Converting your RV for CNG
By Brandon Engle
As instability in the Middle East continues, the world’s dependency on oil from that region has put many countries in a precarious situation. The United States, though, is known to have abundant natural resources at the country’s disposal. In the past, there has been a reluctance to tap into these resources for a variety of reasons. However, many politicians and the people they represent are coming to the realization that the country needs to pursue energy independence in order to break away from the Middle East’s control.
Natural gas is the one natural resource that the country has enough supply to last for many decades. As the push begins to look for ways to convert and use this abundant resource, automobile and recreational vehicle manufacturers specifically are looking for ways to make use of this clean fuel.
Since natural gas prices continue to drop, and it’s widely accepted as cleaner, the fuel should have a great deal of appeal for RV owners that have long been saddled with vehicles that get terrible mileage using $3.50+ refined gasoline. In many cases, the only thing that prevents owners from using CNG is the time or ability to initiate the conversion. Given the possible benefits, it might be a good time for RV owners to consider making the change.
CNG Conversion kits for RVs are now being manufactured on a regular basis. They range in price from $8,000-$11,000, but some states offer tax credits for converting, and the tax savings are usually able to offset much of the cost of conversion. If an individual is not comfortable with handling the conversion on their own, there are plenty of technicians who can handle the job at a reasonable price. For those that want to save that cost as well, conversion kits come with detailed, step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. The key to a successful conversion is getting the right kit, and making sure that the orifice connections are the right size to allow the CNG to flow at the proper air/gas ratio for combustion.
The use of CNG as a fuel has two very important benefits, economical and environmental (including safety concerns).
•Economic – Oil prices are currently sitting at $3.50-$4.00 per gallon. US consumers are forced to endure both transportation and refining costs for crude while OPEC countries play supply/demand games with the US economy. By employing the use of CNG for vehicles, particularly RVs, Americans can eliminate those factors, which brings the costs down to a range of approximately $1.50 to $2.25 for an equivalent amount of CNG. Considering that MPG is quite similar, if not a little better, that’s a significant annual cost saving for consumers.
•Environmental – Natural gas has been proven to give off far less harmful emissions when compared to conventional gasoline products. Some research indicates that burning natural results in 70 percent less carbon monoxide, 87 percent less nitrogen oxide, and 20 percent less carbon dioxide. Natural gas leaks are also less harmful to both land and water since it’s lighter than air, which causes it to rise and dissipate into the atmosphere instead of polluting natural resources. Also, air tanks containing CNG are made from stronger materials, making them safer for storage than normal underground gasoline storage tanks.
For RV owners, the greatest concern is the availability of filling stations. As the demand for CNG rises, providers are working all across the country to place filling stations along the highway systems. Remember, conversion kits do not require disengaging of the fuel tanks. In fact, RVs will have a dual system. Most CNG tanks for vehicles are 25-gallon tanks that could deliver up to 300+ miles. With access to the regular tank, the problem of finding a filling station is minimized. The bottom line is this: RV owners who use their RVs on a regular basis, when considering the overwhelming benefits, are running out of reasons not to convert to CNG.