pay £40 for an empty bottle, and I will not pay £34.99 for 5 litres of gas. That works out at £7 per litre whereas autogas is currently around 68p per litre on Shell’s Titchfield forecourt.
I started looking on ebay and gumtree for cast offs, bottles that people had finished with and were selling and found one straight away down in Gosport, 6 miles from home. At the end of the auction period I had ‘won’ the bottle, duly paid my £11.40 and went and collected my half full bottle, or is it half empty? One decent condition bottle with 1.3Kg of gas for £11.40. Amazing.
I converted the Weber to use a refillable gas bottle, connected it all up and gave it a try. Then the thought crossed my head ‘what if we run out of campingaz?’, so I started looking for a cheap spare bottle. A few days later an advert for 2 gas bottles and sundry bits not 6 miles away popped up so I picked up another 2 bottles, one of them full to the brim.
We have a bottle and a half of gas, and one empty bottle. The 907 cylinder holds about 6 times the volume of gas as the small bottles so should give us around 15-18 hours of cooking time. When we go on holiday to France later this year we’ll use what is left in the partially filled bottle and exchange it and the empty one for full bottles at the lower French prices.
The price of bottled gas is extortionate, particularly with the campingaz bottles. I do not intend to run the BBQ at home on campingaz at these prices so looked for a Calor bottle on ebay.
I managed to pick up an empty Calor 7Kg butane bottle for £5 so avoiding Calor’s £40 hard-to-get-refunded initial deposit. I’ll exchange it for a full one sometime in the spring when the BBQ’ing season starts, but £5 for a perfectly good cylinder that I could return to Calor and receive £7.50 in return is a fair deal. A refill for this cylinder will cost me £24 for 7kg of butane, that’s less than half the price per kilo charged for campingaz.
It’s going to be one long summer of BBQ’s, I just hope the rain stops soon.
Update for April, Fiona decided that she wanted a gas BBQ for home so went out and bought a Weber Q2200. Now we have to find a Calor propane bottle with the 27mm push-on connector.