Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Optimus Nova on Gas

The Optimus Nova is a great stove -- if you get the right version (see my Optimus Nova Review for how to tell).

But the Nova is a liquid fuel only stove.  Wouldn't it be nice if it could run on gas?  Well, hold on here. I mean why not?  What's stopping us? 

But how to do it?  Well, let's take a look at an Optimus Nova
An Optimus Nova stove in its case
An Optimus Nova stove
Yep, that's the stove all right.  :)  No obvious clues there, so let's dig a little deeper.  Let's look at the fuel line.
An Optimus Nova with the fuel line showing
First let's look at the distal end of the fuel line.
The distal end of an Optimus Nova
On the distal end of the fuel line, we can see the excellent and proven CEJN connector.  The CEJN connector is perhaps the best connector on any stove in the world.  The connector plugs into the Nova's pump (liquid fuel only).  The connector will not mate with a canister of gas, and there's no adapter available.  So, no help on the distal end of the fuel line.

What about the proximal end?
The proximal end of a Nova's fuel line
Well, now isn't that interesting?  There's a nut there.  A nut as in the type that you can unscrew.  But what to attach it to?  Hmm.  Now, interestingly enough the fuel line on a Primus Omnifuel is already set up to run on gas, and the fuel line of a Primus Omnifuel also ends in a nut, a nut that is very similar to the Nova's
Optimus Nova stove (top).  Fuel line from a Primus Omnifuel (bottom).
Notice the similarity between the nut on the Nova's fuel line and the nut on the Omnifuel's fuel line?  Could it be?  Rats.  Nope.  Not the same.  But they're so close!

Hmm.  What if we could get a small adapter?  Enter our friends at Bluewater Stove RestorationYes, Bluewater Stove Restoration is famous for making silent caps both for classic stoves like the Primus 96 and the Svea 123 as well as for modern stoves like the Dragonfly and the Omnifuel, but Bluewater does a whole lot more.  Indeed, they've come up with an adapter to connect an Optimus Nova to the fuel hose of a Primus Omnifuel so that a Nova can be run on gas. 
An adapter from Bluewater Stove Restoration.  This adapter will mate the fuel line from a Primus Omnifuel to an Optimus Nova stove.
A word on safety:  Any time you modify any stove, you take your life in your hands.  Be aware that you could have a fire, and that there are serious risks involved including severe burns and possibly even death.  If you "try this at home," be really careful.  In the case of using an adapter like the one shown in this post, take care not to cross thread, and make sure the fittings are tightened securely.  Always test with a low volume of fuel first before you open the valve fully.  In, the specific case of the Optimus Nova, close the valve at the burner, open the valve at the canister, and listen.  There should be no sound of escaping gas.  If you hear gas, something is wrong, and you need to STOP and correct the problem before you light the burner.  Fair warning.

OK, enough safety talk.  Let's give it a whirl!  First, let's take the Nova's fuel line off.
Disconnecting the fuel line from an Optimus Nova stove

And let's try out that adapter!
The Bluewater Stove Restoration adapter installed on an Optimus Nova stove
Fits great.  Now for the fuel line from the Omnifuel.
A fuel line from a Primus Omnifuel mated to an Optimus Nova stove via an adapter
The fuel line also fits great.  Now we're ready to start cooking with gas!
A fuel line from a Primus Omnifuel mated to an Optimus Nova stove via an adapter.
So, let's hook it up.
An Optimus Nova stove attached to a canister of gas
And let's fire it up!
An Optimus Nova stove running on canister gas.
It's a little hard to see the flames, but the adapter works great, and the Nova runs well on gas.  One could probably get slightly better heat output if one had a jet optimized for gas, but the factory installed Nova jet (optimized for liquid fuel) works just fine on canister gas.  I've noticed as I've tested various stoves that in general using a jet designed for a less volatile fuel (like white gasoline) will work reasonably well with a more volatile fuel (like gas).

I noticed that the stove went out a couple of times when I tried to get a really low simmering flame when just adjusting the at-the-canister valve.  It was broad daylight, and the flame was hard to see, so I don't think the stove going out was any reflection on the adapter or any indication that a Nova doesn't run well on gas.  However, I thought I'd try something different:  Running with the canister inverted.
An Optimus Nova stove running on gas with the canister inverted (liquid feed mode)
Running a stove with the canister inverted causes liquefied gas to flow out the bottom of the canister.  Liquefied gas is very similar to the Nova's intended (liquid) fuels.  When I ran the Nova on liquefied gas and used the at-the-burner valve to regulate the flame, I found that the stove was able to get a really nice "barely there" simmer.

An Optimus Nova stove with a  low simmering type flame running on gas with the canister inverted (liquid feed mode)
 I did find the control valve on the Primus Omnifuel's fuel line to be a bit of a pain with the canister inverted.
Inverted canister (liquid feed mode).
So, I just lifted the canister with one hand and adjusted the valve with the other.  An inconvenience, but no big deal.

As for keeping the canister in position, adding a couple of rocks kept the canister inverted, no problem.  I've seen people use small plastic tubs, like the kind that margarine or yogurt come in, to hold a canister inverted.  That might be a bit more convenient, but my stack of rocks did just fine.

