If you’ve owned a caravan for some time now and been on numerous adventures, you’ve probably experienced the nightmare scenario of running out of gas. It always seems to be right at the very moment you really need gas for a nice hot shower or something as equally pertinent. Although most people will agree that the best way to avoid this is to always have a spare. However, as that’s not ideal for everyone, especially touring caravan owners looking to keep their load as light as possible. Which begs the question is there anything else you can do?
Well, yes. If you spend some time reading the forums you will find that many different caravanners have different methods for checking their gas cylinder volume. We’ve highlighted some of the most common below.
Some ways to check the level of gas
The Simple ‘Lift and Shake’
Okay, so it’s not the most accurate, but this serves a lot of caravan owners well when trying to tell if it’s time to change the gas cannister or not.
One of the more accurate methods for checking gas levels. Simply use the digital luggage scales from just about any supermarket, hardware store or someplace online to check the weight of the gas cylinder, compared to its original weight.
Look for the Tare Weight, which will be stamped and printed on the bottle somewhere. Subtract the weight of the cannister as it is currently from the Tare weight and you have a good indication of what’s left.
Automatic Bottle Change Over Systems
These are where you have one bottle connecting and as that empties, it switches automatically to the second bottle. You will normally have an indicator or some kind of gauge that informs you when the change over has happened and it needs a new secondary bottle. The big downside of this is again, carrying the weight of two cylinders of gas.
If you are a fan of the above or none of the other methods suit you, you could of course opt for one of the many gas bottle level indicators on the market.
What is a Gas Bottle Level Indicator?
As the name suggests, it’s a purpose-made gauge that can be attached to your gas cylinder to tell you approximately how much gas is left inside. We say approximately because, as many veteran caravanners will tell you, they are very hit and miss. You either end up with one that doesn’t work properly, or one that costs and arm and a leg for the privilege of the accurate information.
However, there are many caravanners out there who swear by them and if you like having a gadget or gizmo for everything, you might want to consider buying one. Below we’ve highlighted a small number of the gas level indicators available that we actually think are worth considering.
The Trauma branding with the LevelCheck is a sign that this is one of the better made products of its kind. In fact, we’d say this is probably the best of its kind. It’s also won many prestigious awards in the past. Designed to work with all aluminium and steel LPG cylinders with diameters between 200 and 350mm, you just attach it horizontally to your cylinder and it then uses ultrasound technology to check for gas. If the little LED onboard goes green, you still have some gas in the cylinder. Once you stop measuring, it turns itself off automatically.
We like this gas level indicator because it’s fuss and faff free, works straight out of its packaging, is light, but sturdy and does the job it’s designed to, perfectly.
There’s even a little LED torch built into it for use in the dark.
From IGT, the next product is Calor gas indicator level which has been designed to connect to any screw-in style cylinder. It includes a pressure gauge that indicates how much gas is present in the cannister.
It’s made of high-quality materials, fits securely and safely and works as it should. What’s more, it’s available for a relatively low price.
Many people wonder ‘do magnetic gas level indicators work?’ We can only tell you what we’ve read. That it’s hit and miss, and you need to hunt for a good quality product. Fortunately, judging by the reviews, this Sound Vision magnetic gas level indicator works a treat…for most people.
How does it work? You place it on a clear space in the lower half of your gas cylinder, turn the gas on and wait roughly 10 minutes to get a reading. During summertime, the bar on the right will be used, while during the winter, the bar on the left will be used.
Interestingly, it will also test the temperature of gas, the temperature of water and air and various other things. We really like this because it’s small, reusable and won’t add to your touring load much.
Another version of a magnetic gas level indicator, this simply sticks to the side of the gas cannister and tells you roughly how much gas or how little gas you have.
This is probably the most hit and miss in our list, but it’s still effective and many customers have had success with it. As one comment said it turns what is a whole lot of guesswork into a little bit of guesswork.
It really is down to personal preference, when deciding whether or not to buy a gas level indicator. Some like them, some find them to be a waste of money. However, they can put your mind at rest if you get anxious over having enough gas all the time.
Do you need a bracket to keep your gas bottle in place?