Thousands of French households rely on bottled gas to stay warm and use cooking appliances. These bottles need to be changed several times a year, and although this is an easy operation, it requires precautions - as with anything related to handling gas. Find out all about propane refills and where to find them in France below.
How do I know that my gas bottle is empty?
While not the most common of energy sources in France, bottled gas (or liquified petrol gas) can be a very viable and convenient heating method. Propane gas bottles can be used inside and outside, and since they store a high amount of energy, they can supply a multitude of devices and appliances. But what happens once the bottle empties out, and you risk running out of gas?
First things first, before starting the propane or butane gas refill process, you need to be sure that your bottle is indeed empty.
While it isn't easy to determine exactly how long a bottle will last - as it all depends on the devices you have, the time of year and your lifestyle habits - here are a couple of ways to find this out:
- The most reliable method is to simply unplug and weigh your bottle, and then substract the initial weight of the device to its empty weight. If you find the weight is close to the empty one, it's time to buy a refill.
- You can also purchase a small instrument which detects gas levels, without having to move or unplug the bottle. You just have to move the device along the bottle's surface starting from the top, and a green light will flash once it reaches the bottle's current gas level.
- Another method is to touch the bottle and feel its temperature. Stored gas has a very low temperature, so the more a bottle approaches a mild temperature, the more likely it is to be near to empty. This said, this is an approximative method and definitely not the most reliable.
- Some innovative gas bottles, such as the Butagaz Viséo bottle, have a system of windows that allows you to instantly see how much butane is left, which is very handy.
Tariffs of gas bottle refills in France
For most people, the number one criteria when purchasing a gas bottle is the price. And while these aren't relatively expensive in France, it is worth knowing what your best options are before committing to a certain energy provider in France.
What determines prices of a gas bottle
Butane and propane providers in France charge you for 2 distinct services:
- The price of the deposit ("prix de consignation") for the bottle: during your very first purchase, you will need to pay a small deposit fee. This gives you the right to use the bottle, however you don't own it per se. You will get this money back, either when you return the bottle once you decide to stop this energy source, or when you decide to change your provider.
- The price of the gas: this is a fee you pay for the recharge, when you trade the empty bottle for a full one.
The price of a gas recharge is set so as to cover both the provider's functioning costs (propane or butane supplying, transport...) and the charges for the reseller (supermarket, petrol station...).
Comparing gas bottle prices in France
It is highly recommended that you compare the fees for both the gas deposit and the gas itself, in order to get the best rate for your energy in France.
Note that the deposit is a one-time fee, while for gas it will be a recurring cost, so take this into account when comparing prices. It is often best to opt for a cheaper cost for gas rather than a cheaper deposit, which will help you save money in the long run.
Where to refill a propane or butane bottle in France
You will be able to find butane and propane recharges in all your provider's stockists. These are most often gas stations and big or small French supermarkets.
All the main French providers have interactive maps on their websites to help you locate the stockist nearest to you. You can check them out for Antargaz, Butagaz, Primagaz and Vitogaz (all in French).
You will also find all the addresses, contact details, opening times and products available for their nationwide stores on their websites.
How to get a gas bottle delivered in France
An even better option that doesn't require you to leave your home is to get your gas bottles delivered right to your home. To do so, you can simply place your order and arrange the delivery on the Gazissimo website. With this supplier, the bottle deposit only costs €1, plus you can get an €6 discount on your order with the promotion code SELR6.
What happens during a gas bottle change
The process is relatively simple and straightfoward, and doesn't require the intervention of a professional.
Note that you will need to get hold of a new joint coupler and gas pressure regulator before you start.
- Unplug your empty bottle and bring it to the store
- Trade the empty bottle for a full one (it will have to be the same brand and category)
- Pay the price for gas (no fee for the bottle itself here)
- Bring it home and safely plug your new bottle in. That's it!
Can I refill a gas bottle with another?
Some domestic installations may include two gas cylinders that are interconnected by an automatic diverter. This means that when the first bottle empties, an inverter will automatically swith the feed over to the second bottle (also known as reserve bottle).
An indicator then flashes to inform you that is it now the reserve bottle that is supplying gas, and that it is necessary to purchase a gas bottle refill for the main, empty bottle.
Using such a system with multiple bottles in a network rather than a single one improves your gas system's autonomy.
Just note that this is the only advisable way to transfer gas from one bottle to another. Any other process could create serious safety hazards.