Fuel prices are soaring and one way to cut costs and help the environment could be with an LPG conversion. It provides an alternative to petrol or diesel and could save you money.
But before you start seeing savings, you need to factor in the initial LPG conversion cost, which can be expensive. Here we look at the pros and cons to help you decide if it's right for you.
What is LPG?
LPG, or Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is an alternative fuel to petrol or diesel. It's technically a hydrocarbon gas and can be used for a range of things, from fuelling your van to lighting the barbeque. LPG comes in 2 forms, propane and butane, and it's usually a cheaper option than other types of fuel. It's also better for the environment than petrol and diesel.
What’s an LPG van conversion?
Much kinder to your pocket and the environment, there’s much to like about LPG for vans. It’s taxed lower than petrol and diesel, meaning you pay less to fill up your tank. Much less.
Contrast this to around £1.84 a litre for petrol and £1.94 for diesel, according to our petrol prices tool.
You can buy LPG across more than 1,250 UK fuel station forecourts. So, you never have to drive far to fuel up. Many are open 24/7 too.
LPG kicks out around 90% less nitrogen oxide (NOx) than diesel. As it produces fewer particulates, it’s better for your engine’s health, our health and our planet.
How much does an LPG conversion cost?
Adapting your petrol van to LPG might be on the steep side. We’ve seen prices as low as £1,200 but also as high as £2,000. Much depends on the age of your vehicle.
If you have a relatively new van, its engine might rely on a direct injection system.
Typically, direct injection engines are more fuel efficient. They generate more power and better fuel economy, sometimes from a smaller engine capacity.
But traditional LPG conversion systems aren’t a great fit for modern engines built to withstand tough emissions standards.
The newer the tech, the more expensive the LPG conversion cost might be. This might wipe away any potential savings you get from the lower fuel costs.
If you’re considering LPG long-term, call around some LPG converters in advance. DriveLPG has an approved list of installers.
Dutch alternative fuel company Prins, however, does offer LPG systems for modern vans and cars.
What are the drawbacks of an LPG van conversion?
LPG isn’t as fuel efficient as diesel or petrol. You might see a 15-20% rise in fuel consumption as a result. That means there’s less range running on LPG only – though with 2 fuel tanks you’ve got more range overall.
But LPG’s per litre cost saving means you’re still likely to be way ahead than with a petrol or diesel model.
An LPG tank also needs an annual check-up to make sure it's running smoothly.
Depending on where you live, you might find that compatible filling stations are a bit more scarce. But if you plan ahead a bit you should be fine.
One LPG con that doesn’t get much attention is van choice. A lack of demand for non-diesel vans means a somewhat sparse model menu, particularly when buying new.
It’s a bit of a vicious circle – the lack of supply means a lack of demand.
But as we get nearer a net-zero emissions world, it could be that cleaner-burning LPG becomes part of the used van market for some time.
There’s one more downside. For health and safety reasons, LPG-equipped and dual-fuel vehicles aren’t allowed in the Channel Tunnel.
What are the pros and cons of an LPG van conversion?
- Cheaper running costs due to lower fuel duty
- Better for the environment than petrol and diesel due to lower NOx emissions
- Negligible difference in performance compared to other fuel types
- Potential van tax reduction as an alternative-fuelled vehicle
- Residual value could be strong, especially in areas affected by congestion charging
- It could take at least 18-24 months to recoup the cost of installation
- LPG conversion adds weight to your van, which could compromise on fuel efficiency
- Less availability to refuel compared to petrol and diesel
- An LPG system needs annual servicing checks
- If you have a newer van, the cost to install LPG could be quite high
Does an LPG conversion affect my van insurance?
If you convert your van to LPG you must tell your van insurance provider. That’s because any conversion could be classed as a modification. And any m you make could see your van insurance costs go up.
Once your van’s converted it’s placed on the Liquid Gas UK Vehicle Register. This helps to protect its resale value.
Being eco-conscious on the road usually means driving in a more defensive, measured manner. So, environmentally-minded drivers could be thought of as a lower risk, which could result in lower insurance costs.
It's worth speaking to your insurer beforehand to see if converting to LPG might impact your policy. If your costs do go up, it’s worth shopping around for a policy that suits your needs and your wallet. If you're looking for other ways to cut your van insurance costs, check out our guide on how to save on your van insurance.
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