What is LPG Conversion — And Is It Worth Doing?

Should you be hitting this gas?

If you’re looking to cut down on your car’s fuel costs, LPG conversion is a promising option. But what exactly is it? And is it the right choice for you? We’ll take you through all the details.

How we fuel our cars has become an increasingly important issue. Gas-powered cars raise concerns for the environment. Plus there’s the ever-rising cost of petrol to think about.

So is LPG conversion the answer to both these quandaries? It certainly has its benefits. However, there are key considerations here that must be taken into account before you book your car in.

Read on for all you need to know.

First up, the burning question:

What is LPG?

LPG stands for liquid petroleum gas. Like most popular energy sources in the world, LPG is a hydrocarbon fuel. When used for vehicles, it also goes by the name autogas

As the name suggests, LPG is a liquid gas. 

While that might sound contradictory, all it means is that pressure has been applied to the gas at room temperature to turn it into a liquefied form. This “gas” is far more efficient in its liquefied form as it can store a lot more energy, making it a more environmentally-friendly fuel alternative.

LPG contains a mixture of flammable gases, notably propane and/or butane. That means it’s still a fossil fuel — but a far more sustainable option.

Not only are there environmental perks here, but financial ones too. With the rising prices at the pump, motorists are looking to LPG as a hopeful alternative. Basically, you’ll get far more bang for your buck, which in this case, means kilometres per litre.

What is LPG conversion?

LPG conversion in cars is the process of transforming a vehicle fueled by gasoline into one that can also run on both petrol or diesel and the more carbon-efficient LPG. If your car has an internal combustion engine — which it likely does unless you have an electric vehicle — it can probably run on LPG. 

Instead of replacing your tank with one that can only run on LPG, LPG conversion involves converting to a dual tank that can run on both LPG and either petrol or diesel. 

What are the benefits of LPG conversion? 

Your wallet is where you’ll see the biggest benefit. LPG is about half the cost of petrol. 

That being said, you’re not likely to feel this benefit immediately. You first have to factor in the cost of the conversion itself. But once you’ve paid that off, you’ll spend less on keeping your car running.

LPG is also a more environmentally friendly option due to its energy efficiency. 

According to Liquid Gas UK, LPG emits 33% less CO2 than coal and 12% less than oil. Significantly, it hardly emits any black carbon, the sooty material that comes from other kinds of engines that burn fossil fuels. Black carbon is considered to be a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. 

If you’re put off by the low range of electric cars but are looking for transport that takes the environment into consideration, LPG conversion may be a good option for you.

Next question: how much is LPG conversion?

How much does it cost to convert from petrol to LPG UK?

Converting your car to one that can run on LPG costs about £1,200. While that may sound expensive, your fuel costs could ultimately be cut in half.

Can you convert diesel to LPG?

The short answer is yes. Many diesel cars can be converted to LPG. However, conversion can be expensive, sometimes hitting the £2,000 mark.

Converting from a diesel vehicle to a dual tank can have major environmental impacts. In a solution piloted by Birmingham City Council, black cabs that converted from diesel to LPG were recorded to have an 80% reduction in levels of tailpipe nitrous oxide emissions and a 99% reduction in particulate matter emissions. 

Beyond the environmental benefits, LPG is a quieter alternative to diesel. 

There have been concerns that converting to LPG may decrease the performance of a diesel vehicle, but research has shown that there are ways to prevent this. By optimising things like engine speed and injection timing, it’s possible to configure a dual engine so that performance doesn’t suffer.

Is LPG being phased out?

Before you book your vehicle for LPG conversion, there are some considerations to take into account.

You may have heard that LPG is being phased out in the UK — and in a manner of speaking, this is correct.

LPG may be a casualty of the UK government’s plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

In a statement given in March 2022, the Motor Fuels Group told the Competitions and Markets Authority that LPG sales are not proving to be profitable and that they would be swapping out LPG pumps for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

That means that finding places to fuel up your LPG engine is going to become more of a challenge. 

Still, depending on your car, the amount you drive, and whether there is an LPG pump near you, LPG conversion might still be a worthwhile choice.

Is converting to LPG worth it?

If you drive a lot, LPG is certainly the more environmentally-friendly option when compared with petrol and diesel. 

As the cost of fuel remains unpredictable, your wallet may also thank you for lowering prices at the petrol station. 

While you will certainly feel the perks at the pump, there are some things to take into account here.

As things currently stand, it’s not too difficult to find petrol stations in the UK that offer LPG. But as we’ve discussed, many of these are being replaced with EV charging stations. It could be very frustrating to spend the money on converting your car to a dual engine, only to discover that it’s difficult to find places to fuel up. 

Particularly if you live in a remote place, availability can be a serious concern. 

Other things to consider?

It’s not cheap to convert your tank. The government doesn’t provide the same incentives as they do to those looking to go electric. That means LPG conversion likely means forking out a lump sum to get you going. The savings will only come down the line.

The process of LPG conversion usually takes about three working days to complete, so you’ll need to be without your vehicle for that length of time. 

Plus, if anything goes wrong, you will likely have to find a specialist who is able to deal with this engine type. This can result in extra costs. 

If you are looking to buy a new car, one option is to buy a vehicle that’s already undergone LPG conversion. That means you don’t have to fork out for the conversion cost but can still enjoy the benefits.

If you are looking to convert your own vehicle, your next step will be to find the right suppliers and people to do the job. If you would like to explore LPG conversion further, you can find a list of approved UK installers and accredited parts distributors here.

IMPORTANT: If you do decide to go the LPG route, it’s important to notify your insurer. You will likely have to have your conversion done by an approved installer so that your insurance doesn’t see the conversion as an unnecessary risk. 

Quickfire summary

LPG conversion has many perks. Using LPG will mean you:

  • Save money at the petrol pump
  • Reduce your carbon emissions
  • Lower the emission of particulates released by diesel engines

But there are some downsides:

  • Dual engine vehicles may become a casualty of the UK’s plan to get rid of new petrol and diesel vehicles on the road, with many LPG fuel sites being replaced with EV charging stations
  • Conversion is expensive and may mean you’re without your car for a few days
  • Servicing can be more difficult and expensive as you may have to find specialists who know how to deal with this engine type

Provided you take the cons into account, LPG conversion can be a smart choice. It can save you money down the line and has significant environmental benefits. Just make sure you go with an approved installer — and don’t forget to talk to your insurer first!

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