Author Topic: Propane appliances  (Read 4290 times)

Offline crnaman

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Propane appliances
« on: May 16, 2011, 10:19:52 PM »
Hello all,
I am thinking about building a home near Blue Ridge mountains in VA and using propane as the main energy source for the lighting and big appliances with a propane powered generator for electricity.   The main reasoning behind this would be to minimize disruption of daily activities in the event of a power outage or rising electric costs.  Does anyone have experience with the how well the propane powered appliances work? Any suggestions on a generator  or appliances (Heater/air conditioning/dryer/hot water/freezer/fridge/lighting)?  What size tank would run a 3br home with three people for a year? Would it be better to buy electric appliances and then just beef up the electric generator?   I am in just in the idea phase of this so all advice and experience would be appreciated. 

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 05:55:37 AM »
If you're going off the grid, you really want to avoid most electric appliances. Anything that uses an electric heating element (oven, range, clothes drier, etc) will be a huge electricity hog. Those items should be run on propane (any appliance you can buy commercially for natural gas can be converted to propane fairly easily). OTOH, some other things are better run on electricity. I've had experience with three different propane fridges, and none of them was satisfactory. Maybe it's because I was at higher altitude (6500 feet), but they just couldn't keep things cold in the summer. Cool, yes - but never really cold. And in addition, when a propane fridge breaks down it's a lot harder and more expensive to fix or replace.

My suggestion for fuels would be:
Heating - Wood
Cooling (swamp cooler and/or passive design) - Electric
Refrigeration, lighting - Electric
Stove, range, hot water, dryer - Propane

How much propane you need will depend on how much you use those appliances. A close look at your current utility bills should let you get a rough idea.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2011, 08:18:50 AM »
The only experience I have with propane powered refrigerators are what are in my camper.  They work well, but very differently than a "regular" fridge.  They take a much longer time to cool down.

Offline nurumkin

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2011, 05:31:55 PM »
From what I understand LP generators are kind of expensive to run. I would go for a good diesel generator and battery bank if I were you look at something like this http://www.generatorsales.com/order/yanmar_4kw.asp?page=yanmar_4kw

Offline Cedar

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 06:10:24 PM »
Does anyone have experience with the how well the propane powered appliances work? Any suggestions on a generator  or appliances (Heater/air conditioning/dryer/hot water/freezer/fridge/lighting)?  What size tank would run a 3br home with three people for a year?

I lived in a 5th wheel for 4 yrs while saving for and then restoring the farmhouse on the land I bought. This is my experience...

The brushes in the furnace (they look like a tiny little square graphite block on a spring) go out frequently. It costs little for them and are easy to replace.. that or I just got good at it. I went through a BBQ sized tank (5 gal?) once a week in cold weather.

The fridge/freezer was a 3-way and it ran on gas most of the time. Gas fridges seem to be smaller, but worked great. I had no issues with it. You will probably want a larger one for your house though, if you are not referring to a cabin.

The AC I ran once.. it is Oregon after all where I had it.

I was just back in WI and my friend runs his home off propane. I got to talking to him and inquired what he would do if his power went out as his gas stove and range are electric. Electric ignition stoves use electric sparks to ignite the surface burners, so if the power is out, it won't work, even if you strike a match I am told. We further discussed this and there is a way to do something with the regulator or whatever it is to be able to start it manually with a match.

His tank he fills 1-2 times a year and it is about the size of three 55 gallon barrels. He has lived there for 25 years with this setup and has had many ppl at his home at a time. I believe the hot water, his gas fireplace which he uses to heat his house, the oven and the stove all run off this tank.

Hope this helps a little,

Cedar


Offline Perfesser

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2011, 06:26:23 PM »
At the BOL we have a fridge and stove on propane as well as a new tankless water heater.

The fridge and stove have been there since before I was born and still work fine. I'm 50 this year.
Granted, they aren't used all the time but how many electric fridges last 50 years?

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 09:31:52 PM »
A 400 watt inverter is strong enough to operate the electronics and igniters on a gas range.  I've done it

Offline Cedar

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2011, 09:41:47 PM »
Ok talked to him and he has a 500 gallon tank he fills up twice a year.

Cedar

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2011, 10:03:07 PM »
If the plan is a propane whole house generator like the Generac, I think that even the ultra quiet ones will be more loud than you really want to put up with for full time power. Mine is for back-up and short term outages only. I know I could run it in the SHTF scenario but it is too loud, IMO.

As recommended by others I'd choose propane for some appliances but I'd go solar with battery back-up when it comes for primary electrical and use the propane for back-up.

If you are not yet constructed design your floorplan to make the best use of winter light and best shade in summer to decrease your cooling needs (screened porch overhangs). The Velux sun tunnel can bring great light into interior areas of a home where a window or sky light would not be feasible.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 12:06:33 AM by Bonnieblue2A »

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2011, 10:30:33 PM »
Those Velux lights will also light up a room under anything half moon and up too.  My folks have one in their bathroom

Offline crnaman

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 01:38:18 PM »
Thanks a lot everyone for the suggestions/advice.  You've given me a lot to think about. 

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Propane appliances
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2011, 10:26:56 AM »
Well, I'm giving this subject of a back-up propane powered freezer consideration. The news of this government and the EPA moving forward with regulations that will severely limit coal powered electric plants has me concerned. If one believes thenewspapers it would appear rolling blackouts within a couple of years could become the norm. . My state uses coal for approx. 80% of its energy.

For those who have a LP powered freezer or refrigerator:

Does it require careful placement/ventilation within the house due to the flame? My electric chest freezer for meat and longer term food storage is in the basement and I don't know if this would be an appropriate location for an LP freezer (to replace current electric chest freezer).