Monday, September 17, 2018

Propane Service

When I first went to a solar electric system I also went pretty heavily into propane. I had a propane refrigerator, tankless water heater, stove and clothes dryer. The idea was to be able to run off grid for months if necessary. Solar was expensive back then so it made sense to run as much stuff on something else as possible.

That was over 20 years ago. My lovely wife and I had three young children in the house. We wanted to be able to take care of them in grid down situations.

Life moves on. The children grew up and moved out on their own. One by one the propane appliances failed. The budget, as is often the case, was pretty tight. Propane appliances are usually more expensive than their electric counterparts. The tankless water heater was replaced by a grid tied electric tank for about a third the price. However, it was also adapted to get a boost from a hot water coil connected to the woodstove.

The propane refrigerator was also replaced with a much cheaper electric fridge. I experimented on it and added a huge copper water pipe coil. Every drop of water used in my house first goes through that copper coil. My well water is ice cold all year long. In fact, I shut the electricity off to the fridge and was able to keep food cold for a month without any problems. Of course, the freezer didn't work, so I eventually plugged it back in. However, the cold water coil reduces the power usage quite a bit.

My propane stove was replaced with a woodstove. In the summer that's supplemented with grills and a two burner electric hot plate. I also have a large toaster oven that I do some baking in. During cooler months though, the woodstove is great.

The propane dryer is still in operation. Sure, I've got both inside and outside clotheslines, but sometimes it's nice to use the dryer. It made no sense to maintain a 500 pound propane tank and a contract with a delivery company. Now I use 20 pound tanks like you've use on a grill. I can get them filled at the country store two miles away.

My systems evolved over time. Often I've had to use creativity because of a limited budget. That's not a bad thing. It made for a more interesting journey.



  1. Good for you to be able to do most of the work yourself. Good on ya.

  2. I just had a propane-run generator installed. I own the tank - not a big one. My daughter is pleased I finally had it done as she worries about me when we have storms. Also, if she loses power for any length of time in the winter she and the kids can come up here to stay warm.

    1. Propane generators are pretty reliable and run fairly clean. I bet it feels good to be able to take care of the family.