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What is an LPG boiler?

LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas and is most commonly used for heating homes in the UK. An LPG boiler can be found in rural properties that are considered ‘off grid’. This gives properties that do not have access to a mains gas supply an effective method of heating their home.

LPG tank being lowered into the ground

What you'll learn

  • How do LPG boilers work?
  • Who can have LPG boilers?
  • Who can service LPG boilers?
  • Advantages and considerations of LPG
  • Are there any alternatives to LPG boilers?
  • What is the Alternative Fuel Payment?

06 min.

This type of boiler works the exact same as traditional gas boilers with the only difference being that the petroleum gas is stored in a tank. The tank is located outside your property and has to be topped up by an LPG supplier.

In this guide, we are going to explain the key differences between LPG and gas boilers and how they can best suit your home.

How do LPG boilers work?

LPG boilers work similarly to natural gas boilers apart from they run off LPG. They continue to produce energy to heat your radiators or underfloor heating and provide hot water to your home. LPG is known to be a safe and clean gas making it a very efficient method of home heating for off grid properties.

One of the main differences is that you are required to have a storage tank outside your property (usually in your garden) which is used to store the fuel. It is possible to have a tank underground if you do not wish to lose any garden space.

Installing an underground tank does not require any planning permission from your local authority, however the Planning Portal says that tanks should be no more than 3,500 litres capacity with an overall height of three metres.

The fuel is delivered by a supplier usually in a truck or lorry. How often you have LPG delivered will depend on your living requirements so it is important that you keep it topped up so you do not risk being without heating and hot water. The fuel can also be stored in a gas bottle which is located externally to the property.

caravan in a grassy field

Who can have LPG boilers?

There are LPG variants of combi, system, and open-vent boilers available that provide a dependable and incredibly effective central heating system. They still operate the same with LPG system and open-vent boilers requiring a separate hot water tank and an LPG combi boiler providing heating and hot water from a single unit.

Liquified Petroleum Gas is often found in mobile and static caravans as well as canal boats as it is used for heating and cooking making it a convenient and flexible alternative to traditional gas. You can get specific caravan LPG boilers and water heaters however, it’s important that it is stored correctly and you have a spare supply in case you run out.

Who can service LPG boilers?

Regardless of your living situation or boiler type, it is crucial that you have your boiler serviced. We recommend having a yearly service to ensure the safety and efficiency of your boiler as well as the terms of your guarantee.

This must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer where they will carry out a range of tests and checks to ensure that your LPG central heating system is working safely.

A boiler service can help to lower the cost of your bills as you know your boiler is working at optimal efficiency. You also prevent any risk of carbon monoxide leaks and minimise the risk of potential boiler repairs which can be costly.

Advantages of LPG

  • LPG is a cleaner fuel compared to oil as it burns less carbon. This prevents soot and ash build up.

  • It is more dense than oil meaning you can get more heat from burning the same quantity.

  • As LPG boilers can be installed at a range of properties from park homes/cabins/shepherds huts, they tend to be smaller meaning they do not take up as much space in your home.

  • Due to their compact size, they do not produce as much noise compared to oil boilers when the heating is on.

Considerations of LPG

  • The overall cost of LPG can be more expensive than mains gas and you often have to pay in advance.

  • As LPG is delivered via a lorry or truck, it’s important they can easily and safely. If a lorry cannot access your property, this can be a major issue.

  • Before installing an LPG external tank, you may need to get planning permission from our local authority. This is the case for above and underground tank installations.

  • LPG is not subject to a price cap, meaning the supplier can charge whatever they want. The price of LPG has gone up significantly due to the cost of living crisis.

  • Although LPG is a cleaner fuel, it is still derived from fossil fuels meaning it is not a renewable alternative. Although LPG is cleaner fuel than heating oil, it is still derived from fossil fuels meaning it is not a renewable alternative.

Are there any alternatives to LPG boilers?

For off grid properties who are looking to modernise their existing heating central system, a heat pump is a great option as they work by extracting natural resources from the air, ground or water which is then generated into heat for warmth and hot water.

They use electricity to raise the temperature of the captured environmental energy. This is only around 25% of the total energy used during the process meaning 75% of the energy is generated entirely by their surrounding environment.

Vaillant offer three different types of heat pumps:

Air source heat pumps extract thermal energy (heat) from the outside air and convert this into heating and hot water for your home. They are an external unit that does not take up a huge amount of space in your card.

They require little maintenance due to their robust design and can handleb a range of adeverse weather conditions.

Water source heat pump systems are ideal for homeoweners that have a suitable source onsite, such as a lake, river, stream or borehole. They work by extracting water and converting the collected energy into heating and water for your home.

Water source heat pump can come in two configurations: closed loop and open loop. Closed loop system are the most common of the two but both have their use in various property layouts.

Ground source heat pumps are extremely efficient as they extract thermal energy from the ground near your property and convert this into heating and hot water for your home. They are suitable for off grid homes that have suitable land to install ground arrays or a borehole system.

The installation of ground source heat pumps may require digging trenches or drilling bore holes in the ground to make way for the pipework but one installed, they require little maintenance.

What is the Alternative Fuel Payment?

In January 2023, the UK Government announced additional support to help those who use alternative fuel to heat their homes across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

As well as LPG, alternative fuel accounts for coal and biomass which accounts for nearly two million households.

The Alternative Fuel Payment was first introduced in Autumn 2022 to help homes with increasing cost of purchasing fuel during the cost of living crisis. Homes were given £200 to help with their energy bills but due to the crisis ongoing, this has been extended. The payment should be paid via your electric supplier as credit.

The £200 is in addition to the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme (EBSS) that was given to all households in England, Wales and Scotland to help with the rising energy bills.

Vaillant’s range of combi, regular and system boilers have LPG alternatives to help suit a wide range of living requirements. An LPG boiler will still offer a reliable, highly efficient heating system.