Imagine your relaxing fishing trip or tranquil boat outing suddenly disrupted by a gas explosion.  Sadly, this scenario is a very real risk if gas appliances on your boat aren't correctly installed and maintained.  Understanding the regulations and simple safety measures can prevent disaster and might even be the difference between a valid insurance claim and a costly denial.

Important Safety Measures

  • Hardwired Gas Detectors: Install detectors with audible alarms and solenoid shut-offs in gas lockers.

  • Sensor Placement: Place sensors strategically. Install one near appliances and one at the bilge's lowest point, ensuring they are away from potential water damage.

  • Cylinder Storage: Secure cylinders upright within a dedicated gas locker. This locker must have a sealed door and a minimum 19mm drain hole at the bottom, positioned above the waterline to vent gas overboard.

  • Proper Hosing:  Use permanently crimped hoses without jubilee/worm clips. Regularly check hose date stamps.

  • Califont Safety: Most califonts found on boats are likely installed incorrectly. Consider switching to a hot water cylinder for safety and compliance.

  • Copper Tubing:  Regulations require plastic-coated annealed copper tubing to connect regulators to appliances. The coating provides essential protection in marine environments.

  • Flame-Failure Devices: Install these on every burner of your gas appliances to prevent uncontrolled fuel release.

  • Clearances: Ensure adequate clearances around gas cooking appliances as specified by the manufacturer or the gas code.

  • Qualified Installers: Always hire a licensed gasfitter for gas-related work on your boat.

Gas Safety Certificates

  • Energy Safe considers gas installations on boats to be high-risk work.  All completed installations or modifications require a gas safety certificate issued by a Certifying Gas Fitter.

  • Even though gas certificates don't expire, re-certification every 2-3 years is recommended for domestic vessels to ensure compliance with any updated codes or regulations. Commercial vessels should establish a comprehensive maintenance plan.

The Dangers of Gas Leaks

Gas leaks pose a significant explosion risk on boats. Propane is heavier than air and will accumulate in the bilge. This means you may not detect leaks until they reach a dangerous concentration.  Prioritize safety, regular maintenance, and professional gasfitting to mitigate this risk.

Key Regulations and Safety Guidelines

  • Gas Safety and Measurement Act 2010 governs gas safety in New Zealand. Work on any gas installation permanently fixed within a vessel, caravan, or building must now be done by a licensed gasfitter.

  • AS/NZS 5601.2:2013: This standard outlines the specific technical requirements for gas installations in boats and caravans. Compliance is mandatory for all gas work in these settings.


This information is designed as a guide. Always consult the Gas Safety and Measurement Act, relevant standards, and the services of a licensed gasfitter for the most up-to-date and definitive information regarding gas safety on your vessel.