LPG Cylinders Ireland Information
So you’re not connected up to the gas mains, but you’d still like to be able to cook with gas or use your gas stove? Then a gas cylinder (also called a gas bottle) is your best bet.
An economical choice for some, and very handy when you need a portable gas source or for only sporadic use, is there any difference between cylinder types?
Butane or propane gas cylinder?
Many people are unaware that not all bottled gas is the same. LPG, which stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is a catch-all phrase that simply describes how the gas has been treated for storage. In reality, the gas inside a cylinder is usually butane or propane.
Both types are used for household purposes and sold as LPG, hence the confusion.
What is propane gas?
While propane gas is extracted from petroleum, as butane is, it has a lower boiling point than butane. This means that under cold conditions, propane will stay in gas form for longer than butane, making it more suitable for use outdoors. It is also the fuel of choice when the gas needs to be stored for a long time, or for cooking with.
What is butane gas?
Butane does better under milder temperatures and higher temperatures and is most suited to indoor use (or it can be used outdoors during the summer). Butane is normally used in portable heaters as it is often slightly cheaper than propane.
Realistically, both types of gas can be used interchangeably when not confronted with extreme temperatures or uncommon situations.
How do gas cylinders work?
LPG cylinders are filled with butane or propane under pressure. This means that the gas is converted to liquid inside the canister, and is converted back to gas when released using the appropriate equipment. Storing the gas as a liquid allows more of it to be stored inside the gas bottle.
When you turn a lever or fit a nozzle to release the gas, as it is only liquid when compressed at a low temperature, and releasing it exposes it to outside temperatures, it begins to “boil”. This boiling is called vaporisation, where LPG goes from liquid to vapour. The vapour gathers at the top of the bottle, while the liquid settles to the bottom.
Did you know? LPG under pressure as a liquid looks pretty much like water, as it is colourless and odourless.
What are gas bottles used for?
If you live off the grid, own a passive house, or just need gas for cooking and maybe some sporadic heating, then bottled gas could be a good solution for you. Using it is a bit like PAYG in that you can only use what you have already paid for, and it’s also a bit more expensive than being connected up to the grid if used regularly.
However, for sporadic use, it’s certainly cheaper as there is no need to pay a standing charge for connection to the gas grid.
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Types of gas bottles
In Ireland, gas cylinders for domestic use are usually sold in propane cylinders of different sizes for outdoor use and butane cylinders for using indoors. Bottled butane can be used inside the home for gas fireplaces, gas heaters, and gas hobs.
Bottled propane can be used for patio heaters, and for gas barbecues. Another option is the “gaslight” propane bottles that are designed to be super light and easy to carry, so perfect for bringing on a boat, motorhome or camping trip. Two large propane cylinders can also be installed on properties that want gas for cooking and space heating and cannot be connected to the grid.
Where can you buy gas bottles?
You don’t exactly “buy” gas bottles. You normally just bring along an empty cylinder and swap it out for a full one and pay the price for the gas. As we mention below, if you don’t have an empty cylinder to trade, you’ll need to pay a cylinder service charge.
The empty cylinders that you hand in will then be collected by your gas company and refilled. Places you can swap your empty gas cylinders for new ones include:
- Woodies, Atlantic Homecare, Homebase and other DIY stores
- Corner shops
- Petrol stations
If you need any information about how to change a gas cylinder, check out our handy guide.
How much do gas cylinders cost?
Retailers may mark slightly up or down the prices of their cylinders, so we do recommend you shop around. In general, the recommended retail prices for cylinders run from €22.55 including VAT for a 15.5lb butane cylinder, up to €138.40 for a 104lb propane cylinder.
The most common LPG cylinder brands in Ireland are Flogas and Calor gas. Do note that you cannot mix and match cylinders with companies, i.e. if you have a Flogas cylinder you can only have it filled by Flogas. As you do not pay for the bottle itself, and just the gas, the companies technically own the bottles, not you.
Be aware that if you are a customer who is new to gas cylinders, or you need an extra bottle, you will probably have to pay a cylinder service charge when seeking to purchase gas. This is normally somewhere in the area of €15 - €60 depending on the size of the cylinder.
Cylinder service charges pay for cylinder testing, ensuring that the cylinder you have is tested and guaranteed.
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Can you get cylinders delivered?
Flogas customers who live in Dublin can pay for their gas cylinders online and have them delivered to their homes. Flogas is trialling the delivery scheme and it hasn’t been rolled out across the country, hence the Dublin-only delivery zone. If you don’t live in Dublin, then you’re out of luck and will have to head to the nearest Flogas retailer. At the moment only Dublin suppliers are listed on the website, with the rollout of suppliers located outside Dublin expected in 2019.
Calor gas does not currently offer a delivery service for their gas bottles either, so you’ll need to check out where your local Calor gas retailer is.