One of the most commonly asked questions about hot air balloons is what gas they use to fill them up.
Hot air is lighter than other gases, so it’s the perfect choice for a lifting agent. But that still leaves open the question: what kind of gas?
It turns out there are two types of balloon filling systems and they both use different kinds of gas.
Different kinds of gas? That’s right.
The first system is called the “gas generator” and it uses propane to fill balloons up with hot air.
This method does require an electricity source, so make sure you ask before using this one.
For a more permanent setup, some companies also use liquefied natural gas (LNG) – which doesn’t need any outside power sources because they’re already vaporized.
The process sounds complex but it actually isn’t that difficult once you know what kind of fuel your balloon needs for filling, just make sure you have the right equipment on hand.
It might take some experimenting to find out how much LNG or propane your specific balloon will need in order to fly safely at
The other type of system uses helium.
The balloon is filled with pure, compressed helium gas.
Most balloons use this kind of filling because it’s easy to find and produces a good lift-to-cost ratio for their customers.
However, there are some disadvantages that come along with using helium as the lifting agent in hot air balloons.
First off, if you’re not careful when handling or transporting high quantities of supplies like these especially at higher altitudes there could be leaks and other complications that leave you stranded from the nearest source of more fuel.
Second, many people have concerns about where all this extra gas goes once it escapes into our atmosphere.
Why is propane used in hot air balloons?
In the early days of hot air balloons, gas such as hydrogen and coal were used.
Coal was a popular choice because it provides heat for cooking food on an open fire.
However, many people find propane more efficient than other types of fuel.
Propane is also less dangerous since its chemical composition (C-H-O) makes it harder to ignite by accident.
It would take something like molten aluminum – which sparks at 850 degrees Celsius or higher – to set off this type of gas if you spilled it inside your balloon’s burner area while filling up with propane.
Propane burns cleanly with little residue so there isn’t any smoke or soot produced during combustion that could contaminate the atmosphere in the basket near the burner.
Propane is used in balloons because it’s cheap, lightweight, and relatively easy to store.
There are other options for fuel but propane has some great qualities that make it a popular choice among balloon operators.
The most popular type of propane fuel is LP gas, which stands for liquefied petroleum gas.
This liquid form of the hydrocarbon vapors isn’t flammable until it’s heated to its boiling point (about -45 degrees Celsius).
That means you’ll need a metal container or tank insulated with materials like fiberglass or insulation foam so that the temperature doesn’t drop below this threshold before you ignite your burner on high heat.
Where to Get the Best Liquid Propane for Hot Air Balloons
It might sound crazy to be considering the type of gas for your hot air balloon, there are many factors that go into any decision like this.
The most important thing when it comes to propane is its purity level and what you will be using the gas for.
Look for a company with an excellent customer service record.
If the company has any complaints, they’ll be listed on this page and it will tell you how many of them there are per year and what those complaints were about.
The best way to find out if a company is trustworthy or not is by looking at their certifications and how long they have been in operation.
The first thing to consider is the size of the tank.
Most tanks are either 10 gallons or 20 gallons and it’s important to know which one you need before making a purchase.
The next consideration is what type of fuel your burner needs, natural gas or liquid propane.
If you have access to natural gas, then it’s recommended that you go with this option because it will be cheaper in the long run than buying large volumes of liquid propane each time you need fuel.
If you are using a liquid propane system then it’s important to know the purity level of the gas.
Check to see if your local store offers free delivery or pickup as sometimes these sites offer their own deals that aren’t available elsewhere so make sure to take advantage.
This is something worth looking into whether you choose a well known brand like Duraheat LP Gas or one from another vendor who may not have as high of ratings but might provide better prices instead.
Check out both options before making up your mind just in case.
The Safest Way to Store Propane
Hot air ballooning is a great way to experience the world, but it can also be dangerous.
To ensure safety, you need to follow certain rules when storing propane for your hot air balloon.
The leading cause of fires involving propane tanks is improper storage of unused gas.
The best way to avoid this problem is to follow all safety instructions when refilling your tank from an outside source.
- Always wear gloves and eye protection, never fill containers inside or near buildings or other structures that may catch fire.
- Use only approved hoses with shut-off valves that limit pressure, and be sure there’s adequate ventilation before you refill your tank.
- Locate your propane tank in a safe place where it will not be exposed to freezing temperatures or become buried under heavy snowdrifts during winter months.
- Follow all safety precautions when installing your tank.
- Never place a propane container under, in or near anything that might catch fire such as an air conditioner, furnace, water heater and stove.
- Inspect your hose often for leaks by applying soapy water to the connection points where it attaches to the appliance using gas pressure.
- If bubbles form on any of these connections you have a leak which must be repaired immediately before use.
- When storing unused propane tanks outdoors during winter months cover them with at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil or mulch.
- Also take care not to leave any empty containers outside when they’re no longer being used.
I’m Annie, a twenty-something year old girl who loves hot air balloons. So much so, that I have a full time job as a Flight Instructor and it is all I love talking about. Something about being up there in the elevated altitudes helps all my stresses float away!