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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > stoves: propane vs alcohol
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Thread: stoves: propane vs alcohol Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-17-2007 04:17 PM
Jeff C Hi Guys
Well here is my input. A few years back a friend of mine who has a Cape Dory 38 was at anchor. His wife lit the alcohol stove, she did not see the fluid pool in the burner,POW !!! the whole interior near the galley went up. She was seriously burned.
I have a Catalina 36, when I purchased the boat it had a persurized Alcohol stove and oven, This was the 1st thing that was changed on the boat. I ordered a propaine tasco 3 burner stove w/oven. I also ordered the seaward 4gallon propane air tight locker w/ solanoid and 4 lb tank".
Also the Seaward tank is vented off the stern of the boat
Next came the Trident hose and a solinoid switch which located is at the electricial panel, (if this switch is in the off position it will not allow the solinoid to open at the tank) Which means NO PROPANE. I cook all the time and swear buy it. CNG is also a way to go but I have no comment on that because I have never had one
08-17-2007 01:15 AM
sailingdog I'd recommend propane.

CNG, while safer, is much less efficient and much more difficult to find as a general rule.

Alcohol is expensive, takes longer to do the same tasks, and even the non-pressurized stoves can be dangerous if you're not careful. I've seen a few fires caused by someone trying to re-fill the cans before they were completely cooled down... and alcohol fires are tough to spot and can be tough to put out with water, since inadequate amounts of water can cause the fire to move rather than put it out.

Properly installed, with a good propane solenoid, modern stove with flame-out shutoffs, and a propane detector make it very safe and it is the most simple to use. The fuel is cheap and readily available.

I would avoid butane, since it is far more explosive than propane, even though many propane appliances can use either.
08-16-2007 10:53 PM
Sailormann I was in the same quandry a little while ago. Had used alcohol and liked it but the boat came with propane. Was nervous and researched a bit. The information that made me settle on propane came from a gas fitter. Propane can explode, but in order for it to do so, the correct ratio of oxygen to propane has to be present at the same time as a spark. Too much or too little of either component prevents a flash-up. Likelihood of this occurring is not significant.

So - I replaced everything except the stove and find the difference to be quite substantial. We can cook just about anything onboard now, and can control the heat very well. No longer feel like we're camping.
08-16-2007 07:24 PM
Freesail99 Here is a link that I found somewhat useful.
08-16-2007 07:03 PM
JohnRPollard Slocum2,

The condition you describe (tempermental, difficulty getting propane at the stove) makes me wonder if your remote solenoid valve is on the fritz. I would start there. They are not cheap (I vaguely recall somewhere in the $50-100 range), so maybe someone on the list could advise if they are repairable. But my advice would be to bite the bullet and just swap it out for a new one.

We had similar symptoms a few years ago, which eventually ended up in complete solenoid failure (closed). A new valve had us back in business.
08-16-2007 05:48 PM
Cruisingdad I will not rehash what has already been well said on both sides, but will simply say my strong preference is propane.

Keep what you got. Use your head when cooking. Propane is no big deal.

- CD
08-16-2007 05:43 PM
sonofasailorsailing We recently built our galley from scratch. One of the requirements (of the Admiral) was that we install an Origo stove. We liked the one a friend had and just decided that that was what was for us. I bought an Origo 4000 two burner drop in stove on Ebay for next to nothing (well ok, less than half of retail, stil a great savings). We have been using it for the summer and so far couldn't be more pleased. We have cooked everything from stove top coffee to full breakfasts and dinners.

As far as it taking longer, what's the big hurry? You're on your boat! Any time on the water is time well spent. Since both the Admiral and her cabin boy (moi) love to cook. a few extra minutes is nothing.
08-16-2007 05:34 PM
slocum2
thanks

I've been reading with interest. I bought the boat last year and have used the stove a few times. It has the in-line LP on/off switch but is tempermental to start. I hate standing there with a lighter on the pilot waiting and waiting wondering where the gas is going or if its going. (yes there is gas in the tanks).

At any rate thanks to all for your input
08-16-2007 02:47 PM
bsfree I had to make a similar decision a few months ago, except I was deciding what to replace a pressurized alcohol stove with. I decided on the Origo 6000 (with oven) and have been happy with the choice. The oven takes a little getting used to as you start from "high" and learn how far to turn down to get the whatever temp you need. The burners seem fast enough for me, and as someone else mentioned it's pretty much maintenance free.
I'm the only one I know among my friends who uses an alcohol stove, they all have propane, and for me it was simply a matter of personal choice as I didn't like the idea propane on my boat. I do use it for the bbq, but once it didn't light for a few seconds and, my mistake for having the lid down, made a mini explosion when it did light and I felt the force of it on my stomach. Didn't want to chance anything like that down below.
Good Luck
08-16-2007 01:54 PM
Valiente Having endangered a set of eyebrows from a pressurized alcohol stove flare-up, I would say that if propane's shortcomings alarm you, go with Origo alcohol stoves. They are the only type of alcohol stove that people seem to agree perform the safest and the best with alcohol, which is not a great fuel otherwise due to its low energy vs. high price.

Of course, on a smaller boat, I would consider a single-burner "camp gas" gimballed stove or even a Coleman in the cockpit, properly secured. Both get the fuel and the burner close together and closer to the "outside", thus avoiding many of the issues of propane.
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