Spain is a very attractive European vanlife destination, with many beachfront parking spots and off-the-beaten-path destinations. The food is great, the beer is cold and the sun plentiful. However, beware of running out of gas!!! It’s not easy to get gas bottle refills in Spain!
This is especially an issue for travellers – I’ve seen this topic coming back on many vanlife groups and forums. In this blog I will explain how to refill a gas bottle in Spain, if it’s possible at all and what are alternative solutions.
After concluding my vanlife-life after 2,5 years, I now settled down in Spain. I ran into gas bottle issues both during vanlife and during my permanent residency here. In this blog I will use this experience to hopefully help you sort out your gas bottles in Spain!
Please note: I don’t like to fool around with things as gas and electricity, so in this blog I do not provide addresses of (illegal) filling stations in Spain. Read to the bottom how I fixed my gas issue without buying a big Spanish gas bottle.
Please note 2: this article is only applicable for Campervans and Motorhomes that do not have a designated, built-in LPG system. In my next campervan conversion I will definitely install a built-in LPG system!
What's coming up
- 1 The Problem with Gas bottles in Spain for Vanlifers
- 2 Spanish Gas Bottles: the basics
- 3 How to get a Spanish gas bottle
- 4 Spanish Gas Bottle Regulators
- 5 How to re-fill your Spanish gas bottles
- 6 Foreign Gas Bottle Refills in Spain- Is it possible?
- 7 Why you should not re-fill a (foreign) bottle at a gas station
- 8 Vanlifers & Motorhomes: So how to solve your gas bottle refill issues in Spain
- 9 Gas in Spain
The Problem with Gas bottles in Spain for Vanlifers
Most vanlifers and motorhome travellers carry one or multiple gas bottles from their home country. Exchanging or having them refilled in the country of origin is often not a problem.
But what if your gas bottle runs out when you’re on the road in another country? Unfortunately, gas bottle are not standardised yet in European Union. This creates an instant problem when trying to exchange them abroad – it’s simply not possible! Refilling foreign gas bottles is allowed in some countries, but not in Spain.
So, what do you do when your gas bottle is empty while travelling in Spain?
Spanish Gas Bottles: the basics
Let’s first get down to the basics. Gas bottles (“Bombonas de Gas”) are very common in Spain for domestic and small business use. Especially in rural areas where there is no central gas connection, it is very normal to see people carry around gas bottles to heat up their houses and water, and to cook.
The most common gas suppliers in Spain are Repsol and Cepsa (you may know them from the gas stations). They provide two types of gas: propane and butane.
The main difference between the two is their liquefied temperature. Because of this, propane is ideal for cold / outdoor areas and is often used in kitchens, for water heaters and heating. Butane is more suitable for indoor installations.
The standard old bottles are heavy and made from metal. Both Repsol and Cepsa now also have lightweight bottles which are much more convenient to handle – even though they are still very bulky!
These regular “small” bottles have fixed prices by the Spanish government, as opposed to larger bottles (35kg) used in larger gas installations.
Campingaz is also widely spread in Spain. You can find the available campingaz bottles here. Apparently, Cepsa also distributes Campingaz bottles to houses.
How to get a Spanish gas bottle
The right way
The correct way to obtain a Spanish gas bottle is to go to a Cepsa or Repsol office or distributor, register and get a gas bottle certificate. You “buy” a bottle, which is basically putting down a deposit for the bottle and paying for the content. Usually, you will need ID and a rental/ownership document from your house and/or padron (proof of address) and sometimes you will be asked for a gas installation certificate. Some shops are easier than others!
If you don’t have an address in Spain
Many people that are not permanent residents in Spain find it easiest to buy a secondhand Spanish Gas Bottle. You can get these at
- Second-hand stores or “rastros”
- Facebook marketplace
- A local facebook group
- Apps like Wallapop or Milanuncios
Be careful: when you use a second-hand bottle in your home that you don’t have registered (i.e you have only 1 registered while have 5 in your house), insurance may give you major issues when there is a gas-related incident.
