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Old 06-01-2019, 06:45   #1
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Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

Good day,

Does anyone have any experience with diesel stove and oven units as compared to propane units? I have found the Wallas 87 D. It can also add a special stove-top for air heating.

I have heard that getting propane can be an issue when cruising. However, I have not seen much talk of diesel stoves and ovens as an alternative. I don't know if it is because this is a new tech or if it is an old tech that everyone stopped using for some reason.

I know diesel more stable than propane but I am also concerned about;
  1. reliability (seems to be some electronics under the diesel hood),
  2. efficiency (diesel is also needed for engine/genset/heating),
  3. safety (diesel combustion gases are more serious that propane),
  4. serviceability (easier to find parts for propane unit in remote areas),
  5. weight (everything diesel is heavier, is it an issue for a 40-50 foot multi-hull).

Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:22   #2
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

Although I have not used the unit you are considering, I did have the Wallas cooktop / heater in a previous boat and did not like it at all. It was VERY slow to cook. It did okay as a small forced air heater for the small boat I had. Once, however, while underway with the heater going, it caught a gust of wind into the exhaust port and the cabin filled with diesel exhaust and the stove would not restart until serviced by my Wallas dealer. It is my opinion that a good propane system with modern safety features is a better option (at least for North America travel).
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:28   #3
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

Propane produces just as much CO per BTU as diesel. Either one needs a chimney or flue of some sort, as well as supply ventilation, for happy burning and elimination of deadly gasses. Diesel has the advantage of not collecting in the bilges and doing that explodey thing. I have a natural distrust of any fuel I cannot pour or stack.


Modern marine propane installations are way safer than some would think, but there is still significant hazard. Maybe not significant to you, I don't know. I'll put it this way. The main reason I intend to upgrade to diesel for cooking is safety, but that is not the only reason.


I intend to have only two fuels on Brute Force: diesel, and lots of it, and kerosene, because my wick type backup lanterns and lamps and nav lights will go through fewer wicks with high grade kerosene than diesel. Modern ultra low sulfur road diesel isn't as bad, but kerosene still better. So I will be keeping maybe 10 gallons of kerosene, and a whole bunch of diesel. No propane, no gasoline. Logistics are simpler. Easiest fuel to get anywhere is gasoline. Obviously that's out. Diesel is much easier to find than propane.



Different stoves have different control systems. My single burner diesel/kerosene stove on Mr Wiggles has only manual control, no electric or electronics. In an effort to "improve" their stoves, some makers include all sorts of fancy pants electronic gadgetry. Like it or lump it. I am thinking of building my own stove, based on the Primus pressurized system. It is extremely simple, though the drip type stove is simpler in principle.



Weight? Not an issue, even for a 25 footer. A pound of diesel has as much or more energy as a pound of propane.



Advantages of propane? There are some. Quicker ignition. Less lingering smell, though careful handling of diesel fuel means fewer drops spilled or smeared and less odor. Cleaner. Spill propane, and oh well... open up the boat and blow out the bilges and it's gone. Spill diesel and you got spilled diesel, which doesn't evaporate in any reasonable amount of time.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:40   #4
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Originally Posted by Waterford View Post
I did have the Wallas cooktop / heater in a previous boat and did not like it at all.
Do you recall what model it was and how long ago it was? I am wondering if it is one of their current products or an earlier design.

Did you have a loop in the exhaust line and/or a one-way deck lead through?

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:51   #5
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Originally Posted by GrowleyMonster View Post
My single burner diesel/kerosene stove on Mr Wiggles has only manual control, no electric or electronics.
What make and model is your burner? Do they make full stove and ovens?

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2019, 09:11   #6
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Do you recall what model it was and how long ago it was? I am wondering if it is one of their current products or an earlier design.

Did you have a loop in the exhaust line and/or a one-way deck lead through?

Thanks.
It was in a boat built in 2008. I don't know model or exhaust details. It was installed by boat builder, Sea Sport.
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Old 06-01-2019, 10:06   #7
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

Iíve run diesel and propane on boats and while Iíd love to do away with propane, diesel takes longer to warm up and my Dickinson Atlantic was heavy and a total pain in the arse.

In saying that, a mate of mine has a Wallas, electric kettle and an electric hob and swears by it.

As for finding propane, it can be difficult to find but read the blogs and youíll find there are plenty of people out there sailing who seem to get by ok.

Depends on your boat and long term cruising plans!

N
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Old 06-01-2019, 11:37   #8
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

We use kerosene. New stoves are expensive. Some people hate them.

I find the reliable and I can self maintain.

Finding Keri can be a bit of an issue but a few gallons last a very long time indeed. We hear people concerned about propane fills all the time. We have a few years supply of Kero aboard.
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Old 06-01-2019, 13:42   #9
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Originally Posted by Ride View Post
Does anyone have any experience with diesel stove and oven units as compared to propane units? I have found the Wallas 87 D. It can also add a special stove-top for air heating.
I've been using the Wallas 87D almost daily for about four years now - I really like it, and I like the fact that there's no gas (propane) on the boat. Also, diesel is always readily available. The ceramic stove top does take 5-10 mins to reach temperature, but I can live with that.

The oven can take up to 30 mins to reach temperature if you're going for max heat of 250*C, which is a bit of a pain if you're in a hurry, but it's a fan oven with pretty good heat distribution, far better than any boat propane oven I've used.

My model I have is 11 years old and has required servicing twice. I did the last service myself last year. A service kit was easily obtained, but not cheap. I should add that I don't think it's a job for the non-technical minded.

I've never had any problems with the electronics.