By the way, when running on gas, you've got no less power than when running on liquid fuel.  I found that I could quickly bring water to a vigorous roiling boil.
Passing the "tea test".  You've got oodles of power when running on gas.
Well, there you have it, an Optimus Nova stove running on canister gas.  A big thank you to Gary at Bluewater Stove Restoration for making these tests possible.


Note:  I was approached by Bluewater Stove Restoration and asked if I might like to evaluate the adapter featured in this review.  As a part of the review process, I received an adapter from Bluewater Stove Restoration.  Other than the adapter itself, I received no remuneration for my review.  The receipt of the adapter was not contingent on the nature of my review (in other words I didn't have to promise to do a positive review in return for the adapter).  Further, I receive no part of the proceeds from the sale of any Bluewater Stove Restoration products.  All comments regarding the adapter shown on this page are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bluewater Stove Restoration.


  1. how much would one of those adapters cost?

  2. So far these are custom made and are not available at the retail level. I'd have to contact the maker and get a quote. They'd probably cost around $20.00, but that's just an estimate.

  3. well with versatility in mind, do you think that it's worth having that adapter to run this stove on gas or would it be better to just choose a stove that was designed for gas? i am looking to buy my first camp stove and they all have pros and cons, right now, I am leaning heavily towards the bulin x2, but so little information is on the internet about it. (but for around 70 bucks WITH the bottle, not a bad deal IF it runs good)

  4. I'd probably just get a stove that is designed for gas. The adapter is really more for someone who already has the stove.

    I'm not familiar with the Bulin stove, so I can't comment specifically. I do understand that Fire Maple has a better general reputation than Bulin, but I have not had personal experience with either brand.

    I have an Omnifuel (there's a post here on my blog about the Omnifuel). I can give a strong recommendation for the Omnifuel which is an excellent stove. I also like the new Whisperlite Universal which is coming out in January (there is a review here on my blog).

    I haven't tried the Brunton Vapor All Fuel. The reviews I've read have not been all that good.

    I have also not tried the Coleman Fyrestorm. The reviews I've read indicate that it works well with gas but not quite so well with liquid fuel.


  5. The omnifuel is my second option, but unless I can find it for around 110$ with the bottle it's gonna have to wait, and if I do get the bulin, I will be sure to take a crack at doing a review and let everyone know how it works. The reason I think the bulin is nice is that is has the legs of the Nova, but has the baffle burner of the whisperlite international/universal, and the preheat tube is almost identical to those. I really do want a liquid fuel stove but use gas as a backup (i have a ton of 1# propane and Kovea sells an adapter for $20) so yeah buying 2 adapters for 1 stove is getting a little too iffy, gotta KISS and not over-complicate it, but it doesn't hurt to ask, it only hurts when I'm wrong.


  6. I have heard of problems with the Bulin stoves, although I have not used them myself. For sure, don't assume that the quality of a Bulin will be the same as a Primus. A Primus has **excellent** build quality. I can vouch for that first hand. If you buy used and aren't in a hurry, you can get an Omnifuel for $110.00.

    Any of the following brands of fuel bottles will work with an Omnifuel: Sigg, Primus, MSR, Optimus, and Snow Peak. Coleman and Soto bottles will not work.

    The 1# propane bottles are fine for car camping, but they're very heavy if you have to carry them for any distance in a backpack.


  7. You are correct, and I'm going in fully aware of the quality, or lack thereof, no stove is perfect and any one of the brands can spit out a lemon, but this will not be my only stove, I fully intend to get an omnifuel later, this will just be a to-do-me means to an end type of thing, and yes, it is a waiting game as the past 3 weeks I haven't seen a single used omnifuel up for grabs, I guess they are just that good that nobody gets rid of them, but I am only going to wait at the most another 3 weeks as this is my present to myself:) And yes car camping/emergency use is what it will be for, I don't plan on doing any hike camping until I am at least moderately experienced with the basics of vehicle camping, then I can lighten the load, so-to-speak. Thanks for all your input and expertise. :)

  8. You're welcome. I hope what I've said has been helpful.

    Regarding the popularity of the Primus Omnifuel: out of all of the posts that are on my blog, what is far and away the #1 most read post? The Primus Omnifuel. Even though it has been months since I wrote that review, week in and week out, people are reading that review. Every week, when I look at the stats for my blog, I'm always surprised to see that my Primus Omnifuel post is almost always in the top three of what people have been reading. I've done absolutely nothing to publicize my Omnifuel review. Go figure.

    With whatever stove you choose, GOOD LUCK!!


  9. Almoast every stove made for white gas will run on canister fuel. The air mix ratio may need adjustment. I have tested this on 4 Nova's 2 worked well, 2 was tricky, and had to be modified. (Theese was both of the last pre Catadyn stoves made.(Taiwan made))

    I have tried butane on Colemans Apex ii and a 400A. It works, but it is quite tricy to get the tank filled with butane. (Put everything in the freezer and fill when its really cold)

  10. Interesting. What kind of modifications did you do on the Novas?


  11. I did some adjustments of the hight of the flame spreader plate, then it was no good at other fuels.

  12. Ah, interesting. That makes sense.


  13. Where could this adapter be purchased?

    Morten (denmark)


My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!