A motorhome powered by natural gas? It may be a very good solution, but in Poland you won’t find too many stations, where you could refuel CNG. But there’s solution also for that problem.
Cars powered by CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) are a real rarity, as for now, in Poland. Nonetheless, there’re brands that are trying to promote this way of fueling vehicles, and these include, among others, Fiat Ducato equipped in a proper installation.
And yet Ducato is also a base for motorhomes!
In Germany, the combination of Ducato + motorhome + CNG has been successfully used already for several years. One of the first CNG camping vehicles is La Strada Avanti Ecostar.
The car has been equipped with a 3-liter engine with 136 HP. The maximum torque of 350 Nm is available from 1,500 rpm/min. Nonetheless, the most interesting thing here is the power. It’s not based (as in the case of LPG installation) on the interchangeable use of gas and gasoline, but it has been designed in such a way that under all conditions the car can use a natural gas. From the very beginning, the engine is powered by gas.
Five gas cylinders were mounted in the floor. They take a lot of space, but at the same time they lower the center of gravity. Cylinders have a total capacity of 220 liters, which means that they can contain 37.4 kg of gas. If you want to tank up the cylinder to the full, you will need approximately 50m3 of gas. Such amount should be enough for about 400 km. What about the costs? As I’m writing this article, one meter costs 3,28 PLN (0,8 EUR). And this means that 164 PLN (40 EUR) should be enough for 400 km.
La Strada is equipped in petrol tank as well, but it has the capacity of only 15 liters. In fact, it was designed as an emergency tank, so that we could drive 100 km in search of CNG stations.
Garage gas distributor
There’s a problem with the availability of this kind of stations in Poland. However, the alternative sounds pretty interesting. We won’t put a petrol dispenser in our garage but we can install a natural gas compressor. This device isn’t cheap – it costs about 30,000 PLN (Approx. 7500,00 EUR). But it constitutes a source of gas from the home network, which will cost approximately 2,50 PLN (0,6 EUR) per meter.
If your family has several cars, and all are powered by natural gas, such investment really pays off.
Benefits of CNG
There’s also a question "why?". Are there any other benefits for the lovers of caravanning, than only lower costs? As it turns out, yes.
First of all, the car powered by CNG is quieter, so the holiday trip will be less burdensome for all passengers. The second issue - CNG is odorless. Thus, you won’t feel either gas or gasoline. At the same time, manufacturers ensure that CNG systems are perfectly tight and secured in such a way that the gas supply is safer than all other methods.
But owners of motorhomes will appreciate other advantage more. It’s possible to use natural gas as a power supply for various devices. So you don’t have to refuel the car separately and additionally exchange gas cylinders to power the kitchen, gas stove or water heater. The possibility to use CNG as the main power source throughout the vehicle convinces caravanning enthusiasts the most.
Does the CNG installation have some disadvantages? Yes, for example the fact that cylinders take up a lot of space and decrease the clearance of the vehicle. The conversion of a simple motorhome into the vehicle powered by CNG may be a problem too.
However, if you consider buying a new vehicle and convert it in accordance with your taste, it’s worth to consider an option of the natural gas.