Combustion fumes are vented outside the boat so there's no smell of diesel. However, I have known a gale force wind blowing directly into the flue to cause a flame-out and sometimes there is then a smell of fumes in the boat. But the unit has gone into auto-shutdown by this point, and it can't be restarted without going through a set procedure (documented in the manual).

I don't think the stove-top adaptor for air heating can be fitted if the pot restrainer kit has been fitted, but you'd need to check that one out.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-01-2019, 14:22   #10
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

10 pounds of propane lasted me more than a few months. some have the room for dual tanks which is even better. for me propane is the way to go. immediate hot burn with no odors
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Old 06-01-2019, 14:37   #11
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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diesel takes longer to warm up
There are YouTube videos reviewing diesel stoves in camper vans. The take about 4 to 5 mins to heat a kettle for 2 cups of tea from a cold start. That seems reasonable to me. In any case I plan on having 12V car sockets and making use of some car camping gear like 12V kettles so I don't need to turn it on for small things like tea.

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Depends on your boat and long term cruising plans!
I plan to cruise in both low and high latitudes for a number of years; maybe summers in the high and winters in the low. Diesel stoves can also heat it will serve as redundant heating as well. I'm more concerned about how much fuel it consumes. The boat will be a multi-hull 12 to 15 meters.

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2019, 14:44   #12
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Originally Posted by wiekeith View Post
I've been using the Wallas 87D almost daily for about four years now
Many thanks for your insight. It really helps.

Quote:
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I have known a gale force wind blowing directly into the flue to cause a flame-out
Was this underway? Do you think a one-way deck lead through would have helped? My thoughts are to vent the exhaust with a one-way to reduce the chance of this. Although, I would practice the blowout restart sequence a few times prior to departure to be comfortable doing it.

Thanks
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Old 06-01-2019, 14:48   #13
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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10 pounds of propane lasted me more than a few months. some have the room for dual tanks which is even better. for me propane is the way to go. immediate hot burn with no odors
Perhaps odours where a side-effect of older models the information and reviews I have seen do not mention odour as a problem. These are used in camper vans and I don't think this is a large difference between those and the "marine" version; probably only the "marine" tax.
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Old 06-01-2019, 15:04   #14
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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What make and model is your burner? Do they make full stove and ovens?

Thanks.

The original stock stove is Butterfly brand, Indonesian made, mounted in a Sea Swing gimbal. Knockoff of the 1920s era Primus pump stove. It was sort of a PITA because of the unregulated burner. To turn the heat down, you relieve pressure. To turn up the heat, you pump it up some more. I installed an aftermarket regulated burner and it works great. I can light it off and set it, and it will cheerfully cook untended for an hour or two without any attention from me. Burner is a 207bf Hanse adjustable burner from spares@base-camp.co.uk. Costs more than the stove, but worth it.


Butterfly makes several different types of stoves including kerosene ring wick and mop wick types, but the pump style is the only one I care for on a boat due to the odor from wick type stoves. Butterfly does make a cheesy little oven that sits on the pump stove but I would rather build my own than use that one. A nice one could be welded up out of 1/8" plate and angle iron, with provision for a flue. I have to use mine with the hatch open. No smell, just don't care to die of CO poisoning when I could wait until I am 90 and die of joy under an 18yo hooker instead.


I also have a modern backpacker type stove, don't remember the brand, that also has a nice regulated burner. Like the Butterfly/Hanse, it will gladly burn either ultra low sulfur diesel or kerosene. Don't remember the brand or model but it is a popular one with the mountaineering/backpacking crowd. And kind of expensive. Uses a separate fuel bottle so you can have a big big one, or a widdle bitty baby one.



The supplied pot rest and legs, I don't use. I built an aluminum mount that bolts to the underside of the sea swing, and either stove fits in it, without pot support or legs. I know I posted about this in one of the stove argument/controversy threads about which type stove is best. I am not at home presently, or I would just go to the boat and see what I got, for the backpacker type stove. I think it might be a MSR WhisperLite. Or very similar. Regulated burner, though.



The Hanse aftermarket burner is pretty good on fuel consumption, and the SeaSwing captures and directs the heat very efficiently to the cook pot. Takes me about two minutes to boil enough water for a cuppanoodles or whatever. Try THAT with an alcohol stove.
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Old 06-01-2019, 15:29   #15
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Re: Diesel vs Propane Stove & Oven

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Propane produces just as much CO per BTU as diesel. Either one needs a chimney or flue of some sort, as well as supply ventilation, for happy burning and elimination of deadly gasses.
Dunno about this, Growley! CO production is largely a function of burner design and neither Propane nor diesel will make much if the burner is operated as intended.

And really, have you ever seen a propane cookstove on a boat with a chimney or flue? I haven't! So, if one is required for a diesel cooker, there is a big difference in installation complexity and costs 'twixt diesel and propane. And finally, there is a real issue with backdraft in diesel heaters that I've used, and I suspect that t he same is true of cookers (and other posters have mentioned this upthread). Such events can be a huge mess, and with our Fab-All heater, even a danger due to flash ignition of "exhaled" diesel vapor when the backdraft extinguished the flame in the burner. A fireball in the cabin was a bit scary!

We've been cruising with propane cooking for over thirty years now. Refills have not been an issue for most of that time, even in third world areas. And when the rare case of no normal refill access came along, we got a local "swap bottle" and did a gravity transfer to our bottles. But we have not had to do that for over twenty y ears now! We carry two 9 kg bottles, and they last us around 3 months each. Gives us plenty of time to score a refill while using the second bottle.

I can appreciate a reluctance to have propane on board even though I disagree about the risk factor. However, there are risks with the diesel alternative that should be factored into a decision along with the inconvenience factors. It's not so open and shut as some suggest.

Jim
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