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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Kovea LPG (Propane) Adapter

I recently picked something up that turns out to be pretty useful:  A Kovea LPG (Propane) Adapter.  This adapter allows one to run a standard threaded canister gas type backpacking stove off of one of those green Coleman 16.4oz/465g cylinders of 100% propane, you know the typical propane canisters that everyone uses for camping stoves and camping lanterns for car camping.
An LPG (propane) adapter made by Kovea
Whoa!  Running a backpacking stove off of 100% propane?  Couldn't that be dangerous?

Well, maybe, and I certainly wouldn't have bought a no-name adapter made in China, but Kovea is a top gas stove manufacturing company with an excellent reputation world wide.  If Kovea makes it, it's quality, and I wanted to give it a look.  Speaking of which, let's take that puppy out of the packaging.

First impression:  This thing is beautiful.  I mean look at it.  Really nice build quality.
A Kovea propane adapter.  This end connects to a typical 16.4oz/465g cylinder of propane of the type that are used for camp stoves and camp lanterns.
A Kovea propane adapter.  This end connects to a typical threaded backpacking stove.
It is made from really solid feeling metal, so it is heavy (105g), but boy is the thing well built.

Now, notice something.  On the side of the adapter there is a little set screw which helps regulate the gas.
There is a set screw on the side of the adapter to help regulate the pressure.
When I tested the adapter, I didn't need to use the set screw.  In other words, it worked just fine out of the box, but it's nice to know that it's there if you need it.  Now, a word of warning:  propane is going to have a higher vapor pressure than the gasses typically used for backpacking.  Yes, the gasses typically used for backpacking include propane, but not 100%.  Usually propane is no more than about 1/3 of the total mix.

Higher vapor pressure could mean higher danger, so pay attention.  If the pressure is too high, you could get flame "lift off" where the flame is blown away from the burner.  In that situation, the flame will frequently die out while the gas is still flowing.

OK, let me get this straight.  I've got a hot stove with the flame out but the gas is still gushing out.  Um, couldn't that be a little dangerous?

Why yes, as a matter of fact it could.  Gas + air + heat = KABOOM!  If you're lucky, all you'll lose is your eyebrows.  If you're unlucky, you'll be finding out for 100% sure whether or not there really is a God, if you know what I mean.  So, warning:

Propane is a highly flammable and potentially explosive gas.  
Backpacking stoves are not designed to operate on 100% propane.  Use at your own risk.  Risk includes loss of property, serious bodily injury, and death.

The first rule, if you've made the decision to accept the risk of using a backpacking stove with 100% propane, is to turn things down low.  Start low, and turn things up slowly.  There's no law that says you have to open the valve completely, so don't.

The adapter comes with some instructions.
The instructions for the "set screw" on the side of the adapter.
Unfortunately, the instructions are written in Korean, which is not a language with which I am conversant.  Still, it's pretty obvious from the pictogram what the set screw does.

Another diagram shows the method of employment, although it will probably be fairly straightforward for anyone who has used both 100% propane camping appliances as well as canister gas backpacking stoves and lanterns.
How to hook up the adapter (shown in orange)
Just in case you're Korean isn't up to speed, here's what the adapter looks like when you hook it up (below).  Note that the propane canister I'm using happens to be blue.  The canister is blue because of the  particular brand of the canister.  Typically canisters are green, but whatever, the adapter hooks up the same.
A Kovea LPG (propane) adapter attached to a propane canister. 
Your backpacking stove then screws into the threads that you can see on the adapter in the photo above. Inside the adapter is the equivalent of a Lindal valve.  In other words, gas doesn't start immediately come shooting out of the adapter when you hook it up.
A Markill Hot Rod backpacking stove in operation on 100% propane.
Really pretty straightforward, but as with any backpacking stove, be freaking careful.  Always listen after hooking everything up before firing up the stove.  If you hear a leak, proceed no further until you've resolved the problem.  Failure to do so could have catastrophic results.

I'll cover the more practical aspects of 100% propane use for backpacking in a separate post.  In this post, I just wanted to showcase the adapter.


Final warning:  Adapters open up a whole new world in terms of fuel and stove combinations that can be used. Adapters  also open up a whole new world of hurt if you exceed the limitations of a particular set up. Just because you can hook up something up doesn't mean it's a good idea. Above all else, be careful.


Thanks for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,

HJ

28 comments:

  1. Do you have any problem with the pin on the stove not depressing the Lindal Valve sufficiently? There's a YouTube video where the guy made a spacer because he felt that the stove had to be over tightened otherwise.

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  2. Hi, Jim,

    Do you mean in general or on the Brunton Stove Stand in particular? I haven't had any problems.

    HJ

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  3. In general. The guy goes by "Dr. Coolit"Here's his video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ahKB8iMmM0

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  4. Jim,

    I was able to hand tighten the adapter, and it worked fine. I did have to make sure it was pretty snug.

    HJ

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  5. Hi Jim,
    I have long been wondering if this adapter would work reasonably well, with a Primus Omnifuel.
    After doing some research, and if I only was able to own only one stove, I thought that this setup would enable me to run just about any combination of fuel that I would reasonably find here in California.
    I am trying to update my equipment and consolidate my usage into fairly small form factors so that it could be used as part of an earthquake kit, as well as for hiking and motorcycle camping.
    Adding the cheap cost of the one pound Coleman type propane bottles that can be found just about anywhere increases the cost effectiveness and utility of a multi fuel capable stove.

