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Old 25-01-2010, 11:24   #1
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Alcohol or Propane?

Hi Group,

As I build out my boat I'm perplexed with the issue of which fuel to use. I have an Origo Alcohol stove now and have a strong belief that I will install it in the galley.

But, I still have one last thought about propane. How much propane usage do you plan for on a prolonged cruise, lets say 9 months and non stop. My only use is for cooking, my cabin heater is diesel and the hot water heater is electric, both 12V and 120. I sail single handed for the most part so cooking is just for myself. I use the oven for bread and baked pastas, but seldom bake meat or eat it for that matter. Since there are so many different sizes of propane tanks, lets keep the discussion in pounds per week or month for a single person. I would estimate my usage at less the two hours a day. Some more, and some less but I think two hours is a good estimate.

Thanks,

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Old 25-01-2010, 12:22   #2
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Well, it depends a lot on what you are cooking. Even when boiling water, you rarely have the burner on full and certainly not for long. FWIW, we cooked 1 or 2, but rarely 3 meals per day, we didn't do a lot of baking, and we almost never had the burner/grill/stove running for 2 hrs. in a day. Our propane use averaged somewhere around 15 pounds per month for 2 people. But, we weren't non-stop cruisers - far from it - so we ate out a lot. 9 months non-stop is an unusual cruising style, and you may have difficulty getting info from someone with that experience.
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Old 25-01-2010, 12:31   #3
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Well, it depends a lot on what you are cooking. Even when boiling water, you rarely have the burner on full and certainly not for long. FWIW, we cooked 1 or 2, but rarely 3 meals per day, we didn't do a lot of baking, and we almost never had the burner/grill/stove running for 2 hrs. in a day. Our propane use averaged somewhere around 15 pounds per month for 2 people. But, we weren't non-stop cruisers - far from it - so we ate out a lot.
We probably use the same amount, but almost always 3 meals a day on the boat.

I got spanked here for expressing what I think of alcohol stoves, so I will put it politely this time. After seeing, hearing, and reading the dangers of the alcohol stove. I threw mine in the dumpster, and bought a propane stove. Read under types of stoves.......i2f


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Old 25-01-2010, 12:38   #4
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And, if you are going to cruise the Bahamas/Caribbean and you need to buy cooking fuel there, forget about alcohol. You will have difficulty finding it - conversion to propane is almost mandatory and you can get it almost everywhere.
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Old 25-01-2010, 12:53   #5
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We have used both and IMO we would never go back to alcohol. It takes forever to get anything hot, the upside is you hardly ever burn dinner, you will have to store the fuel in plastic or metal containers that can leak, and alcohol for stoves can be hard to find for a cruiser without transportation in some ports. We have found propane available everywhere and we carry two tanks, one lasts about 2 to 3 months cooking all meals everyday on the boat, plus the wife bakes a lot. And then there is the issue of filling the tank for the alcohol stove compared to just removing and reinstalling a propane tank. Alcohol IMO is for weekender's and occasional boaters and I can't recall ever seeing it on a live-aboard or serious cruiser. WG
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Old 25-01-2010, 13:01   #6
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The only time I have ever used a fire extinguisher on a boat was on an alcohol stove. Never again.
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Old 25-01-2010, 13:09   #7
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Even though propane is inherently dangerous, a properly installed propane system is much safer than any alcohol stove.
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Old 25-01-2010, 14:05   #8
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I just dumped my Origo and got a dickinson propane stove. Like everyone says forget the alcohol.
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Old 25-01-2010, 14:17   #9
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The only time I have ever used a fire extinguisher on a boat was on an alcohol stove. Never again.

I was lucky enough not to have to use the extinguisher, the spilled alcohol burned off before it really got going, but the stove was ripped out and replaced with a 2 burner propane the next monday.

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Old 25-01-2010, 14:28   #10
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After seeing, hearing, and reading the dangers of the alcohol stove. I threw mine in the dumpster, and bought a propane stove.
I saw and heard mine on fire, and flung it into the bay...
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Old 25-01-2010, 14:42   #11
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The logistics and safety issues of carrying enough alcohol for 9 months seems to be quite demanding. With careful use, 3x20lb propane tanks will probably get you through, especially if you can spare the power to run a 120v kettle.

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Old 25-01-2010, 14:45   #12
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Taylor kerosene? Costly but safe and efficient.
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Old 25-01-2010, 16:10   #13
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Definitely propane, you will find difficulty buying alcohol in many places.
We carry 4x20lb bottles, with care these will last a year. With the amount of cooking we do on board, at least two cooked meals daily, baking,bread making and preserving and profligate use of the kettle a realistic time span is 9 months.

I do wonder how they will handle colder climates though. Same usage in southern Europe and less in the tropics but am about to move to high latitudes so we will see how it goes...
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Old 25-01-2010, 16:17   #14
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Wow, almost unanimous opposition to the alcohol stove,however if you are still considering it i am pretty sure that alcohol was the choice for Jessica Watsons around the world trip,im sure it was chosen after much consideration by her very experienced team so it cant be that bad,you may want to send them an email,they will have some pretty accurate idea of how much fuel you will need as she will also be cooking for one for about 9 months.
Steve.
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Old 25-01-2010, 16:24   #15
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Nobody has mentioned the rainforest effect of an alcohol stove...

Propane all the way!!
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