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What Are Propane Conversion Kits?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Propane conversion kits convert gasoline-burning engines to liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane. The typical propane conversion kits require the removal of the original fuel tank and the substitution of a LP gas tank in its place. Often, the LP tank is much larger than the original fuel tank in the vehicle, so alternative mounting locations are commonly used. The vehicle's fuel delivery system is also modified to allow the propane conversion kit to power the vehicle. While typically installed by a qualified professional, propane conversion kits are available that can be installed by the average amateur mechanic, requiring only basic hand tools and minor fabrication to complete the installation.

With the cost of gasoline rising, propane conversion kits are gaining in popularity with many gasoline-powered vehicle owners. The process of converting the gasoline engine to propane can also be applied to generators and small engines, such as lawn mowers with the proper conversion kit. Along with reduced fuel costs, other benefits in making the conversion are reduced emissions from the engine exhaust, reduced soot and contamination inside of the engine and increased intervals between engine oil changes. Spark plugs are also benefited in the conversion and require less frequent replacement when burning LP gas.

The advantage of propane gas is that it has a much higher octane rating than typical gasoline, allowing much higher engine compression and more advanced ignition timing with the installation of the propane conversion kits. This equates to improved power output and fuel mileage by a propane-fueled automobile engine. In many highly smog-infested areas as well as some eco-friendly areas, the propane gas qualifies as an alternative fuel, thereby eliminating the requirement of the vehicle to be smog-tested. The technology that is responsible for the propane conversion kits makes it very easy to convert the vehicle back to gasoline should the owner elect to do so in the future.

Some of the more popular propane conversion kits are known as a dual-fuel system, using both gasoline and propane fuels. With this typical conversion kit, the engine is started using gasoline when the engine is cold. As the engine comes up to operating temperature, the system switches over to the LP gas. This not only results in easier starting characteristics for the automobile, but allows the engine to switch over to gasoline if the vehicle's LP tank goes dry. On a single-fuel system, the driver should ascertain that LP fueling sites exist on a planned route, if needed.

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