LPG conversion - a helpful guide
You may have heard of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) but did you know that you could potentially cut your fuel bills by as much as 40% by installing an LPG converter? This guide to LPG conversion will examine how the process works, its advantages and disadvantages and how you can get LPG conversion for your vehicle.
What is LPG and what is LPG conversion?
Liquefied petroleum gas is a convenient energy source used for many purposes including for heating and cooking, as well as for vehicle fuel. Forty per cent of LPG comes from refining crude oil and 60% comes from field production.
The number of vehicles using LPG (also referred to as 'autogas') as an alternative to petroleum is growing rapidly. Recent estimates suggest there are more than 11million vehicles using LPG worldwide, with four million of those located in Europe.
Of course you can't simply use LPG in a vehicle that is accustomed to taking petroleum. Consequently, LPG conversion is seen as a straightforward and cost effective way of altering a petrol vehicle to run on LPG.
How do you get your car converted?
If you are interested in an LPG conversion you must be willing to make a significant outlay - most LPG conversions cost between £1,500 and £2,000. However, many LPG enthusiasts claim this money can be recouped in one-two years with the money you save at the pump.
The process is straightforward but should be carried out by an LPGA-approved garage. All approved installers should make sure the right system and installer are used for your car and should carry out a conversion based on safety, environmental impact, reliability and value for money.
You will need to have significant space for the LPG tank - which is often fitted into the boot of the vehicle, sometimes in the spare wheel well. Some dashboards will be fitted with a device allowing you to switch between LPG and petroleum, while the refuelling point will be placed near to the existing petroleum refuelling point.
There are many LPGA approved LPG conversion centres at garages across the UK.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of LPG conversion?
LPG has significant environmental and financial benefits as outlined below:
- Reduces carbon emissions - By converting to LPG you can automatically reduce your environmental impact as the amount of carbon dioxide your vehicle produces decreases. Compared to most petroleum vehicles, LPG vehicles produce 20% less CO2.
- Other environmental benefits - Even though LPG vehicles have similar CO2 output to diesel cars, they do have other advantages. They are much quieter than diesel engines, LPG quickly evaporates if a spillage occurs and produces fewer particulates and nitrogen oxides.
- Reduces reliance on petrol and diesel - Currently the UK produces around six million tonnes of LPG every year of which around three million tonnes are exported. There is vast room for growth and there are already around 1,300 refuelling stations across the UK.
- Price at the pump - The Government has shown significant support for LPG with low duty by comparison to petrol and diesel. As a result LPG is substantially cheaper at the pumps than petrol and diesel. It is estimated that a high mileage driver can save as much as 40% of their fuel costs with LPG compared to petrol, and 20% compared to diesel.
- Congestion charges/road tax - Cars that run on LPG qualify for reduced taxation as they fit into lower tax bands. Many LPG vehicles are also exempt from congestion charges such as those in the city of London, Richmond and Westminster.
There are some disadvantages to consider too, before you decide if LPG conversion is right for you:
- Initial cost - It is important to have a fully trained LPG conversion specialist carry out the installation on your car. Generally this costs from £1,500-£2,000.
- Servicing/insurance costs - The LPG fuel system will need servicing at approximately 12,000 miles or typically once a year. Overall, these costs should be less than a typical diesel engine. You should also consider your insurance costs, as some insurance companies may charge an excess for an LPG approved conversion (others will not).
- Mileage range/petrol stations - Not all petrol stations sell LPG, though the number is increasing. Typically you will not be able to travel as far on a full tank of LPG as you would on a full tank of petrol. However, with the petrol tank usually left in place during a conversion you can always use petrol as a back-up.
- Warranties - Bear in mind that your manufacturer's warranty could be affected by an LPG conversion.
How does LPG conversion work for fleets of vehicles? How do you get an LPG vehicle?
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