Campingaz use is widespread in Spain. If you want to buy a campingaz bottle (get the campingaz 907 , it contains 2,75kg of butano) you can do this at many “ferreterias” (hardware stores).
Not all ferreterias sell them, but in most villages you will find one that does. The good thing about buying a campinggaz bottle is that they don’t give you so much hassle about your address. Anyone can buy a bottle like this and exchange it! It’s more expensive per kg of gas, but it’s super easy.
You can find distributors of Campingaz here (although this list is not complete)
Spanish Gas Bottle Regulators
When you have your bottle sorted, you also need an adapter. Spanish bottles have a very easy, pull-click-on system for connecting your gas bottles.
You can get your “regulador” or “conjunto regulador de gas mas tubo” at Leroy Merlin or any ferreteria (hardware store) across Spain.
How to re-fill your Spanish gas bottles
Once you have obtained a Spanish gas bottle, getting new gas is easy! There are two options:
- Take your empty bottle to a gas station or other distrubutor and swap it for a full one – you can only swap a Repsol bottle for a Repsol, and a Cepsa for a Cepsa 🙂 You only pay for the gas, not for the bottle (you paid for the bottle when you got the contract)
- Order your full bottle online with – Cepsa and Repsol deliver at home (as long as you are not on the campo)
This means you can not re-fill your bottle, only swap it!
Foreign Gas Bottle Refills in Spain- Is it possible?
If for some reason you don’t want to get a Spanish gas bottle (for example, if you don’t have the room in your campervan – see my own experience below), you are probably looking for a way to fill your foreign gas bottle somewhere in Spain.
Can you refill your foreign gas bottle in Spain? The answer is simple: NO. In Spain, it is only allowed to SWAP bottles – Spanish bottles. You bring your empty one, and you get a full one simply paying for the content.
I don’t have personal experience with these guys located in Marbella, but they claim to fill bottles from all countries https://gasbottlerefill.com/
Other options that you read about online are not legal:
- Illegal filling stations – fill gas bottles under the radar
- Gas station attendants looking away when you use LPG to re-fill your gas bottle by using adapters –
Why you should not re-fill a (foreign) bottle at a gas station
Just think about it – if they were made for filling, wouldn’t we be allowed to do it?
The main concern about individuals filling their own bottles is that both Spanish and foreign bottles are not made for refilling because they can be overfilled. Gas bottles can explode (no, not just in movies), or you can run into issues with appliances because the pressure is too high.
Yes, you may be able to get adapaters to fill bottles with LPG.
Yes, the gas station attendant may look the other way even though it’s illegal and dangerous.
Should you do it? Up to you.
Vanlifers & Motorhomes: So how to solve your gas bottle refill issues in Spain
To summarize: there are two legal ways to to get a new gas supply when you run out of gas in Spain:
- Get a Spanish gas bottle + an adaptor that fits your fitting (also called pigtail)
- Get a Campingaz bottle
My troubles started when we spent the night in Trevelez in the South of Spain. Our Dutch bottle ran out of gas after 2,5 months! It was -1 degrees and we desperately needed a hot cup of coffee/tea!
The quest for a gas re-fill began.
We tried to get Spanish bottles at gas stations and distributors, but they would all turn us away not having a permanent address in Spain! Next to that, we soon realised that even if we would get a bottle, it wouldn’t fit in our kitchen. We’d have to demolish the cabinet to make space for the bottle.
Until we ended up at a friendly small shop specialized in gas, where we saw the only bottle that would ever fit in our kitchen setup: The campingaz 907 bottle.
So we got the small Campingaz gas bottle that we initially failed to connect to our kitchen setup. Not sure how, but the tubes seemed different. A week and several attempts later, it finally worked! In the meantime, we bought a small campingaz stove to at least be able to cook something. Not the most ideal (safe) setup, but it worked temporarily until we got our initial bottle filled up.
Gas in Spain
I hope this article shed some light on the possibilities of refilling (foreign) gas bottles in Spain. If there is a solution that I missed, please let me know in the comments! 🙂