    Naturally though, that wouldn’t help me any if I blow myself up. :-(

    But since the Omnifuel uses a heating tube to vaporize its fuel, I thought it would be safe to use even if the propane bottle was lying on its side. Would you agree?

    On a separate note, what do you think of using this adapter with the Primus Vidar BBQ?
    The BBQ is very small and portable, and is just big enough to use for two people, but it was designed to use butane, How well do you think this little adapter would work with it?
    Larry

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  6. Hi, Larry,

    I've used the Kovea Propane adapter on little tiny ultralight backpacking stoves. A robust stove like the Omnifuel will have NO problem with 100% propane. Just start every thing LOW and turn things up SLOWLY. I recommend that you do not open all the valves 100%. Should be no problem.

    I'm not familiar with the Vidar BBQ, but if it has a 7/16ths UNEF threaded connector like the Omnifuel, it should be OK. I'll have to look the Vidar up. I've not seen one before.

    HJ

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  7. To make a upright tank more stable, use a Century Camping tank base.

    Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/CENTURY-Camping-Lighting-Accessories-DISPOSABLE/dp/B000MJQWPQ

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    Replies
    1. A bit heavy, and a bit bulky, but it definitely would work. Might be good for trailhead camping the night before a bit backpacking trip.

      HJ

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  8. I have one of these adapters. The cheap chinese stoves I bought off deal extreme do not work, they won't screw in enough to depress the pin (reason for the 'sleeve' above). But my Primus Classic Trail works fine, same with the Snow Peak model I tried (can't recall which one). Best option I think if you buy one of these is use a quality stove :)

    My Kovea lantern won't work either.

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    1. There are definitely reports of problems with the pins on some stoves not being long enough to depress the internal valve on the adapter. One person put a little brass spacer down in there and got his stove working...

      HJ

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    2. On a couple of my stoves the problem is more that the stove valve is just slightly too big to fit into the metal collar around the lindal valve on the adapter. So because it's not able to screw on firmly, I wouldn't want to risk it with a sleeve. My Kovea Firefly lantern has this issue as well as my cheaper stoves. My Fire Maple blowtorch works just fine.

      REI is now selling a different brand of this kind of adapter, I might give it a try: http://www.rei.com/product/710673/century-type-1-adapter-hand-tighten

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    3. Paddlesheep, that adapter that you linked to is of a totally different type and will not work with a backpacking type stove.

      HJ

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    4. Oops, you're right! Didn't pay close enough attention. Thanks!

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  9. hi jim
    i found one on ebay. it looks same as kovea adapter. im not really sure.
    can you check it?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MacCoupler-Propane-Refill-Adapter-Lp-Small-Coleman-Gas-Cylinder-Bottle-Coupler-/251264397405?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a8086705d

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    Replies
    1. That one is not the same and will NOT work with backpacking type stoves.

      HJ

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  10. thank you.
    ebayer : allaview8979

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/KOVEA-LPG-Adapter-VA-AD-0701-for-Gas-Lantern-to-use-LPG-Gas?item=251253957442&cmd=ViewItem&_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D5%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D7191483263186684159#ht_4105wt_1107

    this is the one you hav right?

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    1. HELLO JIM
      I just got that adapter. but it dosent work with my coleman 1lb propane and Optimus Vega. i opened pressure. i tried everyting.... but gas is not comming out at adapter. i cant smell the gas when i disconnet gas tank from adapter.

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    2. Sungkun,

      You might have a defective adapter.
      -- OR --
      The pin on your stove may not be long enough to depress the internal valve on the adapter. You could try this technique: Getting a Kovea Adapter to work.

      Good luck,

      HJ

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  11. Hi as to the safety this product is designed for use with Kovea products only. It will work with others but Kovea products are built for use with both fuels via this adapter. All these are available at http://www.campsaver.com/kovea.html

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Isaac, I didn't know that Campsaver is now carrying Kovea equipment. That's great news. I understand that Kovea products are now available also at The Gear House and on Amazon.

      As for safety, I'm not sure that the brand matters so much as the fit. If the adapter fits well, then in general it will be safe is used sensibly.

      HJ

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Hi. Will the adapter work the opposite way? I have a coleman stove and want to use the smaller canisters?

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  14. how do you use a cheap butane canister on a propane stove though ? cant find an adapter for it :(

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  15. Hi Jim. Thanks for all the good information. I purchased one of those adapters from Campsaver and hooked it up to a Chinese backpacking stove called "Camping Split Stove" from Amazon. It worked beautifully for one minute, but after that, it gave a little roar and the characteristic blue flame changed to invisible. Not only that, the burner quickly began glowing bright orange. Excellent heat output, but scary. With propane/butane mix fuel this does not happen. Any insight into what is going on here?

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  16. What about the G-Works version? From what I can tell, it's ~30% of the weight of the Kovea, looks to be well constructed, has a knurled texture vs being shaped like a nut (which may help achieve a better grip for hand-tightening), and it doesn't come with Korean instructions (I know, not a big deal, but the fact Kovea does that with apparently all of their products is irritating). Most importantly, between comments here and the Amazon reviews, it looks like the Kovea adapter doesn't work (without modification) with many stoves, including MSR. I haven't seen any such reports with the G-Works one, though it doesn't have many reviews. Has anybody tried one of these?

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  17. Best shop with lpg adapters to refill bottles from autogas pump station and autogas converted cars and motorhomes in my opinion is: http://www.lpgadapter.com

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