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  #11  
Old 02-27-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

I think it really depends on how much cooking you plan on doing. It is going to be a few thousand dollars to install propane properly. That will buy a lot of alcohol, unless of course you have a pressurized alcohol stove, but even then I think I would replace with an Origo.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

Propane scares me. I have spent enough time around marinas to see the after affects of a leaking propane system.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

Did you ever think of CNG?
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

Quote:
Originally Posted by mad_machine View Post
Propane scares me. I have spent enough time around marinas to see the after affects of a leaking propane system.
I've been doing insurance investigations for 16 years ... never seen a propane fire claim and neither has BoatUS according to the stats on their website.
I've seen a few alcohol claims (fire that is
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

thats probably because the alcohol is being consumed internally . Actually ive seen stats indicating the exact opposite. strange how that works.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

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Originally Posted by mitchbrown View Post
thats probably because the alcohol is being consumed internally . Actually ive seen stats indicating the exact opposite. strange how that works.
Since that is the business I'm in, I'd very much like to see those stats if you could provide a reference or a link I'd appreciate it.
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Re: Propane or alcohol

Another also. Were those fires caused by pressure alcohol stoves or wick canister like the Origo. It's important to make that distinction, otherwise any statement about alcohol stoves causing fire would be very misleading.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

I am definitely on the propane side of things. Have been sailing on propane-equipped boats since I was 10 months old and I don't think this will ever change.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

(This is probably 7 years old)

Over my sailing career I have used marine stoves of almost all descriptions, but over the past 19 years I have used an Origo Alcohol stove on all of my own boats. I love these stoves, simple, safe, reliable, cheap to run. Despite the complaints from those who have never used one, Origo stoves are not any significantly slower than your average marine propane stove.

Alcohol has a bum reputation which mostly dates back to the days when Alcohol Stoves used pressurized burners such as the old Kenyon and Homestrand stoves. While I have cooked many meals on these old style alcohol stoves, they took some skill to operate and were limited in the amount of heat that they produced. I do not recommend them as they were not very safe or reliable, especially since proper replacement parts are so hard to come by and these stoves used require that you replace many key parts every few years.

Origo stoves do not use pressurized alcohol burners. Instead they use burners that supposedly catalyze the alcohol, allowing for more uniform and reliable combustion. They are much easier to light than pressurized alcohol. The Origo burner consists of a container that is filled with alcohol and which has a mesh at the opening. The amount of heat produced is controlled by a metal flap that partially covers the flame rather than throttling the fuel supply.

You often hear claims that alcohol is not as hot as propane. This is a bit of misinformation that comes from a basic misunderstanding. While Alcohol has a lower heat density (heat produced per pound), the actual amount of heat produced by any fuel on any specific stove is related to the design of the burner. An Origo burner produces 7,000 BTU Each Burner. A typical marine propane stove burner produces 6,000-6,500 BTU each burner. Three-burner propane stoves and asymmetrical burner 2-burner propane stoves will sometimes have a single larger burner which can produce as much as 11,000 per burner but most propane stoves do not produce this much heat and propane burners lose efficiency and output over time.

There are tricks to using the Origo like any other stove. I bought one of those small liquid stove fuel bottles with a pour spout at a camping supply place and that greatly simplifies the filling process and makes it bullet proof reliable. Also some burners come with a small indent in the screen and some don’t. If I have a canister without the indent, I carefully push the screen down so that the indent is about a 1/4" deep and the size of a quarter and that also simplifies fueling. I also find that one of those extended length butane lighters made for barbeques makes lighting easier. I keep hearing people claim that Alcohol has an invisible flame but in the Origo, the flame is roughly the same color blue as a propane stove.

The canisters should only be refueled once they are cool to the touch. My experience with the Origo burner canisters are that they are cool to the touch within minutes so refueling is not a big deal, and they will burn for 4 or so hours on a complete refill. I use about between a half and 3/4 gallon of alcohol a year in pretty heavy weekend usage (maybe 10 weekends a year) and a longer cruise (typically a week to 12 days).

When I was researching the decision about what stove fuel to go with and which stove to buy, I liked the sound of diesel stoves, since I liked the idea of only carrying one kind of fuel on board. As a I researched this further I found that most diesels, like most kerosene stoves still ended up needing alcohol as a pre-heater and that pressure alcohol type flare-ups were still possible, only now it was with a fuel that was much harder to extinguish. The neatest stove that I encountered was a diesel stove in which the combustion took place in a sealed chamber, and which was ignited by a piezoelectric system. This stove also functioned as a water heater and offered options which could be set up to heat the interior of the boat in winter. The only problem with this stove was that it was very expensive compared to the Origo and it potentially put a lot of heat into the cabin.

My current boat came with a propane stove on it that I switched to an Origo. The propane system flunked survey for all kinds of good reasons. I ended up removing the propane stove in large part because it was cheaper to buy and install an Origo stove and oven than to upgrade my boat's propane system to modern standards, but mostly because I do not trust Propane.

I know that people love propane and bad mouth Alcohol, but I would not be so quick to say, "Propane good, Alcohol evil". In my lifetime, virtually every sailboat explosion or major fire except one, that I have direct knowledge of have been boats with propane stoves and diesel engines. And although these stats change from year to year, out of the 5 fires originating with stoves shown on the Coast Guard statistics site last year, only one was alcohol, and my guess is that it was probably a pressure alcohol stove since it would be so difficult to start a fire with a properly installed and used Origo.

Over and over again I hear people who would not think of having a gasoline engine for fear of explosion, advocating propane stoves which requires all of the safety precautions of gasoline (and them some), but which rarely get the same kind of attention with such items as bilge blowers, and explosion proof alternators, switches and other electrical components.

For me this is a no brainer. I have spent too many sleepless nights nervously trying to track down the source of a propane leak.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 02-28-2013 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: Propane or alcohol

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Originally Posted by mitchbrown View Post
Another also. Were those fires caused by pressure alcohol stoves or wick canister like the Origo. It's important to make that distinction, otherwise any statement about alcohol stoves causing fire would be very misleading.
You may or may not be right, I don't know but I'd still like to see the statistics you refer to.

As I said, I prefer propane but I have not bad mouthed alcohol at all so I don't see a reason for you to get defensive or turn this into another alcohol vs. propane thread. We each make our own choices for our own reasons.
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Last edited by boatpoker; 02-28-2013 at 05:42 PM.
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