Diesel LPG conversion
With the high cost of traditional fuels like petrol and diesel, it’s tempting to look at other options but if an electric vehicle isn’t quite what you’re looking for, why not consider converting your van to run on LPG instead?
Here are the facts to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
What is LPG and CNG?
LPG stands for liquid petroleum gas and it’s a by-product of oil refining and extraction so technically, it’s still fossil fuel.
LPG also comes as propane and butane, depending on its exact chemical make up, so you may already use a form of LPG to light your barbecue or in your camping stove, for example.
CNG stands for compressed natural gas and is mainly made up of methane. Like LPG, it’s also a type of fossil fuel.
How are LPG and CNG different from diesel and petrol vehicles?
LPG and CNG release fewer polluting toxins into the air and because of this, they are considered to be a cleaner type of fuel.
Having an LPG or CNG vehicle could also shave a little off your road tax (or vehicle excise duty as it’s officially known).
Can diesel engines be converted to LPG?
You can convert your existing petrol or diesel engine so that it runs off either LPG or CNG but conversion can be expensive, with estimates ranging from £1,500 to more than £2,000 depending on your vehicle.
LPG stores more energy than CNG so is often the more likely choice if you want to convert your van but the range you get is still less compared to petrol or diesel.
Both LPG and CNG are stored in tanks so you’ll also need to factor in storage. If space is an issue, it’s worth knowing that CNG is likely to take up more room than LPG as it needs to be contained in stronger, larger containers.
Should I convert my van to LPG or CNG?
It’s up to you whether you choose to convert your vehicle – as with most decisions there are pros and cons – for instance, the benefits of LPG and CNG:
- • Both are better for the environment compared to petrol or diesel.
- • Both are significantly cheaper than petrol or diesel.
- • Both can be used in conjunction with petrol or diesel creating a ‘dual fuel’ van.
On the other hand, some common diesel LPG problems (and problems with CNG) are:
- • Both are still fossil fuels and not as clean as an electric vehicle.
- • More petrol stations sell LPG than CNG but you can’t buy LPG at all of them, so availability could pose a problem. You can download LPG locater apps on your smartphone or use the internet to find stations.
- • The range you get will be less compared to a petrol or diesel van.
- • You’ll need to cover thousands of miles to compensate for the cost of converting.
- • Insurance costs could increase depending on your provider as a conversion would be classed as a modification.
- • Converting your engine could mean expensive repairs or parts if something goes wrong.
Can I buy a vehicle with an LPG engine?
As a general rule, LPG vehicles aren’t regularly brought into the UK as the market for them is small but you can convert popular van models like the Vauxhall Combi and Corsa Van as well as the Ford Transit and Fiesta Van.
If you don’t want to pay for conversion costs yourself and don’t mind buying a used van, you could take a look at van auctions, trade sites and even marketplace websites.
Can I convert my own van using a diesel LPG conversion kit?
LPG is extremely flammable and therefore it’s recommended that you hire an approved fitter to complete the job. Also, don’t forget that professionals will have the right equipment needed to do the work properly.
Your insurer may also prefer you to use an approved fitter so it’s always best to let the experts convert your van.
If you’re looking for a qualified fitter, head to Liquid Gas UK (previously called LPGUK), they’re the trade body for LPG and bio gas and have a list of fitters who are qualified to install LPG.
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There are clear financial and environmental benefits to switching your van to LPG or CNG but these could be outweighed by the upfront cost of conversion.
If the reason for converting is environmental, other options to consider include electric vans.
Whether you choose an alternative fuelled van or opt for a traditional petrol or diesel model, it’s essential to have van insurance that suits you.